Kirst Words

They only sound cursed.

October 2nd, 2015

As I mentioned in my last post I am on call from 9/30-10/7 but today, I went to see The Martian. I had 4 hours that I could take off due to overtime and so I took that time off today where the rest of the group was able to field all calls as part of the normal business day. I did not see it in 3D.

The Martian is based on the book by Andy Weir which I read last book club. In the near future NASA is running expeditions to Mars. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is part of the 3rd group, Ares 3, and gets stranded when the crew has to make an emergency evac during a severe storm where they think he’s dead. He uses science to engineer a way to survive.

The movie follows the book relatively closely with a huge amount of very minor but understandable changes and only one blatantly glaring, major deviation at the very end which I found forgivable. There are things in the book which work well as text but would never work in a movie. Weir spends a lot of time explaining the science of everything: how many calories one needs to survive, how many pirate-ninjas to run a vehicle, how to make water with fire. In the film we see the end results without any detailed explanation. Watney is seen counting potatoes and rations and then says he can survive X number of days. He moves solar panels and then goes on expeditions with the Rover. He hooks up some tubes, lights a fire and soon water is seen condensing on walls. Alright, some things go wrong but not as badly as in the book. The fire thing to make water, in the book all I could think was this is where I’d check out.

I found having read the book to be a great advantage as the movie tended to gloss over moments I found endearing. The movie also didn’t make Mars appear to be as oppressively uninhabitable as it is in the book. I think the one thing the movie really failed to capture was how impossible Watney’s task of surviving was. Maybe having read the book and knowing how it ends altered my perception but I think it was more the lack of explanation or simplification of Watney’s problems. Every time a problem occurred it was solved calmly and relatively quickly. In the book we were treated to a detailed explanation of what Mark believed the problem was, how it was going to kill him, several ideas for overcoming it and shooting them down as he thinks the science through. Eventually he would come up with an unique and believable solution which he executed — usually under duress but — saving his life.

I’m sure I would like The Martian even if I hadn’t read the book but it was definitely worth seeing since I had. There is no stinger but there is an epilogue not in the current printing of the book (but hinted at in first runs) which bleeds into the start of the credits.

September 26th, 2015

The second Maze Runner film doesn’t really have any mazes in it. Or does it? No, it doesn’t. The short of the film is the story is weaker but the action scenes are better. If you liked the first and can suspend disbelief about Minho’s (Ki Hong Lee’s) always perfect hair you might like this. It’s 2 hours 12 minutes and I didn’t stay to see if there was a stinger. Good? More synopsis (than review) with SPOILERS to follow.

Scorch Trials begins with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his pals being taken to a base in helicopter. The chopper lands outside the base allowing flare victims to attack the transport. Why not land inside or on top of the base? Outside means you’re guaranteed to eventually lose a chopper to attack. Anyway it provided some start of the movie tension. With Thomas from the last film are Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) — Thomas’s romantic interest, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster,) Frypan (Dexter Darden,) Winston (Alexander Flores,) and of course, Minho — still with his perfectly gelled hair. There are many other teens freed from various W.C.K.D a.k.a. WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department in the books) mazes. All will be sent to a new paradise where kids who are immune to the Flare virus will help rebuild the earth. But they’re only going a few at a time.

Thomas suspects something fishy, especially because Teresa is being kept from him and new runner, Aris (Jacob Lofland,) takes Thomas into the ducts to show him this new organization is really still a front for WICKED! Thomas, Aris and the rest of the guys free Teresa and break out. The end up in an abandoned mall which isn’t really abandoned, it has zombies! Actually they’re victims of Flare but they look and act exactly like zombies. The fast kind. And there is lots of running. Any scene with the zombies (sorry, flare victims) I found really well done. Winston is injured by one of the flare zombies but they sort of escape by hiding until daybreak. Where did the flare zombies go? No idea. Maybe they don’t go out in the day. The group heads to the mountains to find the Right Arm, a resistance group against WICKED.

