Pop Artifact! Beverly Hillbillies lunchbox

Quick hits

"Superman Returns" is primarily a romance, director Bryan Singer says.

Comics Continuum has a rundown of DC Comics news out of the Comic-Con International in San Diego. Tidbits that caught my eye: Mark Waid, writer of DC's best current book Legion of Superheroes, will be doing a reboot of The Brave and Bold. Joe Kubert's six-part Sgt. Rock mini-series starts in January. There's a Marvel overview, too. The only thing that caught my interest is the fact that Joss Whedon has signed on to do Astonishing X-men through issue 25. God, Marvel is otherwise so depressing these days. And DC is nearly as bad.

More on Waid's Brave and the Bold from Newsarama.

I guess Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is pretty much what you'd expect. Please, God, someone save Batman...

The God of Thunder gets lit (via Super Frankenstein).

Mike Sterling Googles Zatanna. The lucky bastard...

Dial B for Blog is counting down the 40 Sickest Comic Book Covers Ever.

Also via Dial B for B: Countdown to Infinite Crisis gets what it deserves.

In music news: the reformed Cream may play a string of shows in New York.

Houseplant Studios shares a true Nugget: The Hombres' Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) LP.

Eisner Award winners 2005

The awards were made over the weekend at the Comic-Con International in San Diego:

Best Short Story: “Unfamiliar,” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft (Dark Horse Books)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot):
Eightball #23: “The Death Ray,” by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)

Best Serialized Story: Fables #19-27: “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)

Best Continuing Series: The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series: DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)

Best New Series: Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Fesiter (WildStorm/DC)

Best Publication for a Younger Audience: Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker and Scott Morse (DC)

Best Humor Publication: The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

Best Anthology: Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, edited by Diana Schutz and David Land (Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic: Mom's Cancer, by Brian Fies

Best Graphic Album—New: The Originals, by Dave Gibbons (Vertigo/DC)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint: Bone One Volume Edition, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)

Best Archival Collection/Project: The Complete Peanuts, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material: Buddha, vols. 3-4 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)

Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC); Runaways (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist: Paul Chadwick, Concrete: The Human Dilemma (Dark Horse)

Best Writer/Artist—Humor: Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); Kyle Baker, Cartoonist (Kyle Baker Publishing)

Best Penciller/Inker (tie): John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (WildStorm/DC); I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun (Humanoids/DC); Frank Quitely, WE3 (Vertigo/DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): Teddy Kristiansen, It’s a Bird . . . (Vertigo/DC)

Best Coloring: Dave Stewart, Daredevil, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Six, Captain America (Marvel); Conan, BPRD (Dark Horse); DC: The New Frontier (DC)

Best Lettering: Todd Klein, Promethea; Tom Strong; Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales (ABC); Wonder Woman (DC); Books of Magick: Life During Wartime; Fables; WE3 (Vertigo/DC); Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist: James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); Green Arrow, Batgirl (DC)

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Sean McKeever (A Waiting Place; Mary Jane; Inhumans; Sentinels)

Best Comics-Related Periodical: Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon B. Cooke (Top Shelf)

Best Comics-Related Book: Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones (Basic Books)

Best Publication Design: The Complete Peanuts, designed by Seth (Fantagraphics)

Hall of Fame: Judges’ choices: Lou Fine; René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; Voters’ choices: Nick Cardy, Gene Colan, Johnny Craig, Hugo Pratt

Other awards presented:

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: George Pérez

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Chris Bailey (Major Damage)

Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Writing Award: Jerry Siegel, Arnold Drake

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award: Night Flight Comics, Salt Lake City; Mimi Cruz and Alan Carroil, owners

CBLDF Defender of Liberty Award: Denis Kitchen

Kong toys!

Down in San Diego, Playmates Toys unveiled the action figures it's doing based on Universal's upcoming remake of "King Kong."

