Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Well, not this year!!!
I actually liked the idea I came up with, while attending the SPX con in September, and finished the artwork this past weekend. It felt kind of weird, dropping off the artwork at the printers before the month of December, but I guess I was due to be early with the artwork (for at least once a decade, I guess.)
Since I'll be sending more cards out this year, as part of my promo work for Action Figure my new comic series, to comic shops and reviewers, I not only had to print hundreds of more cards but decided that a custom envelope would be appropriate.
I dropped off that artwork (along with the hundreds of blank envelopes) to the printers a few weeks ago and picked them up the other day.
Here's a close up of the Baboon Books logo in the upper left.
So who knows, if you're on my Christmas list, don't be surprised if you see this envelope in your mail box in the upcoming weeks.
Here's a Mony, Mony Happy Birthday to.....
The former lead singer of Generation X is 50 today.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I've mentioned before how great this reprint series by Fantagraphics has been, from the book designs by Seth, through the clean reproduction of strips that haven't been seen in over 50 years.
By this volume, Schulz has set upon a visual look for the characters that will stand through the next 40 plus years. Gone are the large "bobble-head-like" heads for the kids, they're now more proportioned and streamlined. As for the kids ages, both Lucy and Linus were introduced as tots but have now caught up to the rest of the gang. (well except Linus though, who will always remain a year behind, retaining his little brother status to Lucy).
Through the seventh and eight years the cast has settled with four dominating, main characters. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy (who' s begun to establish the hind-leg walking, highly imaginative character taking on forms of a vulture, polar bear and a penguin, that will make him the star of the strip.)
The supporting cast consists of Schroeder (seen mainly with Lucy at the piano and as the catcher on the ball team), Pig Pen (when a "dirt" joke is needed) Violet & Patty (who are virtually interchangeable by now, used only to taunt Charlie Brown) and finally Shermy. Shermy, who in the first year was a main character, second only to Charlie Brown, is seen now only in the background and in a non speaking role.
While these are great reads and are highly recommended (and I'll definitely continue to pre-order from Fantagraphics so as to get them when they come hot off the press) I'm still a bit skeptical of whether they'll finish the job, by reprinting the entire 50 year run of the strip. Fantagraphics no doubt does quality work but they have left us hanging before, by beginning classic comic strip reprint runs (Pogo and Little Orphan Annie) only to stop without warning.
Until then though, I'm looking forward to Volume 5 (1959-1960) which includes, among other things, the first Great Pumpkin story.
He's had two excellent shows (It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show) that have bent the rules of on air TV and were VERY funny.
So here's a (don't forget, he's done some great stand-up too) Happy Birthday to...
Warren Beatty's good friend is 56 today.
Monday, November 28, 2005
I'm a fan of dark humor or black comedy as it's often called. Especially movies like Fargo, Dr. Strangelove and Bad Santa which involve difficult to obnoxiuous/bad characters involved in situations that you laugh at and cringe at, at the same time.
This can be difficult to achieve.
When the writing and acting work, this can make a terrific black comedy. When it doesn't, you get The Ice Harvest.
Seemingly, everything was laid out for this film to work. A good cast (John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Platt) who have done excellent work in the past. A favorite director in Harold Ramis, who along with his movie work did some great stuff on the original SCTV, so how could this fail?
The story, a Wichita Falls lawyer and strip club owner (Cusack and Thornton) partner up to swindle over 2 million dollars from the local mob. They collect the cash on Christmas Eve, and then.....
Well, nothing really. The characters meander around town in a (not necessary) ice storm. Along the way, Oliver Platt joins (for no story apparent reason) to meander with them. There's some violence, with characters killing, maiming and threatening other characters, but... big deal. We have no concern for any of these one dimensional protagonists, so who cares what happens to them?
The Ice Harvest is the blueprint of how NOT to make a dark comedy. They fail on all counts as every supposed funny line and bit falls flat on it's face.
