Pop Artifact! Electric football game

New CD releases of note

May 31
Björk Army of Me
The Impacts Wipe Out!
Terry Melcher Terry Melcher
DVD Moog
Freddie Roach Brown Sugar

June 7
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass Going Places, SRO and What Now My Love
The Decemberists The Tain EP
Graham Parker Songs of No Consequence
Ringo Starr Choose Love
White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan
DVD Marc Bolan and T. Rex Born to Boogie

Today's new DVD releases

New DVD Releases for May 31, 2005

Best of Dudley Do-Right Vol. 1

Complete James Dean Collection (East of Eden / Giant / Rebel Without a Cause Special Edition)

Dukes of Hazzard Complete Third Season

Gary Cooper Collection

Best of Mr Peabody & Sherman Vol 1

Rebel Without a Cause

New "Fantastic Four" posters

A batch of pics being used to promote the upcoming film overseas:

Will Eisner authorized biography coming


Dark Horse’s prose imprint M Press is proud to present a new authorized biography on one of comics’ true legends, Will Eisner. Will Eisner: A Spirited Life is the only authorized and extensively researched biography of Eisner over three years in the making. Chock full of entertaining anecdotes told by the comic industry’s top talents, A Spirited Life pays tribute to a true American original whose legacy will forever be felt not only in comic books and graphic novels but in commercial illustration, fine art, film, television and multimedia.

Pop culture would never have been the same without Will Eisner. Internationally recognized as the founding father of an utterly American medium—comic books—Eisner pioneered this art form in the 1940s, and continued to shape its direction until his passing at 87 in 2005. This personality-driven biography, written by Bob Andelman, explores the fascinating life of Eisner and details a career that stretched across six decades. Eisner spearheaded the cause of comics for adult readers (including 30 years spent producing comics for the U.S. Army and corporate clients such as General Motors and the United Nations) and in 1976 created the first widely accepted graphic novel, A Contract with God.

Eisner influenced some of the world’s greatest comic art talent: Bob Kane (Batman); Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four); Jules Feiffer; Dave Berg (Mad); and Joe Kubert (Tarzan). Eisner also inspired generations of modern artists and writers, including Frank Miller (Sin City), Robert Crumb, Harlan Ellison, Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Art Spiegelman (Maus).

“As Will’s authorized biographer, I spent the last three years with the artist in his studio and his home, as well as poring through his substantial archives at The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library and interviewing dozens of his colleagues, friends and family,” commented biographer Bob Andelman. “We should all be lucky enough to have left such consistent and positive impressions on so many people for so many years.”

Featuring an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon and an appreciation by Neal Adams, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life arrives in stores September 2005 with a retail price of $14.95.

"Indiana Jones 4": It's a go

Creator George Lucas has approved a script for the film, to star Harrison Ford, Cinematical reports.

Jeff Nathanson's draft of the Indiana Jones 4 script has been approved by both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. All that Paramount is waiting on now is for star Harrison Ford to give his approval.

Filming would likely start in 2006.

65 CDs of Motown

That'll be the final tally of CDs included in Hip-O Records' project to issue every Motown single in box set form, according to this Billboard story.

So far, the Web-only label has issued to box sets, bringing things all the way up to 1962. The boxes are limited to 5,000 copies each, but tunes also are available for download via iTunes.

The project continues in the fall with a five-CD set devoted to the 45s of '63."So little of what is in these first three packages had made it to the CD era, or even to the LP era," Hip-O Select senior director Thane Tierney says. "It offers an unparalleled insight into probably the only label in history where, if you say the name of the label, it sets off a sound in your head."

When the project is completed in 2008 with a package covering the label's output for 1972 (the year the label moved from Detroit to Los Angeles), it will comprise 12 volumes totaling 64 or 65 CDs. To mark Motown's 50th, a complete set will be issued in 2009 -- hopefully in a scale replica of the old Hitsville USA building. "We're going to pull out all the stops," Tierney says.

Check out Hip-O Select.

Pop Artifact! Bugs Bunny alarm clock

92 and still going strong: "Lone Ranger" artist Tom Gill

The Albuquerque Tribune has a nice feature this week on Gill, who drew the Masked Man's comic book adventures for 20 years for Dell/Gold Key.

