Casting Internets

I haven’t read the Panels on Pages Wizard Alumni Where Are They Now interviews featuring Ben Morse, Chris Ward, Jim Gibbons, Brian Cunningham and Rick Marshall just yet because it looks pretty long, but I did skim it and yes, I did get mentioned and do appear in a photo or two, so it’s worth looking at.

Speaking of Wizard buddies, Josh Wigler has loosed himself upon the world of freelance again! I assume this will mean fewer jobs for myself, but he’s a good dude, so that’s okay.

One last plug for my friends, but world renowned toy animator and my number one walking-around-NYC-post-NYCC companion Alex Kropinak now has a blog. Go read it, fool!

There’s an “Avengers of horror” in the works starring Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Mr. Hyde and  seven other horror icons. Could be interesting. (via THR)

Justin Timberlake’s records have never been as appealing to me as his SNL hosting gigs, but Jody Rosen’s Rolling Stone review of his new album The 20/20 Experience sounds more up my alley.

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I love me some eboy. His cityscapes are amazing and somewhere in the depths of my ToyFare-acquired toy collection I have a Hugh Hefner figure based on his artwork as well as a poster. I literally said, “Whoooaaaa,” when I saw this cruise ship image of his. Super neat!

Jack White talked to Rolling Stone about new solo tracks, new Dead Weather and the rad sounding blue Reissue series from Third Man Records. Give it a look.

THR says that Kurt Sutter of Sons of Anarchy fame is creating a horror/timetravel series at FX called Lucas Stand. I haven’t seen SOA yet, but have only heard good things. This sounds like an interesting concept and FX hasn’t steered my wrong yet, so I’ll give it a watch if it actually happens.

THR also made a list of 15 interesting bits of information discussed by the Big Bang Theory cast and creators at Paley Fest. There’s some fun stuff in there for fans.

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I’m actually kind of happy these days when I see Mondo posters I’m not into because I know I probably wouldn’t be able to get one and don’t have the scratch to spend on one anyway. However, this Beetlejuice one by Ken Taylor as shown over on Bad Ass Digest is spectacular.

Sylvester Stallone tweeted that he wants more humor in Expendables 3. Not sure how I feel about that considering the hackie jokes were the worst part of 2. I’m still in, though, even more so if Jackie Chan’s involved. (via Collider)

Have you tried Nicolas Cage Roulette? It’s a website you can go to with many Nic Cage faces. You click whether you want it to chose any movie from the actor’s filmography (at least what’s on Netflix Instant) or just the action movies. I tried “All” four times and got Face/Off twice, Season of the Witch and  Adaptation. Fun stuff!

An album of Elvis Costello recording with The Roots sounds rad. Maybe THAT record will get me to finally get back to writing Supergroup Showcases. (via Rolling Stone)

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IDW’s collection of Silver Age Superman comic strips looks pretty neat. Looks like they’re also doing Batman and Wonder Woman strips. I didn’t even know there WAS a WW comic strip! (via Robot 6)

I’ve had this Boing Boing link about 22 Pixar storytelling rules saved for a while, but only recently read through them. It’s interesting how many of them I wound up following in my recent comic script.

This Toledo Blade article about some of the fancier restaurants from my home town’s past was incredibly interesting.

Esquire‘s right, Dubai’s weird you guys.

Ron Marz’s latest Shelf Life column over on CBR is about his one experience with comic writing stage fright, but he also talks about some behind the scenes stuff when it came to DC Versus Marvel and Amalgam, two ideas that captured my imagination when I was kid.

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My buddy Jim Gibbons reposted this rad piece of Star Wars Mike Mignola art over on his Pizza Party! Tumblr. So rad.

Celebrity OGN Trade Post: Get Jiro & Greendale

get jiro Get Jiro! (Vertigo/DC)
Written by Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose, drawn by Langdon Foss
Original Graphic Novel

Call me crazy but I’m one of those people who gets a little peeved when general news outlets refer to comics or trade paperbacks as graphic novels. Aside from simply being the wrong term, it also carries with it a sense that the writer is trying to make comics sound more mature, a distinction that’s unnecessary to anyone even remotely familiar with the adult-oriented medium. What’s the difference? Well, a trade paperback is a collection of single issues brought together for an easier read while a graphic novel was created all at one time. It’s basically the difference between calling a short story collection exactly that versus a novel (well, not exactly because the issues are serializing one big story usually, but you get the idea).

