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


Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Tribute


Turner Classic Movies' tasteful tribute to the film personalities that we lost this year (and hopefully no more will pass away in the next couple of weeks). As a film buff who loves almost all movies (and not, despite my obvious affinity for them, just the bad ones), I found this quite moving. A lot of my favorites left us this past year...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Cover: Silk

Here's another vintage VHS cover, in this case, for a film I've never seen. But the cover art is familiar, because I think every video store in central Maine had this tape on its shelves. I'm not sure why I never took the plunge and rented it - based on its IMDb reviews, it sure sounds like something I would have enjoyed. A low-budget crime exploitation film with a female lead? I shoulda been all over it. Oh well....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Submitted without Comment

Wednesday Cover: KOLCHAK

This week we present Mark Maddox's gorgeous alternate cover for the first issue of Moonstone's new Kolchak: The Night Stalker Files ongoing comic book series, written by yours truly and on sale tomorrow.

Yep. It's been a long time coming, but it will be hitting the shelves of comic shops this Thursday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O Masters, O Noble Persons....

Here's the first page of the Sinbad: The Coils of the Serpent graphic novel/proposal, with art and colors by Eduardo Barreto and script & letters by me. Click on the image for a larger view.

The project is coming along, and I hope to be shopping it around to publishers shortly after the first of the year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen

For many, Leslie Nielsen, who passed away this weekend at age 84, will be best remembered as a talented comic actor, with credits like Airplane!, The Naked Gun (spun-off from the brilliant, short-lived TV series, Police Squad!), and Dracula, Dead And Loving It. And while I like all of those, and think Nielsen was fantastic in them, to me, he'll always be Commander J. J. Adams, the proto-Kirk of Forbidden Planet.


Of course, he was funny.



Rest well, Sir. You will be missed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Meanwhile... at The Late Show

Just another periodic reminder that I also write and publish reviews of cult, B-movie and genre DVD and Blu-Rays at my DVD Late Show website.

Over the last month, I looked at a variety of interesting titles, including The Asylum's lowbrow teen sex comedy MILF, the new special "Hyperdrive Edition" of the John Carpenter/Dan O'Bannon cult sci-fi classic Dark Star, the Bulldog Drummond-esque British television serial, Dick Barton, Special Agent, and the "Roger Corman Cult Classic," Not Of this Earth, starring porn legend Traci Lords!

Also, I covered several great double feature discs, including the 80s sci-fi monster two-fer of The Terror Within & Dead Space, the Herman Cohen 60s classics, Horrors of The Black Museum and The Headless Ghost, the "Positively No Refunds Double Feature" of Cuban Rebel Girls (Errol Flynn's sad, final film) and Untamed Women, and the awesome Filipino action package One-Armed Executioner & They Call Her... Cleopatra Wong!

I've got reviews of the new Mad Max high definition Blu-Ray, the DC Comics Showcase collection Superman/Shazam!, and The Asylum's freewheeling, monster-movie adaptation of Herman Melville: 2010 Moby Dick!

So, if you're into these kinds of flicks, please take a moment and check out the DVD Late Show site. Thanks!

Sinbad in the Caliph's Harem

Here are Eduardo Barreto's rough layouts for two pages of our Sinbad: Coils of the Serpent graphic novel, wherein our swashbuckling Persian mariner gets caught dallying in the Caliph's harem. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

With luck, we'll have our proposal ready to be shopped around to publishers just after New Year's. I'll keep you posted, of course....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Cover: SHE

For this week's "Wednesday Cover," I thought I'd change things up a bit, and start to occasionally toss in some vintage VHS box covers along with the comics, pulp and paperbacks. These really bring back memories of haunting the local "mom & pop" independent video stores when I was in my late teens and early twenties, before the big (and now-defunct) chains took over, and before DVDs revolutionized the home video market. Don't get me wrong - digital video was a huge improvement, and I wouldn't give up my vast collection of discs for anything, but along with DVDs came lousy, dull Photoshop cover art.

At the height of the videotape era, VHS distributors really worked hard to sell their product, and produced "art" that lingers in memory even 25years later. For example, the cover for this 1982, post-Apocalyptic barbarian flick starring Sandahl Bergman, fresh off Conan the Barbarian. despite the title, this SHE has no connection with H. Rider Haggard's classic novel, and is a pretty standard, shot-in-Italy cheesefest. Still, that box art got me to shell out my three bucks for a rental...

More Love for Femme Noir

Even at this late date, reviews of the Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries graphic novel are still popping up here and there around the web. Today, my attention was called to this one on Dan Fleming's "My Year In Crime" blog:
In today's world of decompressed storytelling, where stories are stretched out to accommodate the inevitable collection, it's refreshing and welcome to see tales where so much can happen in a shorter page count.  It doesn't matter if the chapters are five pages or thirty, you'll get your money worth here.
I'm very glad Dan enjoyed it, and if you still haven't picked up your own copy - or just realized that it would make a great holiday gift for a friend - there's a link over there in the sidebar to Amazon, where the book is currently selling for about sixteen bucks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt


The beautiful and exotic Ingrid Pitt, star of Hammer Films' The Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula, has passed away at age 73.

The Polish-born Ms. Pitt has always been my favorite lady vampyre, and, for my money, the sexiest. She also appeared in The Wicker Man and, memorably, The House That Dripped Blood for Amicus, where she spoofed her own vampiric image, as well as in action thrillers like Where Eagles Dare with Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton, and Who Dares Wins. She also appeared in two Doctor Who serials.

But she will always be best remembered for her vampire roles - as the seductive Carmilla/Mircalla in Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers, a still-potent erotic horror film, and as the voluptuous Countess Elizabeth Bathory in Countess Dracula.

Rest in Peace, Carmilla.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What I'm Reading This Week

I'm currently reading the first of author David Hagberg's six Flash Gordon novels for Tempo Books, originally published in 1980 and '81. They're mostly remembered for the striking Boris Vallejo cover art on volumes 1-4.

Though they started coming out the same year as the Dino DeLaurentis/Mike Hodges movie, they are not connected to it. In fact, unlike the film, which was based fairly faithfully on the original Alex Raymond newspaper comic strip continuity, this series of books instead eschews that backstory in favor of a whole new fictional universe.

Instead of being set in the 30's (or even the then-present, as was the 1980 film) with our heroes traveling to the wandering planet Mongo to battle the evil Ming the Merciless and saving Earth, these books take place in the 22nd century. Colonel Flash Gordon is a young widower and an agent for the Federation Central Intelligence Division, for which Doctor Zarkov is a scientific advisor. Dale Arden is Zarkov's niece, and at least in these first early chapters, is just a friend to Flash and assistant to her uncle. No Ming or Mongo.

Actually, this pretty closely resembles the version of Flash Gordon from the short-lived 1950's TV series. On that show, set in the distant future, Flash (played by Steve Holland) and Zarkov were agents for the Galactic Bureau of Investigation, and Dale was their assistant.Of course, the Hagberg novels are much greater in scope, and aren't limited by the impoverished production values of that low-budget syndicated TV incarnation.

Anyway, I'm only up to chapter five, and I'm digging it so far. I also have book two, and if I enjoy them, I intend to hunt down the remaining four volumes.

After that, I hope to dig into the Ace Buck Rogers novel series from the 80s that were written by various authors, based on the original Philip Francis Nowlan novels, Armageddon 2419 A.D. and The Airlords of Han, from an outline by Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven. There were four in that series, and I've had two of them on my shelf for years - which I've never read.

I am also continuing my program of re-reading the P.I. fiction that I first read in the Eighties. I just re-read Wayne Dundee's first Joe Hannibal novel, The Burning Season, and now I'm re-reading William DeAndrea's Killed In The Ratings. This was the first of eight novels featuring Matt Cobb, troubleshooter for a major television network. I have most of the books in the series, and look forward to revisiting them all. After that, well, probably either Robert J. Randisi's first Mile Jacoby book or one of the Peter Bragg novels by Jack Lynch.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Mechanic: Jason Statham as Charles Bronson


The 1972 Michael Winner film, The Mechanic, is a favorite of long standing. I remember watching it on VHS back in high school with a bunch of my friends, and we were all blown away by it. Now it's been remade with Jason Statham and Ben Foster assuming the roles originally played by Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent.

We all know I'm a big Statham fan, and from the trailer above, the remake looks to follow the basic plot of the original film fairly closely. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

And, is it just me, or does Statham's voice over at the beginning of the trailer seem to be imitating Charles Bronson's distinctive cadence?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday Cover: Killraven

I received my Killraven hardcover today, collecting the six-issue miniseries written and penciled by Alan Davis and inked by his frequent collaborator, Mark Farmer. It's a fun, "action movie"-styled retelling of the early Killraven stories from Marvel's Amazing Adventures comic back in the 1970s, focusing on a group of human gladiators rebelling against the oppressive rule of alien conquerors - specifically, the Martians of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.

Those early stories were drwn by a variety of artists and scripted by several different company writers in a fairly straightforward Marvel superhero action style. These writers included Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman. But with the fourth chapter of the saga, (Amazing Adventures #21), Don McGregor came aboard as the permanent scribe. For several issues, he maintained pretty much the same slam-bang tone as his predecessors, but around the time that artist P. Craig Russell came on the book, the series started to get more and more frankly philosophical and psychedelic. It was good, innovative comics, and very different from the usual Marvel fare of the time.

The 2003 miniseries went back to the property's roots as an action book, and under the pen of the extraordinarily talented Davis, it was an excellent action book. The art was dynamic, the story fast-paced and exciting. I'm really happy to have the whole thing collected in one volume.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What I'm Reading, Have Recently Read and Will Soon Read

A couple months ago, I got a new pair of glasses (well, lenses - I kept my old frames, even though they're no longer stylish). Bifocals, in fact. It had been many years since I had updated my prescription, and the fact that I had begun to find it a hassle to read finally prompted me to spend the money for new lenses.

Since then, I've been trying to catch up on my reading mixing new acquisitions with old favorites. Among the re-reads have been all of Max Collins' "Quarry" novels and some Alan Dean Foster Star Trek novelizations from my childhood. Among the "new" stuff was Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley and a couple of Star Wars "Han Solo" novels by A. C. Crispin. The weekend before last, my wife and I went out of town for a few days. As my sleep schedule still had me up all night, but without access to this internet diversion nor my vast video library, I had plenty of time to read.

I finally got around to reading Charlie Higson's fifth and final "Young James Bond" novel, By Royal Command. I really enjoyed it, and I hope that the Ian Fleming Estate commissions a second "cycle" of books from him. I continue to be impressed by Higson's fidelity to Fleming's sketch of Bond's history, and his ability to expand upon it in a respectful, logical, and enthralling manner. Great stuff.

Shortly before our long weekend, I received in the mail the last two "Joe Hannibal" private eye novels from their author, Wayne D. Dundee. I've been a fan of Dundee's writing since I picked up the first Hannibal novel back in the 80s, based on the blurbs from Max Collins, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Bob Randisi and Andrew Vachss - five guys who pretty much defined the genre for me at the time. I read The Fight In The Dog and The Day After Yesterday back-to-back, and found it a very enjoyable experience. I can't recommend Wayne's books more highly.

Since I got home, I've dug out my older Dundee novels, along with a bunch of other hardboiled favorites from the 80s & 90s, and intend to re-read them over the winter in between new books. This stack of paperbacks includes books by Stuart Kaminsky & William DeAndrea (both of whom are no longer with us, sadly), C.J. Henderson, and Jack Lynch.

As my tastes seem to be alternating between hardboiled crime fiction and space opera, I've recently ordered a few of the latter, among them the first two (of six) "Flash Gordon" novels by David Hagberg, Massacre in the 22nd Century (1980) and War of the Citadels (1980). I also ordered the "Buck Rogers" novel, That Man on Beta, a tie-in with the 1980 TV series, based on an unfilmed teleplay. I used to see ads for it in the back of old Warren mags, and finally decided to try and get my hands on it.

Over the last month or so, I also picked up some cheap graphic novels and read them. Aside from the titles mentioned in that previous post, I also got the first 1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad trade paperback collection, The Eyes of Fire, from Zenescope Publishing and writer Dan Wickline. While I thought he had some very interesting ideas and a perfectly valid interpretation of the Persian mariner, I had pretty much the same complaints with his scripts as I do with most modern comics writing. Characters not properly introduced (there were several members of Sinbad's crew that featured prominently but who were not named for several issues). Clumsy exposition (Sinbad is wanted for a crime in Bagdhad. It is his sole motivation for all that happens in the series. But we don't find out about it until the first story arc is nearly done.). Padded "decompressed" storytelling. Wickline also chose to handle Sinbad and his crew as a super hero team, and while that's a legitimate approach, it really didn't work for me. For one thing, the characters' names and "powers" are revealed randomly over the course of several issues, treated as if the readers should already know this stuff. You can kinda get away with that sort of shorthand in X-Men (though you shouldn't) because the damned book's run for years. But this one is just getting started....

Anyway.... I have one more graphic novel on the way, and I already know I'm going to like it. Back in September, I picked up the Marvel Comics Essential Killraven, which collected all the appearances of that sci-fi hero except one: the 2002 six-issue Killraven miniseries by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer, which I bought at the time and loved. I recently discovered that that series had been collected in hardcover, and I hunted around online until I found a new copy for under $5 (+$5 shipping). I'm looking forward to having this exciting sci-fi adventure story in a nice bookshelf edition.

Anyway, after a couple years of considerably less recreational reading than I used to do, it's good to be able to read for fun again without eyestrain and frustration. Now all I need to do is track down an affordable copy of the last Spillane/Collins collaboration...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Decade of Wedded Bliss

I'm still stunned that Brandi has stood by me for all these years. Truly, she is the only dame who has ever "got" me. Ten years ago, I married my best friend, and she's still here. Who woulda thunk?

Happy Anniversary, Hon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You'll always have a home here....


Happy birthday, Bela, wherever you are....

Hard Case Crime Lives!

I don't normally run press releases on this blog (in fact, I can't think of any, ever), but as Charles Ardai's Hard Case Crime is a publishing imprint near and dear to my heart, and I've been anxious about its future since Dorchester Publishing closed down its trade division... well, this was good news:
New York, NY; London, UK (October 19, 2010) – Titan Books and series creator Charles Ardai announced today that they are teaming up to relaunch the popular Hard Case Crime series of paperback crime novels. Nominated five times in five years for the Edgar Allan Poe award, the mystery genre’s highest honor, Hard Case Crime has published such luminaries as Stephen King (the book that was the basis for the new TV series “Haven”), Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Pete Hamill, Max Allan Collins, Madison Smartt Bell and Roger Zelazny, to name just a few. Each book features new cover art in the classic pulp style, including covers painted by Robert McGinnis, the legendary illustrator who painted the original James Bond movie posters.
Hard Case Crime has won praise from dozens of major publications ranging from Time, Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly to Entertainment Weekly, Playboy and Reader’s Digest, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, and in every major newspaper in America (including repeated coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and USA Today).
First launched in 2004, Hard Case Crime published 66 titles through August 2010, at which time its long-time publisher, Dorchester Publishing, announced it was exiting the mass market paperback publishing business after nearly 40 years. After receiving offers from five other publishers (including two of the largest in the world) to continue the line, Charles Ardai selected UK-based Titan Publishing as Hard Case Crime’s new home.
“Titan has an extraordinary record of creating beautiful, exciting books with exactly the pop culture sensibility that Hard Case Crime exists to celebrate,” said Charles Ardai, founder and editor of Hard Case Crime and an Edgar Award-winning mystery writer himself. “Titan is one of the few publishers that loves pulp fiction as much as we do.”
Titan’s first new Hard Case Crime titles, scheduled to come out in September and October 2011, include QUARRY’S EX, a new installment in the popular series of hit man novels by “Road to Perdition” creator Max Allan Collins; CHOKE HOLD, Christa Faust’s sequel to her Edgar Award-nominated Hard Case Crime novel MONEY SHOT; and two never-before-published novels by major authors in the crime genre (both recipients of the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America).
Additionally, Titan plans to acquire all existing stock of Hard Case Crime’s backlist titles from Dorchester Publishing and resume shipping those titles to stores immediately.
“Hard Case Crime has done a remarkable job in a very short time of building a brand known for outstanding crime fiction and stunning artwork,” said Nick Landau, Publisher of Titan Books and CEO of the Titan Publishing Group. “We are thrilled to partner with Charles and look forward to bringing Hard Case Crime to a wider audience around the world, not only through the novels themselves but also through an innovative merchandise program.”

About Hard Case Crime
Charles Ardai founded Hard Case Crime in 2004 through Winterfall LLC, a privately owned media company responsible for a variety of print, film, and television projects. The series has been nominated for and/or won numerous awards since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award. The series’ bestselling title of all time, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, was the basis for the current SyFy television series “Haven,” on which Charles Ardai works as a writer and producer. There have also been a number of feature film deals involving Hard Case Crime books, including “The Last Lullaby,” based on The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins and starring Tom Sizemore as the titular hit man, and more recently Universal Pictures’ purchase of the film rights to Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas.
About Titan Publishing Group
Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US & Canada being handled by Random House. Titan Publishing Group has three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. In addition to fiction, including novelizations of films such as Terminator Salvation, original novels based on TV shows such as Primeval and Supernatural and the popular computer game Runescape, and the celebrated Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of novels launched in 2009, Titan Books also publishes an extensive line of media- and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books.

Wednesday Cover: Bela Lugosi's Tales From The Grave!

In celebration of the great Bela Lugosi's birthday (he would be 128 today!), this week I present the cover of the first issue of Bela Lugosi's Tales From The Grave, painted by the legendary Basil Gogos, of Famous Monsters fame.

This new comic is on sale this month, and features stories by a slew of talented creators, including my pals Martin Powell and Terry Beatty, among many others.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meanwhile, at DVD Late Show...

Posting has been somewhat sporadic these last few weeks for various reasons, but I've got three new reviews posted at DVD Late Show today, and hope to have at least three more published before the weekend.

First up, there's the SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE COLLECTION from Shout! Factory's "Roger Corman Cult Classics Collection." This 2-disc set contains all three films in the 80's stalk 'n slay franchise and plenty of extras.

Then there's ALTITUDE, the first feature film directed by comic book artist Kaare Andrews (ULTIMATE X-MEN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, et al).

Finally, I've got a review of the Special Collector's Edition of the film that the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER crew considered the worst they ever showed - MONSTER A-GO GO!
 
Other recent reviews include looks at a couple of GAMERA double features, the second season of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, Dolph Lundgren's latest self-directed action vehicle, THE KILLING MACHINE, the first season of HUMAN TARGET, George Romero's newest zombie film, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, and THE RIG, a disappointing creature feature starring (sorta) William Forsythe.

I hope you'll swing by and check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wednesday Cover: Planet Of Vampires!

I'm a big fan of the Atlas/Seaboard titles in general, but I especially love Planet of Vampires, a completely unoriginal mash-up of Planet of the Apes and I Am Legend, with a title cribbed from a Mario Bava film, and elements seemingly borrowed from Charlton's Doomsday+1 comic. Four American astronauts - two married couples - return to Earth after a space mission to discover that, in the aftermath of a nuclear war, Earth is now ruled by technological vampires who survive on the blood of human survivors.

The first two issues, written by Larry Hama and illustrated by the astounding team of Pat Broderick and Frank MacLaughlin, are awesome, with lots of post-Apocalyptic action, an incredibly high body count, and a surprisingly grim tone. The third - and final issue - isn't quite as good (like all Atlas titles, the book self-destructed early), but does feature some gorgeous art by the legendary Russ Heath.

This first issue cover was penciled by Broderick and inked by Neal Adams.

Monday, October 04, 2010

This Looks Good



I always liked the 1969 version of True Grit, starring John Wayne and Kim Darby. This remake by the Coen bros, with Jeff Bridges - one of my favorite living actors - assuming the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn, looks pretty damned good, too.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Stephen J. Cannell, RIP

Acclaimed television producer, writer, occasional actor and novelist Stephen J. Cannell passed away yesterday at age 69. Although dyslexic, he was a prolific writer, who started writing scripts for television shows like It Takes A Thief and Adam-12 in the 60s, went on to co-create (with Roy Huggins) The Rockford Files in the 70s, and pretty much ruled the airwaves in the 80s with shows like The A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle & McCormick, Riptide, Hunter, Wiseguy, Renegade, 21 Jump Street, Stingray and more. He was also the man behind such fascinating ratings flops like Tenspeed & Brownshoe, Richie Brockleman Private Eye, and City of Angels, all of which were popular with critics if a little ahead of their time for most audiences.

While some snobs may look down their noses at some of his most popular hits (like The A-Team), Cannell was a master of the episodic television format, and his shows always delivered what they promised - and usually to a Mike Post-Pete Carpenter theme.

I don't think you could have grown up as an American male in the 70s and 80s and not be influenced by Cannell. His shows were action-packed, fun, generally smart - and everywhere. I know that my storytelling owes a lot to those countless hours spent in front of the TV watching Jim Rockford and the A-Team. The man understood structure and story, knew what audiences responded to, and insisted on a high level of craftsmanship, no matter what the project. He was a class act.

Rest in Peace, sir.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Cover: Spacehawk

Another offbeat Golden Age space hero - just as insanely bizarre as Dick Briefer's  Rex Dexter of Mars - was Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, who appeared regularly in Target Comics from Novelty Press back in the early 1940s. He only appeared on one cover, but his adventures were outright brainbatshit crazy.

Wolverton's art style was delightfully grotesque, and his aliens were just indescribable. His hero was astonishingly brutal - and mysterious (he didn't show his face until the third story!).

Back in the 90s, Dark Horse reprinted all (or most, I'm not certain) of Wolverton's Spacehak stories in a B&W miniseries. I don't know if it sold well or not, but I loved it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Very Literate Young Lady

In case you missed this when it went viral about a month ago, here's my favorite "geek girl" music video. By all reports, Ray was actually quite flattered... and who could blame him? Oh yeah, definitely NSFW.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Waiting For The Trades

As I said in a previous post, since I was unable to order the DVDs I wanted from Warners Archive, I decided to instead spend that rare bit of disposable income on some comic book trade paperbacks instead.

Over the last few years, I have not been able financially to maintain the sort of weekly comic book habit that I used to have. Instead, I manage to get a handful of trade paperbacks and graphic novels each year, usually at Christmas (assuming my mother-in-law blesses me with an Amazon gift certificate), and maybe one or two others every six months or so.

I did recently manage to get John Ostrander and Tim Truman's most recent Grimjack volume, The Manx Cat, and loved it - and at the BangPop! show I made one half-price purchase: Marvel's Essential Killraven. (Did they ever collect the Alan Davis Killraven miniseries in trade? I enjoyed that series  and would like to have a collected volume on my shelves.)

So, anyway, Sunday night I ordered five books from InStock Trades. I haven't read any of these stories in individual comic format, so I purchased the trades "blind," so to speak. I'm hoping that none really disappoint me.

First is the DC Showcase Presents: Bat Lash, reprinting the original Western series from the late 60s. Then, the fourth volume of DC's "Ed McBain"-inspired Gotham Central, The Quick & The Dead. Then, because I wanted a straightforward superhero adventure that was new to me, I ordered Superman & The Legion of Superheroes collection by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank (hopefully it stands on its own). Mike Grell recently returned to The Warlord, so I ordered the trade collection of his first several issues. Finally, the Trekkie in me was intrigued by IDW's Star Trek: Mirror Images, which is supposed to be a prequel to the original series' "Mirror, Mirror," detailing how the alternate universe Kirk came to command the Imperial Enterprise.

So - one classic Western, a crime book, a superhero adventure, a sword & sorcery epic, and a Star Trek tie-in. Looks like I have all the bases covered.

Hopefully they'll be here soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Doesn't Warners Archive want my money?

I earned some extra money at the BangPop show last weekend selling some of my books, so I decided to finally order the Genesis II, Planet Earth, Strange New World and Captain Sindbad MOD (Manufactured On Demand) discs from Warners Archive. Unfortunately, I discovered that the WB online store won't accept debit cards or Paypal, and since I won't use a credit card anymore in protest of the banks' extortionate practices (and don't even have one at the moment), it appears that I won't be getting any of the Warner Archives stuff for the foreseeable future.

Which really fuckin' sucks, because they're about to release the complete Thundarr The Barbarian series through the Archive, as well as some 60's sci-fi flicks that I've been wanting to get my hands on for some time, including The Green Slime, Wild, Wild Planet and War of the Planets.

Considering all the other stuff they have that I want - like the Tarzan films, The Bermuda Depths, the Man From Atlantis pilot film, etc. - I'm really pissed that they won't accept my debit card. I looked up some of those WB Archive discs on Amazon, but they were way more expensive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Post-Pop

The BangPop show on Sunday went okay. I sold a fair number of Femme Noir and Kolchak: Monsters Among Us trade paperbacks throughout the day, and made a few bucks. The show was pretty dead by lunchtime, though, and that's a shame.

I really think that BangPop has a lot of potential, but the organizers need to put more planning, preparation and promotion into it. This year there wasn't even an active BangPop website until less than a month before the show. As for the event itself, there were only a couple of dealers and a handful of guests. They were very cool guests, but folks who showed up could see everything in about twenty minutes, and you know you've got trouble when even the Star Wars cosplayers bail early.

It's frustrating because I would really like to see Maine have one good annual pop culture convention and I know that there are a lot of people in New England who would attend BangPop if they knew about it and there was enough programming and other attractions to justify the drive. I understand that putting on a show is expensive, but if you start working on it well in advance, you can find economical and clever ways to attract more paying exhibitors and finagle more appealing guests. A month - or even two months - just isn't enough time to pull a show together.

Anyway, I personally made enough money to cover my meager expenses and on the way home from the shop, I stopped and bought Brandi a slightly-pricey Blu-Ray movie she'd had her eye on for a while. And tonight, I ordered a handful of comics trade paperbacks from In-Stock Trades. I haven't been able to buy anything new for a while, and was becoming a bit desperate for some new comics to read. The only thing I bought at the show was Marvel's Essential Killraven at half-price, and three old Man From Atlantis comic books for a buck.

Anyway, even though it was a fairly slow show, I'm still suffering a bit of post-con fatigue, and have had some back pain all day. This is usually about the time of night that I start working, but I don't think I can handle sitting in this chair too long. Maybe I'll go read some of that Killraven omnibus, and go to bed early.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Up Early

Actually, 5:30 AM is when I'm usually thinking about going to bed, but as I'm scheduled to appear at BangPop today, I actually went to bed around midnight. Four and a half hours later, I'm awake, and it looks like I'm going to remain that way.

In two hours I have to head to Bangor for BangPop. Maybe I'll get dressed, drive to the ATM, grab breakfast at McD's and be back home by the time the wife arises....

Sounds like a plan.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Character Art by Barreto

Cool, huh? This is Olu, one of Sinbad's crew in The Coils of the Serpent, the Sinbad graphic novel I'm developing with Eduardo Barreto. Eduardo's working on the first chapter now, and I'm hoping to see some finished pages shortly. Then, I'll be putting together a pitch package for publishers again.

This is fun.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back to Bora-Gora

Last night we finally picked up the DVD set for Tales of the Gold Monkey that came out a few months ago. Overall, it's a pretty fair package; the transfers are decent if a bit soft and weathered, and since it was transferred from the PAL discs that came out in the UK a couple years ago, the episodes run about 4% too fast, making everyone sound a little bit like chipmunks. But it's nothing that interferes much with the sheer enjoyment of having the show I loved as a kid on my shelves.

Set in and around a fictional group of Pacific islands in 1938, Tales chronicled the adventures of ex-Flying Tiger-turned soldier of fortune, Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins), his alcoholic mechanic Corky (the late Jeff Mckay), pretty American agent Sarah (Caitlin O'Heaney) as they sought treasure and fought Nazis and Imperial Japanese in the years leading up to WWII, while hanging out at the Monkey Bar, an island saloon run by expatriate Frenchman Bon Chance Louie (the late, great Roddy McDowell).

The show was rife with anachronisms - for one thing, the Flying Tigers weren't even formed 'til about three years later - and the tone could, on occasion, slide dangerously close to camp, but it was a pretty fair attempt at a period adventure show - especially for the early 80s - and actually improved steadily as it went along.

Still - considering that ABC wanted an action epic like Raiders of the Lost Ark (on a TV budget!) and creator Donald Bellasario wanted a Howard Hawks-ian period character study like Only Angels Have Wings or To Have And Have Not, I think the show usually struck a fair balance of both. Too bad the conflict between creator and network ultimately led to the show's premature cancellation. The cast was very solid, the writing was generally good, and it had a style.

I'll post a full review of the DVD set over on DVD Late Show this week, but if you've never seen the series - or haven't seen it since '82 - you might want to give it a rental from Netflix. It's a fun, pulpish series with some very cool characters.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wednsday Cover: STAR WARS

I've been on a bit of a Star Wars kick - or, more specifically, a "Han Solo & Chewbacca" kick - of late, re-reading Brian Daley's three "Adventures of Han Solo" novels from the late 1970s and the A.C. Crispin Solo Trilogy from the late 90s. I liked the 70s books better, but the more recent novels did a good job of fleshing out the character's backstory and setting him up for his intro in the original movie.

Han Solo's always been my favorite character in the SW universe, and I really enjoyed Archie Goodwin's characterization of the space smuggler back in the old Marvel Comics series, especially since all he had to go on was one movie appearance. All those "Expanded Universe" books and stuff weren't yet even a glint in Lucas' eye.

One memorable story arc occurred on a giant space station/casino called "The Wheel," especially when Solo and his hirsute first mate were tricked into battling to the death in an anti-gravity arena filled with opponents, and a holographic "outer space" environment, complete with stars and exploding planets.

This issue, #22, is from that multi-part epic, and was drawn by the legendary Carmine Infantino and inked by Bob Wiacek. A lot of people hated Infantino's Star Wars art - it was so stylized and the characters only vaguely resembled the film actors - but I loved it, and thought that Wiacek's lush brushwork was particularly complimentary to Infantino's pencils.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Atomic Pulp Updates

Hey folks - just a reminder: any news items about upcoming Christopher Mills comics or other projects are posted at my constantly updated Atomic Pulp homepage.

I've been really busy the last few months with professional and personal work, so I haven't been posting much here, but anything important that comes up - like appearances, books being solicited or released, or new projects being announced - will be posted in a timely manner on my homepage, so check in there often.

Thanks - and I hope to get back to my usual pop culture ramblings here soon!

And don't forget that I publish DVD & Blu-Ray reviews regularly at my DVD Late Show website, and have been very active at my 70's sci-fi nostalgia blog, Space: 1970.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Setting Sail Again... One More Time

Okay... I don't know if anything's going to come of it this time, either, but there has been some forward movement on the Sinbad graphic novel that I've wanted to create with artist Eduardo Barreto (Teen Titans, Marvel Knights, Star Wars, The Shadow Strikes, Batman, etc.) for the past several years. Back in '06, we had a publisher lined up, but they disappeared off the face of the Earth once they were supposed to send contracts. We had another company that was interested, but couldn't come to terms. Up until two years ago, I was still trying to find a publisher willing to take the project on... but by then, a couple other publishers were doing their own Sinbad comics, and I just couldn't seem to put together a deal.

Then, Eduardo fell ill. Seriously ill, and it looked like my chance to collaborate with my friend - and, frankly, one of my favorite comics artists of all time - simply wasn't going to happen. He even had to reluctantly give up the Judge Parker newspaper strip, and I was very worried about him.

Well, Eduardo is apparently on the mend and feeling much better, and has contacted me, eager to start work on Sinbad: The Coils of the Serpent. I've begun sending him story pages to draw, and am eagerly awaiting the artwork. I even have a publisher that's interested in seeing it, and I'm guardedly optimistic, since this is a legit outfit and the top guy already has a history with Eduardo going back many years.

I'm not going to get my hopes up too high though - I've started on this sea voyage before, far too many times. But I've got a good feeling about it....

Keep your fingers crossed!

BTW - that image above is Eduardo's original concept art, digitally painted by Alfredo Lopez, Jr., who did the same with Joe Staton's pencils on the Femme Noir comic covers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rex Dexter of Mars!

Rex Dexter of Mars, by Dick Briefer. Someday, I want to write a Rex Dexter graphic novel....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Checking In

It's been a while since I've written anything for this blog. Mostly, I've been busy. The spring and early summer were not very productive times for me, but over the last month or so, I've been getting a lot more work done.

If you swing by the main Atomic Pulp site, you can catch up on some of the stuff I've got coming out in the next few months. I've got a lot on my plate at the moment - Kolchak, Captain Midnight, Gravedigger, the Femme Noir webcomics collection, a few short stories - but I also hope to get started on a few brand new projects in the fall. I'll tell you more about some of those in a month or two.

I've also been trying to keep the reviews coming over at DVD Late Show and to post regularly to my Space: 1970 blog. Both sites have fairly large regular audiences, and in the case of the sci-fi site, I'm having a lot of fun indulging my childhood nostalgia for old school space operas.

As for this blog, I've got plans to write about some favorite old B-movies that don't quite fit in over at the aforementioned sites, and intend to write more about comics in general. The big challenge is making time to do so.

In addition to the time-consuming work activities mentioned above, I've been trying like hell to carve out more time to read for fun. I've got a small stack of new books to read, and a larger pile of old books that I want to re-read. My 70s sci-fi blogging got me interested in re-reading some old Alan Dean Foster Star Trek and Star Wars books, so I've been reading some of those. I also have a couple of Robert Crais crime novels and the fifth Young Bond novel by Charlie Higson close at hand. It's killing me that I still haven't picked up the second Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novel, The Big Bang. I can't afford it right now, but I'm dying to read it.

I'm also trying to read more comics - I can't afford new ones, but I've got a huge collection to revisit, and I've been trying to do so. For example, I just re-read Chris Claremont and John Byrne's X-Men "Dark Phoenix Saga," and if modern super-hero comics were still written like that, instead of as boring TV shows - I'd probably make a lot more of an effort to buy and read them. I also got my hands on cheap back-issues of Dark Horse Comics' 80s reprints of the Golden Age Spacehawk comics by Basil Wolverton. Man, what fun!

Let's see -what else have I been doing since I last checked in here?

My wife and I have been watching the 90s adventure series The Pretender on DVDs rented from Netflix. It's a fun show. We also recently watched Judd Apatow's Funny People (okay character study, but too long), The Golden Compass (nice world-building, but the story was kinda "meh" - Brandi says the books are better), Hot Tub Time Machine (fun), and the remake of The Wolfman, which I found disappointing. Between these flicks, we've been renting and watching old Doctor Whos (and I mean old - we just watched the very first three stories with William Hartnell) and some Mystery Science Theater 3000 discs.

The movies I've been enjoying without Brandi have mostly been the ones I've reviewed for the Late Show site - lots of Roger Corman cult films and the like. I'm still really hoping to get out to the theater to see The Expendables...

Anyway, it's almost 5 AM. Time to start thinking about hitting the hay. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday Cover: Jon Sable, Freelance

Back in the 1980s - the decade wherein I really got serious about comics - my favorite titles were Grimjack and Jon Sable, Freelance, both published by First Comics. What I loved about Sable was that creator Mike Grell really strove to keep the series rooted in reality, with his only concession to the super-hero crowd being the character's "battlemask" - which wasn't really a mask at all, but a kind of warpaint deal.

The stories were Men's Adventure stuff, and there was a bit of gun porn to it (Grell's a firearms aficionado), but Grell also tried to infuse the series with some depth of characterization.

As to the art - well, I'm a Grell fan, and although his figures could sometimes look rather awkward or stiff, I still enjoyed his sense of design and unique style. Unfortunately, somewhere around the twentieth issue, the interior art started getting progressively sketchier and more rushed-looking. I wasn't very happy about it, but I think it speaks to the quality of his writing and the strength of the character that I stuck with the book through its entire 50+ issue run (and it's relaunch with different creators, for as long as that lasted.)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Entertainment for Insomniacs

If you don't regularly check out my DVD Late Show site, here's why you should: in the last few weeks, I've published concise, capsule reviews of a slew of cult films and B-movies that have recently come out on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, including: Horror Hospital, Bonnie's Kids, Gamera Vs. Barugon, Death Race 2000, The Prowler, OSS 117: Lost In Rio, Forbidden World, Galaxy of Terror, 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, Loose Screws and Piranha -- and I've got Humanoids From The Deep, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, New York Confidential, and Machine Gun McCain all scheduled for the next week or so.

If you enjoy my reviews and the (recently redesigned) DVD Late Show site, I hope you'll make it a regular stop - and, more importantly - help spread the word about it with blog posts, links and word-of-mouth. I know that home video is rapidly moving toward direct downloads and instant rentals, but I also know that there are die hard film buffs and collectors out there, too, who genuinely care about the quality of the presentation and having physical copies of their favorites in their libraries. DVD Late Show is for those guys.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Request from The Secret Squadron

If you read and enjoyed the Captain Midnight Chronicles, I humbly request that you post your thoughts about the book on the Amazon product page.

There's an apparent organized smear campaign against our version of the character going on, and while everyone's entitled to their opinion, I find it difficult to believe that no one who bought our book enjoyed it. Of course, people who like something are less inclined to publicly voice that opinion than those who don't - especially when they have an axe to grind.

A lot of talented authors contributed stories to the book, though, and it pisses me off to see their hard work slammed by people with their own, personal agendas and narrow-minded view of the property.

I want to be clear, though - I'm looking for reader reviews (if there are any), not attacks on any other customer reviewers on the site. If you genuinely enjoyed it - or even if you didn't, as long as your complaints are honest and valid - please post a review so there can be a slightly more balanced view of the material available for other potential Amazon buyers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flashback: Coast Con 91



This is a weird trip into the past. Roland Mann sent me a link to this video, shot for Misssissippi public television back in 1991 or 92, of me being interviewed at the Coast Con science fiction convention in Biloxi, Miss. I was working for a small independent comic book company called Alpha Productions at the time. I appear at about 5:15 into the clip. Several of my Alpha colleagues can be seen sitting next to me, including Leni Gronros, Bob Cram and Paul Pelletier (who now works for Marvel). My pal, author Sidney Williams is also interviewed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dolph Lundgren is THE KILLING MACHINE

Here's a clip from the upcoming DTV action film, The Killing Machine (formerly Icarus), directed by and starring Dolph Lundgren, coming in mid-August from Anchor Bay. The trailer can be found here.



Considering how much I've enjoyed some of his other recent, self-directed films (like Command Performance), I have high expectations for this one. Dolph looks great, and the action looks even better.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

RANT: Signing Books on a Soggy Saturday

Last Saturday, I attended the Books in Boothbay Book Fair in the lovely coastal community of, well, Boothbay, Maine. I can't say I had a good time.

Now, some of the reasons why I didn't have a good time were my own problems: for one thing - one big thing - an obese man sitting in a non-air conditioned hall built in the 1920s filled with people on one of the hottest afternoons of the Summer just isn't going to be comfortable. It was insanely hot and it drizzled piss-warm rain all afternoon, so the humidity was about 100%. I had never been to the "living history" park/museum where the event was held, and it simply never occurred to me that anyone would put on something like this in July in an non-air conditioned venue. I should have asked, I guess.

(Actually, that's not quite true - I had worried that it might be held outdoors, and be too hot for me, so I'd asked if it was going to be held indoors or out. I was told "in," so then I assumed there would be AC.)

Other reasons for my discontent are no one's fault - for example: the crowd there, made up mostly of elderly locals and Summer tourists - just had no interest whatsoever in graphic novels or pulp fiction, and being the only author in the room dealing that kind of subject matter didn't help.