Now a consultant with New York City's School of Visual Arts and a teacher at Westchester and Dutchess community colleges in New York, Gill talks a bit about his early days. A New York native, he admits that the Western settings in his comic book work came solely from his imagination. And he reveals where he learned to draw such great horses:

"I bought a $1 book called `How to Draw Horses: It's Fun and It's Easy,' " he says. "I studied it."

First Finger award winners announced

Lifted from Mark Evanier's blog, here's the press release on the winners of this first-time award for excellence in comic book writing. The awards are named after Bill Finger, comics scribe and co-creator of Batman.

Jerry Siegel and Arnold Drake have been chosen as the first recipients of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. They were chosen by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by Jerry Robinson. The committee decided to give two awards, to honor both a deceased and a living writer who exemplify the award's criteria.

Jerry Siegel was, of course, the co-creator (with Joe Shuster) of Superman and Superboy and wrote the Superman comic books and comic strip from the character's first appearance in 1938 up through the late 1940s. He also co-created The Spectre (with Bernard Baily) for DC. After leaving DC (in a well-publicized dispute) in 1948, he continued to write comic books for a variety of companies and served as the comics art director at Ziff-Davis in the 1950s. He returned to DC in 1958, where he wrote uncredited Superman and other scripts through 1964. He died in 1996.

"There is a poetic sense of rightness that Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, and Bill Finger, the unsung hero and writer of Batman, be symbolically united after three quarters of a century after their iconic characters' debuts," says Robinson. "Although both men led tragic lives, by launching the superhero genre and the Golden Age of comics, they left legacies that have enriched our culture."

Arnold Drake's comics writing career spanned the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His credits include Doom Patrol (creator), Deadman (creator), Batman, Superman, Plastic Man, X-Men, Captain Marvel, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Stanley and His Monster (creator), Little Lulu, Space Ranger, House of Mystery, and Dark Shadows. His It Rhymes with Lust, with art by Matt Baker and Ray Osrin, published by St. John Publishing in 1950, was one of the very first graphic novels.

"Like Finger and Siegel, Drake is a consummate professional writer," says Robinson. "As the author of hundreds of stories from the Silver Age to the present, his credits demonstrate an amazing versatility, ranging from the superhero and adventure such as Doom Patrol to the wry humor of Little Lulu."

The other members of the Finger Awards jury were comics writer and historian Mark Evanier, cartoonist/screenwriter/playwright Jules Feiffer, comics writer/editor Denny O'Neil, and comics writer/editor/historian Roy Thomas.

The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony at this summer's Comic-Con International: San Diego. Joanne Siegel will be present to accept the award for her late husband. Arnold Drake will be on hand to receive his award.

The Finger Award falls under the auspices of Comic-Con International and is administered by Jackie Estrada. The 2005 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics; sponsorship will be open to other companies in future years.

Return of Madness

Many Americans only remember the "Our House" video, but Madness was a brilliant band. They started off as part of the ska revival band and soon ended up as a wonderfully melodic pop group that incorporated funny/sad lyrics commenting on contemporary British society ala The Kinks. One of the better British groups ever. And it looks like they're back.

Billboard reports:

Esteemed U.K. ska act Madness has signed with V2, which is eyeing a July 19 North American release for an as-yet-untitled new album from the original lineup of the group. Although details are scant at deadline, the set is tipped to consist of ska, punk and reggae covers the band performed last summer when it toured as the Dangermen.

"Batman Begins" soundtrack details

It's out June 15:

a unique collaboration between two of the screen's most honored and respected composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, working together for the first time.

...The soundtrack contains 12 tracks composed by Zimmer and Howard and is 60 minutes in length.

"Collaborating on this project has been a lot of fun. Since 'Batman Begins' is a character driven story, we wanted to give Batman credibility through the music. We've created a score that tried to stay true to the duality of the character, capturing the motion, energy, darkness and rage of Batman," said Zimmer and Howard.

Wilson talks "Smile"

USA Today has an interview with Brian Wilson about his excellent "Smile" album and the DVD documentary on same, which is out tomorrow.

"Smile represents my most advanced and best work," Wilson says as he settles into the sofa of his family room. "If I hadn't finished it, I'd probably be in the dumps. Knowing what I created made me happy, but I wouldn't be so happy if it had bombed. I needed that love. When I die, I hope people remember Smile as a great piece of music."

"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.

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.

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

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 clichés 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.

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: