Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am sorry. I am so sorry.
Horror is being stolen from us! Seriously! Look at the genre, and look in the direction it’s going. Vampires? Bloody Twilight. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this? Wait, Saw, you say? It’s pantomime. It’s a form of pornography. What was the last good horror film you saw? For me, I recently purchased The Hamiltons, and whilst it was good, it was a form of teen-horror, and I just don’t think that’s a viable form for the genre.
I rented out Hatchet, the tagline reading: “It's not a remake, it's not a sequel, and it's not based on a Japanese one. Old school American horror.” Firstly, it was crap. Recycling old plots and cliches into something that was derivative and almost like the bastard child of Friday the 13th and CRAP. Secondly, since when has making awesomely terrifying horror films become a spiteful game between America and Japan? Asian extreme cinema is some of the most horrifying stuff put to film! Audition (Ôdishon)? Ju-On? Ringu? We’re siphoning ideas from some talented creators, and I just wish we had the know-how to do something amazing. Call backs to “old school American horror” are all well and good, but what are these call backs? Remakes of The Hills Have Eyes? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? They tried to revitalise the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises (together, Freddy Vs Jason, remember?) but that didn’t do what they wanted it to do, so look what we’ve got to look forward to now. A remake of Friday the 13th. And if you've seen the trailer, you'll know that Jason runs. He runs! Serial killers don’t run. They teleport. They shimmy through reality and end up in front of you no matter how fast you run or how far you fall over ahead of them. That is horror. Making these horrors viable, giving them the ability to run? Ruins horror for me.
Zombies don’t run fast. 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead were good watches, but give me the original Romero over Snyder Dawn any day. Oh, and the new Nightmare on Elm Street. With Billy Bob Thornton over the legend of horror that is Robert Englund (phwoar, check out that sexy IMDB)? Hell, I’ll watch the remake, but withour Mister Englund? I'll be sorely disappointed. If I'm not, I'll share that fact with all of you in 2010...
Vampires used to be dirty little bastards, Near Dark for instance (a vampire film quite well known for not even mentioning vampires), or The Lost Boys as an example. Why do we have Twilight? And why is it popular? Because it's a pandering piece of crap targeted at the susceptible market of "tweener" girls, who claim to buck the trends but therefore support another one. Oh, so individual, oh, such liars. The first horror film I ever saw? It has to be a toss up between Nosferatu (I was small. It haunted me) or The House on Haunted Hill (I’m not sure which, but they are the ones that stuck to my brain like a scab refusing to fall off). First time I saw House I was scarred (SCARRED!) by the scene with the basement, the blind/deaf/mute housekeeper and the tapping on the wall... Think about it, I was 6 or 7, and my dad puts that on. Thanks, terror. Vincent Price is for the win, all right, but this is the stuff that put me on the path I’m on now with Psychotronik. I love the classics. I hate seeing potential wasted.
Right, so I should probably say, I’m not the kind of person who knows intimate details about Bill Gaines or Ed Wood, and I’m sure they’re all swell folk, they did their jobs well (though, Plan 9… eh…) and we owe b-movie horror and horror-in-comics to them in some way or another (Bill Gaines ran EC Comics, after all, and we all know how that ended up… well, I say all of us, I mean those of us in “the know”) but we need to be the people pioneering the genre. Not Psychotronik, not just us, but I’m talking about all of you, all of you who want to write horror stories, don’t look back at what’s come before, look forward. Don’t go for the cheap scare, the exposed bone, the torn flesh, go for the scare, the terror. That’s why America is jealous, I think, of Asian cinema. Because they’re scared. And they can’t recreate it. They don’t have the right frame of mind for it. Remakes of Asian cinema are rubbish, I think we can all agree. The Grudge? I remember having a running joke with my friends about that ghost-in-the-bag. Think about it from a sideways perspective, stop thinking “this should be scary” and just watch. It’s pretty friggin’ hilarious. Anyways, before I go off track once again, we need to pioneer the genre. We can’t just let it stagnate, and we can’t patronise the viewer. Twilight… crap, I don’t want to see it because vampires sparkle. Vampires. Do. Not. Sparkle. But I kind of do want to see it, because this is how the genre evolves. “Old school American horror” should be good. It should take what made the genre so aggressively pioneering and keep it modern, reinvent itself. I’m sick of traps designed to kill, to punish, to teach. I’m sick of blood spraying into someone’s face unnecessarily; where's the foreplay? And talking of foreplay, I'm sick of blatant, overt sexual horror. It's for pre-pubescent kids who want to have a cute little bit of masturbation whilst seeing red. Hostel is gore porn. Saw is gore porn. We need more than pornography for this genre to survive. We need pioneers. So get to it.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
So I've heard about the whole Scarlett Johansson tissue on eBay thing, and I was on eBay earlier today so I decided to look at the listing. The questions caught my eye, specifically the third question:
"Hi, I am what you may consider a celebrity tissue enthusiast. Can you please give me more info on the paper itself, before I bid? For instance: brand, color, how many ply, scented or non, did it originate from the studio or from Scarlett's purse. Thanks Mike Vancouver Canada"
I knew people bought these things for absurd prices, (regardless of the fact that the money goes to charity, the price is still absurd) but I had no idea the number of ply was being factored in to these decisions. And let's not even get into scented, or non... I supposed a person has the right to know if the lovely scent Scarlett's snot is going to be corrupted by a synthetic flowery smell.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My answer, expletives removed and replaced: "Embarrassing as heck."
My copy of Psychotronik Comics Presents #1 (still available, follow the link provided!) arrived two days ago, and I only opened it up today. The reason why? Because this is the culmination of maybe two plus years effort, distilled into something I can hold in my hands. Touch. Read. I mean, everyone claims that the internet is the future, seeing these images on the computer screen is something, but to have something concrete in your hands? This is terrifying. So I finally read it today. And I’m amazed. But reading my dialogue? Oh, lord. Nothing is good enough, I guess. When you write it, you feel fantastic about it. Then you send it to the artist. Doubt creeps in. You see the art, and for a few days, you forget about your words. You’re amazed. Then the letterer steps in. And then you hate yourself.
“Why would he say that?!” “What… what the Hell is going on?!” “So clunky!”
I don’t like reading dialogue I’ve written after I’ve initially written it. And this is real now. This is in the hands of strangers, of friends, of family. And it’s mine. This is something I can call my own. I’m a published writer. And yeah, I’m proud, but crikey, I should have written under a pseudonym.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that my dad read it, and accused me of being sick because of what happens on, what, the third page? I had to explain to him that I wrote it, and sent it to my dear collaborator Craig Cermak, and that all the words were mine, and not his responsibility.
With hindsight, I should have blamed the artist.
So much easier.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I'm not sure what it was but it made people take notice. Even decades after her "notorious" pin-ups photos and racy movies were made she still managed to remain an eye-catching icon. She was the girl next door and all kinds of woman at the same time. THE pin-up girl.
Dave Stevens, creator of The Rocketeer, first began to pay tribute to Page by featuring her heavily in his work in the 80s, her image then became a common theme in various scenes during the 90s, and finally she reached pop culture icon status with an explosion in popularity along with the rise of the internet over the past decade. Bettie Page was 85.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Now I say this with nothing but love for the medium in my heart. It's my favorite art form hands down. But I have watched them slowly grow from subversive anonymity to pop culture prominence in my lifetime and how that has choked them creatively and commercially in the process. Where comic books were once available in every grocery store, newsstand, and grocery store in this country, they are now only available in a handful of specialty stores in cities of modest size or larger. I grew up in a rural area outside a small town in Middle America and managed to get my hands on comics on a regular basis. Were I a youngster in that same area today, I might not even know what a comic book was. And where comics were the playground of giants like Jack Kirby who wove grandiose, eye-popping, cosmic opera pop art masterpieces, so often these days we are given very grim and serious fare of superheroes so conflicted by inner turmoil that goes on for (and crosses over with) dozens of issues that it's hard to imagine it's fun for anyone to read except the most hardcore, long-time comic fans. Even the once-promising sons of the exploding indie movement have settled away to their own artistic endeavours (or been squeezed out by Diamond's tightening grip) and left a hole where the next generation of auteur titles should be.
