Friday, May 13, 2005

"Gilligan" season 3 DVD art revealed

DVDAnswers has posted the cover art for the third, and final, season set for "Gilligan's Island."

The three-disk, 30-episode set is due out July 26. It's available for pre-order now at Amazon.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Harry deluxe

Scholastic Books has provided a sneak preview of the deluxed edition of "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince."


The Deluxe Edition includes a 32-page insert featuring near scale reproductions of Mary GrandPre's interior art, as well as never-before-seen full-color frontispiece art on special paper. The custom designed slipcase is foil-stamped and inside is a full-cloth case book, blind-stamped on front and back cover, foil stamped on spine. The book includes full-color endpapers with jacket art from the trade edition and a wraparound jacket featuring exclusive art from Mary GrandPre. The deluxe edition will be a total of 704 pages and have a retail value of $60.00; the print run will be 100,000 copies.

Amazon has the plain-old, regular version of the book available for pre-order now. It's out July 16.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New CD releases of note

May 10
Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs
Louis Armstrong In Scandanavia 1933-1952, Volume One
Badfinger Day After Day: Live
Alice Coltrane Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana
Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends and Hands of Jack the Ripper
Sons of the Pioneers featuring Roy Rogers Under Western Skies - Vintage Performances 1934-1935
DVD Son Volt Live from Austin
Lucinda Williams Live at the Fillmore

May 17
Mose Allison Lessons in Living (w/Jack Bruce, Billy Cobham and more) and Middle Class White Boy
Paul Westerberg Besterberg: The Best of
OST Live Fast, Die Never: Music from the TV Series Angel
OST The Muppets: Wizard of Oz
VA Cameo Parkway Story 1957-1967
DVD The Flaming Lips The Fearless Freaks
DVD Elvis Presley Elvis by the Presleys
DVD The Sex Pistols The Great Rock ‘N' Roll Swindle

This week's DVD new releases

New DVD Releases for May 10, 2005

Bad Day at Black Rock

Black Board Jungle

Controversial Classics: (Advise and Consent / The Americanization of Emily / Bad Day at Black Rock / Blackboard Jungle / A Face in the Crowd / Fury / I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang)

Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines - The Complete Series

Have Gun Will Travel Complete Second Season

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang

In Living Color Complete Third Season

Joan of Arcadia Complete First Season

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

The Life Aquatic

Quantum Leap Complete Third Season

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pow! Zap! Tips for reporters writing about comic books

The mainstream press is doing a lot of articles about comic books these days--most of them featuring headlines akin to "Bam! Zam! Comics books aren't just for kids anymore."

It seems like everyday, some enterprising reporter wanders into a comic book shop, takes a look at all the 30- and 40-year-old men standing around and rushes back to the newsroom thinking he/she has the freshest news angle in the world.

And with new "Batman," "Superman" and "Fantastic Four" movies impending, we can look forward to much more of the same.

So, if you're a reporter who by some chance comes across this, let's move beyond clich├ęs shall we?

Here's some stuff to keep in mind when doing articles on funnybooks:

1. Stan Lee is not a cartoonist. He got called that, and an artist to boot, in many of the stories written following his recent successful lawsuit over "Spider-Man" movie profits.

Stan was a writer and publisher and--although many comic books fans will argue with this point--he co-created Spider-Man. And the Hulk. And the Fantastic Four.

And, while it's true Marvel Comics not Stan, owns the rights to his creations, Lee has done pretty darn well financially and in terms of public recognition. He's not the poor, downtrodden guy depicted on "60 Minutes" and in newspaper articles. He deserves more than he got, but he got a lot more than...

2. Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Bill Finger, etc. Ditko is the artist who co-created Spider-Man (and Doctor Strange, should Marvel eventually make a movie about him). Tell his (completely fascinating) story when "Spider-Man 3" comes around.

Kirby was the artist who co-created the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Silver Surfer with Lee. And he friggin' invented the visual language of super-hero comic books while he was at it. For God's sake, write about him. Do a PBS "American Masters" special about him. Call in Ken Burns.
And when you do stories about "Batman Begins," take an opportunity to mention Finger (yeah, it's a funny name), who co-created the Caped Crusader (go ahead and use "Caped Crusader," it's a cliche, but what the hell, how often do you get to write about Batman?) with Bob Kane but never got any credit or money for it.

And since the new "Batman" movie will include the villain Ras Al Ghul, mention writer Denny O'Neill and artist Neal Adams, who came up with him.

Pick up a copy of Gerard Jones' "Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book" and remember to mention Superman's creators too.

3. Comic books aren't for kids, period. Do a story about how the mainstream comic book industry has abandoned children as a potential audience.

The main audience for comics these days are those 20-, 30- and 40-year-old guys you noticed in the shop while doing your "research."