Winston is infected with the flare surprising everyone because aren’t the kids immune? Anyway, that’s it for him and the group travels across The Scorch (desert — that’s how I’m interpreting it) to the mountains. When they get close the find a base where they are taken prisoner. Minho’s hair is still perfect though perhaps his getting struck by lightning is the explanation. The gang running the base wants to sell the kids back to WICKED but their leader, Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and his ward, Brenda (Rosa Esposito) see the kids as their ticket into the Right Arm and free them and escape. Thomas and Brenda are separated from the rest and have to escape on their own. This is the best action scene of the whole film. It starts with them in some abandoned factory, goes into tunnels and then ends up with the pair being chased by zombies into a destroyed city. Brenda gets bitten but she still has a while and there is the start of a possible romance. They meet up with Jorge and the rest. They all end up finding the Right Arm where many more immunes are present including some from Aris’s maze. (FYI-Aris was the one guy in a maze of women.)

Brenda succumbs to the virus but a concoction from Thomas’s blood temporarily saves her. We discover Thomas was the source for all of the Right Arm’s intel until he was discovered and put in the maze. We also find out Teresa was given her memories back at the beginning of the film and whatever she recalls makes her betray everyone by giving the Right Arm’s location to WICKED. Minho gets captured and he and Teresa, along with many of the immunes in the Right Arm, are taken back to WICKED. Thomas vows to go back and free Minho. His team, along with what’s left of the Right Arm agree to help him.

The really good stuff was flare-zombie running. The tunnel/city zombies were much more advanced in their mutation than the mall zombies so that may be why they went out in the light without any issues. Alan Tudyk has a small and kinda meaningless part where he overacts lots but it’s always fun to see him. The biggest issue is the lack of any resolution or really any story. It just feels like prep for the climax. Getting everything in place but not really doing much. Overall it’s passable but just barely. Not sure I can make two more films.

I’m on call next week (9/30-10/7) and I’m missing a crazy array of good movie stuff. The Martian premiers, Rifftrax: Miami Connection, and the first Attack on Titan live action! I’ll be able to catch the third showing of Attack on Weds 10/7 if i want (and I kinda do) and Martian will have a good run but Rifftrax is entirely within my on-call period.

August 22nd, 2015

American Ultra
Chariot progressive listen
Mandelbrot set is in motion
Echo choir has been breached
We are fielding the ball

Hardcore stoner Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) was part of a failed CIA “Bourne Identity” type program known as Wise Man, had his memory wiped and was placed in Liman, a small town in West Virginia. Yates (Topher Grace,) head of the Wise Man replacement Tough Guy program, wants to eliminate this failure because… well, because he’s a jerk and if he didn’t want to, there’d be no movie. (Really. This is the reason for the movie.) Lasseter (Connie Briton) headed Wise Man and discovers what Yates is doing. She tries to activate Mike to protect him. At the center of all this is Phoebe (Kristen Stewart,) Mike’s girlfriend, for whom he is trying to build up the courage to propose. Why is she at the center of everything? That would be telling.

Billed as an action/comedy, I’m not sure who this movie was intended for. It’s not very funny. There are a few moments mostly surrounding Rose (John Leguizamo,) Mike’s source of weed and illegal fireworks. I think Yates’ ladder-climbing, back-stabbing, preening character was intended to be funny but is so boorish and unlikable you just want him dead. And don’t think you even get that. Same with the wishy-washy, CIA desk jockey, Petey (Tony Hale) — no laughs, you just feel sorry for him. The action scenes are standard. They’re not bad but also aren’t very exciting. Even the score is weak and doesn’t add to the scenes. Overall the concept is good and you can see where it could have been a great movie but the execution is lacking.

So was there anything good? Eisenberg and Stewart (yes, Kristen “line” Stewart) hold the film together with strong performances and keep it from being a complete loss. It’s easy to see why he loves her. Phoebe is supportive, clever and eminently practical. I wasn’t so sure about what she saw in him but that gets explained and it’s mostly through Mike’s eyes that we see everything. Connie Briton is the only government operative who comes across as likable and the only one who might be competent, including the boss cameo at the end. There’s also one really heartfelt moment between Mike and Laugher (Walter Goggings) at the end of the film. But good acting isn’t necessarily what I’m looking for in a action/comedy film and isn’t enough to make Ultra worth recommending. Despite what I’ve said, it’s really not all that bad but know it’s not that good either.

August 21st, 2015

Wizard World Chicago 2015 has started. And finished — for me. Last year I bought a Friday ticket and the Thursday Amazaon special and that was too much, so this year I did the Living Social Thursday special only.

The plan was to see a film at Muvico, hit the con and have dinner at one of the restaurants in the MB Financial Park. Thursday con hours were 3-8; essentially just a half-day where a few vendors and exhibitors would not be set up having not arrived yet but I would easily have the full con experience. There were no movies that allowed a close to 3PM finish except for Minions which would probably get out 3:15-ish. Certainly no showings of the two movies I wanted to see, Compton or U.N.C.L.E. I would either have to find something to do for up to two hours or lose at least an hour of con. So I skipped the movie. No big, I see a lot of movies.

I left home just after 2PM, arrived just before 3 and parked in MB Financial lot. I got a pretty good spot by the elevator on the 3rd floor. The only way this would backfire was if I needed to drag things back to the car having bought too much. At the con, here were about 15 ticket windows for will call. Of those fifteen, two were for both Living Social and Groupon and both had long-ass lines. Everything else was empty. Getting my ticket took an half hour. The only plus behind that was the entry queue was exhausted by the time I was ready enter.

Much like the last few years, in addition to the panel and programming rooms Wizard World now occupied two halls at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. I did a walk through of both. The smaller one had a t-shirt booth that had Buckaroo Banzai shirts (this is the holy grail of shirts) but there was not much else of interest for me. All the celebrity signings were on that side. The main room offered a few more choices but not much. There were some cheap trade places, a few gaming store set-ups and a fair amount of anime related merch, though only one that had a good selection of blind boxes and they were hella expensive. One place had exotic jerky: bear, gator, bison, ostrich. Maybe some others as well as the standard, beef. I am helpless before jerky so I bought some. Artist’s Alley had Art Adams and Joyce Chin, from whom I purchased sketchbooks. There was a guy who had soap, including pink, Fight Club logoed bars. At this point it wasn’t even 5PM and I was mostly done. I spent the next 90 minutes wandering and deciding on what else I might buy and then left, three hours after I entered the center (and that included getting tickets!)

The most surprising thing was there weren’t many attending Chicago artists. Yes, there were the Moys, Andrew Pepoy and Onrie Kopman but not any of the Four Star guys (or gals, Frison,) Mitten, Gene Ha or Jill Thompson. Not even Smarto, who is probably much happier vacationing in Mexico.
I had dinner at the Five Roses Pub where I checked in on Facebook with the above, blog title inspiring line. I was considering Toby Kieth’s earlier in the week though the Sugar Factory was recommended for my diabetes. I had excellent crab cakes, decent Gaelic Steak and their house hefeweisen. I know, I know — hefeweizen and crab cakes aren’t all that Irish.

The Money Pit total: $218
Ticket: 23 (The LS deal was down from $40! Just for Thursday!)
Art Adams sketchbook: 20
Joyce Chin sketchbook: 20
X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan vol 1: 10
Jerky: 20
Fight Club soap: 12
– Elevenses 15
– Gloom: Undead expansion 15
– dice tower: 20
– large dice bag: 8
Dinner: 55
Parking: 0 (MB Financial restaurants validate what currently is $13 parking, good for 24 hours.)

August 14th, 2015

So it’s been a year, let’s do the comics ordering thing again. Right now I’m literally deciding what to order. Orders are due Tuesday 8/18. This is my list of “Things I was interested in” from the August Previews. Again, if I were in the middle of nowhere with a poor LCS (Local Comics Shop) I might pre-order most of this list but I am in the Chicagoland area where good stores are plentiful with a wide variety of choices.

