The Best Comic Book News of 2006

It's not anything new, having been all over the various news sites for awhile, but now it's really official.

This month's Previews is soliciting Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1, written by Joss Whedon, on sale March 7. This should be interesting, now that there are literally hundreds of slayers around in the world, "kicking some serious undead butt," as the Previews ad copy reads. I don't have time to watch too many DVDs, so I don't spend a lot of money on them, but Buffy is the only TV series I've ever considered buying the complete set.

I'll be camping out at my comics store for this one.


The Real Justice League on TV

Have you seen the old Justice League of America pilot that never aired? I was able to come across it a while back, and it's corny.

This clip of The Flash, Green Lantern, Fire, Ice, The Atom, and Martian Manhunter pieced together from parts of the show and set to the animated Justice League theme actually makes it look cooler than it actually was.

In contrast, I was going to talk about the previews at the end of the last Smallville, but as luck would have it, that was also uploaded to YouTube, so I've posted it here. A different set of heroes: Superman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Green Arrow (though most of them don't go by those names, yet). This episode should air sometime in January. I'm looking forward to this one.


Comic Book Movie Podcasts

I've recently started listening to Comic Book Podcasts - there are a number out there with different formats and different tones. But out of all the podcasts I've listened to, I'd have to say the best is The Acme Comics Dollar Bin. What got me started listening was a three-part series they had on Comic Book Movies (go figure); but what got me hooked was the dynamic of these 4 guys sitting around in a comic book store talking about comics, the comic book industry, and anything else that comes up. Yes, they're knowledgeable, but the best part is they are freakin' hilarious. They've got varying personalities and differing opinions; whether or not you agree with what they're saying, they're just completely enjoyable. I've listened to a lot of different comic podcasts recently, and I've found these guys to be the most interesting.

If nothing else, take a listen to the fun they have with the last 30 years of comic book films.


Marvel Comics meets iTunes

Just read an article on Marvel.com talking about the soundtracks for Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, and Invincible Iron Man on iTunes.

I still haven't had a chance to see these, but the soundtracks sound pretty good - they actually made me more interested in seeing the movies. To me, the choirs in the background always add to the instrumental music. (Though I haven't yet downloaded the entire soundtracks - just sampled the previews on iTunes.)

The article goes on to say that the soundtrack for the Dr. Strange animated movie will be up before the DVD is released.

If you want to look for them in iTunes, it seemed like the easiest way to find them is to search on the titles themselves or search on the composer, Guy Michelmore.

On a side note, I also happened across a Gregg Bendian jazz CD entitled Requiem for Jack Kirby, released in April of 2005. The songs, inspired by Kirby's work, offer some interesting and haunting tunes. Look it up if you're a Kirby fan or are into jazz.


Art School Confidential (2006) mini review

based on a comic

Based on his somewhat autobiographical comic, Daniel Clowes presents this Terry Zwigoff-directed view into the life of a freshman art student who just wants to be the greatest artist of the 21st century.

Jerome is disillusioned. He is disillusioned by pretentious wannabes, art school failures, talentless professors, and the commercialization of it all. And he is after Audrey, the girl he can't have. Ah, to be young and lost. Okay, maybe I wasn't in art school, but we all remember a time of being frustrated with life - hopeless, and wandering. Sometimes it's more recent than we care to admit. Art School Confidential captures that disillusionment and frustration. It explores the struggle of art versus commerce. And lets not forget the murder mystery. Though I'm not sure that part was autobiographical.

Art School Confidential is an enjoyable coming of age film. It features such names as John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi (Ghost World), and Angelica Houston. Other actors include Sophia Myles (From Hell), Jim Broadbent (Superman IV), Ethan Suplee (Chasing Amy), and Lauren Lee Smith (Blade, Mutant X). Keep in mind that this is college, and it's Zwigoff and Clowes (who teamed up previously for Ghost World). As Clowes has said, "I can't censor myself." It's a comic book movie, but it's not for the kids.

See it if you can relate to the adolescent angst involved with being young and can handle the material.

Don't see it if you've got a family comic-book film in mind or if independent films (or comics) aren't your thing.


Stardust Comics

I was so excited when the postman knocked on our door yesterday and dropped off Neil Gaiman's entire Stardust mini-series that I bought on eBay. It was re-listed in last month's Previews for $19.99, but I was able to get the entire run for less than the price of the original comics and less than the price of the trade.

I was, however, a little disappointed to find out it's not drawn in the normal graphic novel or comic style, but is more an illustrated prose series.

I'm sure I'll enjoy it, but I'm not sure I'd call it a graphic novel (even if it is under the Vertigo DC imprint).


Comicdom Goes Web 2.0

Wednesday, ComicSpace was launched. It's being described as MySpace for comics folks. From the FAQ: ComicSpace is a place for comic fans and creators to connect with each other.

Apparently, it had over 1,000 members 24 hour after going live, and the membership really shot up when Warren Ellis mentioned it at his site. At the time of this writing there are over 3,000 members.

I never joined MySpace; I figured Blogger was enough social networking for me. But, I'll have to take a look at this.

Check it out.

Thanks to Levon.

More Comic Book Prequels

My previous discussion revolved around movies that had comic book prequels; but this time, it's a series of books.

Marvel Previews is soliciting (for release in February), the first of a mini-series prequel to Stephen King's popular Dark Tower novels. The mini will be titled Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born and will run seven issues. It's being written by Peter David and Robin Furth, and is actually being overseen by King.

King's series started in the 80's with a number of short stories, and has grown to 7 complete novels, the last being published in 2004. After reading a little about them, I'm tempted to pick up the comic mini and read the original books. I haven't read a lot of King's stuff, but I have read a few of his books, and have always enjoyed his writing style and the way it sucks you in. Not being familiar with the stories, they appear to lie in a Fantasy/Western sort of genre, but based on what I've read, that's probably too narrow. The Marvel Previews blurb starts out:

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King's Roland - an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic.

It wasn't necessarily this note that peaked my interest, but after reading the Wikipedia article, and looking at King's Dark Tower web site, I'm definitely interested. Apparently, King based the books on an 1855 Robert Browning poem, and was heavily influenced by The Good, the Bad & the Ugly and The Lord of the Rings.

I think I'll be picking this one up.


The Forbes (Fictional) 15

Forbes has released it's list of 15 richest fictional people, which includes 3 from the comic book world: Richie Rich, #4; Bruce Wayne, #7; and Tony Stark, #8.

Lex Luthor dropped off the list this year due to (another) "failed attempt to take over the world [and] kill Superman with [a] giant robot." Guess I haven't been following the Superman comics.

Thanks to Marvel News.


Remember Mego?

I can still remember my Mego Batman and Robin - that was almost 30 years ago.

Mark Engblom from Comic Coverage shared a great vintage Mego video from YouTube. It's hilarious. I'll let you read Mark's commentary, but suffice it to say that the commercial's creators didn't know much about comics (or political correctness).


My Favorite Soundtracks

One of the greatest soundtracks of all time has got to be Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The Main Title is haunting.

Shirley Walker is the amazing composer responsible for the score. Sadly, according to ShirleyWalker.filmmusic.com, she passed away yesterday from a brain aneurism she had suffered the night before.

Thanks to SuperHeroHype.