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.


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:

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:


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!


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.


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


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.