Vintage DC Comics house ad

Secrets revealed at "Lost" confab

Ok, no big secrets, but spoilers nonetheless. Don't read the full Los Angeles Times account if you wanna stay entirely in the dark.

"Serenity" star rumored for "Wonder Woman"

Angel and Buffy News reports on rumors that actress Morena Baccarin, who appeared in "Wonder Woman" director Joss Whedon's "Firefly" TV series and the upcoming big screen spin-off of that show "Serenity," may be interested in portraying the amazon.

Happy birthday Neal Adams!

Cassette culture

At the NPR site, read the introduction to Sonic Youth guitarist/singer Thurston Moore's new book "Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture":

...I made what I thought was the most killer hardcore tape ever. I wrote 'H' on one side, and 'C' on the other. That night, while we were in bed, and after Kim had fallen asleep, I put the cassette on our stereo cassette player, dragged one of the little speakers over to the bed, and listened to the tape at ultra-low thrash volume. I was in a state of humming bliss. This music had every cell and fiber in my body on heavy sizzle mode. It was sweet.

"Firefly" returns to the air this summer

Reruns of Joss Whedon's sci-fi series will air on the Sci Fi Channel starting in July in anticipation of Whedon's big screen "Serenity" film, which is based on the show. "Firefly" is available on DVD too.

Listening to the golden age of comics

The Golden Age of Comic Books, maintained by William Jourdain (who also created the wonderful Golden Age of Batman site), now features podcasts in its blog section.

The second offering features a history of Golden Age Batman artist (and creator of the Joker) Jerry Robinson and an interview with former Marvel Comics scribe/editor Roy Thomas.

"Civilian" has 10 questions about comic books

Jennifer Brummett, staff writer for the Advocate Messenger in Danville, Ky., wrote a column listing stuff that befuddles her about comic books.

Here's her top 10 with my attempts to answer:

1. Why do the bios give the height and weight of the heroes and heroines, as well as, in most cases, hair and eye color? For Halloween costume production? Filmmaking purposes?

Um, cuz fans like to think of these characters as real. Ridiculous amounts of detail goes toward that purpose, as does an insane obsession with "continuity." Comic books, particularly those focusing on superheroes, are set in self-contained fictional worlds, which fans insist must function according to their own internal logic. If a writer contradicts something that happened in a comic way back in 1972, no doubt some fan will get uptight and post some nasty comment about it on his blog. Unless whatever happened back then was negated by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, of course.

2. Why are most of the "cats," whether at DC or Marvel, women?

Because who wants to see a guy in a skin-tight catsuit? Come on!

3. Why hasn't there been a major motion picture done on Dr. Strange? I mean, yeah, there was the 1978 television flick called "Dr. Strange." How many people saw that?

A Doctor Strange

4. Why does the Wonder Woman movie I've been hearing about for the last 10 years or so keep getting stalled? Now, Joss Whedon is attached to direct such a flick. We'll see how long that lasts. Where's the love for the ladies in the limelight? ("Elektra," mind you, was a spin-off of "Daredevil.")

Because it's taken 20 years for the nostaligia factor to kick in. The Lynda Carter TV series, which was ridiculous and silly back in the 70s is now campy and cool. Comic book films don't get made by or at the behest of comic book fans, they get made by folks in Hollywood after the marketing department says its ok to go ahead. The Wonder Woman film isn't being made so much because she's a comic book character (although that helps a lot in the post "Spider-Man" movie climate), but because she was a TV character. Many more people are familiar with her in that context. We're getting a "Dukes of Hazzard" movie, a "Bewitched" movie, etc. So it was only matter of time before they got to her.

5. Why would a creator name a comic book character Umbra? Or Element Lad? Holly Go-Nightly? Abomination? Kang? Soldier X? Thunderbolt Ross? How do they come up with these, ummm, unusual names?

Drugs? Desperation? Dreaded Deadline Doom?

6. Horror movies have crossed the Pacific, as has anime. Could manga be next?

Manga is already kicking the American comics industry's ass in in sales. Go to Barnes and Noble and look at how many manga books are stocked compared to superhero reprints. Kids are loving the manga.

7. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund? Huh?

Comic books have a long history of being singled out as targets for prudes, censors and other types of Republicans. Check out the history of the 1950s juvenille delinquency hearings, the comics code, etc. The CBLD is an effort to give creators and comic book shops some legal protection should they come under attack.

8. Who makes the time for something like this - Oh. My.! I'm gonna add a link to to that on my Web site.

9. Do superheroes and superheroines sweat? Hey, there's a whole lotta skin-tight hero-wear going on in the comic books. Is it comfortable?

It's all about unstable molecules, baby.

10. I keep reading about a film featuring Batman versus Superman - like, for years and years I've been reading this. Why is this interesting? I mean, Batman doesn't have any super powers, per se - just cool equipment, an extensive knowledge of the martial arts, and know-how about detective processes. Superman, coming from another planet, does have superpowers - flying, super-strength, enormous speed. Wouldn't he whip Batman's butt?

Brains trump brawn every time. Brains and kryptonite.