I should have known though, really I should have. Despite the talent involved, the advertising should have warned me. Both the television and print ads described themselves as this years' Bad Santa or as the anti-Christmas film. Anytime films immediately begin comparing themselves to something that was much better or as "this years ____", you know that you're in trouble.
Now I'll never get that time (and $9.25) back that I wasted on Friday. The Ice Harvest gets a frozen:
Here's an I Love L.A. Happy Birthday to...
The guy who broke the all-time record for most Oscar nominations without any wins is 62 today.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Here's a "HAIYA!!!!!!!!!" Happy Birthday to ....
The Green Hornet's sidekick, Kato, would have been 65 today.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
No, it's just that I had one of those "hey isn't that so-and-so" from "____" moments the other night.
With my Thanksgiving meal (and dessert) put away I decided to settle down and watch one of the movies from my DVD collection. What better way to finish the holiday then to re-watch Spider-Man 2.
As I watched the scene where Dr. Octavius' fusion experiment goes bad (and his arms become fused to his body) I noticed that one of his assistants was played by Daniel Dae Kim (who's the Korean speaking castaway, Jin Kwon, on Lost).
(BTW, imdb.com lists his character in Spider-Man 2 as "Raymond").
I know this isn't any big deal, but I like it when you're watching a movie or TV show and you notice an actor who at the time wasn't known. My favorite "find" like that is from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. At the very end of the film, a guard holds the door to Norman Bates cell open for another guard. And who's the actor with this tiny, non speaking role?
Future comic actor from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Caddyshack.
Here's a "Good Grief" Happy Birthday to...
The creator of Peanuts would have been 82 today.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Luckily it was a book I had been looking for, the latest graphic novel by Harvey Pekar, The Quitter. (I wanted to buy this at SPX in September when Harvey was a guest at the show, but the publisher hadn't sent any copies of the book)
For those of you who don't know, Harvey has been writing his auto-biographical books since the early 70's (at the urging of good friend Robert Crumb) The comics, titled American Splendor told tales from his every day life, with art supplied by various artists. American Splendor became a bit of a cult hit, leading to his appearances on the David Letterman Show and even to an award winning film (of the same name).
Much like his earlier work The Quitter is very personal. Harvey pulls no punches, describing his childhood days, as a white jew in a predominately black neighborhood of the 1940's. Whether it was dodging fights, failing in school, or his disconnection with his father, Pekar paints a dour picture of himself.
It's a very good read, easily my favorite of all his work. Throughout the book Harvey describes himself as a quitter (hence the title of the book), but I don't agree with him. Sure, he quit sports while in school, quit several jobs after high school, quit the navy and eventually even quit college, but does that make him really any different then hundreds of others at that age? Many teenagers and young adults flounder around, trying to find their way in life, and as I read The Quitter, Harvey sounded a lot like them.
In his other work, and even in the latter stages of this book, Pekar talks about his fear of the future and security. He's extremely hard on himself, so it's not surprising that he'd view his past as a series of unfulfilled potential. But,.... that's what makes Harvey, Harvey.
Since he's only a writer, and not an artist, he's usually at the mercy of the illustrator chosen to depict his words. In the past the artwork on American Splendor would vary from very good to.... mediocre, at best. Fortunately The Quitter is illustrated by Dean Haspiel, who does a great job!
Haspiel has a nice sense of panel layout and design along with a strong ink line. He uses the graphic novel format to it's full potential and the use of black & white (and grey) helps to convey events that took place over 60 years ago.
What didn't I like? Well, we're not told much more about his parents and brother after 1970 and I would have liked to know more about his early days, when he first started publishing American Splendor, but that's just nitpicking.
If you had meant to read any of Pekar's work before, this is as good a place as any to begin.
Most especially, if you enjoy reading personal work, autobiographical stories that show everything, warts and all (and aren't "afraid" to read it in comic form) then by all means, give The Quitter a try.
There was his famous car ads for the 1977 Chrysler Cordova (and it's "rich corinthian leather"). Then there was his performance as the mysterious Mr. Roarke on TV's Fantasy Island. But for my personal favorite, there's the scenery-chewing/fake chested villain from (in the best of the Star Trek films) Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
Here's a "KAAAAAHHNN!! Happy Birthday to....
Lt. Frank Drebbin's enemy, Vincent Ludwig, is 85 today.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
But she's a hot looking babe, so it works for me.
Here's a "hand over her breast" Happy Birthday to...
Jade from Bride of Chucky is 27 today.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Here's a boogie man Happy Birthday to.....
The narrator of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas would have been 118 today.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
(And even his few movies, Easy Money, Back to School and of course the classic Caddyshack
were worthy of his humor).
So here's a "No Respect" Happy Birthday to...
Larry Burns would have been 84 today.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Here's a "daughter of Danny" Happy Birthday to...
Mrs. Phil Donahue is 67 today.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
With the fourth film of the Harry Potter series premiering this week, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and since I've read each book first, before seeing the movie, I've spent my reading time this past week deep within the 700+ pages of the book.
(Yes, yes, I know, I know. The book's been out for years, what took me so long? You ought to see my "things to read" pile on my night stand. It could seriously injure someone if it were to topple over!)
The book, like the previous three, was a fun read. No let me take that back, it was a better read! Each Potter book has been better than the previous (so much so, that there were plenty of times that I didn't want to put it down), and that's where, for perhaps the first time in the entertainment world, the books share with it's filmed adaptations.
Each Potter film has been better than the one before. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire continues that tradition.
It was a daunting task, to be sure, to try and cram the 700+ page book into a film. Even though the movie clocks in under just three hours, a lot of pages and subplots were axed. (and ya know I really didn't miss the S.P.E.W. and House Elf sub plots.)
Goblet continues the Potter saga with his 14th year (and 4th year at the Hogwarts wizardry school) with all of the familiar characters back (as well as their actor counterparts) along with a few new ones too.
The story focuses on The Triwizard Tournament, a rare deadly challenge that pits school champions against each other for the winning of the Triwizard Cup (and oh yeah, along with eternal glory).
The film does a great job of taking Rowlings words and depicting them on the screen.
As for the acting, for most of cast this is their fourth go-round with their character and they wear them well. If I have any complaint with the film it's that we don't get to spend more time with them, especially Harry, Ron & Hermione, as we get to in the book. But there's so much to get through that it would have added another three hours to the film.
I headlined this review with "Potter surpasses Star Wars?" for a reason. When you think of film series, runs like Rocky, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and Star Wars come to mind. (I omitted the Bond films since there's really no linear flow to the films, each film comes out at random and the characters really don't grow) The Potter films thus far are achieving something those and other film runs have not. They're getting better (and that's not a knock at the first film).
Think about it, how many times is a sequel as good as, or better than the first? Godfather II and Star Trek 2; The Wrath of Kahn are two that quickly come to mind but remember how bad the next film was?
Or perhaps the "granddaddy" of them all, the Star Wars trilogy. Yes, the first two films were very good, but how about the next four? Pale imitations at best, bogged down with horrible casting, insipid dialogue and over-baring special effects.
It's only natural that the subsequent film won't be as good as the first. Most really good movies seem to "catch lightning in a bottle", or their cast and director are at the top of their game and when they return for the follow up they look as if their just going through the motions. And we wonder, why did they even bother? (or more importantly, why did we bother going to the theatre.)
Maybe it's because the written work it's based on is so strong. That Rowling herself is not "going through the motions" that she has a definite goal in mind and she knows and respects these characters so well to let them down with a sub par effort.
The same can be said for the film adaptations.
Warner Brothers are filming the films in an 18 month schedule, so as not to rush them out but also not to let their cast age too far past their written counterparts. I'm already looking forward to the 5th film and with any luck I'll have read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix long before the movie's premiere.
If I can just dig it out of this reading material pile.......
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire get's a "Expelliarmus!"
Here's a "Feud kiss" Happy Birthday to.....
Cpl. Peter Newkirk is 73 today.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
As I mentioned yesterday, today is the first of a single panel cartoon that I came up with many moons ago. I'll be running these, one a day, until I run out. Some may make you laugh, some may make you chuckle but most (I'm guessing) will make you groan.
This is the first one I drew. One day this image popped into my head, so I had to put in on paper:
This is the first one I drew. One day this image popped into my head, so I had to put in on paper:
Here's a Quid Pro Quo Happy Birthday to .....
The star of the original Freaky Friday is 43 today.
Friday, November 18, 2005
As I dig through old portfolios and boxes I came across a series of One Panel cartoons I did (probably about '86-'87) that I thought I could sell.
Well, I didn't. And looking back at it, the concept while interesting wasn't all that great.
But what the hell, why don't I let YOU be the judge! Beginning tomorrow, Saturday, November 19th, I'll be posting one comic per day.
The One Panel strip was called No Pun Intended and was a one shot drawing that would depict a name of a celebrity.
Tune in tomorrow (and keep coming back each day) for the comics.
(and don't forget, the countdown is on to the debut of issue #1 of Action Figure; From the Journals of Richard Marzelak this January 2006........)
Having just finished all the work (writing, design and artwork) for the debut issue of Action Figure; From the Journals of Richard Marzelak and with it's listing in this month's (November) Diamond's Previews Catalog (Diamond, the distributor for comic books to comic shops, for those of you who are unaware of this) I've just finished the hardest part of small press/self publishing your work...
In the last month I've been putting together Press Kits for the book and have been mailing them off to comic shops across the country and in Canada.
• Each kit come in a color portfolio (see cover above) with the Baboon Books logo on the cover.
• When the shop owner/manager opens the kit they see two pockets. In the left pocket is the cover letter and behind it is a printed synopsis (with artwork) of the series:
• On the bottom of the right pocket is a free magnet, featuring the cover artwork.
• In the right pocket is a printed background/history of Baboon Books and a full color printed flyer. The flyer depicts a lot of artwork from the book and gives a lot of info about the book (another synopsis, price, availability, etc...):
• On the back of the flyer is a picture of the cover and more info about the book:
So the last few weeks I've concentrated on putting these together (lot's of printing, copying, magnet making) and postage, postage, postage! (as well as many trips to the Post Office.)
Will this do any good?
Will Comic Shops react positively to these and order copies (or more copies if they had intended to place an order intially)?
Or will they just ignore them and chuck them in the garbage bin?
I'll find out in early December when I get my order from Diamond.
Meanwhile, the countdown is on, until the release of Action Figure; From the Journals of Richard Marzelak in January........
So here's a "oh, wait, aren't you Elizabeth McGovern?" Happy Birthday to.....
Coral from Finding Nemo is 45 today.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Last night a bunch of us from the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society appeared at the Plymouth Meeting Mall comic shop,
Comics & More. Which is, of course, in Plymouth Meeting, PA.
We were there to sell, sign and do free sketches, promoting our Anthology book (which I talk about here) and also just getting out to meet comic fans. (and since Wednesday is new comic book day, it was a good night to be out at a shop).
We were there from 5-9 and had a blast! I'd like to thank the staff at Comics & More for having us out, and from the feedback I heard, it looks as if we'll be back soon (especially with Anthology 2 in the works)
Here are so me pics from last night. (don't blame the fuzziness of the picture of me posted above on me. I didn't take it!)
• Jeff does his Superman pose while Melissa looks to move away from him....far away.
• Derby draws a fat Green Lantern while Jamar draws but dreams about food!
• Jacob glances at Jamar's drawing, while Jamar still dreams about food. Especially food from Friendly's. mmmmmm...Friendly's!
• Jeff poses with the one and only Flaming Carrot!!! (actually manager Ray from Comics & More.)
• Derby attempts to explain why you should never draw beautiful women.
• Jeff is very impressed by the size of Jacob's codpiece (which I unfortunately cropped off the picture).
• The next time we appear at the shop, I'll post it here. In case you happen to be in the neighborhood....