The two books I’m writing about today actually are graphic novels, though and they also both happen to have been written or inspired by well known people. How much involvement said celebs actually had in the creation of the book itself, I have no idea, but that’s not really important.

I started off with Get Jiro because I needed a tonal shift after finishing another book of Y: The Last Man and this certainly gave it to me. As regular readers of UnitedMonkee and Monkeying Around The Kitchen know, I’m a pretty big fan of Anthony Bourdain having read both Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw and regularly watched No Reservations. One of the interesting aspects of reading through Jiro was that he and Rose put in a good deal of elements seen on various episodes of Reservations. You’ve got the little eels from Spain that only exist for a few weeks cooked simply over fire and the little birds you eat whole (except for the head) while wearing a towel over your head, plus others. This was an interesting experience because, while the thing being done was more described than shown, I had the images already in my head from watching the series.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself, what’s the book about? Set in a future version of Las Angeles, Get Jiro takes place in a city completely obsessed with food and nothing else. LA has become a zoned area where only the privileged can live on the inside eating amazing food made by one of two camps: money hungry Bob or ultra-hippie Rose. Niether are particularly likable  but that’s okay because they’re the bad guys. Our hero is Jiro, a sushi chef on the outer rim who garners the attention of both who want him in their camps, but more so don’t want him to join the other guys. All in all it’s a hyper-real, satire with healthy doses of blood and violence. The book really felt like a more light-hearted Frank Miller/Geoff Darrow book in both look and feel which is by no means a bad thing.

But, it’s not perfect. I thought the world-building was pretty light. I didn’t need everything completely laid out for and actually enjoyed the opening text the succinctly explained the world’s super foodie culture, but wish they would have explained the set up of the city in a little more detail or maybe just showed a map, that would have done it. It also felt like a lot of set up for a relatively quick payoff, I could have done with more of the big battle at the end, but I guess that wasn’t the story they were going for which is fine.

For his part, Foss is a delight to read. He packs so much into panels that he really is Darrow-like, a trait that more comic artists should aspire to and a trait that fits in really well with the graphic novel idea because guys like this tend not to be able to hit monthly deadlines. Still, I’d rather get larger doses of these kinds of artists a few times a year than one issue every year. There are times, though, when Foss lets his background characters look a little dead in the eyes which can be a little off-putting, but that’s a minor complaint.

I’m not sure how well this book would go over with people who aren’t fans of Bourdains because of all the cooking stuff, but it felt like there was enough explanation to bring in new readers (though the big blocks of text explaining such things might turn some people off) but if you are a fan or just like the gonzo craziness of something along the lines of Crank, then give this movie a watch. I just realized how insane a Neveldine and Taylor adaptation of this movie would be and now I want to see it!

Greendale Neil Young’s Greendale (Vertigo/DC)
Written by Joshua Dysart, drawn by Cliff Chiang
Original Graphic Novel

Greendale was pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum in every way from Jiro both as a piece of fiction and as a story that I interacted with. Neil Young’s name is on this book, but it’s basically based on his concept album-turned-movie from earlier in the 00s, neither of which I have any experience with. It’s also tonally and artistically different from the kinetic, hyper-real portrayal of reality seen in the other book. This is a much more grounded fantasy done in a softer artistic style. This is pure Cliff Chiang and looks exactly like anything else you’ve seen of his, but there seems to be a strange softening effect added to every single page, which was kind of a bummer because these pages really sing and could have used some brightness even given the darker elements of the story.

Speaking of the story, this one focuses on Sun Green who lives in the fictional West Coast town of Greendale. She’s a teenager trying to figure out who she is, how she fits into the grand scheme of things and how she really feels about all of the war and environment issues that went on during the Bush Administration (and still do, this story’s just set in that time period). She also comes from a family of women who tend to display supernatural abilities tied to nature and disappear when they feel like it. Sun meets a boy and starts thinking about heading to Alaska to try and stop off shore drilling when a mysterious man (who looked a like like Neil Young to me) shows up and starts messing with her cousin and brother.