AUG15 0043 NEXUS INTO THE PAST TP 12/02/15 $17.99
AUG15 0294 KID ETERNITY DELUXE ED HC 12/09/15 $24.99
AUG15 0389 JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS TP VOL 01 10/14/15 $19.99
AUG15 0450 RAGNAROK HC VOL 01 10/28/15 $24.99
AUG15 0556 CASANOVA ACEDIA TP VOL 01 10/28/15 $9.99
AUG15 0570 WITCHBLADE 20TH ANNIVERSARY HC 10/28/15 $39.99
AUG15 0605 DIGITAL ART TUTORIALS SET OF 4 10/28/15 $90.00
AUG15 0886 SILVER SURFER TP VOL 03 10/28/15 $17.99
AUG15 0888 MS MARVEL TP VOL 04 11/11/15 $17.99
AUG15 1310 SQUARRIORS TP 10/21/15 $18.99
AUG15 1390 KILLING & DYING HC 10/07/15 $22.95
AUG15 1397 SUMMER BLONDE TP 09/16/15 $16.95
AUG15 1504 ART OF ELFQUEST HC 11/11/15 $50.00
AUG15 1505 NEXUS CHRONICLES HC 10/14/15 $50.00

This is what the list looks like after the first go through. There are four items I am definitely ordering and six that are maybes. For the non-selected items I have no doubt I will be able to purchase the following off the rack: Kid Eternity, Jem, Ragnarok, Silver Surfer and Ms. Marvel. So, except for Ragnarok, they’re gone. I really like Simonson so Ragnarok stays for now. The digital art tutorials sound neat but I really don’t have the money to spend on them right now and I’m not as big a fan of learning on a computer when I can have a book. Not sure what psychological issue is behind this but that plus price make the discs a “no.” Price is also the issue with the Star Trek bags. Also, weren’t all the Trek carrying cases a neutral color (probably black) anyway?

So what’s left?

AUG15 0043 NEXUS INTO THE PAST TP 12/02/15 $17.99
AUG15 0450 RAGNAROK HC VOL 01 10/28/15 $24.99
AUG15 1310 SQUARRIORS TP 10/21/15 $18.99
AUG15 1390 KILLING & DYING HC 10/07/15 $22.95
AUG15 1504 ART OF ELFQUEST HC 11/11/15 $50.00
AUG15 1505 NEXUS CHRONICLES HC 10/14/15 $50.00

Let’s take a look at the four I’m planning to order.
LoEG Gallery Edition. This could be a maybe. I was never a big fan of Kevin O’Neil until LoEG (franlky, I hated his work) but have really grown to appreciate the level of his craft. It also has lettering on the page so that’s a plus. The price tag makes it hard for a store to stock many (if any) for the shelf so if I want one I should order it.
Squarriors. Ashley Witter has some mad skills but isn’t well known or popular, even in Chicago where she currently lives. The title is “iffy” enough I doubt many stores will order it.
Art of Elfquest and Nexus Chronicles. These are two Flesk Publications, coffee-table style books I have been considering pre-ordering for a while. Purchasing them through my LCS gets me a better discount over ordering from Flesk directly.
Obviously I could order almost everything through Amazon and get even better discounts but I like LCSes and want them to survive.

Now for the “maybe” items.
Nexus: Into the Past. I’m buying the Nexus Chronicles so why not a Nexus trade? My Nexus collection is spotty at best and that’s being kind. This one is being published by Dark Horse (not Steve Rude’s self-publishing operation, Rude Dude) which means there’s a good chance of it being available for a while. Still, it’s Steve Rude art so it remains a maybe.
Ragnarok. If Rick doesn’t have enough copies for the shelf of a Ragnarok collection I think I would be justified in mocking him for the rest of his life. So this one is a strong buy it off the rack option. But much like Steve Rude, I like my Simonson.
Killing & Dying. I like Adrian Tomine’s clean art and “slice-of-life” stories but have not bought anything recent which is why Summer Blonde was also initially on the list. I will probably be able to get this at Challengers “off the shelf” so I probably won’t order it.
Alex Raymond. Another coffee-table book. The only reason this isn’t a “must buy” is the price.
– The “Spear and Magic Helmet” Statues. These would be a nice addition to the house and they’re not terribly, too expensive but costs this month are potentially hella high as it is. I also have a thing against statues. I’m a little OCD and if I get stuck in a statue buying thing I could be spending lots and lots of money.

