Saturday, March 31, 2007

What I want for Christmas...

Yes, I know it's not even April yet, but thanks to those amazing purveyors of hardboiled pulp over at Hard Case Crime, I already know at least two things I'll be groveling for, come November: the Hard Case paperbacks of Max Allan Collins' Deadly Beloved and Mickey Spillane's Dead Street.

Of course, HCC's got a lot of great stuff coming out before then, too. In fact, 2007 looks to be their best year yet from where I'm standing, with Gil Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin next month, David Goodis' The Wounded And The Slain coming out in May, George Axelrod's Blackmailer in June, and Richard Aleas' (HCC founder Charles Ardai) second John Blake private eye novel Songs of Innocence in July... etc. etc.

But it's the Collins and Spillane books that have me the most excited.

November's Dead Street is the first posthumous Spillane novel, edited and prepared for publication by Max Collins.

As a guy who considers himself a fan of and friend to both of those fine gentlemen by virtue of having worked with them for a couple of years on the mid-90's comic book series, Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger, I'm eager to get my grubby mitts on this novel. There are no crime fiction writers I admire and enjoy more than Spillane, and from the sample chapter on the HCC website, Dead Street looks to be something special.

As for December's Deadly Beloved – well, it's a book I've been waiting for since the early 1980s. You see, that's when Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty introduced the world to Ms. Michael Tree, comics' longest-running private eye character. I won't claim to have picked up her very first appearances in the B&W Eclipse Monthly magazine, but when she got her own color comic, Ms. Tree's Thrilling Detective Mysteries, I was there. And I faithfully followed her through four publishers and more than a decade of groundbreaking comic book thrillers.

Well, now, after teasing fans with a couple of short stories over the years, Collins has finally written a Ms. Tree novel, and it's Deadly Beloved. Beatty has provided a gorgeous cover painting, and I'm desperately hoping to find the book in my Christmas stocking.

After all, isn't that what the holiday season is all about? Murder, mayhem, mystery, Ms. Tree and... Mickey Spillane?

Friday, March 30, 2007

At Last – The Spider Returns!

My comp copies of Moonstone’s The Spider Chronicles showed up in the mail today. I'm told they'll be in comics shops on Wednesday.

This is a very big deal for me – I've had prose fiction published online and in a couple of (very) small press magazines, but this is the first appearance of a Christopher Mills short story in a bonafide, professional book; in many ways, it feels like my first real published story.

My one complaint (’cause you know I gotta have one): for some reason, someone made the decision to break 60 years of tradition and changed the traditional yellow and red logo to dark green and yellow. It just doesn't pop at all – and as far as I can tell, in the history of the character, it has NEVER been any colors other than yellow and red. Sigh.

Overall, though, it’s a very handsome volume with an impressive list of contributors (I'm in the same book as John Jakes, Bill Crider, Mort Castle, Chuck Dixon and Steve Englehart?!), and I’m proud to have been included... especially since, based on their reaction to this story, Moonstone's editors have subsequently asked me to contribute to no less than four more upcoming books! Cool, no?

In any case, it’s out now (finally!) and I encourage anyone who’s a fan of classic pulp characters – and The Spider, in particular, obviously – to pick it up.

Please, though, when you get to the sentence at the top of page 313 where I carelessly used the word "silently" twice – the second occurrence was supposed to have been changed to "soundlessly."

Had to get that off my chest. Thanks!

Monday, March 26, 2007

R.I.P. Marshall Rogers

I hate this. Two obituaries on the same day. Two creative types, who – although as different from each other as night and day – both had a huge impact on me and influenced my own creative expression.

Sure, you can chuckle when you think of Andy Sidaris' T&A exploitation films as a "creative influence" – it's true, but I can't deny the humor of it – but no one can question the visceral impact of Marshall Rogers' comic book artwork on those of us who toil in the field.

From his career-making (and endlessly reprinted) Batman run in Detective Comics with writer Steve Englehart (which resulted in at least two bonafide Batman clasics: "The Laughing Fish" and "The Deadshot Richochet") to their recent reunion on the Dark Detective miniseries, from his unforgettable graphic novel adaptation of Harlan Ellison's Demon With A Glass Hand to his groundbreaking visuals on Don McGregor's seminal Detectives, Inc., Rogers brought his unique vision and undeniable sense of design and architecture to comics, forging a body of work that was ahead of its time and still impresses today.