Pop Artifact! Batman 1966 movie poster

Vintage DC Comics house ad

New CD releases of note

June 14

The 101'ers (Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band) Elgin Avenue Breakdown (Revisited)
Ry Cooder Chavez Ravine
Miles Davis 'Round About Midnight: Legacy Edition
Ian Dury New Boots & Panties
Brian Eno Another Day on Earth
The Everly Brothers Too Good to Be True: 18 Unreleased 1950s Sessions
Connie Francis Gold
Stevie Wonder A Time 2 Love
OST Batman Begins
OST Bewitched
DVD Paul McCartney in Red Square

June 21

Jonathan Edwards Have a Good Time for Me
Juan Garcia Esquivel Sights and Sounds of
Chris Hillman The Other Side
Julie London Yummy, Yummy, Yummy
The Ventures Alive Five-O: The Anthology
VA Heaven Must Have Sent You: The Holland/Dozier/Holland Anthology
OST Herbie Fully Loaded
OST Six Feet Under: Everything Ends

Making of a new Bat logo

Designer John Spencer tells how he created the new "Batman Begins" bat symbol:

Mr Spencer, who prefers not to reveal how much he was paid for the work, said: "I spent about two weeks looking at the original logo.

"At first I thought it couldn't be bettered, but the more I looked at it the more I thought it looked like a half eaten apple core. There wasn't a straight line in it."

He added: "It was a pretty hectic time." He spent a lot of time going back and forth to Sheperton Studios to check what he was doing was acceptable.

"We finally agreed on a design that has a lot of straight lines. It's much more angular and aggressive than the original, which I think reflects the film."

Pink Feud

You've probably heard the Pink Floyd is reuniting for one of those "Live 8" concerts, and it's surprising news to anyone who's followed the history of the group.

These guys--particularly bassinst Roger Waters and guitarist Dave Gilmour--really, really have a hard time getting along.

The Independent has a detailed look at one of rock's greatest feuds:

As the new millennium got under way, Gilmour, self-confessedly inarticulate, explained why he still didn't talk to Waters. "Roger's a prick," he said.

Undercutting Waters' old gripes about meaningless stadium rock concerts done for the money, Gilmour appeared in 2001 at the South Bank Meltdown Festival. Three years later, Nick Mason, the only other surviving original Floyd member, published his own version of Floyd history, Inside Out.

Mason, a self-confessed mediator, wrote in his book of the band's early approach to relationships: "We had a style - if there's a problem, ignore it." No change there, then. Typically, neither Gilmour nor Waters originally wanted the book published. Perhaps he should have called it I Used To Be In Pink Floyd, But Now I'm Alright.

This week's new DVD releases

June 14

The Joan Crawford Collection (Humoresque; Mildred Pierce; Possessed; Women; The Damned Don't Cry)

The Bette Davis Collection (Dark Victory; The Letter; Mr. Skeffington; Now, Voyager; The Star)

Casino Special Edition

Northern Exposure Complete Third Season

Another "Batman Begins" review

From USA Today:

...Batman 5 (* * ½ out of four) reverses the order of Mike Tyson's weekend bout: The early going - say, an hour - is spent in a fatigued daze. A few powerful jabs eventually punch things up.
...The movie finally improves (and starts showing a sense of humor) back home in Gotham. Bruce returns to don the duds and start going mobile in his famous wheels. It's all to fight a nefarious municipal scheme that, among other things, gives Gary Oldman, who is one of many welcome and familiar character actors, a rare chance to play a good guy.

Two more things to note: No fan of cult director Christopher Nolan is going to regard this respectable effort as anything but a comedown from 2001's Memento. And since the previous Batman movies, we've had the potent Spider-Man duo, which impressively gave us "lively" and "brooding" at the same time.

Pop Artifact! Batman movie serial poster

Vintage DC Comics house ad

And now this special message...

Early Dr. Seuss works coming

Checker Book Publishing Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new series… Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)! These collections will reprint the good doctor’s illustrations from early in his career, before his children’s books became world famous.

Geisel’s short stories, essays, and cartoons appeared in national publications such as Judge, Liberty, and PM, and he also created a myriad of advertising illustrations for various companies. Geisel also illustrated a wide variety of other print publications, calendars, and joke books such as “The Pocket Book of Boners”. Geisel’s illustrations turned this book into a national bestseller, and one of his advertising campaigns even proved to be so popular with the public that in 1929, a book collecting some of his advertisement designs was published.

Checker has collected dozens upon dozens of Geisel’s illustrations and has undertaken to restore these iconic cartoons of this world-famous artist. Under the nom-de-plume “Dr. Seuss”, Geisel has sold over 500 million books worldwide and continues to inspire generations of fans both young and old.

first volume of “Theodor Seuss Geisel: Early Works” is slated for August 2005 publication. Volume 2 is scheduled for November 2005, with Volume 3 following in Spring 2006. All of the books in the series will have a high-quality hardcover format, dust jacket and black and white illustrations.

Asterix smacks Mickey Mouse

That super-strength potion must work: An Asterix theme park is raking in the dough while Euro Disney struggles, says this report.

Whereas Euro Disney has struggled financially since its launch in the early 1990s despite attracting some 13-million visitors a year from all over the globe, the smaller Asterix park, opened in 1989, has turned in a profit since 1999 and that with a mainly French clientele.

..."We have the advantage of not being too in debt, and also of dealing with completely different volumes," the director of Asterix park, Alain Trouve, told AFP. With its two million visitors a year, 85 percent of which are French, the park registered almost €67-million in turnover in 2004 and again turned in a profit.

Euro Disney on the other hand has already had to restructure its finances twice as it struggles to service a €2.4-billion debt.

Trouve links the Asterix park's success to the Asterix comic book characters who are anchored in French popular culture and a rigorous management of the park which only opens for 160 days a year.

"The idea was to bring the characters on the page alive as well as their spirit. To find the humour, convivality and the strength of the characters and to put that all in a park," he said.

More on Parc Asterix.

Asterix books.