So what am I going to order? Still deciding. Then I have to split it up amongst Challengers and Graham Crakers.

[Follow up 10/15]
I went yes on Alex Raymond and the statues. All three coffee-table books were ordered through Rick, everything else through Dal and Pat.

August 10th, 2015

Trying to recapture my youth I saw three films yesterday. I planned to pay to see Fantastic Four (2015) and then sneak in to Mr Holmes which, if I timed things out correctly, would start 15 minutes after FF got out. Amazingly after Mr. Holmes finished M.I.5, which I saw last week, was just starting up (maybe I missed the first trailer) and I snuck in to that as well. I saw a lot of trailers and while the film looks good, I’m pretty sure I never want to see that Steve Jobs trailer ever again.

Fantastic Four (2015)
So the FF are one of my favorite superhero teams. I didn’t think the previous iterations (with Jessica Alba and Chris Evans) were horrible but they weren’t great either. This newest version is hovering around 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now much like the Lego Movie, which I didn’t think was worth 99%, the reason it achieved that high rating was while it wasn’t the best film ever it really didn’t do anything wrong for people to give it a bad review. Fantastic Four isn’t completely terrible but did so little right it’s hard to give it a good review. The movie feels very incomplete.

Fantastic Four starts with a young Reed and Ben (and my favorite cameo Dan Castellana (Homer Simpson!) as their teacher) working on matter transportation and ending up as highschoolers still doing the same thing. Or so they think. What Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) have actually been doing is dimensional transport. Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) has been doing the same thing and he sees Reed’s research as a breakthrough. He gives Reed a scholarship to the Baxter Institute where he works with previous boy genius, Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) who had departed the program due to philosophical issues and Franklin’s children, Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan.) Reed’s time at Baxter is done mostly in montage form.

The group successfully breaches the dimensional barrier but the corporation backing the Baxter Institute decides to get the government involved. Instead of letting others take the glory of being first, Victor, Reed, Johnny and for some reason, Ben (there’s a reason, it’s just ridiculous) preemptively take the trip. That other dimensional planet has energy literally coursing through the ground. Things go wrong and Victor gets left behind. Sue is the only technician present on the group’s return and she gets hit with the same energy which is how the FF get their powers.

Here’s where the film falls apart. The rest feels very rushed. The first 60 (of 100 total) minutes is spent on getting powers and the rest gets compressed into 40 minutes. This involves Reed escaping the military base and spending a year on the run, Ben being sent on military missions, Johnny and Sue learning to control their powers, capturing Reed, fixing the dimensional ship and retrieving Doom, the big, climactic battle and then the epilogue where they get a base and name themselves. (Cutman!) This is one of those times where the film needed to be either much longer or just stop somewhere around where they got their powers because the current version is just unsatisfying.

Mr. Holmes
Mr. Holmes is about an aged Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellan) who is on his last legs and losing his memory. He has retired to the seaside but cannot remember the details of the case which drove him to retire those many years ago. He only knows it was his greatest failure. He is trying to do his best to restore his failing memory resorting to consuming Royal Jelly from the bees he’s raised and is becoming desperate and attempting more radical treatments.

As the movie starts Holmes has just returned from Japan where he has retrieved a concoction derived from the Prickly Ash tree as well as a sapling. He is met by his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker doing his best young Thomas Sangster impersonation.) Roger is a big Sherlock Holmes fan and Holmes deduces the boy broke into his study to read the only story penned by Holmes himself — though the story is incomplete. Roger’s curiosity inspires Holmes to try and recall the tale. He sees the story’s completion tied to his failing memory. If he can conquer one, perhaps he can conquer the other.