The Big Two publishers (DC and Marvel) have lost the plot. Flagship super-hero comics featuring Superman, Batman, the Flash and others have become increasingly dark in tone. Comics creators and publishers these days tend to confuse dark with "adult" or "sophisticated," but it usually just means "unpleasant."

There was a recent series featuring the Justice League where a longtime supporting character was raped and murdered. There's a new one where a character is shot in the head. A while back, an issue of the Avengers featured a scene where the character Ant-Man shrinks down and, um, enters his wife.

And, even if they were appropriate for younger people to read, many of these super-hero books are impossible for newcomers to understand. They're mired in what the longtime fans call "continuity," i.e. "everything that's ever come before." Often, you need to know the entire 30-, 40-, 50-year history of a title and its characters to fully follow what's going on. Think "Star Trek."

Many older readers love continuity and "sophistication" and the publishers are too short-sighted to alter course and make their flagship titles and characters interesting, appropriate or accessible to younger, newer readers.

While you're at it, write something about the fiasco that is the "direct market" and how badly the comics industry shot itself in the foot with that brilliant idea.

4. Manga, manga, manga. Forget all the superhero references, the most happening thing in comics right now are these black-and-white, paperback format Japanese comics. They're taking over your local Barnes and Noble. Kids like 'em. Heck, even girls like em.

5. Art Spiegelman won his Pulitzer 15 years ago. When talking about how "comic books aren't just for kids anymore," use a more recent reference, like "Blankets" or Eisner's "The Plot" or some other dang thing.

6. Keep Frank Miller in perspective. The "Frank as Comic Book God" stories that came out around the time of the "Sin City" movie release made me queasy. Come on!

The first "Sin City" stories came out 13 or 14 years ago or something like that and Frank just repeated the formula ad nauseum and hasn't done anything decent since.

Plus he inadvertently ruined Batman with his "Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel that came out in 1987. The grim'n'gritty take was interesting at the time, but has been imitated into tedium by every wanna-be scripter since. In other words, Miller's no genius. In fact, he's kind of annoying. Read up on Will Eisner or EC Comics or Jack Kirby or something if you need to find a funnybook genius.

7. Take your copy editor aside and urge him/her to come up with a headline that doesn't include cheesy sound effects. The "Batman" TV show has been off the air since 1968.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Wood's "Panels that Work" up for auction

Any comic art fan worth his salt has probably come across this before. Now, if you have a zillion dollars, you can own it. It's Wally Wood's classic tutorial strip "22 Panels that Always Work!!!," up for bid at Gotham City Art.

(The pic below isn't a shot of the original, but a copy I found on the Web and tweaked a bit in hopes that it would be easy to see/read).

"Sid Caeser Show" coming to DVD

A big collection of favorite bits from the pioneering comedy series is due out June 28.

"Sid Caesar - The 50th Anniversary Collection" features more than three and a half hours of highlights from the show, along with extras including:
  • Exclusive Footage From Sid's 1999 Friar's Club Roast.
  • Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Larry Gelbart.
  • Bonus Sketches: "Four Englishmen", "Airplane Movies", and the Silent Movie "A Rich Man's Joke" (with Charlton Heston).
  • Bonus Musical Sketches: Performances By Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, "Nan's Birthday," and The Haircuts sing "Going Crazy."
  • Side-by-side comparison of the restoration process.
  • Original Playbill.
  • Original script of "Progress Hornsby" sith handwritten notes.
  • Cast and Writer biographies.

Details on new "Batman Animated," "Super Friends"

Warner Home Video has detailed extras featured in its third "Batman: The Animated Series" and second "Super Friends" collections.

"Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 3" collects the final 28 episodes of the "Batman the Animated Series." Confusing things, however, is a planned "Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 4." That one will include shows originally aired on television as "Batman: The New Adventures." But it was by the same Paul Dini/Bruce Timm production team--same thing, basically, just a new name.

Anyway, "Vol. 3" extras include:
  • Gotham’s New Knight featurette on Batgirl as Batman’s newest ally.
  • Commentary on “Read My Lips” episode by series producer Bruce Timm, producer/director Boyd Kirkland and composer Shirley Walker.
  • Video commentary on “House and Garden” by series producer Bruce Timm, writer Paul Dini, director Boyd Kirkland and moderator Jason Hillhouse.
  • Commentary on “Harlequinade” by series producer Bruce Timm, writer Paul Dini and composer Shirley Walker.

The "Super Friends Vol. 2" set includes 16 episodes from the series along with:

  • The Wonderful World of The Wonder Twins featurette on the sensational space-born Wonder Twins.
  • Pajama-Rama SuperFriends Retrospective with Kevin Smith and guests, celebrate loveable goofiness and good times that is “The Super Friends.”

Both sets are out May 24.

Bye, bye bullet: DC Comics gets new logo

Here's something that doesn't happen everyday...or even every 30 years: DC Comics has announced a new logo for its books, shedding the "bullet" that's been around since the 1970s.

For your review: