Friday, March 01, 2013

BBC teases debut of Doctor Who's new season

From the press release:
 Doctor Who is to return to BBC One on 30 March in a modern day urban thriller announced today as 'The Bells of St John', as the first official image is revealed giving fans a sneak peak at what to expect from the epic new series.
Written by Steven Moffat, 'The Bells of St John' will mark the official introduction of the Doctor's newest companion, Clara Oswald, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Having already made two appearances last year, the opening episode will be the first time fans get to see the Clara that will accompany the Doctor across the series' eight adventures.

Set in London against the backdrop of new and old iconic landmarks, The Shard and Westminster Bridge, 'The Bells of St John' will also establish a new nemesis, the Spoonheads, who will battle the Doctor as he discovers something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi.
Steven Moffat, executive producer and lead writer, said:

"It's the 50th year of Doctor Who and look what's going on! We're up in the sky and under the sea! We're running round the rings of an alien world and then a haunted house. There's new Cybermen, new Ice Warriors and a never before attempted journey to the centre of the TARDIS. And in the finale, the Doctor's greatest secret will at last be revealed!  If this wasn't already our most exciting year it would be anyway!"

Featuring a movie a week from a ghost story to an underwater siege to a period drama, the new series will also introduce new monsters, as well as bringing back fan favourites the Ice Warriors and Cybermen.

Meanwhile the series' stellar list of guest stars include: Celia Imrie; Richard E Grant; Warwick Davis, Jessica Raine; Dougray Scott and Tamzin Outhwaite, as well as for the first time on screen together, mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling.

Pop culture roundup

The 1954 publication of Frederic Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent" wasn't the first public attack on comics, comics historian Barry Pearl notes. Check out his post about  a 1948 magazine article by Wertham accusing comics of ruining the minds of America's youth -- plus a 1911(!) letter to the New York Times accusing the Sunday comics pages of doing the same. Is this why the Times doesn't publish funnies?


An artist is turning his obsession with the Beatles' "White Album" into a project.
Pursuing an interest in exhaustive cataloguing, Chang has collected over 650 first-pressings of the Beatles’ White Album. He considers the serialized first-press, an edition running in excess of 3 million, to be the ultimate collector’s item, and aims to amass as many copies as possible. Over the course of his Session, Chang will create an archive, listening library, and anti-store to house and grow his collection of the Beatles’ iconic record.

Chang will create a record store that stocks only White Albums. But rather than selling the albums, he will buy more from anyone willing to part with an original pressing in any condition.

Hong Kong's Disneyland is adding an area dedicated to Marvel Superheroes.

The addition of Marvel in Hong Kong will be the first of its kind of any Disney resort, and could be a big draw for mainland Chinese tourists after the success of several Hollywood smash-hits that featured Marvel characters. Marvel superheroes could also attract older and more affluent visitors, as opposed to the younger audiences that the traditional Disney characters target.

David Crosby is auctioning off some of his stuff, including that groovy cap he wore while a member of the Byrds.


DC Comics is backtracking on its idiotic "WTF Month" promotional scheme.
Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told attendees at last week’s ComicsPRO annual meeting the “WTF Certified” logo won’t appear on any of the comics released in April, “because we don’t need it.” According to an unnamed retailer, DiDio said there’s already awareness of the event among store owners and readers.
One wonders what might happen if grownups instead of frat boys were put in charge of the Big Two comics companies.

Video finds: The Cliff Ewards Story

A short documentary about the entertainer who voiced Jiminy Cricket in Disney's Pinocchio and had a raft of 20s and 30s musical hits as Ukulele Ike.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trailer for new album by James Hunter

I like the retro soul of James Hunter's previous couple LPs. New one is out this week.

Hear Jimi Hendrix's People, Hell and Angels album

People, Hell and Angels, a new collection of previously unissued Jimi Hendrix recordings is now streaming via NPR.

The album is out March 5.

Pop stuff: What I'm reading, watching, hearing, etc.

Alex Toth's Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures

If you've read much about Toth, you knew he was an opinionated cuss and very critical of comics and comic art --  including his own.

One of his biggest frustrations with comic book stories, and the Zorro scripts he was given at Dell in particular, was that they tended to place words over image. Toth felt that, in a visual medium, pictures should drive the story, not words.

In these stories, which should be a perfect match for Toth's love of swashbuckling adventure and his ability to put beautiful, flowing action on the comics page, you can't help but relate to his frustration.

We should be getting big panels of Zorro sword-fighting up and down staircases, swinging into action. leaping off balconies and running across moonlit rooftops. Instead, we get page after page crammed with six panels of talking heads practically crouching under crowded word balloons.

Part of this is a product of the time, the late 1950s, when comics tended to be word driven and pictures came in second. Dell's editors didn't appreciate the caliber of artist they had on hand. If only they'd let Toth follow through on his desire to cut some of the words and move forward more of the story with his visuals, which there's no question he could have done.

So, as much as people tend to praise Toth and his work on this series, in my view it's not the artist presented at his best. It's not even that entertaining of a read. Occasionally, there a nice plot twist or a funny scene. But I kept thinking how much better it could be.

Speaking of which, the production values in this new color edition from Hermes Press is taking some hits in online customer reviews. Some folks prefer the black and white/gray-scale version published by Image Comics in 2001. I missed that one, though it's still available and I may need to pick it up. Toth's art looks very good in black and white -- he was a master at balancing the two tones. The Hermes edition reviewed here looked ok to me, but there's no question that the colors, "remastered" from scanned art, overpowers the line art and images are somewhat murky and blurred in spots.

If you love Toth, there's no question you'll want to see these stories in one form or another. But be prepared to be a little underwhelmed. The stories here don't compare with much of his other work, including the great Zorro pin-ups and stand-alone illustrations he did throughout his career just for fun. In these, at least, he had room to let his imagination, and Zorro's cape, flow.

Video find: Ukulele Ike performs "Singing in the Rain"

An early film of Ukulele Ike aka Cliff Edwards performing his big 20s hit "Singing in the Rain," later made memorable again by Gene Kelly the movie musical of the same name.

Edwards voiced "When You Wish Upon a Star" in Walt Disney's "Pinocchio."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Iron Man 3 poster

BBC Radio this week: Stream music, comedy, drama and more.

Click the links to stream the following shows.

I Was a Teenage Heartthrob. Nina Myskov confronts the ultimate question for teenage girls in the 1970s - David Cassidy or Donny Osmond? With vivid illustration from archive radio footage and the hits of that extraordinary era.

Alan Bennette: The Lady in the Van. Autobiographical play about the woman who took refuge in author Alan Bennett's Camden garden and stayed for 15 years. Stars Maggie Smith.

Doctor Who: To the Last. The Time Lord calls on friends, family and the Meddling Monk to help overthrow the Daleks.

The Goon Show: The Scarlet Capsule. Professor Ned Quatermass unravels a mystery around some enigmatic blue serge suits. Stars Spike Milligan. From February 1959.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Ian Fleming's magical tale of a car saved from the scrapyard that takes the Pott family on a fantastic adventure. Stars Imogen Stubbs.

Patricia Highsmith: The Call of the Owl. Patricia Highsmith's intriguing tale of obsession, starring John Sharian.

The Howling Terror Mystery. In July 1900, an enormous megaphone projected a human voice for miles across the South Downs. Alan Dein recalls the story the newspapers labelled The Howling Terror.

Hal Foster up close: Tarzan art

Click the images to see up-close images of Hal Foster's stunning line work on his Tarzan Sunday comic strip.