Thursday, March 13, 2014

Today's best picture ever: George C. Scott and Stanley Kubrick

Vintage ad: DC Comics merchandise, 1976

I had that calendar...

Pop culture roundup: Keith Richards' children's book! The Flash! The Real History of Sci-fi! Neal Adams and Batman's pants! Gotham! British sci-fi art!

News of the Unexpected: Keith Richards is co-authoring a book for kids!
The Rolling Stones guitarist has teamed up his artist daughter Theodora Richards on a picture book, Gus And Me: The Story Of My Granddad And My First Guitar, which is based on his own life.
His grandfather Theodore Augustus Dupree, who was known as Gus, was a jazz musician who introduced the young Keith to music.

He said: "I have just become a grandfather for the fifth time, so I know what I'm talking about. The bond, the special bond, between kids and grandparents is unique and should be treasured. This is a story of one of those magical moments. May I be as great a grandfather as Gus was to me."

Here's a look at actor Grant Gust in costume for the upcoming Flash TV pilot, now in production:


"The Real History of Science Fiction," a BBC America four-part documentary, debuts April 19 and features an impressive lineup of talking heads talking about the development of sci-fi fandom, including William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Steven Moffat, Chris Carter, Karen Gillan, Neil Gaimin, Ursula Le Guin and more. Episodes include: "Robots," "Space," "Invasion" and "Time."


Neal Adams chats about his great covers for the original Batman-Ra's Al Ghul saga and shares this great tidbit:
“You and I are going to play a game,” [Adams] said. “How many pairs of pants does Batman have on this cover?”

“Two,” I answered. “He’s wearing a pair and Ra’s al Ghul is holding a pair. But why is that?”

Adams explained: “It’s because (editor) Julie Schwartz refused to let me have bare legs on Batman. It was OK to do the bare chest, but if he had his pants off that would imply that he had taken his shorts off as well. So you couldn’t do that. So I said ‘But he’s got a costume!’ and Julie says, ‘Nobody will notice.’ And it’s true.”

Here's a logo for and details about "Gotham," the upcoming Batman "prequel" TV series currently in development for Fox.
Although the crime drama will follow James Gordon's turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, "Camelot," “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he's destined to be.


Check out a gallery of vintage British science fiction art.

Pop stuff: Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
I got a bigger kick than expected from this big screen adaptation of the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments from the Rocky and Bullwinkle shows. Generally, when you take something so short and sweet, and blow it up into full-length feature, you lose the charm of the original, but that's not the case here.

The film moves along at a fast clip, with Mr. Peabody, the dog, and Sherman, his boy, time traveling by Wayback Machine right from the get-go. But, despite being fast-moving, this film is much less frantic and loud than many of today's movies for kids. The tone of the adventures is much like that of the original cartoons, complete with bad puns that make you laugh despite yourself.

Since this is a feature, and since the source material wasn't, we need some back story on these characters to round them out and invest them with some emotional weight. This is done on the fly  with a light -- not heavy -- hand. We learn who Peabody is and how he came to adopt a boy, but it's quickly handled so we can do some more time traveling, which is the whole point.

The time travel sequences remind me a bit of Asterix adventures in the way different cultures and historical figures are gently satirized. Plus all the puns. There's some genuinely funny stuff here.

The voice cast is excellent, too. Ty Burrell, the dad on "Modern Family" does a fair job imitating Bill Scott's erudite and elongated speech patterns as Peabody, while his TV daughter Ariel Winter provides the voice of Sherman's initially snotty schoolmate Penny Peterson. Sherman is voiced by Max Charles.

Other voices that pop up include Stephen Colbert as Penny's dad, who looks just like Stephen Colbert, and Leslie Mann plays Penny's mom. Mel Brooks provides the voice of Einstein, Lake Bell is the Mona Lisa, and Patrick Warburton brings his manly tones to the hilariously macho Agamemnon.

Children won't learn much accurate history here and the seemingly obligatory take-home message about family loyalty and acceptance will likely zip right by them, but they'll be amused and entertained by the adventure, and parents will likely get a nostalgic buzz and chuckle, too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Today's best picture ever: Keith Moon

Vintage ad: DC Direct Currents Hot-Line!

I remember calling this! You'd dial in and here folks like Denny O'Neill and Julie Schwartz telling you about upcoming comics. At the time, the concept of a toll-free number was very novel. You could even call it 24-hour-a-day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Watch two Captain America: Winter Soldier featurettes



New comics for May 2014: Avengers Judgement Day; Avengers Legacy of Thanos; Kirby Devil Dinosaur; Invaders Complete Classic Collection; Iron Man Masterworks; Nova Classic; Doom Patrol Omnibus; Showcase Atomic Knights; Secret Files of Dr. Drew, more!

Here's a look at what's coming out from comics publishers in May. Click the links to get pre-order discounts from Amazon.

Avengers Epic Collection: Judgment Day
Roger Stern's fan-favorite run comes to a celestial conclusion! For the life of Hercules, the Avengers must storm the very gates of Olympus and take on an entire pantheon of all-powerful Greek gods! Do our heroes stand a snowball's chance in Tartarus? Then: Magneto's on trial, and he needs all the help he can get! The X-Men aren't sure what his scheme is, but they're positive they don't want the Avengers and the Soviet Super-Soldiers to find out before they do!
COLLECTING: Avengers (1963) #278-285 and Avengers Annual #16; PLUS: Marvel Graphic Novel #27: Emperor Doom; X-Men vs. Avengers #1-4; and West Coast Avengers Annual #2

Avengers: The Legacy of Thanos
When Monica Rambeau, the new Captain Marvel, takes a visit to Thanos' abandoned starship, she ends up the unwitting -- and unwilling -- guest of space pirate Nebula...who plans to conquer the Skrull Galaxy, and who just might be the granddaughter of Thanos himself! If Cap's teammates back on Earth can topple the towering Terminus in the Savage Land, they'll be drawn into Nebula's interstellar conflict...but this time, the Avengers will fight on the side of the Skrulls! Get ready for a cosmic classic as the flame-haired Firelord and the all-mighty Beyonder enter the fray. And it's a small universe when the Fantastic Four appear -- but can even two teams of heroes prevent the biggest shakeup in Skrull history?
COLLECTING: Avengers (1963) #255-261, Avengers Annual #14, and Fantastic Four Annual #19; written by Roger Stern and John Byrne; art by John Buscema, Tom Palmer, John Byrne, Kyle Baker, and Joe Sinnott.

Devil Dinosaur by Jack Kirby: The Complete Collection
Devil Dinosaur was one of Jack "King" Kirby's final Marvel projects, an enchanting and creative fable starring the crafty crimson carnivore and his faithful sidekick Moon Boy...brothers bonded by an uncommon spark of curiosity about their world! On their travels, Devil and Moon Boy are beset by dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, from triceratops and pterodactyls to tyrannosaurus rex...not to mention giant spiders, armies of enormous ants, and even aliens from outer space! And don't forget the Small Folk, led by the warlord Seven Scars, who rejected Moon Boy for befriending the fearsome Devil and who aim to dominate the forest by force! But in the end, what wins the day is Devil and Moon Boy's courage, friendship and fierce loyalty to each other! Relive Kirby's most offbeat saga ever in its prehistoric prime!
COLLECTING: Devil Dinosaur 1-9

Invaders Classic: The Complete Collection Volume 1
Published in the 1970s, set in the 1940s, the Invaders was Marvel's best and brightest retro revival of the Golden Age heroes of World War II...and now, the series is collected across two massive volumes! Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, plus scrappy sidekicks Bucky and Toro first banded together when the United States entered WWII! Now, relive the heroes' untold tales as they face the evil Axis powers; fall under the Red Skull's spell; and battle U-Man, Baron Blood, Master Man, Warrior Woman, the three-in-one Agent Axis and more!

Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man Volume 3
The Iron Avenger returns, courtesy of Stan The Man and the Dynamo of Delineation, Don Heck! The men who "built" Tony Stark pit our hero against the undersea menace Attuma, the Dream-Maker and the Titanium Man in classics without compare! Then, after defining the series for nearly 30 issues, Don Heck passes the pencil to Gene "the Dean" Colan, whose lush illustrations take Iron Man to spectacular new heights! Colan and Lee plow straight into a who's who of villains when the Mandarin returns, Ultimo attacks and Iron Man goes toe-to-toe with Namor the Sub-Mariner in one of Marveldom's earliest crossover epics!
COLLECTING: Tales of Suspense (1959) 66-83, Tales to Astonish (1959) 82

Nova Classic Volume 3
Nova's sensational '70s series comes to a close, but that's not the end of his story! Nova faces the Corruptor, Diamondhead and Dr. Sun before blasting into space to tackle the Sphinx! But when the shape-shifting Skrulls attack, old enemies must forge alliances to survive...and when Xandar's Queen Adora begs the Fantastic Four for help, the stage is set for a cosmic battle across time and space! The Sphinx is ready to conquer the world, and Mr. Fantastic knows of only one opponent who can stop him: Galactus! But with the FF rapidly aging thanks to a Skrull weapon, do the heroes have enough time left to find him? And do Nova and the Champions of Xandar have what it takes to save their adopted planet from the Skrull armada?
COLLECTING: Nova 20-25; Fantastic Four 204-206, 208-214

The Doom Patrol Omnibus
The new Doom Patrol puts itself back together after nearly being destroyed, and things start to get a lot weirder for everybody. The Chief leads Robotman, the recently formed Rebis and new member Crazy Jane against the Scissormen, part of a dangerous philosophical location that has escaped into our world and is threatening to engulf reality itself.
Collects Doom Patrol #19-63 and Doom Force Special #1.

Batman: Black and White Vol. 4
The legendary, Eisner Award-winning series BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE returns in a brand-new volume featuring tales of The Dark Knight by some of comics' greatest writers and artists such asChip Kidd, Michael Cho, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones, Maris Wicks, John Arcudi, Sean Murphy, Sean Murphy, Rafael Albuquerque,Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee!
Collects Batman: Black and White #1-6

Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights
In these stories, a variety of heroes including the Atomic Knights, Kamandi, Hercules and many others must face a post-apocalyptic future brought about by the mysterious "Great Disaster."
Collects stories from STRANGE ADVENTURES #117, 120, 123, 126, 129, 132, 135, 138, 141, 144, 147, 150, 153, 156 and 160, 1st ISSUE SPECIAL #1, HERCULES UNBOUND #1-10, KAMANDI #43-46, WEIRD WAR TALES #22, 23, 30, 32, 40, 42-44, 46-49, 51-53, 64, 68, 69 and 123, HOUSE OF MYSTERY #318, SUPERMAN #295, HOUSE OF SECRETS #86, 95 and 97, THE UNEXPECTED #215 and 221, and AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #12.

Tales of the Batman: J.H. Williams III
New York Times Best-selling artist and writer J.H. Williams III's work with Batman in Gotham now is collected in Tales of the Batman: J.H. Williams III!
This collection showcases J.H. Williams III work from BATMAN #526, 550 and 667-669, BATMAN ANNUAL #21, LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #86-88 and 192-196, CHASE #7-8 and DETECTIVE COMICS #821

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Archives Volume 3
The Man of the Atom is humanity's only hope! In a series of catastrophic events like nothing ever witnessed, Doctor Solar struggles to save the earth from giant death machines, nuclear annihilation, lava monsters, robot scorpions, and even a bizarre Doctor Solar clone! Hurtling back in time, Solar relives the incredible events that both blessed and cursed him with godlike powers! Solar battles Primo--an elemental demon--and a million Solars fight microscopic aliens from outer space! Don't miss the strangest, most fantastic tales from the atomic age! This archival volume collects issues #15 to #22 of Gold Key's revolutionary science fiction/adventure series. Featuring a foreword by Mike Baron (Nexus, Badger)!

The Secret Files of Dr. Drew
In 1949 at Eisner Studios, three of Will Eisner's most talented "ghosts" created the remarkable horror comic strip featuring Dr. Desmond Drew, a paranormal investigator and "supernatural Sherlock Holmes." Gorgeously drawn by future Creepy contributor Jerry Grandenetti and written in a gripping pulp style by Marilyn Mercer, these thirteen chilling stories have been collected and digitally restored while retaining the exquisite design and artwork that characterized the output of the Eisner studio. This collection of pre-code gothic horror stories delivers spooks, scares, and classic beauty!

Archie: The Swingin' Sixties - The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics (1963-1965)
Continuing our Eisner Award-winning series collecting the Archie newspaper strip, we reach the mid-1960s when the now-famous cast of Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie are part of a rich ensemble presented by cartoonist Bob Montana. In addition to Fred and Mary Andrews (Archie's mom and pop) and Veronica's father, Mr. Lodge, Montana weaves gags around the entire staff of Riverdale High, including Mr. Weatherbee, Miss Grundy, Mr. Flutesnoot, Miss Shapely, and Miss Beazly, among others. As Bart Beaty notes, "The strip is not so much about Archie as it is about the interaction of all those characters who exist in his orbit. The relatively large cast is particularly suited to the gag-a-day format." Includes more than 800 comics from April 1963 through the end of 1965.

The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 Paperback Edition (Vol. 1)
The best-selling, award-winning, critically acclaimed series that sparked a renaissance for fans of classic comic strips upon its debut in 2004 is now coming in softcover! This first volume, covering the first two and a quarter years of the strip, features hundreds of strips rarely reprinted before this series. Three major cast members — Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus — initially show up as infants and only “grow” into their final “mature” selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy! The Complete Peanuts offers a unique chance to see a master of the art form refine his skills and solidify his universe, day by day. This volume is rounded out with Garrison Keillor’s introduction, a biographical essay by David Michaelis (Schulz and Peanuts) and an in-depth interview with Schulz conducted in 1987 by Gary Groth and Rick Marschall. Black and white with spot color

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trail Of The Unicorn" (Vol. 6)  (The Carl Barks Library)
It’s off to Shangri-Lala for Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, on a perilous expedition to bring back a rare unicorn for Uncle Scrooge! But it’s not as easy as it sounds, with a mysterious stowaway, intrigue, and double-crosses in this land of many secrets. But once you do catch a unicorn, what, exactly, do you do with him? Then, in a trio of frigid challenges — “Luck of the North,” “Land of the Totem Poles,” and “Serum to Codfish Cove” — the Ducks must face the perils of the north. Each story has been meticulously restored and re-colored. Insightful story notes by an international panel of Barks experts. Introduction by Jeff Kinney, best-selling author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Full color illustrations throughout

Asterix Omnibus 7: Includes Asterix and the Soothsayer #19, Asterix in Corsica #20, and Asterix and Caesar's Gift #21
Asterix stories 19 through 21: together in one fabulous volume! In Asterix and the Soothsayer, the sinister Prolix claims he's clairvoyant—but Asterix isn't convinced. Asterix in Corsica has Asterix and Obelix out to foil Praetor Perfidius and oppose Caesar's army. Legionary Tremensdelirius gets the deed to the Gaulish village in Caesar's Gift; but Asterix isn't about to hand over his home!