Marshall Rogers has passed away. He was 57. The best I can say is that he drew a fantastic Batman. And his Dr. Strange was great, too. And so was his Mr. Miracle. And his Scorpio Rose. And his Cap'n Quick (and Foozle). And his...


Rest in Peace, Marshall.

R.I.P Andy Sidaris

Andy Sidaris, the low budget auteur behind the late-night cable staples Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Picasso Trigger, Hard Hunted and the classic Savage Beach, the man who lived by the "Three B's" – Bullets, Bombs and Breasts – has passed away.

I cannot even begin to tell you how saddened I am by this.

Sure, other, less-innovative filmmakers will continue to attempt to emulate the Master's sure-fire formula of incoherent espionage plots, semi-exotic locations, buck naked Playboy and Penthouse models, soap opera studs, toy helicopters and Erik Estrada – but none of those pretenders will ever pull it off with the same panache.

And that is a tragedy for heterosexual male insomniacs everywhere.

And before anyone thinks I'm goofing on Sidaris or his films, I assure you that I am sincere in my appreciation for the man and his works. The guy was a genuine exploitation genius and a decent director, and I love his movies – especially Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Savage Beach (two of the best movie titles ever!).

I used to faithfully scour the cable guide for their Skinemax showings and now have the entire Sidaris canon on DVD.
Hell, I even have the two films his son, Christian, directed – mildly disappointing entries which proved that regardless of genetics or how carefully one followed the formula, it was the senior Sidaris who best knew how to wring the most entertainment value out of the "family recipe!"

My condolences go out to his family, especially his wife and producing partner Arlene. Rest in Peace, Andy. You'll be missed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bitching... in Brief

Well, the sciatica is still slowing me down. Had some osteopathic "manipulation" yesterday that helped – for about 20 minutes. Looks like I'm going to have to really consider having them do the MRI (even if it means a long, painful car ride to Timbuktu to find an MRI machine my tubby ass will fit into) to see if surgery will correct the problem, because, frankly, it's obvious that the symptoms are not going to go away by themselves – and I don't want to be sucking down vicodin for the rest of my life (especially since it doesn't appear to help much.).

In the meantime, I continue to plug away slowly, and work through the pain the best I can. What's really pissing me off, though, is that not only is this sciatica shit screwing with my productivity, it's really cutting into my movie watching too, since I cannot sit comfortably in a single chair in this house for 90 minutes.

Understand what I'm saying, man? It's screwing with my MOVIES!

This is intolerable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm buying THIS...

...just as soon as I can scrape up the scratch.

I've only seen one Lloyd Nolan "Michael Shayne" movie, Dressed to Kill, and I absolutely loved it. And just look at that beautiful box!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Casino Royale DVD

Well, I got my review copy of Casino Royale from Sony today, and managed, over the course of three physically painful sittings, to watch the movie again and look over the extra features.

First of all, I found I enjoyed the movie more this time than I did when I saw it in the theater. While I haven't changed most of my original opinions, the pacing didn't seem so "off" to me on this viewing, and I guess it was the difference in sound systems, but Craig didn't seem to be mumbling his lines so much this time around. Still not sure why Judi Dench was in there, but she was great in the role, as always. Also, I didn't really pay attention to the music when I saw this on the big screen, but I think it may be David Arnold's best Bond score to date, and I'll be ordering the CD as soon as I can afford it.

The DVD transfer is – as one might expect from a brand-new movie – beautiful to behold: a razor-sharp 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation to die for. The sound mix – even on my antiquated system – was perfectly balanced and robust. Nothing to complain about there.

The bonus features are a disgrace though, and absolutely scream that Sony intends to double-, triple- and re-dip this film over and over again forever. All you get two extremely light, superficial EPK*-styled featurettes, a music video (that relies heavily on film clips) and the Bond Girls Are Forever documentary from several years ago, which has been updated slightly with a couple minutes of new footage featuring the Casino Royale gals. There's also a slew of unrelated Sony trailers – but no trailers, TV spots or poster/photo galleries for Casino Royale itself. There's no director's commentary, no on-screen trivia tracks, no Daniel Craig screen tests – really nothing much of any note or extra value.

Compared to every other DVD presentation of a Bond film (with the understandable exception of MGM's bare bone Never Say Never Again disc), this 2-disc edition is a major disappointment. Even the DVD of 1967's farcical version of Casino Royale with Woody Allen and David Niven had better extras!

Sure, if they hadn't sent it to me, I would have bought it anyway, because I'm an incurable Bondophile. But I do strongly resent the blatantness of Sony's cynical marketing, and I recommend sticking with an overnight rental for pretty much anyone else.

Unless, of course, you're as nutty as I am about Her Majesty's Secret Servant... in which case you're going to buy it anyway. And I can't blame you for that!

*Electronic Press Kit, for the uninitiated.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Had a bad day and night Sunday, sciatica-wise. Hurt almost as bad as it did the first day the symptoms occurred, more than two weeks ago now.

I have another appointment on Thursday with my osteopath, who's going to try some manual "manipulation" of the sciatic nerve, as the pain pills I've been given just don't cut it. In fact, I seem to have an unfortunately high tolerance to pain meds – when I was in the hospital, the doctors first said they would be able to make me "comfortable" with medication after my surgery. After the first 24 hours of failing at that, they said they would settle for "bearable." As far as I'm concerned, they never really managed that, either – I'd rate their success level at "almost tolerable."

My doctor acknowledges my resistance to pain meds – "Sucks to be you," were her exact words – so I'm hoping that her vaunted osteopathic treatment will accomplish what our best 21st Century wonder drugs apparently cannot, and ease the pain enough for me to get back to serious work.

Over the last two weeks, I've managed – most days anyway – to actually sit at my computer for some good long stretches. Doesn't mean that I'm comfortable, though, or that the pain is ever gone. I've managed some writing, but it has been very difficult to concentrate, and I've been continually frustrated in my attempts to make any headway with my assignments.

I'm so sick of being in pain. I'm so sick of being forced to make excuses for not being able to stick to my schedules. My wife pointed out today that I've been in pretty much constant pain of one sort or another since last July. Cripes. Eight friggin' months.

I guess my doctor's right.

It does suck to be me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I Like This Comic: The Iron Ghost

Gotta give Chuck Dixon credit: in The Iron Ghost, he not only gives readers his usual rip-roaring, action-packed comic book thrill ride, but he also manages to find an utterly and astoundingly unique "take" on the slouch-hat/two-gun pulp vigilante. Instead of another blatant Shadow or Spider rip-off (like my own Brother Grim), The Iron Ghost only superficially resembles those characters. Okay, he also employs their brutal, ruthless methodology, but the character's motives and – more importantly – the environment in which he operates, is truly something different in the genre.

Structured as a mystery story, The Iron Ghost: Geist Reich, is set in Berlin, 1945, as World War II approaches its end and Germany's inevitable defeat. The city is in ruins, pounded day and night by Allied bombers. Fires burn, and the civilian citizens of the crumbling metropolis struggle just to survive, foraging for food and water amid the rubble.

Into this smoking hell on Earth comes a masked figure in a pea-green overcoat, wide-brimmed hat and Iron Cross medallion; an imposing apparition with one, blazing red eye and a pair of highly unusual Luger automatics. He is The Iron Ghost, and he's hunting down and murdering prominent members of the Nazi party. The solving of those murders falls to two civilian police detectives, Inspectors Tannhauser and Volz, and their questions – and those of the reader – are the same: who is The Iron Ghost, why is he killing these particular Nazis, and why do his German Lugers fire American .45 caliber bullets?

You all know that I'm a fan of Dixon's comics writing. His best work is unpretentious, visual, and story-driven, with strong enough characters that he doesn't find it necessary to bury the action in endless exposition. With The Iron Ghost, he's found a premise and setting uniquely suited to his strengths as a writer, and I can't imagine anyone else even coming up with the idea of this book, never mind writing it as well. From its intriguing opening chapter to its fiery climax, Geist Reich is one of the best graphic novels/miniseries I've read in the last three years.