After reading this book, I’m not completely sure how I feel about it. I think I liked it, though it was a little heavy handed at times. On the other hand, I like how it kind of presented the weirdness of this world as the story progressed and didn’t feel the need to front load everything. You’re just kind of thrown in, given a little information and figure things out as you go. I like that, I’m just not quite sure how I feel about that journey itself. It’s got a good “we can do it” message, but, at the end of the day, so does every high school/college movie pitting a bunch of kids against a corporation like Step Up Revolution. Does the way a message is conveyed make it any more or less meaningful? Maybe when it’s presented so many times that it becomes noise. On the other hand, it sure is a pretty looking book and did make me feel something, so I think I’ll keep it around for at least one more read.

Casting Internets

tumblr_inline_mhgvhhahCr1qz4rgpCheck it out, my buddy Josh Wigler‘s working on a comic!

I would like to try this Mind the Gap cocktail, preferable with my pal Jim McCann who’s writing a terrific comic of the same name over at Image. (via Esquire)

Brian Cronin did an awesome Movie Legends Revealed over on Spinoff about the myth that Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Cyborg actually started off as a Masters of the Universe sequel. I knew about a third of the story, but its connection to Spider-Man is all new to me. Great piece!

THIS ROBOT BAND IS PLAYING THE RAMONES!!! They look like Johnny Number 5 on punk rock steroids and I love them. Where can I get one of the drummer ones? (via Please Kill Me)

This Grantland story by Steven Hyden perfectly encapsulates why KISS was/is awesome. First concert I ever went to and still one of my favorites. A great show is a great show.

This Penn Jillette piece for the New York Times rings true for me on a lot of levels.

BC over at HMAD got around to doing his Best/Worst Movies of 2012 list, as always, it’s a hoot. Just realized he’s going to stop watching a Horror Movie A Day and it makes me a little sad inside.

I’m less surprised that some restaurants are banning food photography as per this New York Times article, than I am at how inconsiderate some people are about all this. Just snap a simple no-flash pic, it’s not a big deal.muppets again

This first image from the upcoming Muppets movie doesn’t tell you much about the new movie, but it still gets me really excited. (via EW)

Having read Please Kill Me, I was curious to check out this Rolling Stone piece about one time Velvet Underground member John Cale.

The League‘s Nick Kroll had an interesting talk with Esquire.

The most Lost-like show on TV as far as deep, long lasting character moments and mysterious goings-on is How I Met Your Mother. Much like with the former, I’m glad the latter is getting an intended series finale after the ninth season next year. (via THR)

Brad Meltzer has a new line of kids books in the works with the theme of Ordinary People Change The World. This is a good thing. (via THR)

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There’s a Sonic/Mega Man crossover from Archie?! Are those books any good? I’ve always thought Mega Man had seemingly unlimited potential for radical stories. (via CBR)

This THR piece about some of the difficulties reporters have had covering Scientology in the past is pretty interesting.

Jim Zub has been at it again writing insightful pieces about creator owned comics. This one about posting his book Skullkickers online for free was particularly eye opening.

I never really thought about it before, but Ron Marz is right, there’s not that much difference between writing a licensed comic and a Big Two comic.

Disney cast Cory and Topanga’s daughter for Girl Meets World. The producer talked to THR about some of the concerns I voiced here.

Casting Internets

Goodness. I started keeping notes for this particular post before freaking Christmas. We were pretty busy, so I lost track of links and time. Anyway, here’s the links I liked with a few irrelevant ones removed for extreme oldness.

In addition to my usual posting on CBR and Spinoff, I also contributed to CBR’s top 100 comics of 2012.

Friend and all around wonderful writer about comics Sean T. Collins‘ review of My Friend Dahmer is, as you might expect, wonderful.

Sean also wrote a really moving piece for Buzz Feed about how a certain album helped him get through a tough year.

My buddy and former Topless Roboteer Rob Bricken wrote a piece called “The Theologically Confusing Nightmare that is the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special. It is as fantastic as you would think knowing him and after reading that title. It’s on io9 of course. I know this one’s super old, but read it anyway if you haven’t already, it’s hilarious. lilostichThe Ashcan Allstars did a wonderful run of Disney Women a while ago. Riley Rossmo’s Lilo and Stitch was a big favorite of mine.

I love that chef and food writer Michael Ruhlman self-published this e-cookbook about Schmaltz. I don’t think it’s for me both because of the topic and because I don’t have an iPad, but I hope to see more of these in the future.

Halloween Scene: Jack Frost (1996)
I don’t usually care who likes what things that I like, but I’m glad Brian at HMAD liked Jack Frost.

Sketch Attack is dead, long live Sketch Lottery. I might get in on some of that action. I like not having to think of a subject and just joining in on the fun.

Check out T Lo’s run down of the Miss Universe pageant looks, hilarious commentary as always. Dig parts 1, 2 and 3.

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CustomCon 33 was a few weeks back and it was a pretty great offering. My personal favorite line was the Kamandi Klassic one by Joshua Izzo, those are some damn fine looking figures.

I would very much like to listen to the full recording of the Merry Minstrel Musical Circus performance from earlier this month. Jeff Lynne, Jackson Brown, Bob Weir? Yes to all that. (via Rolling Stone)

I agree with all of Nicholas D. Kirstof’s points on gun control and refutations of the points brought up by many in regards to the subject in this New York Times piece.

On a similar note, this New Yorker piece on the history of the Second Amendment fascinating. Funny how things that are only a few decades old are taken as gospel by some.

Another New Yorker piece not only laid down some compelling facts about other countries’ gun control laws but also an amazing virus/faith healing/antibiotics comparison in the opening that was near perfect.

A show about a summer camp that’s supposed to be a cross between Meatballs and Dazed and Confused? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. (via THR)shark tank
TVGuide has a pretty cool story on why Shark Tank is doing well, I’m a big fan of that show.

I haven’t checked out any of DC’s digital comics yet, but I love the idea of them doing a She-Ra book in that format. There’s no reason this shouldn’t blow up amongst that fan community. (via CNN)

Jim Zub is one of my favorite people in comics to interview. I also dug his 2012 recap post. Dude’s blowing up and totally deserves it.

Zub also wrote this really great piece about why The Big Two won’t give any rookie writer a crack at their characters.

In more “truth about comic news” pieces by creators, dig this ComixMix post by John Ostrander about how tough it can be being a comic book freelancer.

Finally, I’m sad that James Kochalka’s diary strip American Elf has come to a close, but this was a pretty good last strip.

Ambitious Reading List: The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake By Aimee Bender (2010)

Well, I finally quit trying to read Devil In The White City. I probably should have stuck with it and charged through, but there was just something about that book that didn’t hook me into coming back for more. I liked what I read, but I kept thinking about finishing this Ambitious Reading List and even starting the next one and just couldn’t sync with it. So, I put it to the side, knowing I’ll return to it some day, and then moved onto Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake, a book I really loved by an author I have a little bit of experience with. You know what that means, story time!

When I was in college at Ohio Wesleyan University, I was part of the English board (or whatever it was called). I think I got involved because my creative writing professor, Robert Olmstead, asked me if I’d be interested so I went with it. I don’t know if it was an election or what, but there I was. We had various authors come to OWU, do readings and sometimes even sit in on our workshop classes. Aimee Bender was one of those authors. For whatever reason Professor Olmstead asked me to write and do an introduction for her, which made me nervous because I get all kinds of anxious when I have to speak in front of a crowd, even if it’s just a handful of my fellow classmates. Anyway, I did my research (I think this was pre-Wikipedia, so I had to go to more than one website), gave the intro and Bender said it was one of the best ones she’d ever heard. I don’t know if she was just being nice, but it was nice and I appreciated it.

I can’t remember if we read any of Bender’s work for my workshop class or if I just listened pretty well during her reading, but I was drawn to her style. It’s very introspective and colorful and usually involves some fantastical elements inserted into normal life (at least the two novels of hers that I read). At the time it was also really inspiring because I felt like I was working towards a style similar to hers. A few years back I finally read her first novel, An Invisible Sign Of My Own, which I remember liking, but don’t remember many details of. Back when all the Borders closed down, I was at one and happened to see her latest novel The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake and had to buy it. Man, I’m glad I did. I had a wonderful experience reading this book.

The idea here is that, a young girl named Rose realizes she has the ability to taste the feelings of people making her food, but it’s really more about Rose, how she deals with this ability while also growing up the world AND dealing with her normal-on-the-surface-but-not-really family. See, Rose’s dad wanted a normal family, likes lists and wants everything simple and normal, but that’s not how life really is, especially the lives of the people in his house. Rose’s mom has this deep longing to find herself and deflects many of those feelings by loving her children intensely. Meanwhile, Rose’s brother is pretty shut off from the world, burying himself in books and science, but also has something odd going on that I won’t spoil, but turns out to be pretty crazy.