But market availability and content both pale in comparison to the true enemy of the single issue comic - prices. While the dedicated fanbase doesn't seemed bothered with driving out of their way to comic shops to pay premium prices on their favorite titles, there are very few new people - potential fans - who will see the appeal or reward in this. And now that we are staring down price increases again in the face of skyrocketing costs from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, it will be interesting to see how many of the true believers will still be willing to spend their shrinking disposable incomes on the pamphlet adventures of their beloved super-characters. $3.99 folks! A dollar jump in some cases. That's a big reason why I earlier predicted here that we are at the breaking point for the traditional comic market and may see the unavoidable jump to digital downloads. The question that has been on my mind for some time now (and others) is why exactly do comics cost so damn much? I remember a time when I could a comic for less than the price of a can of Coca-Cola. Now sodas are in larger plastic bottles and a little over a dollar (or just a dollar if you are scouting for the best prices in certain vending machines) and comics are now staring down a FOUR dollar cover price. Sure the comic market is much smaller now due to the retreat into the direct market (albeit their own fault) and paper and print quality is much better (not entirely necessary though) and there's just general cost inflation over time, but how do the prices of yesteryear match up with today's exactly? Well thankfully Rich Johnston over at LITG has come up with a chart that compares just that...
really nice homes and they seem to still be doing exceptionally well however. I'm not sure what's in store for the future of comics honeslty but sacrifices are definitely about to be made and I would recommend that anyone who likes the way business is being done these days to take a nice long sentimental look around.
Monday, December 8, 2008
How awesome is this? A great looking Batmobile toy from Italy produced in 1980 I came across recently over at the Bat-Blog. More great pics of this gem of a Bat-collectible there so be sure to check them out. Working lights and one of those low-tech corded remote controls with the little steering wheel on it were the main features, but it's just a really nice looking toy considering about that time here in the US we were somewhere between the clunky Mego Batmobile and the so-so Super Powers version.
Which leads to the bigger question, "what's so cool about the Batmobile?" Besides being the ride of one of the best fictional characters of our time (Batman is at once both Sherlock Holmes smart and James Bond action, but with bats) it's just a great concept. Sometimes a hot rod and sometimes a borderline tank, this is what Batman uses when he goes from covert, sneaky rooftop ops to full-on asskicking in the streets. If you are a criminal in Gotham City and the Batmobile rolls up you know it's on like Donkey Kong. Black, tail fins, bat graphics, rocket launchers - it's all the badassery you could possibly want in a car. That was one of the only big disappointments for me with the latest Christopher Nolan Bat-films, the Batmobile looked like total crap. I know, part of the point is that this is the gritty and realistic version of Batman and hence his transportation would be no-frills, utilitarian, and pragmatic, but come on. It's the frickin' Batmobile! If it looks more like a piece of rolling modern art than an actual car you have to know something has gone astray. The glimmer of hope here is that it was destroyed in The Dark Knight to eject the Bat-pod-cycle thing so maybe we'll get to see something cooler in the inevitable threequel.
And since it's the holiday season and if you haven't already seen it, check out this great (and perpetually sold-out) t-shirt from Threadless...
Sunday, December 7, 2008
It's not that I blame her. I actually feel bad for her to have to bear this incredible cross. I can't imagine the pain she must feel every night before she pulls her coffin lid closed and drifts off into her botox coma, knowing she can never be on the list as numbers one through ten. Alas, this is not a blog about how sweet it must be to have the honor of looking in the mirror everyday to see the tightly stretched visage of Barbara Walters involuntarily winking back at you.
This is about the ten most fascinating people of 2008.
10: Coming in at number ten is Scientology's answer to Jerry Falwell, the gifted Tom Cruise.When Tom's not busy suing people for calling him gay, preaching the words of L Ron Hubbard or kidnapping and brainwashing mediocre starlets, Mr. Cruise still finds the time to make shitty movies. If you don't believe me check out Mission Impossible One through Three, a true trilogy of shit that will have you putting bleach in the Visine bottle and make you hope for the triumphant return of L. Ron Hubbard to come before they make the fourth installment Mission Impossible 4:Determining Cruise's True Sexuality.
