Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills


Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Toward 2008

Well, 2007 is just about over, and not a moment too soon.

Unless this is your first visit to this weblog, you know that 2007 was a year of hell for yours truly, a year that began with having a cancerous organ removed – a painful, frustrating incident that set the tone for the entire year.

But 2007 wasn't a total wash. I've managed to get at least three – and possibly a couple more – comics projects lined up for next year, which will make it by far the best year I've had as a writer since my first published work back in '90.

First out of the gate should be Kolchak Tales: Night Stalker of the Living Dead, a three-issue, full-color miniseries from Moonstone Books, based on the cult classic television series. The art is by the amazing Tim Hamilton, the covers by Dave Aikens, and colors by Ian Sokoliwski. The first issue has been solicited for March.

Then comes the 7-years in the making epic, Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries. Based on a webcomic that first hit the 'net in 2001, this four-issue, full-color miniseries from Ape Entertainment is pencilled by the legendary Joe Staton, inked by Horacio Ottolini and Mark Stegbauer, and colored by Melissa Kaercher and Matt Webb. The covers have been digitally painted by Alfredo Lopez over Joe's pencils, and we have variant covers by Brian Bolland, Phil Hester and the late Mike Wieringo. This looks like it'll be hitting shelves around May or so.

Following within a month or two of that title, comes Perils on Planet X, another full-color, 3-issue miniseries from Ape. Based on another of my webcomics (originally drawn by Jon Plante), this interplanetary swashbuckler is illustrated by the talented Gene Gonzales and colored by Ian Sokoliwski. We're shooting for a Summer release.

Speaking of shooting, Rick Burchett and I, aided and abetted by Fred Harper, are currently plotting a new caper for Gravedigger. Right now, it looks like it'll be an original graphic novel called The Predators, with the original one-shot, The Scavengers, included as a back-up "Bonus Feature." Rick pencils, Fred inks, and we're hoping it'll be out in late '08 or right at the beginning of '09.

I'm also still working on the Captain Midnight revival for Moonstone Books, and working on a graphic novel adaptation of an upcoming theatrical horror film.

There's a few more prose stories on tap for '08, as well, including my Avenger story, a Captain Midnight adventure, and some new crime fiction.

Health-wise, I'm feeling a lot better, and I'm hopeful that I will continue to improve. The bi-pap machine has not only helped combat the effects of my sleep apnea, but it's aided in bringing my blood pressure under control for the first time in my adult life. After consulting with my doc, I've also formulated a weight-loss program, and have high hopes in that area.

Now, I just need to scrape up some steady paying work.

I want to thank all of the readers of this blog for their continued interest, support, feedback, and friendship over the last twelve months or more. Not only has it been extremely gratifying to know that people were making a point of reading my self-indulgent drivel, the occasional words of encouragement from you folks helped me through some very rough times.

Thanks.

Here's hoping that we all have a great 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Am *SO* Pathetic....

I am actually looking forward to this weekend's release of Galactica 1980 on DVD.

Yes, I know that this series is utter crap, and in fact, sinks to whole new depths of sci-fi crapitude, but still...

I want to see it again.

For one thing, I absolutely loved the original Battlestar Galactica when I was a kid and was friggin' traumatized when it was cancelled. I was further traumatized when the low-budgeted, kiddie-oriented spin-off, Galactica 1980 came about, because I missed damn near every episode! I never saw the three-part premiere (although I did eventually rent the truncated "movie version" on VHS) and only caught the ends of the next few episodes because my family never seemed to be home at 7:00 on Sunday nights.

I do remember seeing the Halloween episode (or the first part of the two-parter), "The Night The Cylons Landed," which introduced human-looking Cylons (long before the new series) and guest starred Wolfman Jack. My folks were visiting friends and to keep me occupied, I was sent into their rec room to watch TV.

But I never saw the final and best episode, "The Return of Starbuck," until Goodtimes Home Video released it on budget videotape in the mid-80's.

Anyway, thanks to the success of the new, reimagined Galactica series on SciFi Channel, someone at Universal obviously thought they'd try trading off the name, and decided to let this one out of the vaults. I suspect a fair number of consumers are going to be really disappointed in this, though, 'cause it's as about far from the new show in terms of quality and tone as it's possible to get.

But I still want it. Sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Howling @ the Dead Moon

I received my contributor copies of the Moonstone Monsters prose anthology, Werewolves: Dead Moon Rising, today.

The book turned out great, with no apparent printing or formatting problems. The illustrations by Ken Wolak are consistent and well-drawn, and the design of the book is very slick. Effective cover by Dave Dorman, too.

Turns out that my story, "The Beast of Bava Pass," is the lead story in the volume, which is nice. I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's contributions now.

The book is available in some comic book shops and bookstores or it can be ordered from Amazon or directly from the publisher.

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Brief...

Hey, guys. Been struggling with various projects and winter ennui, trying to get some things wrapped up before New Year. My sciatica's been flaring up a bit, too, which doesn't help.

Man, this is the coldest, whitest December I can remember in a long time. This old farmhouse isn't as cozy as it could be – for example, the kitchen was a later addition and has no basement, insulation (to speak of) or central heat. The last few weeks, it's been very much like a walk-in freezer, so we haven't spent a lot of time on meal preparation.

Finished the third series of Doctor Who with David Tennant, Really fantastic stuff, with writing that makes me feel really... untalented.

More soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comics-2-Film: 2008

Here are two comic book based films I'm really looking forward to in '08: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, based on Mike Mignola's delightful series, and Whiteout, based on the graphic novels by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber.

I was a big fan of the first Hellboy film, and I'm pleased to see that it's pretty much the same cast and crew this time around. As for Whiteout, I greatly admire the original comics, and although I think Kate Beckinsale is too pretty to be the comics' Carrie Stetko – a freckle-faced U.S. Marshal assigned to an Antarctic station – I'm eager to see how well Hollywood brings the property to the screen.

And, um, hey... it's Kate Beckinsale.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

15 Favorite DVD Releases of 2007

2007 was a great year for DVD collectors, despite the rise of competing high-priced, high-definition formats and the inevitable proclamations of the imminent death of the regular DVD disc. As a reviewer, I've been fortunate to get a look at a lot of 2007's releases, even though my column was rather irregular and I wasn't able to quite cover everything I received.

Here are fifteen of my favorite 2007 releases. In every case, these are films I like a lot, and they were especially well-served by their DVD releases.

1. FROM BEYOND. After a very long wait, while various rights issues were worked out, MGM finally unleashed Stuart Gordon's gooey follow-up to Re-Animator in an unrated, digitally restored – and, most importantly – properly framed widescreen edition. Beautiful hi-def transfer, uncut content, and solid extra features.

2. THE MONSTER SQUAD. Repeat pretty much everything I said about From Beyond. Another awesome release of a long-anticipated and beloved flick.

3. TWIN PEAKS: THE GOLD BOX COLLECTION. David Lynch and Mark Frost's influential, mindbending and tragically short-lived surreal soap opera finally receives a damn-near definitive home video treatment, with every episode completely remastered. The set also includes the rare, original Pilot Film and European Theatrical/Home Video feature version of same, tons of comprehensive behind-the-scenes material, original TV promos and commercials, a featurette with Lynch, and much, much more. One of the best TV-on-DVD sets ever.

4. WITCHFINDER GENERAL. For years I've been wanting to see this acclaimed Vincent Price film, originally released in the U.S. as The Conqueror Worm. It's reputation – and that of its young, tragic director, Michael Reeves – was so great, that I was certain I was missing out on something truly special. As it turned out, I was. While maybe not quite as wonderful as I'd come to expect, it was still a fine period horror flick, with an extraordinarily nuanced and effective performance by Price. MGM's "Midnite Movie" release of this title sports a beautiful transfer, the original music and U.K. cut.

5. THE ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION: SAM KATZMAN. Who would have thunk that Columbia would release a box set of low-budget B-movies produced by one of Hollywood's most notoriously cheap producers – and put his name on the box? Not only does it contain gorgeous transfers of The Giant Claw, Creature With the Atom Brain, Zombies of Mora Tau and The Werewolf, but the set also includes a chapter of the Katzman-produced Mysterious Island serial, a Mr. Magoo cartoon, a comedy short, and tons of vintage Columbia sci-fi trailers!

6. THE SERGIO LEONE ANTHOLOGY. Remastered, restored versions of A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and Duck, You Sucker! Okay, I already had the special edition of TGTB&TU, but the restored Fistful and More were revelations. Eastwood and Van Cleef never looked so good. And I'd never seen Leone's Duck, You Sucker!, with James Coburn and Rod Stieger, before. Each movie is also loaded with informative extras.

7. FLASH GORDON: SAVIOUR OF THE UNIVERSE EDITION. 'Nuff said.

8. PAYBACK: STRAIGHT UP. Brian Helgeland's "Director's Cut" of the Mel Gibson -compromised Richard Stark adaptation is a definite improvement over the already pretty good theatrical version. This cut is much grittier, with a completely different musical score and third act, and it possesses a real 70's crime flick vibe. The behind-the-scenes documentary is a a real revelation and effectively illustrates how screwed up and second-guessing Hollywood studios have become.

9. INVASION OF ASTRO MONSTER. Better known as Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero, this was but one of several awesome, widescreen, restored kaiju releases in 2007. Godzilla, Rodan and Nick Adams battle the mighty King Ghidorah and evil aliens from Planet X in what's probably my favorite Godzilla film. A gorgeous transfer of the Toho classic, both English and Japanese versions, and a handful of solid extras. So much fun.

10. JASON OF STAR COMMAND. This 70's Filmation release from BCI was a childhood favorite and it was awesome to see this satisfyingly silly space opera (with its stellar special effects!) again on DVD, complete with a retrospective documentary, interviews with stars Craig Littler and Sid Haig, and other bonus features.

11. THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION. I'm including Volumes One and Two in this, as both sets came out this year, and include new, improved versions of pretty much all the most important titles in the legendary maestro's filmography: Black Sunday, Black Sabbath (Three Faces of Fear), The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Knives of the Avenger, Kill, Baby...Kill!, Lisa And the devil/House of Exorcism, Bay of Blood, Baron Blood, Kidnapped, Roy Colt & Winchester Jack, 5 Dolls for an August Moon and Four Times That Night. Not every film is particularly great, but Mario Bava's distinctive visual sense and directorial style is evident in virtually every frame. Good, cleaned-up transfers, some fine commentaries on the most important films by Tim Lucas, and nicely packaged. Oh, I would have liked better it if they'd been able to include the U.S. versions of Sunday and Sabbath, but overall, it's an awesome collection.

12. MICHAEL SHAYNE MYSTERIES. Four snappy B-movie mysteries – Michael Shayne: Private Detective, The Man Who Wouldn't Die, Sleepers West and Blue, White and Perfect – starring Lloyd Nolan as Brett Halliday's wisecracking Irish-American private eye, assembled into one sharp boxed set by Fox. The bonus features aren't quite as good as the ones on the Charlie Chan and Mister Moto discs, but the package artwork – new paintings by the great Robert McGinnis – more than compensates for any deficiencies. Gorgeous transfers, too.

13. RATATOUILLE. Another instant classic from Pixar and Brad Bird. The DVD isn't as loaded with extras as usual – expect a "Collector's Edition" to come along soon – but the movie is both gorgeous to behold and deeply involving. Who would have figured a movie about a gourmet rat could be so wonderfully written, designed and executed?

14. DOCTOR WHO – THE COMPLETE SECOND/THIRD SERIES. Series 2 was released at the beginning of the year, and I just picked up Series 3. Despite all the crappy reimaginings and remakes of old TV shows, this Who – and the new Battlestar Galactica – are the best arguments for continuing to mine TV's past for new entertainment. While I enjoyed the first series with Chris Eccelston, David Tennant's take on The Doctor is more to my tastes, and the show really found its footing once he took over. Sharp, funny and emotionally moving writing, great performances and delightful special effects have breathed new life into the U.K.'s most venerable sci-fi franchise... and the DVDs are "bloody brilliant," too.

15. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD. Finally, one of the most fondly remembered kaiju classics from Toho Studios comes to U.S. DVD courtesy of Media Blasters – in three different versions! There's the Japanese language version, the U.S. dubbed version, and the "International" version, complete with the legendary – and never before seen in U.S. – "Devilfish" climax, in which the mutated, giant Frankenstein's monster inexplicably battles a landbound giant octopus that appears out of nowhere during the climactic forest fire! All three versions look pristine, and there are a handful of cool extras.

These aren't necessarily the best DVD releases of '07, but they're the ones I'm most enthusiastic about. A couple that almost made the cut include Warners' Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland Collection, The Evil Dead Ultimate Edition (and would have, if the extras were just a little better) from Starz Entertainment, and MGM's Return of the Living Dead Collector's Edition. I only wish I'd been able to afford the complete Get Smart and Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series sets and the new Blade Runner: Final Cut collector's set.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Werewolves for Christmas

I haven't received my contributor copies yet, but I got a call from my editor a couple days ago telling me that the Werewolves: Dead Moon Rising prose anthology from Moonstone Books, has finally arrived from the printer and is shipping now.

Here's the publisher's description:

Moonstone proudly steps up during the full moon to launch this first book in a line of monster/horror prose fiction anthologies, with this one featuring our favorite ferocious and furry fiends, werewolves! The blood will run red in the dead of night as both horror-fiction and comic book writers alike unite to bring you an unlucky 13 chilling tales of howling horror, just in time for Halloween. With stories by Elaine Bergstrom, Tom DeFalco, Dave Dorman, Clay Griffith, William R. Halliar, C.J. Henderson, David Michelinie, Christopher Mills, Mike Reynolds, Beau Smith, Paul D, Storrie, Dave Ulanski and Fred Van Lente! Interior illustrations by Ken Wolak and a fang-tastic cover by fan-favorite Dave Dorman, this chilling collection of short stories is sure to keep you cringing under the covers all night long!

My story is a tribute to old school Universal, Hammer and Paul Naschy werewolf films, and is entitled, "The Beast of Bava Pass."

So, if you're interested, you can now order the book from Amazon, Moonstone or look for it at your favorite comic shop or bookstore.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Deadliest Man Alive! (Until 1975)

I just read a fascinating article about John Keehan a/k/a "Count Dante," the legendary martial arts guy who used to have those scary ads in comic books offering kids everywhere "the world's deadliest fighting secrets."
IN THE 60S and 70s John Keehan was one of the most notorious figures in American martial arts. He ran dojos and had sidelines in salons and porn shops. He took a pet lion cub for strolls by Lake Michigan. He trained minorities and caught flack for it, and after one fight—part of Chicago’s “dojo wars” of the 60s and 70s—he was implicated in the death of one of his students. He was also a fierce self-promoter: comic-book readers might know him best as Count Dante, the persona Keehan used to sell membership in his Black Dragon Fighting Society, as well as a pamphlet, World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets, that promised to teach readers how to maim, disfigure, and kill.
It's a really bizarre and amazing story. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Back in the Gutters

Just a quick head's up: after three months of neglect, I've just posted a new review over in my crime comics blog, Guns In The Gutters.

Today I take a look at the 70's Atlas/Seaboard title, Police Action #1, featuring the hard-boiled exploits of forgotten crimebusters Lomax, NYPD and Luke Malone, Manhunter (by Mike Ploog & Frank Springer)!

I'll be making an effort to post reviews over there more frequently; I'm currently working on articles about James Hudnall's criminally short-lived series, Shut Up & Die!, and the late 90's Acclaim Comics miniseries, The Grackle, by Mike Baron and Paul Gulacy.

Check it out!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New DVD Late Show Column Posted!

My latest – and much-delayed – DVD Late Show column is now posted at Quick Stop Entertainment. This is my extremely belated Halloween column (don't ask!), and features reviews of a bunch of recent horror and monster titles.

Among the discs reviewed are: Witchfinder General, Yongary, Konga, Alligator, Return of the Living Dead Collector's Edition, Hellraiser 20th Anniversary Edition, The Icons of Horror: Sam Katzman Collection (containing The Giant Claw, Creature With The Atom Brain, Zombies of Mora Tau, and The Werewolf), The Fly Collection (The Fly, Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly), Planet of Dinosaurs, 28 Weeks Later, Planet Terror, Dan Curtis' Frankenstein, and Dark Sky's new Amicus Collection (Asylum, The Beast Must Die, And Now The Screaming Starts!).

I'm working on a new column now, focusing on some recent TV-on-DVD releases, including complete collections of Twin Peaks, The Addams Family, Northern Exposure and Miami Vice, and single-season releases of Magnum P.I. Season 7, The Wild Wild West Season 3, and more.

After that, it's back to the sleazy exploitation stuff. Boobies and blood galore!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel RIP

When I was a kid in the Seventies, I was a huge fan of daredevil Evel Knievel. I watched him on Wide World of Sports when he attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in his rocket, begged my mom to take me to see Viva Knievel! in the theaters (and I bet she regretted giving in on that one!), and even owned some of the Ideal toys, including the action figure and stunt cycle. Hell, my first bicycle even sported a red, white & blue color scheme reminiscent of Evel's motorcycle.

Well, Evel has passed away at age 69, after a long period of poor health, including diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis.

There's something fascinating about professional daredevils. On the one hand, it seems extraordinarily stupid of someone to risk their lives to perform essentially meaningless stunts just for money and fame. But, on the other, there's something compelling and strangely admirable about it, too.

Other stunt guys have beaten Evel's records, including his son, Robbie. But none of them have ever managed to capture the imaginations of as many people – especially kids – as Evel Knievel. There was something bigger-than-life about him, something oddly heroic, that made kids like me look up to him, even when he failed, as he did at Snake River.

I'm not sure what it was about him that made him so special, exactly, but the world is going to be a slightly smaller place without him.

Give 'em hell, Evel.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Mark of Kane

“He was . . . a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan. . . . A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things. . . . Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect—he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane.”

Robert E. Howard's pulp character, Solomon Kane, is apparently going to be featured in a new movie, written and directed by Michael J. Bassett, whose previous films (Wilderness and Deathwatch) I've never seen.

From the poster, though, it looks like he's at least somewhat familiar with the source material, as British actor James Purfoy has certainly been made up to look the part of the dour, monster-fighting Puritan.

Of course, since Stephen Sommers completely lifted Kane's look for his atrocious Van Helsing film, I fear uneducated audiences and reviewers will think this is either a sequel to that misbegotten travesty – or worse – a rip-off of it.

Since I'm unfamiliar with the previous work of virtually everyone involved in this new project, I'll have to hope for the best. Howard's Solomon Kane was a character as unique and imaginative as his more famous creation, Conan the Cimmerian, and I'd love to see a faithful, frightening and fun adaptation on the screen. The original stories, published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in the late 20's and early 30's, are rich with cinematic potential, and I'd hate to see that potential squandered by yet another Hollywood hack job.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thanks to Craig for the head's up!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Barnabas Collins is Spock's Dad!

Another bit of interesting Star Trek casting to discuss.

Actor Ben Cross, probably best known for his role in Chariots of Fire and as vampire Barnabas Collins in the short-lived, 1991 revival of Dark Shadows, has been cast as Sarek, Vulcan father of Spock (Zachary Quinto) in J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek feature film.

Cross has been in an awful lot of bad movies, but I think he's a decent choice to play Sarek. I only hope he can bring to the part the same kind of multi-layered performance that Mark Lenard did on the original series and films.

I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated by the casting news on this project. Probably because the original Trek was a huge part of my life when I was a kid, and I've been feeling particularly Trek-nostalgic of late. Not long ago, I managed to pick up the first season of the original series on DVD – used – really cheap, and WallyMart has the 2-disc Special Editions of the feature films marked down to about $7.50 right now, so I've been picking up the ones I didn't already have. Yeah, even Star Trek V.

After watching one of the fan-produced New Voyages shows, I'm particularly looking forward to Abrams' project. I've discovered that I can handle other actors playing the roles, as long as the Trek spirit is intact and the story's good. I thought Abrams' Mission: Impossible movie was probably the best of the bunch, so I've got confidence that he'll handle Trek well.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Doctor Who: Timecrash

I don't know how many readers of this blog are Doctor Who fans, or have been following the current series with David Tennant, but here's a 7 min. "minisode" done for British charity wherein the current Doctor encounters one of his previous incarnations. If you're not familiar with Doctor Who, this will just be 7 minutes of two Brits spouting technobabble at each other at high speed.

Well, here it is – until the BBC has YouTube delete it:



Hopefully, the BBC will include this on the Series 4 DVDs.

Anyway, I very much like David Tennant in the role, and Peter Davison is probably my second-favorite Doctor (after the late Jon Pertwee), so I enjoyed this a lot. I particularly like the clever way that writer Steven Moffat accounted for Peter Davison's aging and the new interior of the TARDIS.

You know, I really need to get that Five Doctors Special Edition DVD...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Batman and the Outsiders: 80's Style

I understand that the first issue of the revived Batman And The Outsiders, written by one of my personal comics faves, Chuck Dixon, hit the shops last week. I haven't seen it yet, but reading about its debut online motivated me to dig out my copies of the title's original run from 1983 and give 'em a read.

Written by the criminally underrated Mike W. Barr and drawn by one of my favorite Batman artists ever – Jim Aparo – the original BATO was old school superheroics with appealing characters, ambitious storylines, offbeat villains, and a pre-psychotic Batman who still possessed a shred of humanity to counter the grim obsession. BATO was one of my favorite mainstream books of the era, and it maintained a surprisingly high level of story and art (Aparo was succeeded by the equally-magnificent Alan Davis) over the length of its several-year run.

The title was a team book with Batman assembling a group of novice heroes (Halo, Katana, Geo-Force) and a couple of underused veterans (Black Lightning and Metamorpho) to take on missions that the Justice League felt, essentially, were beneath them. It was a very fun book, written in a style no longer in vogue; a style that had charm, wit and a true sense of adventure rather than reading like a transcript of a talky TV show. (These issues have recently been collected in one of DC's Showcase Presents B&W omnibus volumes. I highly recommend it.)

I never warmed to later revivals of the Outsiders (sans Batman), not even the version developed and scripted by Barr. It just seemed to be a concept particularly well-suited to its particular era; pre-Dark Knight and Watchmen, when superhero comics were still all-ages entertainment, when comics didn't take themselves so ridiculously seriously, and even Batman was allowed to crack a smile once in a while.

I look forward to checking out the Dixon-scripted version, and seeing how it reads. I have a lot of confidence in Chuck and I know that he handles the Batman character particularly well.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mills on the Moon(stone): Kolchak & The Avenger

Okay, so yesterday I posted a picture of my cat. Yes, it was a lame way to avoid missing another day of blogging... but what the hell. She's a cute cat.

Anyway…

My long-gestating Kolchak miniseries for Moonstone has just been announced by the publisher over on their forums. It's scheduled to debut in March of '08. The art by Tim Hamilton is incredible, and Dave Akins' covers are pretty awesome, too.

Here's the solicitation copy:

KOLCHAK TALES: NIGHT STALKER OF THE LIVING DEAD #1 (of 3)
32 pages, color, $3.99

Written by: Christopher Mills
Art by: Tim Hamilton

ZOMBIES! Everybody hates them. But that appears to be exactly what Carl Kolchak finds to be stalking among the cornstalks in the small heartland town of Georges Corner, Nebraska. The simple task of covering just another festival pageant takes a dark turn... as it so often does in Kolchak's world... when people start disappearing, and the dead start walking! Watch out... they bite!

Covers by Twilight Creation’s board game "Zombies" artist Dave Akins!

Also scheduled for March is Moonstone’s latest pulp fiction anthology, which also includes a new short story by yours truly:


THE AVENGER CHRONICLES

Written by: Ron Goulart, Max McCoy, Robert Randisi, etc.
Interior Art: Andy Bennett & Dave Aikins
Cover Art: Peter Caras, Dave Dorman, Doug Klauba
Edited by: Joe Gentile
336pgs, b/w, Squarebound, 6"x9", $17.95
10 digit: 1-933076-32-1
13 digit: 978-1-933076-32-4

The Avenger…All-New Stories for the Next Generation!

Moonstone Books is proud to present this original anthology featuring eighteen never before seen tales of The Avenger, the first new Justice, Inc. fiction in more than thirty years! The Avenger Chronicles includes incredible, action-packed stories by some of today’s best writers in comics and fiction including:

Max McCoy, Robert Randisi, Ron Goulart, Tom DeFalco, Joe Gentile, Robert Greenberger, Clay and Susan Griffiths, CJ Henderson, Howard Hopkins, Paul Kupperberg, Christopher Mills, Will Murray, Mel Odom, Gary Phillips, Martin Powell, James Reasoner, Richard Dean Starr, and Dan Wickline.

In addition to this impressive lineup, The Avenger Chronicles includes stunning cover artwork by one of the original Avenger paperback cover artists, Peter Caras (creator of more than 1,700 cover paintings, & a student of Norman Rockwell), and original interior illustrations by Andy Bennett (Vampire: The Masquerade) and Dave Aikins (Zombie, the Board Game).

Out of Tragedy, a Hero Is Reborn…

In the roaring heart of the crucible, steel is made. In the raging flame of personal tragedy, men are sometimes forged into something more than human.

Wealthy and successful at an early age, Richard Benson was preparing to enjoy a long and happy life with his family when crime took away his wife and young daughter.

Once he was just a man, but now he is a machine of vengeance dedicated to the extermination of all crime. A figure of ice and steel, but more pitiless than both, Benson has become a symbol to crooks and killers--a terrible, almost impersonal force, masking cold genius and a nearly supernatural power behind a face as white and still as a dead man’s mask. Only pale eyes, like ice in a polar dawn, hint at what awaits criminals when they invoke the rage of millionaire adventurer Richard Benson -- The Avenger!

Now, for the first time in over 30 years, the fearless/expressionless crime fighter; the man with the moldable face, the man with the shock white hair and the pale grey eyes, is back in action in a stunning collection of stories featuring all the action, adventure, and revenge Avenger fans have come to expect! From noir adventure and two-fisted action, to emotional tales of inner demons, join The Avenger for an E-ticket thrill ride!

*Book Trade version/Cover A: by Peter Caras

*Direct Market Version/Cover B: by Dave Dorman

*Ltd Ed. Hardcover: (limit of 300) original cover art (not pictured) of the entire Justice Inc crew by Doug Klauba AND ALSO includes an exclusive to this hardcover special Avenger story by Chinese/Indonesian Martial Arts (KunTao Silat) master Joe Judt!

1-933076-33-x
978-1-933076-33-1
$44.00

Keep an eye out for both of these in Previews, and be sure to pre-order them from your local comic shop so you can be certain of getting your copies!

Oh, and I've been told that the Werewolves: Dead Moon Rising anthology, from the same publisher, should be hitting store shelves any day now. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Picture of My Cat

It's a rule. Every blogger has to have at least one.

Sneaky little thing, ain't she?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A reason to watch Law & Order...

My old friend and collaborator Delfin Barral, illustrator of one of my earliest comics – Bloodthirst: The Nightfall Conspiracy – and the man behind the striking visual design of my Brother Grim comics character, just dropped me an e-mail to share the news of some recent good fortune:
Some nice news ... Law & Order: Criminal Intent will feature a piece of my comic art. An old pal is now the assistant AD over at the show's Art Department and needed a comic cover made. Marvel and DC chickened out in lending their old comics for the scene where a 7 year old kid is reading a comic book and he grows up to be a killer. (It's a flashback.) They didn't wan't their material relating to a cold blooded murderer.

Here's the cover..
Isn’t that cool? (Click on the pic for a bigger view!) Aside from Brother Grim, Del created the great 80’s indy comics series Libra, and drew a fair bunch of ElfQuest stuff for Richard & Wendi Pini back in the day. If you watch L&O:CI, keep an eye out for Del’s cover!

Congratulations, pal!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Giant Monsters Attack!

I recently stumbled across a great new blog, Giant Monsters Attack!

Blogger "Mysterious Pants" covers everything from giant creature features both vintage and new (Godzilla, The Host, D-War, J.J. Abrams' upcoming, as-yet-untitled film), videogames, and even comic books (including a review of the new – and treasured – Devil Dinosaur Omnibus from Marvel). Whoever this "Mysterious Pants" guy is, he really knows his stuff and his enthusiasm is contagious.

I love these specialized pop culture blog sites, and GMA! is a lot of fun.

Check it out!

Friday, November 09, 2007

More Trek Casting Notes

Sorry I missed posting yesterday – and very nearly today, as well – but I've been a bit under the weather for the last couple of days.

Anyway...

According to various sources, J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek feature has added a few more members to its cast. Canadian Bruce Greenwood will be playing the role of Captain Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise before Kirk, originally played in the original Star Trek pilot, "The Cage," by Jeffrey Hunter. Presumably we'll be seeing Pike hand over the keys of our favorite starship to his successor in the new film.

For the role of the "Captain's Yeoman," Janice Rand, Abrams has drafted blonde bombsell Rachel Nichols, formerly of his television series, Alias. On the original series, the go-go boots and beehive were inhabited by the lovely Grace Lee Whitney.

Finally, Winona Ryder, of Heathers and Beverly Hills shoplifting fame, will be playing the role of Amanda Grayson, Spock's human mother, a role originally assayed by the dignified Jane Wyatt on the television episode "Journey to babel," and Star Trek IV. No word yet on who might portray her Vulcan hubby, Sarek...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cool vs. McCool

So... I've been watching the third season of Wanted Dead or Alive on DVD, and got to thinking.

Now, there's no question that Steve McQueen was one of the "coolest" guys that ever lived. The guy just radiated that self-assured, confident quality on film and in real life. He was somehow bigger than life, the kind of man that every guy wanted to be. Racecar driver, biker, ladies man, and pal of Bruce Lee. Now, that's cool.

As I considered that, I also started to think about another actor and pop icon that also seemed to be the pinnacle of coolness – and I'm not talking about Fonzie. No, I'm refering to Robert Mitchum, he of the hooded, sleepy eyes and easy drawl, the smooth, laid-back, clearly-not-giving-a-shit about anything or anybody else manner. He recorded albums, went to jail for marijuana possession at the height of his movie stardom (and his fans didn't care!), and wrote and starred in Thunder Road.

Interestingly, it's claimed that he disliked McQueen.

Both of these guys are long gone – McQueen passed away in 1980, and Mitchum in '97 (both of lung cancer) – but they're still remembered as the embodiments of "cool."

So, who's cooler? Mitchum or McQueen?

I'm inclined to give the title to Mitchum, solely on the basis of his calypso album. (Well, that and Thunder Road.)

What do you guys think?

Matinee at the Grindhouse

Despite being a dedicated, compulsive – okay, obsessive – film buff, I don't get out to the movies nearly as often as I'd like, especially over the past couple of years. Now, usually it's okay – I can catch up with the films I'm interested in on DVD, and don't have to deal with annoying audiences or bad projection. But, I really regret missing the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature, Grindhouse, in the theater.

At the time, I was in the middle of that post-surgery sciatica "attack" that all but crippled me for two months, and there was no way I would have been able to physically manage – even with prescription painkillers – sitting in a theater seat for the running time of one movie, never mind two.

Last month, though, I finally managed to see Grindhouse – or more specifically, I purchased and watched the DVDs of the two films that comprised the Grindhouse double bill.

Now, it's not quite the same experience. For one thing, the two discs currently available do not include all the bogus trailers included in the original theatrical version (only Rodriguez' Machete trailer), but until the Weinsteins decide to release a combined special edition (I'm still waiting on the long-promised Kill Bill "The Whole Bloody Affair" SE), I guess these discs will have to do.

Now, I'm a fan of Quentin Tarantino's films, and have been since the weekend I rented the VHS tapes of John Woo's The Killer and Reservoir Dogs back in '93 or so. (That was a hell of a weekend and really kick-started my film obsession!) I like all of his features to date, and I like Death Proof, too – I just think it's his weakest film so far.

For an exploitation film, it's too talky and just terribly paced. The big action scene at the end is so adrenaline-charged and exciting that it nearly makes up for those faults, though. Kurt Russell is perfect in his role as Stuntman Mike, Rose McGowan is great in her small role, and the four girls that feature in the second half of the film are all excellent. Kiwi stunt woman Zoe Bell – playing herself – is particularly charismatic and fun to watch.

I like Death Proof, but it's far from my favorite Tarantino film.

Director Robert Rodriguez’ half of the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror, is a loud, violent, and cheerfully incoherent zombie pulse-pounder, filled with gruesome gore effects, over-the-top action scenes, and a game cast comprised of such familiar faces as Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Michael Parks, Bruce Willis, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey and pretty much all of the director’s pals and family.

Rose McGowan was particularly great (again!) and is now my choice to play my comic book character, Femme Noir, if they ever make a movie.

I loved Planet Terror. I know a lot of folks found it uneven, but I consider that part of its charm.

I really wish the Weinsteins had released the theatrical version of Grindhouse at the same time as these "extended and unrated" versions of Death Proof & Planet Terror. I'm betting a lot of fans would have bought all three, and they still would have made their money.

Oh well. One of these days...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Steee--rike!!!

Before getting into the subject of this post, an announcement:

I'm going to try and blog every day for the rest of November. I absolutely have to write every day this month – what with various ailments and other unexpected interruptions, I've slipped behind schedule again – so I thought I'd make blogging part of the daily regimen. The plan is to post something here or over at Guns in the Gutters (that site's been neglected too long) every day for at least the remainder of this month, either before starting or after I've wrapped up the day's real work. Call it an experiment in self-discipline.

Here's today's effort:

As a huge movie/TV fan, I've been following the situation with the Writers Guild of America and their conflict with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers with considerable interest. It should come as no surprise that I'm firmly on the side of the writers in their biggest concern – they absolutely should get residuals from programs they've written that are released on DVD, the internet or any other format (including those as yet unknown).

And, while I don't wish any real hardship for those WGA members who might depend on their TV and screenwriting efforts for a living, I have to confess that I'm hoping the strike lasts a good long while and new film production grinds to a halt.

My reasons are purely selfish, I admit. You see, I don't get to the theater very often, so there's a lot of movies that I've missed and still haven't managed to see on DVD. If the strike lasts long enough, I might actually catch up.

The Good German. The Bourne Ultimatum. Pirates of the Carribbean 3. Live Free or Die Hard. The Simpsons Movie. 28 Weeks Later. Ratatoullie. War. Black Sheep. Dead or Alive. Shoot 'Em Up. Superbad. 3:10 to Yuma. The Lookout. 30 Days of Night.... these are just the ones I can remember that I was interested in and never got to the theater to see over the past year. The only way I'm going to make a dent in that "pile" is if Hollywood stops making new movies I want to see for a while.

So, stay the course, WGA! Don't let those overpaid Hollywood suits push you around!

I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Got a problem? Odds against you? "

... Call the Equalizer.

One of my favorite shows of the Eighties, The Equalizer, starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, ex-spy who devotes his skills, training and experience to helping people with violent problems, is coming to DVD in February, according to the TV Shows on DVD website.

I don't know how well the show will hold up, but at the time I remember really admiring Woodward in the role. It was great seeing a mature actor in a crime/action series, and Woodward gave the show and character a lot of gravitas and class.

I also liked the gritty nature of the show and its New York setting – most of the detective and crime shows around that time were set in Los Angeles or other sunny climes (Magnum P.I. in Hawaii, Simon & Simon in San Diego, etc.), and the rundown urban cityscape of mid-Eighties New York City was a lot scarier. Even the opening titles were frightening:


Anyway, apparently Universal will be releasing the first 22 episodes in February, with a commentary track on the pilot episode by creator Michael Sloan, and a bonus episode from Season 2. SRP is about fifty bucks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo!

Have a great one, folks!

And congratulate me: today marks seven years of matrimonial bliss. Still can't believe Brandi's hung around this long...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Offline!

I don't know how I'll stand it, but I'm going to be away from my computer from Thursday afternoon through sometime Tuesday.

My wife's going on vacation, and for some reason, she wants me along, so I'll be spending the next few days up in the northern woods. I'll be taking a laptop with me so I can work, but I won't have internet access.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2007

TUROK!

I'm not really sure who's behind this. The logo at the beginning of the trailer indicates The Weinstein Company (Genius Products), while the IMDB credits Starz Media, the people behind Hellboy Animated. Well, in either case, it looks like another of my favorite comics characters will soon be coming to DVD in animated form:



Fortunately, this looks to be based on the original Dell/Gold Key comics rather than the videogame or or the late 90's Acclaim Comics reimagining... and that's a very good thing.

Happy Bela(ted) Birthday

This past weekend marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of silver scream legend Bela Lugosi.

Born October 20, 1882, as Béla Blasko in Lugoj, Romania, the handsome actor gained screen immortality as Dracula in the 1931 Universal film of the same name. Although his career had more than its share of peaks and valleys (or, perhaps more accurately, "peaks and chasms"), Lugosi's filmography is an embarrasment of riches for the dedicated horror movie fan.