Artist Sergio Cariello is a remarkable talent, a young artist with Old School sensibilities: an emphasis on clear storytelling, drawing fundamentals and research. There's no cheating here – the uniforms, clothing, weapons and vehicles are period-appropriate and look authentic to my untrained eye, lending the whole enterprise vital verisimilitude. Concepts and covers by Flint Henry are typically raw and striking and lead to my only complaint about the current trade paperback collection of this 6-issue miniseries from Image Comics: it does not include a gallery of Henry's astounding cover illustrations (like the one I posted above). Instead, they're reproduced thumbnail-sized on the back cover, which is a criminal treatment of Henry's detailed art.

Otherwise, though, the trade paperback is an attractive package for a powerful and damned entertaining pulp adventure. Obviously, I highly recommend The Iron Ghost: Geist Reich.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Resurrecting The Ghost

Yep – I've been roped into yet another pulp hero revival. Here's the official press release from Wild Cat Books:

The Ghost lives!

Wild Cat Books proudly announces The Ghost, an upcoming pulp anthology featuring brand new stories by some of today’s most acclaimed writers of mystery, horror, and science fiction. The Ghost, a fascinating, nearly forgotten pulp hero, is magician detective George Chance, (later known as the Green Ghost), whose thrilling adventures were originally written by G.T. Fleming-Roberts, pseudonym of George Thomas Roberts, a prolific contributor to pulp magazines. As The Ghost, chance adopts a terrifying disguise, using his superior skill as an illusionist and master escape artist, to battle the criminal underworld.

The Ghost resurrection is the collaborative brainchild of Wild Cat founder and publisher Ron Hanna, who has been printing new editions of pulp material for over a decade, and writer/editor Martin Powell, a contributor not only to moonstone’s eagerly awaited pulp anthologies reviving The Spider, The Phantom, The Avenger, and Captain Midnight, but was also a featured writer in Kolchak: The Night Stalker Chronicles, which earned a Bram Stoker nomination.

"About a year ago, publisher Ron Hanna approached me with the idea of doing something new with The Ghost, an old favorite character for both of us," Powell said. "He generously gave me the freedom to select my own writers and illustrator, and I immediately knew exactly who I wanted for the book. As busy as all of these guys are, I was genuinely surprised when every single writer that I’d hand-picked enthusiastically joined the project. Already this has been an awesome experience."

The featured "ghost writers" are an impressive group, including: James Chambers (The Midnight Hour), Win Scott Eckert (Tales of the Shadowmen Vol. 3), Mike Frigon (Doctor Satan), Joe Gentile (Kolchak The Night Stalker & Sherlock Holmes), Howard Hopkins (Night Demons), Christopher Mills (Femme Noir), and Powell himself. Larry Marshall (Flying Models) is on board as co-editor.

Thomas L. Floyd, creator of the web-comic strip, Captain Spectre, has also joined The Ghost, contributing a new painted cover and providing a series of b&w interior illustrations, as well.

Hanna and Powell also hint at a major surprise within the covers of The Ghost, yet to be announced, that they guarantee will give pulp fans a reason to celebrate.

The resurrection of the ghost promises to be as cool a pulp publishing "event" as anything that's come before!

So... let's see now. That makes three vintage pulp heroes I'm messing with: The Spider, The Avenger and The Ghost. Captain Midnight doesn't count – pulp magazines were just about the only medium the good Captain didn't appear in. Still, one of these days, I really should get back to writing about some characters of my own! :)

At least, The Ghost is more of a straight-forward detective (albeit one with a gimmick) so at least I'm moving back towards the genre of pure crime fiction... which, as we know, is where my heart really lies.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Re-Animated Again

Thought you might like to see this (click on image for larger view).

Here's an advance look at the cover art to Anchor Bay's upcoming edition of the Stuart Gordon classic, H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator, starring Jeffrey Combs.

Now I absolutely love this movie – IMO, one of the top five horror flicks of the 80's – but I have to wonder how Anchor Bay can possibly improve upon the earlier Re-Animator special edition from Elite Entertainment, which is one of the single best, most-satisfyingly complete DVDs in my vast collection.

Okay, since technology keeps zooming ahead, I suppose it's possible that AB's actual transfer will be somewhat sharper and "better" than the Elite edition (although on my TV, will I notice?), but I can't imagine them improving on the extra features. (And doesn't the "Re-Animator" highlighter pen seem like a particularly cheesy gimmick?)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to comparing this new edition to the earlier one, and I'll definitely write up my observations for my DVD Late Show column... but damn it, where's From Beyond?!

Lost in "Space"

Okay, so first I signed up with MySpace. Heard it was a good networking tool, and a way to get your name out there, maybe promote your work. It was okay. It was fun to set up my own "MySpace page," personalizing it with music, an animated slideshow, a humongous list of favorite movies and stuff. It was even fun making new "friends." But while I did meet some kindred souls on there – and even re-hooked up with some old acquaintances – there was just too much adolescent bullshit to deal with.

I still check in every day, once or twice, but that's it.

Then ComicSpace came along. In function and purpose, pretty much the same as MySpace, but at least there everybody had at least one thing in common – they're into comics. I spend a fair amount of time over there, and one thing I've learned is that it's absolutely true that the only people reading comics are people who want to make them. No wonder sales are so dismal!

Now, I've been turned onto CrimeSpace, a social networking site aimed at crime fiction authors and fans. Since my leg's feeling a bit better tonight, I spent some time – after getting some writing done (yay!) – setting up a profile over there.

It's interesting. When I first got online a decade or so ago, I was very heavy into reading crime fiction, and belonged to a number of newsgroups and forums devoted to the genre, but I haven't been into that "scene" so much in the last few years. Mostly because I haven't been able to keep up with the genre like I used to when I could afford to buy a bunch of books every month.

But I've been making a point of reading more in the genre, and I'm itching to get back to writing the stuff again, too, so CrimeSpace looked like it might be a good place to hang out.

On the other hand, it might just turn into another time-sucking site I "have to" visit every day. :) We'll see.

If you're interested in checking out my "pages" on any of these "spaces," you'll find links over in the sidebar at right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Well, hell.

My sciatica is still slowing me down, which really sucks. Not only do I have a lot of things to write, but I feel more like writing than I have in months.

(So why am I wasting time with a blog post? 'Cause I wanna. Deal.)

Unfortunately the pain in my leg still severely limits my writing time, and makes even goofing off uncomfortable. I'm seeing my doctor again tomorrow, and I'm hopeful that we can come up with some sort of effective treatment that doesn't involve going under the knife again.

If all goes well – and I haven't forgotten how to do the posting – there should be a new DVD Late Show column at Quick Stop Entertainment on Wednesday. (I have no idea when I'll get the actual DVD Late Show website updated – soon, I hope.) I've been working on it all week in fits and starts, and it's the longest one I've written yet. But then, I've got several months worth of discs to work through – especially if I want to keep receiving those complimentary review copies. ;)

Oh yeah – I ordered a few more graphic novels, too. Red Sonja/Claw: The Devil's Hand by John Layman and Andy Smith, Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, & Stefano Gaudiano, and the new Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence, collection by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti and Luke Ross. Hey, I said I wanted to read more comics this year. Next on my list is Fear Agent: Re-Ignition, by Rick Remender (even though I hated Sea of Red, I'm going to give the guy one more chance) and Huntress: Darknight Daughter, which reprints the earliest stories of the original, Earth-2 Huntress, by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton! I'm also open to suggestions, folks – trades only, though.

Anyway, I need to get back to work while I can still bear the pain. Just wanted to make a brief status report, and I've done that. Later, folks!

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's still a ways away...

... but I thought you might like to see the cover design/logo treatment I'm working on for the forthcoming Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries miniseries that Joe Staton and I are doing for Ape Entertainment (publishers of Athena Voltaire and The Black Coat).

I'm pretty proud of the layout. Even though Joe calls the series "retro-pastiche," I didn't want to go with a blatant 30's or 40's -styled cover treatment. Sure, the font is retro/deco, but I wanted a more contemporary "book" approach to the design rather than do an outright pulp magazine or Golden Age comic book homage.

The cover illustration above – which, yes, I've shown around before – was penciled by Joe Staton and then digitally painted by Alfredo Lopez, Jr. All four covers will be done in this manner.