Who can forget the precocious youngster Cruise used to be, dancing through his parents living room in sunglasses and tightie whities while lip syncing Old Time Rock and Roll? Does Top Gun or Days of Thunder ring any bells for anyone? The most fascinating thing Walters could have done in this segment is ask the real question: What the hell happened to Tom Cruise?
9: Thomas Beatie the amazing pregnant man. Admittedly I paid little attention to this story when it first hit the news earlier this year. Assuming it was some sort of prank or hoax I rolled my eyes and ignored it. A man couldn't possibly be pregnant, this must be a joke. I thought to myself.
I couldn't have been more wrong. See it's simple, all you have to do is have your vagina converted to a penis, then get artificially inseminated and whammo you're a pregnant man. Apparently, there's something of a disconnect between Babs and myself, I have been aware for sometime that a person with a UTERUS could become pregnant. I have learned this lesson the hard way twice from personal experience. The only thing fascinating about this is that it made national headlines. I want to issue a challenge to the news media here and now: Tell a story when there is one. Let's throw a wacky caveat into guidelines for reporting on pregnant men. If they have functioning internal female reproductive organs, DO NOT CALL THEM A PREGNANT MAN.
8: I know, I know. I need go no further than to include a picture of a Vice Presidential Candidate giving the wave you would normally see on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Float to illicit a chuckle, but let's get into this anyways. A brilliant move by Walters to include her in this list. Everyone has a special place in their...um, wherever hate comes from for Palin. In four months she turned the campaign process on it's uptight head. She spoke directly to us, the people. How did she do this? By using small easy to understand words, she got down on our level and held our stupid little hands through the ups and downs of politics. I learned that if you say something completely retarded in an interview that it's the interviewers fault for asking questions. She completely changed our expectations of a VP candidate. Gone are the days when we expected gravitas, tact, intelligence, and ugly people on a national ticket. Thank you Sara Palin you have done your country a great service.
7: Frank Langella, what can you say about a guy who has played three of the greatest villains EVER. Count Dracula in 79, Skeletor in 1987, and rounding out the trifecta of evil he portrays Richard Nixon in this years FROST/NIXON.
The film was directed by close pal and confidant of Arthur"The Fonz" Fonzerelli, Richie Cunningham, who hopes to finally step out of the shadow of Andy Griffith with the new film. After all, with George Bush leaving office the hearts of Americans everywhere will be left with a void we will clamor to fill with a movie about a shitty president.
Still good call on this fascinating individual. Here's to hoping he is cast to play the part of number Five on this very list in next years Mr. Limbaugh Goes To Washington.
6: Not only do I have nothing bad to say about Tina Fey, I will stab anyone who does. Fey who used to be known for her brilliant weekend updates on SNL before she returned to the late night skit show and took this years cast from kind of funny to occasionally hilarious. Her portrayal of Sara Palin sent her career on a white hot path to super stardom. Before the election Fey could only be found on Six Seasons of SNL, several movies and the hit show 30 Rock.
After her Palin skits she can now be found on 7 seasons of SNL, several movies, the hit show 30 Rock and a few American Express commercials. See? Her credits won't stop growing.
This is clearly a case of kidding because I love. Due to the all ages nature of this blog I won't even go into the myriad of fantasies that pop up when I think of Fey all dressed up as Governor Palin. I'll leave that to you to ponder and simply thank Tina for providing another generation with masturbatory fodder.
5: Number five is the self proclaimed Lovable Fuzzball himself, Rush Limbaugh. This man doesn't require wacky things like facts to make his point. He looks facts in the eye and tells them what to represent. You can't deny the Punk Rock attitude of a man who hates large government, pops pills and spews hate.
The only thing missing from his self titled syndicated radio show is a three power chord progression of fury. With a slew of failed marriages, drug addiction, and his uphill battle against facts and rational thought this man has single handedly changed the way people listen to talk radio: With tightly clenched fists and pounding migraines.