Regardless of the quality of the production, Lugosi nearly always delivered a memorable performance, and, in potboilers like Bowery at Midnight, The Invisible Ghost, Voodoo Man, Scared to Death, or Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster, it is usually only Lugosi's presence that makes them watchable at all.

With Halloween around the corner, it's the perfect time to pay tribute to the legendary actor by watching one or more of his remarkable performances. May I humbly suggest White Zombie (1932), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Return of the Vampire (1944), or Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)?

Happy birthday, Bela!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jesus Walks Into A Bar...

...only this particular ginmill is Munden's Bar, located in the pandimensional city of Cynosure, operated by Gordon Munden and owned by John Gaunt, the mercenary better known as Grimjack.

Back when Grimjack had his own title, in those oh-so-hazy Eighties, Munden's Bar was the regular back-up feature, written by GJ creator John Ostrander (usually, although there were others, including Del Close, Kim Yale, Mike Baron, Max Collins, etc.) with art by a wide variety of talented cartoonists. Some stories were action-oriented, some were straight comedy, some were surprisingly moving.

Well, Munden's has returned, along with Grimjack, as part of the line-up at ComicMix, and so far, they've been really good. Today's is drawn by my pal and collaborator Joe Staton, and it's my favorite of the new strips so far.

Check it out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The New Crew Review

Well, the main cast of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek movie have finally been cast.

Chris Pine, whom I've never actually seen in anything, will be playing a young James Tiberius Kirk. (CORRECTION: I have seen Pine in something, I just didn't realize it. He played one of the psychotic "Tremor Brothers" in Joe Carnahan's Smokin' Aces. I liked the movie, but there were so many characters fighting for screen time that Pine didn't make much of a specific impression.)

Zachary Quinto, who plays the villainous Sylar on Heroes, will be Spock.

Karl Urban, who played multiple roles on Xena and Hercules, portrayed Eomer in Lord of the Rings, and starred in Pathfinder, will be playing a rather hunkier than traditional Dr. Leonard McCoy.

Simon Pegg, the brilliant star of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz will be Montgomery Scott.

John Cho, of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, will be playing Hikaru Sulu. (UPDATE: Just saw Cho on last night's Ugly Betty. Seems like a good choice.)

Russian-born Anton Yelchin will be a very young Pavel Chekov.

And finally, the lovely Zoe Saldana will be playing Uhura.

The cast also includes Leonard Nimoy and Munich/Hulk's Eric Bana as somebody called "Nero."

For the most part, I'm pleased with the casting. It skews young, but that's Hollywood these days, and if they intend for this to launch a new series of features – and they do – it's probably a good idea to get a young, healthy cast who can grow into their roles over a number of films.

I particularly like the casting of Quinto and Pegg, though muscular kiwi Urban seems an odd choice for McCoy. Still, I've seen him play a couple of different roles on Xena (including both Julius Caesar and Cupid!), so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Yet Another DVD Column Posted!

Yep, a brand new (and almost on-time) DVD Late Show column has just been posted at Quick Stop Entertainment.

This installment covers a variety of cult films and genre titles, featuring a review of the long awaited and eagerly anticipated director's cut of Stuart Gordon's From Beyond, as well as looks at Food of the Gods, Irwin Allen's The Lost World, The Beach Girls, Black Roses, Roger Corman's The Intruder (with William Shatner), Transformers, the first season of Jericho, Max Allan Collins' Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Knocked Up and a couple more.

Why not swing over to QSE and check it out?

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Britain's Last Line of Defense"

I'm a bit late in acknowledging the passing of Lois Maxwell, the Canadian actress best known for her charming portrayal of Miss Moneypenny, secretary to "M," James Bond's superior and head of the British Secret Service in the long-running 007 series, but I wanted to make note of it here, as she was such an integral part of the success of my favorite film franchise.

She played the role in 14 movies, from 1962's Dr. No to 1985's A View To A Kill, shamelessly flirting with 007 – in the shape of Sean Connery, George Lazenby or Roger Moore – as the intrepid agent passed through her office to and from briefings with the boss.

Maxwell passed away on September 29th, in Australia. She was 80 years old.

The attractive actress was a familiar guest star on British television, with appearances on The Saint, The Persuaders (both with Roger Moore), and UFO, among many others. She also had memorable roles in both Robert Wise's classic, The Haunting, and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita.

Reportedly, she risked Sean Connery's wrath by appearing in the Italian spy spoof Operation Kid Brother, playing a thinly-disguised Moneypenny to Sean's brother Neil Connery... but then, a paycheck is a paycheck, right?

Rest in Peace, Miss Moneypenny.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Grimjack's back – and ComicMix has 'im!

There's a new online comics "portal" that just made it's debut: ComicMix.

What's different about this one? Well, it's got a new Grimjack graphic novel by John Ostrander and Tim Truman, to start. Grimjack's my favorite comic of all time, so anyone who brings me new GJ is already way ahead on points, in my scorebook.

They also have EZ Street, a new project from Robert Tinnel (The Black Forest) and Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster), The Adventures of Simone & Ajax, from my good pal Andrew Pepoy, new Munden's Bar stories, and, apparently, Mike Grell's Jon Sable!

New comics every day, in 6-7 page chunks. Free. How cool is that?

According to their PR, these projects will appear online for free first, and then be collected in print volumes. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Check 'em out!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some pig!


A Tim Hamilton-drawn page from our forthcoming Kolchak: Night Stalker of the Living Dead miniseries from Moonstone.

Can you say, "ravenous undead mutant carnivorous pigs?"

I knew you could.