But some of my issues were with the organizers. For example, they provided the books, but didn't contact me about what titles to stock until only about two weeks before the show. I gave them a list with ISBN numbers for about six of my books, and made sure I put the Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries graphic novel on top of that list. For one thing, it's pretty much the only book I have available that is truly mine - on the others, I'm just one contributor among many or writing other peoples' characters. For another, I've had some luck selling that book at other shows were I didn't ft in by appealing to female readers. When I arrived at the venue and found my seat in the hot, muggy room, I was informed that they hadn't been able to get any Femme Noirs, but had "Captain Midnight and one other one, 'K'-something." (Kolchak.)

(Note, too, that these were two books that I had already been paid for up-front by the publisher, so any copies I sold would only profit the organizer of the show. Femme Noir, on the other hand....)

When I expressed my disappointment, the gentleman who had given me the news didn't seem particularly interested, and I got the distinct impression that he wasn't sure why I was there with the real authors anyway. Me, I was wishing that he'd e-mailed me at some point before I'd headed for Boothbay, because I could have arranged for the publisher to drop-ship him some copies of FN overnight, or even brought my few remaining copies - and some of my other books - with me.

The author who shared the table with me - a pleasant gentleman whose name I forget - had discovered when he arrived that they didn't have his books, either, but at least he'd had the foresight to bring copies of his own.

The tables didn't have tablecloths - again, something I wish I'd known - and no name plates. Well, there were tiny little folded paper things about a half-inch high with the authors' names scrawled on them, but that was it. I hadn't brought any of my usual table display stuff because I'd been under the impression that it wouldn't be necessary, so along with not actually having the book there that I most wanted to sell, I just had a handful of Kolchak trades and Captain Midnight Chronicles paperbacks sitting in unimpressive little stacks on an otherwise empty table.

Now, my more experienced author friends reading this are probably shaking their heads at my naivete and lack of foresight, but in my defense, this was my first "book fair." I'd not been asked to bring anything and had been told that the books would be provided. Had it been a regular comic book convention-type show, I would have known better, and might have made a better showing. Instead, I sat there in the sweltering, soggy heat watching people walk by my table disinterestedly. Brandi couldn't take it - she actually abandoned me to go sit in the car parked in the shade, where there was a little bit of a cross-breeze, and left me to suffer alone for about two hours or so. (And I don't blame her!)

Now, I tried. I really did. I had made a commitment to be there, and I gave it the best I could, considering that I was sweating like a pig and probably looked pretty scary there behind the table. (I had actually brought a dress shirt, but it was too hot to wear it over my black t-shirt.) I tried to make eye-contact with as many people as I could, and if I managed to get their attention, I made an effort to be upbeat and friendly. But it was tough. I sold only three books: one to another author, one to the guy who'd invited me to the show... and one Captain Midnight anthology to a teenage kid about fifteen years old.

That
one made me feel good. I hope he likes it.

I'm proud of that sale, but I can't say that it made up for everything else.

If someone is reading this who might be planning an event where you're asking creative people to show up and help you hawk books - for free - well, I think there's some minimum information you should provide. A detailed description of the venue would be nice. Especially if it's a summer show and the hall has no air conditioning and the rest rooms are in another building entirely so people might have to walk in the rain to get to them. Also, if you cannot provide the simplest of table amenities - a tablecloth, legible nameplate and a chair for an author's spouse/assistant - well, you should let people know. Also, you should maybe try and order books more than a week in advance, so that no one wastes their trip.

Like I said: I'm a big, fat man, and my physical discomfort was absolutely aggravated by that fact (though no one looked very comfortable in that room that I could see), but as I was there on my own dime, and selling books pretty much for the book fair folks, it would have been nice if I felt that they actually appreciated me being there. But aside from one person - the guy who had actually invited me (a good friend and fan) - I was ignored.

I know that there are people who know me that think that I'm compulsively negative about everything. That I am a complainer and cynic who always sees the bad side of things. And yes, it's true: I'm no Pollyanna.

But I was in fine spirits when I left for Boothbay (my birthday the day before had been pleasant and relaxing), and was really determined to have a good time. And I stuck it out. I was there 'til the end. And I gave it my best shot.... but I can't lie; the day was a depressing, dismal time suck.

I could have spent the day hot and miserable in my own home trying to write instead of hot and miserable in the middle of a bunch of people who didn't give a shit that I was even there....

End of rant.

Friday, July 09, 2010

MACHETE


I think it looks a bit too slick & polished - I'd really love to have seen a movie that actually resembled the faux trailer from Grindhouse - but I'll definitely be seeing this. It looks like it might recapture some of that Desperado magic....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wednesday Cover: The Savage Sword of Conan

Here's a late-era Savage Sword of Conan (#222) cover painted by my pal and sometime collaborator Fred Harper (Shadow House). Beautiful.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Books In Boothbay

Next Saturday, July 10th, I'll be attending the Books in Boothbay: Maine's Summer Book Fair, in scenic Boothbay, Maine. Forty authors from around the state will attend to sign their books and discuss their writing. I'm looking forward to possibly meeting mystery writer Gerry Doyle, myself.

I expect to have copies of Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries and Kolchak Tales: Monsters Among Us there to sign. If you're in the area, stop by!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th!


Happy Independence Day from Captain America and yours truly. Have a great holiday, folks.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Covers: Sinbad!

In recognition of Ray Harryhausen's famous series of Sinbad adventures, here's a quartet of comic book adaptations of those selfsame cinematic fantasies: both Dell and Marvel adapted 1958's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad into 4-color form (decades apart), and Marvel also produced a two-part adaptation of 1974's Golden Voyage of Sinbad when that fantastic film came out.

The comics are fun, but the movies - featuring Harryhausen's stop-motion marvels - are better!