During the interview Walters had the audacity to ask him how he feels about making so much money during a recession. His answer, "I choose not to participate. (In the recession)"
Holy shit, that is punk rock! Rush has no respect for your big oppressive institutions, society. (Unless we're talking about marriage that is.)
4: Micheal Phelps is number four. Remember when people cared about the Olympics? Mr. Phelps does. He brought home the gold by the butt loads for America at this years Olympics. It's just too bad that no one cared. With the Olympics being held in Communist China, little was reported about the actual games. Russia pulled some shit in Georgia(the country not the peach state), the stock market crashed, and we endured the longest campaign season ever. All of these things conspired to take away attention from this man's accomplishments. He DOMINATED the Olympics.
Before I go feeling too sorry for Mr. Phelps' lack of attention this year, I have to assume there are some sort of extra benefits to winning like every gold medal ever. P Diddy must be wallowing in jealousy of his bling bling. If the rap world is any indicator to what that kind of bling affords you as a person then Phelps must be elbow deep in groupies somewhere in the back of a stretch Escalade as I type. If that is the case, then I say well done sir and thank you for bringing home the gold(s).
3: Miley is easily my favorite member of the Cyrus family. Good for her to be able to usurp her Dad Billy Ray who's Achy Breaky Heart dominated the charts nearly twenty years ago, as the primary bread winner in the family. I must say I admire Billy Ray for overcoming the pitfalls of Super stardom and taking the backseat to push his daughter into the very same spotlight that causes him to become addicted to coke and whores in the mid nineties. Some people may think it is wrong for him to exploit his little girl, but Daddy needs a new pick up truck and mullet wigs just aren't selling like they used to.
Despite all that, I am hopeful that having already been down the flash in the pan road himself Billy Ray will be able to guide this talented young woman and help her to make the right decisions to maintain a quality image as a role model for the youngsters. I'm sure he'll avoid tacky publicity moves like letting her pose nearly nude in Vanity Fair at age fifteen...
2: Will Smith is number two. Perhaps the most versatile actor ever to grace the big screen. His last eight movies have each grossed over one-hundred million a piece at the box office, proving once and for all it's not about quality it's about being Will Smith. By my count Will has had something like 79 successful careers. Going from being a rap pioneer in the eighties to a television star in the nineties and now being the biggest freaking movie star ever there is no stopping this man.
There is however something missing here, D.J Jazzy Jeff. Where is he Mr.Smith? You abandoned him after Fresh Prince of Bel-Air didn't you? You had him hired into the show to play your best friend and when the show got canceled you dumped him for greener pastures. Maybe it's not your fault though, perhaps he was holding you back. Was there any room for him in Independence Day? No there was not. Sadly in a film of that magnitude there's only room for one black fighter pilot who says stereotypically black things while beating on aliens. Oh hell naw, you didn't indeed.
1:President Elect Barack Obama. Finally, someone who deserves to be on such a list. This guy has fixed everything before even stepping foot in office. Did you know that 2008 is the coolest year of the decade thus far? Global Warming is shaking in it's boots a full month out from the inauguration.
I admit with all the coverage and analysis we have seen on the man it is hard to say something about him that has not been said before. I like this guy. He's a brilliant and talented politician, he ran an incredible campaign and most importantly he is a fan of comic books. What's so important about this you ask.
Psychotronik Comics Presents #1 is available here.
So grab a copy and send it for a housewarming gift for the 44th president and tell him Psychotronik Comics sent you.
Graphic novels that offer satisfying, memorable stories, webcomics that make you chuckle, and periodicals that can hold monthly attention will always tough it out. Sincere publishers who want to put out the best books that they can will keep going.
In a world where people can only afford necessities, you must make comics that your audience NEEDS.
Doesn't sound good. But comics seem to be at their best when they are cheap and easily available to people wanting cheap and easily available entertainment. In the wake of the Internet the newsstands and print powerhouses aren't nearly what they once were and there's really no way back for single issue comics. The paper upgrades and jump to the direct distribution market over the last few decades were one way streets with no easy way back, so where do they go from here? Digital downloads seem to be the only real answer to pulling comics back out of the quiet, dusty shelves of specialty comic shops, but again the comic companies have more than slow in reacting. They know that once this step is taken the direct market will implode once more, maybe forever, and the only shops surviving will be the ones able to remake themselves to cater to a variety of fandoms or niche markets. It's not a step actually it's a huge leap. And sometimes you have to be pushed.
It came up in conversation recently that where the financial Depression of the 1930s ushered in the print-driven, newsstand age of comics, so might this current relatable recession be the final straw that will push comics into the digital market for good. My best tip of the last few years has been if anyone figures out how to make a site for selling comic downloads that is comparable to iTunes they will be very successful indeed. From the rolled up copy in your back pocket to the file on your portable device, we may well see this new age of comics happen very soon.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The reason I write is because I thought I enjoyed it. I thought I was good at it. And that I could always get better. I like reading, I like learning, I like experimenting with different styles and all the stuff that is inherent to being "a writer". But apparently, the world made me do it. Here's the thing, there's a school of thought that says that the world affects us like we're puppets. That my typing this was preordained not by my thoughts, but because the world willed it, and me, like the puppet I am, am following through with that decree. This school of thought is called "Epiphenomenalism". It's a very hard word to remember on the fly, and I do hope I finally spelt it right after all my fretting.
So here's the thing, free will doesn't exist. We're slave to something bigger than all of us, the world. And think about this: We treat the world like shit. We use up resources like they're going out of fashion, we choke the air with fumes, we reproduce like vermin and spread ourselves across the continents, just looking for a hole to call our own so we can repeat the process all over again. If you were the world, what would you be forcing us to do? Sit back and be happy, continuing this ragged cycle of abuse that we inflict upon the world? Yes. Because you know why? We're killing ourselves. The world is giving us cancer because it's not making us do anything at all. The world inflicts disasters upon us and we're so inept that we can't even react to them. Then again, that's probably not entirely our doing, because, honestly, look at soon-to-be-former President Bush, and tell me that guy doesn't hate the world.
We're being turned into killers, not my television, videogames, gang culture and extreme porn, but by the actions we've inflicted upon the world. We're like puppets on a string. Now, I guess you could bring up the fact that the world made us treat it like a ten dollar hooker, but all evidence points to the world being a benevolent host, else why would it put up with us? Why doesn't it just open up, swallow us whole to fuel the core of the Earth and go about waiting for the evolutionary cycle to start again? Because it cares. Earth is a Mother. And no Mother truly wants to eat it's children whole, does it? (If you disagree with that statement right there you're right at home at this blog but you should keep away from me... cheers.) So we're killing the world, and in turn, the world is killing us slowly because it knows that most of us will go quietly in our sleep. How kind.
Doesn't that sound like a horror story to you?
Not really the way I wanted to start off this blog but I have to pay respects to one of the first and foremost among us. Forrest J. Ackerman has left this mortal realm at age 92.
He may not have been a household name but he was a living legend that influenced every aspect of the science fiction and horror genres. Born in 1916, he was one of the earliest organizers of science fiction fandom, supporting and working with such young talents as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators of Superman) and Ray Bradbury. He attended the first Worldcon in 1939 (thereafter missing only two in his lifetime) and in a "futuristicostume" no less therefore being one of the first cosplayers on record, and later helped organize the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He was dubbed an "honorary lesbian" by the Daughters of Bilitis and won a Hugo award in 1953 for being the No. 1 Fan Personality (the prototype to today's Hugo for Best Fan Writer). He was Ed Wood's "illiterary agent" for a time and not only named the character Vampirella but wrote her origin story as well. He owned and displayed one of the largest collections of science fiction, fantasy, and horror memorabilia at his Ackermansion home/museum in Hollywood, CA. But arguably his most influential work was through his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland (cover archive), which inspired such young up-and-comers as Gene Simmons, George Lucas, Stephen King, and Tim Burton.
In today's day and age where science fiction movies are big blockbuster business and all manner of fandoms have achieved new levels of organization and acceptance over the internet, we can all stop and show a moment of appreciation to one of the men who made it all possible. Thanks Uncle Forry, you will be missed.
Okay, it will most likely be a good waste of your time but we hope you'll be entertained by visiting. Thanks and tell your friends!