Of course, being comics, we'll also have "variant" covers by guest artists, most of which we already have lined up (artists to be announced soon!). Still looking for a fourth "name" to fill out the roster, though.

I don't suppose anyone reading this has Bruce Timm's e-mail address?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Joy of Ordering Stuff...

Just ordered some stuff, really essential stuff I've been wanting for a while. Scraped up the dough, begged the wife to let me spend said dough, and then went clicking over at Deep

The biggie was the second set of Mr. Moto movies from Fox. Loved the first set from last year – I hadn't really seen the films before and was surprised how damned cool the character was. I expected a Charlie Chan-styled protagonist and similar whodunnits, but Peter Lorre's Moto is much more of an adventurer than a detective – in fact, the "mystery" in most of these flicks is just what the hell Moto's up to! Can't wait to see the remaining films in the series, as well as the notorious 1965 Return of Mr. Moto film (starring Henry Silva) that Fox has included as a bonus feature!

Also ordered the eleventh volume of Dark Horse's trade paperback reprintings of Marvel's great Conan the Barbarian comic books from the 70s. More Hyborian hijinx with the raven-maned Cimmerian and his she-pirate sextoy, Belit – with scripts by Roy Thomas and sublime art by Howard Chaykin and John Buscema. Earlier volumes of the Chronicles of Conan books, in which Dark Horse decided to re-color and re-letter the original comics, had some sloppy typos and questionable color choices, but the last several volumes have been really nice. I like Dark Horse's new Conan comics too – but I like these old ones better.

Finally – as we know, I'm a big fan of Chuck Dixon's comics, and I really enjoyed last year's Iron Ghost miniseries from Image Comics, which told the story of a mysterious vigilante murdering Nazi officials in war-torn Berlin, just as WWII was grinding to its inevitable end. Well, I enjoyed five of the six issues, anyway – I never managed to snag a copy of the climactic final issue. So, now the trade paperback collection is out, and I'll finally get to read the end. I don't mind buying most of it twice, really; I'm a big fan of artists Sergio Cariello and Flint Henry, too, and it will be nice to have a quality collection for the bookshelf and handy re-reading.

I love ordering stuff.

I just hate waiting for it to arrive. :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sneak Peek: Captain Midnight

Here's the initial "model sheet" of the new Moonstone comics version of Captain Midnight, drawn by my pal Richard Clark, an extremely talented comics artist, caricaturist, and magazine & book illustrator.

Rich and I go back a ways. I first became aware of his work when he did an art job for another editor during my tenure at Tekno*Comix/BIG Entertainment, back in the 90's. Later, when I was the Art Director of the Sun tabloid newspaper, I hired Rich to illustrate a number of stories and articles. We always got along well, and I've always admired and liked his work.

He'll be drawing my first Captain Midnight comic serial, "Assault on Midnight Mesa," for sure, and hopefully more. This will be our first full-bore collaboration, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be fun!

For more samples of Rich's amazing work, check out his website.

The King of Pain...

I swear, I just can't catch a break.

Just as I was starting to get mobile and productive again after my kidney surgery, I've been stricken with sciatica. Apparently, this may be caused by a herniated disc, and if so, it might require an operation to repair. In the meantime, I'm suffering incredible pain down my left leg, which makes sitting at this desk – or even in my recliner in front of the TV – impossible to do for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.

It sucks, really. Sleeping hasn't been easy, either.

Now, this "hit" me on Friday, and it has gotten slightly better since then, but if it doesn't seem likely to correct itself in another day or so, then I'll have to travel somewhere to get an MRI scan (I'm too damned fat to actually fit in most MRI machines, so I need an "open" one, and there aren't any of those locally) to determine if it's definitely a herniated disc. If so, then it's back to the hospital (and with our insurance company, that probably means Boston again) to be sliced open. Again.

Yeah, I know. If it wasn't happening to me, I'd think I was making all this up, too.
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

R.I.P. Herman Brix (a/ka/ Bruce Bennett)

I just found out that the great Herman Brix – who later changed his name to Bruce Bennettpassed away on February 24th at age 100.