The range will include:

Basic Figure Asst.:
- 6" scale (8 styles total)
- Available this fall at mass market retailers for the suggested retail
price $9.99

Deluxe Figure Asst.:
- At a towering 11", the Deluxe Roaring Kong and Deluxe Bull T-Rex action
- 11" scale (2 figures total) -- Deluxe Roaring Kong and Deluxe Bull
- Both figures feature 14 points of articulation at the neck, shoulders,
elbows, wrists, hands, hips and knees
- SRP $17.99

14" Feature Kong Figure:
- Highly detailed 14" figure features sound effects including roaring,
stomping and ambient jungle noises
- With 22 points of articulation, this Kong walks around on his front
knuckles and when standing up, Kong shakes his arms in the air
- SRP $24.99

Role Play Toys:
- Role play set includes Kong mask and breakaway chains
- Deluxe, electronic Kong arms allow children to experience the power of
- SRP $9.99 and $19.99

Battling Action Game:
- Kong vs. T-Rex Battle Game including 6" Kong and 6" T-Rex
- Game features posable Kong and T-Rex figures that twist and swing to
attack, each monster has a collapsible feature, and unique fighting
- SRP $14.99

Skull Island Playset:
- Multi environment playset inspired by the mysterious Skull Island
- Designed to play with the 6" action figure collection
- SRP $29.99

Soft Figures:
- 8" Kong basic soft figures
- 11" roaring Kong soft figures includes chest-activated roaring sounds
- SRP $5.99 and $9.99

DC Direct, JLU action figure sneak peeks

Superhero Times is snappin' pics in San Diego. Check out their gallery of upcoming DC Direct and Mattel figures here.

Another shot

More from Newsarama.

Darwyn Cooke to do ongoing Spirit series

Well, I'm not sure how I feel about someone other than Will Eisner doing the Spirit, but Cooke is probably the best guy around to do it.

According to a Newsarama report from the International Comicon in San Diego, the new series will debut in 2006, following up a Spirit meet Batman oneshot written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Cooke.

Cooke will write the ongoing title himself. It'll be set in a the modern age, not Eisner's 1930s/40s milieu but, aside from that, he's shooting to stay as loyal as possible to the original, citing these two goals for himself:

”One - preserve and if humanly possible, enrich the core essence of the Spirit. Give long-time readers a contemporary look at the magic that has held them for decades, and introduce a new generation to the irresistible pull of this rich human drama. Action, crime, romance, humor and pathos will all be generously employed in the ‘spirit’ of the original strip. There'll be no deconstruction and every issue will be a story unto itself, making every issue an ideal jumping on point. Every story will try to add and hopefully strengthen the essence of Eisner’s characters and vision.

”The second goal is to produce a work that reaffirms the Spirit as the strip for graphic innovation that enhances storytelling. This second mandate is, I believe, the one to be artistically important. While we cleave to Eisner’s vision and world-view for Central City, we should be equally mindful of his vision that contemporary storytelling techniques be continually introduced to engage the reader in fresh and appropriate ways. I believe that this would have been very important to Will, and I feel it is the key to avoiding a simple homage.”

Eisner's longtime associate Denis Kitchen helped bring the project to fruition.

Also in the works, a series of "Best of the Spirit" paperbacks featuring some of Eisner's top work on the strip.

Pop Artifact! Superman roller skates

More Superman.

Quick hits

Coming Soon has an update on plans for a live-action film featuring Will Eisner's Spirit.

The official site for Underworld: Evolution is up.

Via BoingBoing: Back in 1982, original "Bullwinkle and Rocky" voice actors performed a live script reading from one of the toons scripts. Check out the performance here.

Pop Artifacts! Batman and Robin squeeze toys

PBS to air Python specials

"Monty Python's Personal Best" devotes one episode each to the troupe's six members: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones.

The episodes will mix interview footage and clips from Python films and TV programs.

It'll air sometime next spring, UPI reports.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" review roundup

Newsday: This is Burton in the winking mode and full-tilt visual extravagance of his three best movies: "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," "Edward Scissorhands" and "Ed Wood." The youngest audience members will miss the layering of pop culture references upon which Willy has built his madhouse (as if time had stood still the moment he shut the gate on the outside world): Sgt. Pepper, the Bee Gees, "Ben-Hur," "THX 1138," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Busby Berkeley-style production numbers for the Oompa-Loompas (written by Burton die-hard Danny Elfman) that remind us how fascistic those synchronized routines could be.

Depp, who is to Tim Burton what James Stewart was to Alfred Hitchcock, misses the mark when the script requires him to shtick it up a la Jerry Lewis. But he puts his head on the block in ways most of his contemporaries wouldn't dare, and ultimately overrides the camp posturings of the flashback sequences (Joan Crawford, anyone?) to make us feel something for Willy's inner child.

Rolling Stone: The Michael Jackson pallor. The unnaturally white teeth. The smile stretched with insincerity. Johnny Depp's deliciously demented take on Willy Wonka, the candy man of Roald Dahl's book, demands to be seen. Director Tim Burton surrounds Depp with miraculous visuals of spun sugar and creeping menace. Their missionary lunacy is a treat for twisted children of all ages.

MSNBC: The new movie often feels less like a remake than a trip through Burtonland, where weird landscapes, Danny Elfman’s spry music and Johnny Depp’s whims threaten to turn the movie into a series of improvisations. Fortunately, there’s more of the classic Burton (“Beetlejuice,” “Ed Wood”) than the problematic Burton (“Big Fish,” “Planet of the Apes”) of recent years.

And the casting couldn’t be much better. Highmore, who was Peter Pan to Depp’s J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland,” has the requisite soul and spirit to play Charlie. Also making solid contributions are David Kelly as Charlie’s young-at-heart grandfather and James Fox as perhaps the most indulgent parent on the planet. Depp’s dark take on Wonka may not become as beloved as Wilder’s version, but his performance is the film’s chief source of welcome surprises.

Chicago Tribune: Tim Burton's scrumptious version of writer Roald Dahl's 1964 children's classic is almost everything you'd want it to be: a peach of a story delightfully imagined by Dahl and lushly realized by Burton. It's full of witty or awesome scenes, flights of fancy and characters either totally, lovably sweet or outrageously, humorously rotten.

Marvel's next big movie

"The Watcher"!

Mike Sterling has the scoop!

"Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 3" contents revealed

Out Oct. 25, the four-disk set will include:

Disc 1 - BUGS BUNNY CLASSICS (149 mins)
Hare Force
Hare Remover
Hare Tonic
A Hare Grows in Manhattan
Easter Yeggs
The Wabbit Who Came to Supper (commentary)
Bowery Bugs (commentary)
Homeless Hare
The Case of the Missing Hare (commentary)
Acrobatty Bunny
Wackiki Wabbit (commentary)
Hare Do
Rebel Rabbit
Hillbilly Hare (commentary)
Duck! Rabbit! Duck! (commentary)

Disc 2 - Hollywood Caricatures and Parodies (141 mins)
Daffy Duck in Hollywood
Hollywood Capers (commentary)
The Coo-Coo Nut Grove (commentary)
Porky's Road Race
The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos
She Was an Acrobat's Daughter (commentary)
The Film Fan
Speakin' of the Weather
Thugs with Dirty Mugs (commentary)
Goofy Groceries
Swooner Crooner (commentary)*
Wideo Wabbit
The Honey-Mousers (commentary)
The Last Hungry Cat
The Mouse That Jack Built (commentary)

Disc 3 - Porky and the Pigs (143 mins)
I Haven't Got a Hat (commentary)
Porky's Romance (commentary)
Porky's Party (commentary)
Porky in Egypt
Porky and Teabiscuit
Pigs Is Pigs
Pigs in a Polka (commentary)*
Porky Pig's Feat (commentary)
Daffy Duck Slept Here
Bye, Bye Bluebeard
An Egg Scramble
Robin Hood Daffy (commentary)
The Windblown Hare
Claws for Alarm (commentary)
Rocket Squad (commentary)

Disc 4 - All Stars Cartoon Party (146 mins)
Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur
Super Rabbit (commentary)
Daffy Duck and Egghead
A Gruesome Twosome (commentary)
Draftee Daffy (commentary)
Falling Hare (commentary)
Steel Wool
Birds Anonymous (commentary)*
No Barking (commentary)
Rabbit Punch
An Itch in Time (commentary)
Odor-able Kitty (commentary)
Walky Talky Hawky (commentary)*
Gonzales Tamales (commentary)
To Beep or Not to Beep (commentary)

Quick hits

Marvel and Microsoft are teaming up for a series of videogames, say news reports.