There are three time periods presented. A flashback to just after the WWI where this mystery started. Current times (which occur shortly after WWII) and just prior (a month, two? still post WWII) when he visited Japan. In Japan he is hosted by Mr. Umezake (Hiroyuki Sanada) who is a Holmes fan and expert on the Prickly Ash. Or so we are led to believe. His father, an Ambassdor in England, abandoned his wife and son citing the advice of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Umezake wants closure and only Holmes can provide it. In the past the mystery concerns a grieving woman who cannot bear children which sends her into deep depression. Her husband is trying to keep his secretive wife from being swindled and hires the detective. Roger, whose father died in WWII, sees Holmes as a father figure. Holmes takes an interest in the precocious lad teaching him about the bees he raises.

At the center of all these issues is an emotional response but Holmes only has his logic which has served him so well. The course of this movie was unexpected in that it sought to show emotional growth in Sherlock Holmes. The story isn’t perfect but the acting, particularly by McKellan and Linney, is just wonderful.

It should be noted I was the youngest of the 20+ people in the theater. I am 47 but often pass for early to mid 30s but if there was anyone like me they had to be in their 90s!

Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation
I’ve just amended my previous review — nothing really new. It was surprising to see Jingchu Zhang get opening credits billing for a very small roll but then recalled the film has Alibaba and China Films as investors.

August 1st, 2015

Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation is a fun, summer romp. The story involves IMF agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise,) out to stop The Syndicate, an anti-IMF. The Syndicate is run by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who reminds me more than a little of James Bond. Even down to his outfit which, for much of the movie, is a Daniel Craig Spectre-like, black, turtle-neck. Is M.I.5 a commentary or at least a slight dig at Bond? Probably not but if I were in college and needed to write a paper on the film I’d certainly go in that direction. I may just be a little overprotective of my 007.

The film doesn’t change things up as much as the last few entries. Returning are Luther (Ving Rhames,) Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Benji (Simon Pegg.) Newcomer Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is a welcome addition and perfect foil for Hunt. Her character arc is easily the most interesting — she’s an untrustworthy ally who’s working deep under cover and has a her own agenda often putting her at odds with Ethan. She betrays him as much as she helps. Everyone else, even Hunt, is kind of one note in this one. Though he has to remain inscrutable. He’s the one with the plan and he might give something away, not only to his adversaries but the audience.

The relationship between Ilsa and Lane reminds me a great deal of Sleeper, a great spy comic by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Lane knows she’s a “good guy” but doesn’t really care. A good agent is a good agent. Hunt knows she’s a “good guy.” She may be the only one who isn’t sure. She certainly wants to be a “good guy” but in the spy business that isn’t always possible. This sort of is Mad Max: Fury Road where Ethan is just the catalyst for Ilsa’s story.

I’d like to point out the opening credits. They repeat the “overture” credits of Ghost Protocol in that all the big moments of the film are there for you to see, if only you knew what you were looking for. The soundtrack makes good use of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible theme but also sneaks in a little opera. One of the big scenes occurs at the Vienna State Opera for a performance of Turandot. All the action occurs during the famous Nessun Dorma aria where, much like Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, an assassination will occur during that final, climactic “Vincerò!” Nessun Dorma is reprised through the film, mainly in dealing with Ilsa. Is she the beautiful princess for whom Ethan must correctly answer three riddles or die? Maybe, but again, probably more for the college paper me.

Yes, I’ve kind of avoided all discussion of plot or action or how Cruise does his own stunts but it’s a summer blockbuster. You really just want a thumbs up or down, don’t you? Thumbs up. Rogue Nation‘s not as good as Ghost Protocol but it’s still pretty darn good. [8/9 Edit: I’ll let you know in a year, it’s really growing on me.] It’s the second best action film this year after Fury Road. Also, no stinger so you can leave immediately but I liked the curtain-call end credits.

[Follow up 2015.August.9]
I watched Rouge Nation again, a week later on Sunday, and it held up incredibly well. It’s honestly a great, well crafted film.

Able to analyze things more, I would now argue Lane IS a take on the James Bond franchise, even down to some of the musical cues and I liked the Turandot Ilsa-Princess/Ethan-Prince theory so much I even asked director Christopher McQuarrie about it.

Which I take as a “yes.” I almost tweeted an “Me not dumb!” in reply but decided against it. I’ve done a lot of review reading but none of them have indicated anyone else has come up with either of my college paper me theories.

July 23rd, 2015

So there are these things, Artists Editions, that reproduce original comic art. Mostly. Occasionally there are things like overlays which an not be duplicated in a way that would be understandable to a person who did not understand how old school printing and coloring worked. If you’ve seen the David Mazzucchelli Daredevil AE, even the overlay pages do not do what I believe the originals would have — each having two to three overlays. But it’s still beautiful. Then there’s lettering. In the Mignola Hellboy AE his more recent work is unlettered. Now he had just released a trade with everything so I could easily reference what was being said.

In old days, comics were written or plotted and then the page stared. It was penciled, lettered and inked. Colors were done separately. So when you see an old page you see what was written. Modern books are still written but each stage can be done separately. The pencils can be scanned and the inker can work on them physically by printing them out or digitally in that form and they can be lettered at the same time as most lettering is digital now. So how does this impact Artist Editions? Well, until Mignola everything was old enough it had lettering. Now there have been pencil only editions of comics but those were trade sized and meant to be read (Ultimates 3, Hush, etc.) For Doug Wheatley’s Star Wars AE they actually included the full script for each page opposite the art. IDW put out a workprint edition which was trade sized that also had the script opposite the inked art but had the full lettered and colored comic afterwards.

DC is planning on a Michael Turner AE of his Superman/Batman run which was just pencils and colored. It’ll be interesting to see how they do this.

July 22nd, 2015

Ernest Cline is the author of Ready Player One and is a big nerd but he’s proud of it. Last night Anderson’s had him out for his new book, Armada, which seems very much like a rip off of the movie The Last Starfighter. Cline admits it is, but it also rips off many other things.

Cline began by explaining how he got into writing. He was always a big nerd with many of the same nerd influences I had — he’s only a few years younger than I. He wanted to write movies and started by writing a sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension. At the end of that movie it states “Buckaroo Banzai will return in Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League.” The script was just fan fiction but so well received in the fan community he thought he might have a chance at being screenwriter.

He then wrote what would become Fanboys. It was based on the premise of “what if you knew you were going to die before Episode I came out?” He wrote it before the prequels were released but it wasn’t produced until long after. Because in hindsight, you wouldn’t care if you saw the prequels. The film making process changed the essence of his film so much he decided to write novels where he would have complete control.

He then explained the the influences of Ready Player One and the success and fame that came with it. Much of which seems to surround his Delorean which he modified to be a replica of the Back to the Future Delorean with Ghostbuster influences including ghostbusting backpacks stored in the trunk. He then got around to Armada which, in addition to The Last Starfighter, was also influenced by things like Iron Eagle and other things which I don’t remember. He spoke for about an hour, answered a few questions and then signed.

The signing was at North Central College’s Wentz Auditorium which had enough seating to hold everyone. This was a ticketed event and I purchased early enough to get ticket 13. So when it was done I did not wait long. For those who did have a high number, they showed Back to the Future while you waited for your number to be called. He signed outside of the the auditorium. I asked him if he knew about the Buckaroo comics put out by Moonstone which he did.

July 19th, 2015

Ant-Man is good but not great. You won’t be disappointed if you see it but it’s nothing you need to rush out and see. Jeff Lester’s criticism of the movie being a little racist in it’s casting is something I didn’t notice until pointed out. (Jeff along with Graeme McMillan do the wonderful Wait, What? podcast) He saw that every white person in the film is a genius. A Tony Stark level genius. All the comic relief falls to the minorities — even The Falcon. Which is not to say Michael Peña did not steal the show, cuz he did. It’s a minor quibble but in an era where Marvel is really promoting how ethnically diverse they are, this seems a step back.