The book also deals with normal things like growing to understand the adult world, first loves gone bad and the responsibility many children feel to their parents. The beauty of Bender’s writing is that she can so seamlessly infuse these normal, relateable human moments with some pretty crazy elements. Being a comic book fan, I think I might have been a little more primed for this kind of book which shares a basic premise with John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew. I’d be curious to find out if people not in that camp would be able to get into the slightly off kilter world of this book.

Reading this book was a little like looking at a series of mirrors for me. I could relate to pretty much every character in this book on a very personal level that surprised me. It might just be a matter of happenstance, that the fears, insecurities, hopes and dreams running around in my head were so well represented in this book, but it’s there. One character’s desire to just fade away, another’s desire to tackle the world, the mom’s desire to find something outside of her family that fulfills her and even Rose’s appreciation for a simple dishwashing job. All those things are bouncing around my head at any given day, so it was a pleasure to see these things on the page.

I can’t recommend Bender’s work enough. As I mentioned when I wrote about Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, there are a lot of similarities in styles between these two women. It’s funny, while reading Bones I noted that Sebold’s style reminded me of Bender’s and this time, while reading Cake, Bender reminded me of Sebold. If you’re looking for an author who looks at things from a different perspective and explains them deftly with an expert use of language and sense memory, give The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake a read.

With Bender’s book crossed off the list, I’ve now moved on to Please Kill Me and am about 150 pages into this 430 page beast. I’m learning all kinds of stuff, some pretty crazy things and keeping track of records I want to check out. What a wild time. And after that? Well, I’ve already got my next Ambitious Reading List read to roll. It’s another dozen books of all different shapes, sizes and topics. I’m pretty excited, should be fun.

Ad It Up: GoBots & Quik

 

I can only imagine how the Transformers and Yoo Hoo fans must be snickering at this ad. Two also-rans in one place! But, as I’ve said, I liked the GoBots and I also happen to like Quik, so I’m all about this bit of advertising scanned from the first issue of the 1985 Punisher miniseries. Also, not for nothing, but this is a pretty amazing contest. Winners got a complete set of Gobot toys? Boom. I’d take that.

Casting Internets

I got to talk to Brian K. Vaughn about Saga for CBR again, this time after having actually read a bunch of the issues. It was a good one.

I’ve rekindled my love affair with writing lists for Topless Robot. I’ve got three in and am currently working on a fourth, but the first of the batch went up: Ed Asner’s Geekiest Voice Over Roles!

My pal Justin posted a great piece on his Aclin Corp blog about editing and revising and how his relationship with it has changed over the years. There’s a Jabba’s Palace Lego set?! (via Entertainment Earth)

I am very excited to hear about the return of Joe Schmo on Spike TV, that was a big favorite in college. (via EW)

A Jason Statham-less Transporter doesn’t sound great to me on paper, but since this is a TV series and it stars Chris Vance who was in my beloved Prison Break and I’m psyched…for when the Cinemax series finally makes it to DVD or Netflix. (via Collider)Dan Hipp did an Adventure Time cover!!

Michael Ruhlman had Tracie McMillan do a guest post about making it as easy for Americans to get fresh produce as it is to get fresh water. It’s a fascinating argument, something I’d never thought about that makes perfect sense. After The Final Curtain is selling prints of some of their amazing balcony shots. The site chronicles decaying, but still mostly intact theaters all over the country. I like them all.

Well, I didn’t finish watching Deadly Blessing for the Final Girl Film Club in time, but you can check out her review here. The Ashcan All-Stars decided to make my week by doing an 80s theme. I’m particularly partial to the John Candy piece by Brent Schoonover.

I’m not sure how I feel about The Monkees reuniting and touring with Davy Jones having passed away, but I thought this Rolling Stone article with Mike Nesmith was pretty interesting.

007 Legends keeps sounding cooler and cooler. I’m getting more excited for this game than any one in a long, long time. ShortList got the dirt on the two recently announced levels: Die Another Day and Licence to Kill!!!