DC Direct is coming out with a series of Looney Tunes figures, the Comic Book Bin reports. Newsarama has pics.

Cameron Diaz turned down the chance to play Wonder Woman, says here.

A remake of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring Owen Wilson puts a new spin on the James Thurber tale: The movie Mitty is a comic book writer, according to reports.

The Detroit Free Press profiles Jim Ottaviani, who writes highly entertaining non-fictional graphic novels about science and dinosaurs and stuff.

Stan Lee's Pow! Entertainment is launching a toy line, reports ICv2.

Dan Slott, Marvel's last best hope for making its comics fun again, talks to Newsarama about his upcoming Thing series. One I'll surely be checking out, given Slott's recent Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series, which was a blast.

Image Comics' Girls isn't worth reading, says Joanna.

Dial B for Blog posts unpublished Fantastic Four covers.

Drawn sings the righteous praises of master designer Saul Bass.

Unveiled: Slip case art for "Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince"

The book is due out July 16 and available via Amazon.

Click for a full-size view.

Another batch of Bob boots

Coming from Columbia Records Aug. 30:

Bob Dylan's "No Direction Home: The Soundtrack - The Bootleg Series Vol. 7" is the latest edition in the critically acclaimed "Bootleg Series," as well as the companion soundtrack to the two-part feature-length film, "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," a Martin Scorsese picture.

The film will make its U.S. premiere on the Public Broadcasting System's "American Masters Series" over the course of Monday and Tuesday nights, September 26-27th, respectively.

The two-CD chronologically sequenced package contains 28 Bob Dylan tracks -- 26 of them previously unreleased -- comprised of rare private recordings, live concert, television and festival recordings, and 12 alternate takes of songs from his Columbia LP recording sessions in New York and Nashville during this period. The songs range in time from 1959 (a high school recording of "When I Got Troubles," most likely the first original song he ever recorded), to 1966 (alternate takes of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" from the "Blonde on Blonde" album recording sessions, as well as "Ballad of a Thin Man" and "Like A Rolling Stone" from the legendary 1966 UK tour).

Many of the songs or tracks are introduced in the film for the first time in history, or are representative of times and places covered in the film, while others are alternate takes of classic tracks that were unearthed during the making of the film. For example, the version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" performed in 1961, at the intimate Carnegie Chapter Hall in New York City, was never known to have existed on any tape until now.

On the other hand, the "No Direction Home" film version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" is taken from the Newport Folk Festival, July 1964; while the CD version presents -- for the first time -- the first complete take of the song with Ramblin' Jack Elliott, recorded at Columbia Studios the month before. The track is then followed on the CD by "Chimes of Freedom" from Newport '64.

Archivists and researchers reviewed more than 400 hours of recordings by Bob Dylan in the preparation of "No Direction Home." The two CDs will be packaged with a 60-page color book housed in a slipcase. The book will include separate liner notes written by Andrew Loog Oldham, and Al Kooper who sheds light on the "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde" recording sessions in New York and Nashville (for which he played organ and served as musical director). An authoritative track-by-track delineation is also included.

The first feature-length film biography ever produced on the artist, "No Direction Home" is narrated in its entirety by Dylan. In addition to hours of black-and-white and color archival footage and photography, it features exclusive interviews with Joan Baez, photographer John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, Allen Ginsberg, Tony Glover, Al Kooper, Bruce Langhorne, Paul Nelson, Suze Rotolo, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Izzy Young of the Folklore Center, and many others.

You can pre-order the set now from Amazon. A DVD of the "No Direction Home" film also is available for pre-order, and is due out Sept. 20.

Pop Artifact! Obelix figure

The Fantastic Four Jack'n'Joe Gallery

Jack Kirby's pencils on the Fantastic Four never looked batter than when Joe Sinnott started inking them. It was surely a match made in comic book heaven.

Now you can see a gallery of Jack'n'Joe art at Sinnott's official site, including covers and a few rare black-and-white pieces.

New JLU figures coming up

Set to debut at the International Comicon this week in San Diego, new figures depicting the animated versions of Black Canary, Orion and Bizarro, Action Figure Insider reports. No pics yet.