An Olympic shot-putter and stuntman, Brix was Edgar Rice Burroughs' personal choice to play Tarzan, and starred as the Ape Man in the independently produced serial, The New Adventures of Tarzan. Due to a troubled production, the serial itself, which was shot on location in the jungles of South America, is a bit of a mess, but Brix is a letter-perfect Lord Greystoke: intelligent, erudite, and utterly lethal in a loincloth.

The athletic Brix starred in many great Republic serials, including Daredevils of the Red Circle (a personal fave), The Fighting Devil Dogs (another classic), Shadow of Chinatown, Hawk of the Wilderness, and The Lone Ranger. Later, he changed his name to Bruce Bennett and moved into supporting and co-starring roles in A-pictures, including a most memorable turn in The Treasure of Sierra Madre, with humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. He appeared with Bogart again in Sahara, and even had a featured role in the 50's cult fave, The Alligator People, alongside Lon Chaney Jr.

His IMDB page has over 140 listed credits, so the man was clearly a hard worker and much in demand over his long and varied career. Here's another tribute.

I think I'll go dig out my VHS of Fighting Devil Dogs and watch a chapter or two in his memory.

Rest in Peace, Brix.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Midnight Strikes!

A few weeks back, as you might recall, I mentioned that I was going to be writing some Captain Midnight comics.

Well, big news, folks: at the request of Joe Gentile at Moonstone Books, I'm now the editor of the forthcoming Captain Midnight prose anthology, too.

Remember Captain Midnight? Well, even if you do, there's the matter of which Captain Midnight you remember.

There have been lots of very different versions of the Captain Midnight character over the years. First there was a weekly radio program broadcast from 1938 to 1949, then there was a movie serial from Columbia in '42, then a comic book from Fawcett, and finally, a TV show in the 50's. In each version the Captain was portrayed differently. On radio he was first an independent adventurer and then an airborne spy. In the comics, he was a crime-busting super-hero in red longjohns. On TV, he was a gadget-toting sci-fi crimefighter with a "Squadron" of Ovaltine-drinking children.

Rather than pick the radio, TV, comic book or serial version of the character to go with, I’ve tried to take the best and most interesting elements from each of those incarnations and create an amalgam Captain Midnight. Sort of like what the creators of the Batman animated series did with the Caped Crusader in the 90’s.

Anyway, as I was the one who suggested the property to Moonstone last year and I was the one writing the Moonstone CM "bible," I originally offered to be a consultant on the anthology. But since Joe and his staff are already handling so many projects, and I have some previous editorial experience, I was asked to take over the main editing chores on the book.

Now, I didn't go after the job – lord knows it doesn't pay, and I definitely don't need more non-paying work – but I couldn't bring myself to refuse, either... if only so that I could ensure that nothing in the anthology contradicted or undermined the Captain Midnight comics scripts I'm writing for the company.

As it stands, all the authors have already been chosen by Moonstone, so I have no say in that – unless someone drops out. If that should happen, I have several people in mind to recruit. The author list is a particularly strong one, though, so I have no complaints with their choices.

The authors that Joe lined up for this are: Martin Powell, Robert Jeschonek, Tim Lasiuta, Tom Defalco, Bob Greenberger, Win Eckert, Mark Justice, Max Allan Collins, Steve Mertz, Trina Robbins, Howard Hopkins, Joe Gentile and... me.

Pretty cool, no?

So, mix yourself an ice cold glass of rich, chocolately Ovaltine and get your Code-O-Graph decoder ready for future dispatches... Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron flies again!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

DVD News Flash!

From the Digital Bits Rumor Mill, the following geek-friendly DVDs are due out this Summer from Universal home Video:
July - Serenity: Special Edition, Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume Two, Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season, Woody and Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection

August - Flash Gordon: Savior of the Universe Edition, Seaquest DSV: Season Two, Heroes: Season One
Finally! The long awaited 1980 Flash Gordon Special Edition – hopefully with a cleaned up transfer, amped up audio and some decent extra features. I suppose it would be too much to hope for a seperate soundtrack CD (Not that I don't already have the soundtrack, but still...)

There's some cool other stuff, there, too. I don't watch Heroes, but I hear it's good. I'm looking forward to getting the second seasons of The Hulk and Baa Baa Black Sheep. Do we really need another edition of Serenity, though? I thought the first disc was pretty damned good.