Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Comic Book Stores Today

THE WEB #7 is available in comic book stores today. In the co-feature, THE HANGMAN has an action packed rematch with the Ugly Man that puts the Hangman's secret identity at risk of exposure, and leads to a mysterious encounter that will shape his future for all time. Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkewicz with Guy Major and Travis Lanham provide the visuals. 

The main feature is brought to you by Matthew Sturges, Roger Robinson, Guy Major and Travis Lanham. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I'm Writing Now

I'm working on a lengthy article about one of my favorite places.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Monsters on the Horizon

In something of a dream come true for me, here are some of the characters I loved as a kid that I'll be bringing to Saturday morning television.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fess Parker 1924-2010

Fess Parker, who starred as Disney phenomenon Davy Crockett  as well as the other coonskin hat wearing frontiersman, Daniel Boone, has died of natural causes at the age of 85. After a long career as an actor, he went on to run two winery resorts in California.

Edison Frankenstein Turns 100


Today, 100 years ago, Edison's Frankenstein movie was released. Short, and stagey, the film does feature some inventive moments.  In particular, the monster's creation scene, filmed in reverse, which depicts matter attaching itself to a skeleton until his anatomy becomes fully realized is a real treat.

Frankensteinia has been running a great series of informative articles on this film all week long.

You can watch it here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Rondo Time Again

I've been remiss in mentioning this, but there's still plenty of time to vote. The nominees for the 8th Annual Rondo Hatton awards celebrating classic horror cinema are now up at the official website. There's no need to vote in all categories, but if you're a fan of classic horror, there's bound to be something you'll want to chime in on.

There are also some write in categories. If you're stumped for who to vote for for best artist, here are a month's worth of cut paper collage portraits of classic movie monsters to consider.

Voting ends April 3, 2010.

vote here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

This weekend, my daughter and I went to see Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." My daughter, who is eleven, and well read for her age and very bright really liked the movie, though she had some points to quibble about.  I, on the other hand, found myself underwhelmed by this rather lackluster movie. I've been a fan of Tim Burton's since I saw "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" when it first came about. We have an overlapping sensibility which is probably what draw me to his work. I've found something to enjoy in all of his movies except "Planet of the Apes," and while I admire the design of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," I find the film itself unengaging. 

I had a similar problem with "Alice in Wonderland." As I'm sure you know by now AIW is not a straight adaptation of the beloved books by Lewis Carroll, but is actually a sequel in which a 19-year old Alice finds herself back in Wonderland in order to save it from the Red Queen. What you may not know is that there is   absolutely no reason for this change. Not only does Alice not remember ever having been to Wonderland in the first place, but once she arrives, she essentially follows the same steps that Alice does in the Carroll story; she follows the White Rabbit down the whole, she drinks and gets small, forgets the key, then has to eat to get big, she meets the caterpillar who asks her who she is, she meets the Cheshire Cat, she attends the not so mad tea party, and so on. The only real reason to change course from the genuine Alice story is so that Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter can appear in more than just one scene and so that Alice can fight the Jabberwocky at the end of the movie. So storywise, and characterwise, everything is really dulled down and unengaging. Over familiaririty to the story could partially be blamed, but I think its more that there's a lack of enthusiasm for the story or characters on the part of everyone involved in making this movie. 

What about just watching it for the eye candy? I thought I'd at least get that from this film, but even that was lacking. When Alice emerges into Wonderland, it's meant to evoke Dorothy stepping out into technicolor Oz, but visually, even with the 3-D which never makes you feel as if you are in an immersive environment, there are none of the "ahs" you get from Oz. The design feels incredibly lazy. 

Visually I liked 2 moments in the entire movie: the scene where the Red Queen is questioning the frog footmen (with the fish moving alongside of her) and the extremely brief scene of the White Queen outside of her castle with her people where everything was in pale white and pink with some black and grey. I also found Mia Wasikowska to be quite beautiful in a pre-Raphaelite Gwyneth Paltrow manner. Mainly though, I found myself longing for the days before CGI when people had to actually make things. This is mainly because the CGI, which dominates the film to the extent that you wonder why it wasn't just completely animated, is pretty unconvincing. Pixar movies are not meant to look "real" but they look far more real than anything here.

There's a real lack of imagination apparent, and everything feels randomly crowded together as if to give the illusion of a well rendered, well thought out fantastical environment without actually having to provide one. The composition of the lands is really poor. My daughter made an observation I shared that she made right from the first moments of the movie. It feels just like every other Tim Burton movie, the familiar Danny Elfman music, the same curly trees, etc. Witness the posters below. 

I think we all know what to expect visually from a Tim Burton movie, but usually it feels really fresh. AIW felt like a Tim Burton's greatest hits package, as if Disney demanded these things be included and reined him in to fit their vision of what a Tim Burton Disney movie should look like. It's as if Disney, not content with the girl princess audience that they dominate (and unable to catch that elusive boy audience) has decided to try and secure the girl audience who's not into princesses but likes edgier fare; watered down edgier fare like "Twilight." The whole movie feels lifeless and like no one's heart is in it. I have a real love/hate relationship with the Disney empire. I admire it's creative aspirations and achievements immensely, but loathe its corporate nature in it's crass commercialization and money grabbing nature, and that is mostly what I felt watching this movie.  I had the same feelings of animosity that I have whenever I see a trailer for one of their cheap straight to video sequels such as "Cinderella 3" at the beginning of one of their videos/DVDs and the voice over announcer declares it as "a timeless classic" when clearly it's not. Watching AIW I felt like I was watching a thinly disguised ad for their theme parks, with the less than subliminal design element of the two queen's castles. 

Coincidence of design? I doubt it. Whenever one of the castles appeared I thought about being on Main Street USA and if I went straight through I'd be in Fantasyland. If I took a right I'd be in Tomorrowland, and so on. 

I understand why people are constantly attracted to the Alice books as something to make into a movie, but reading them, it's easy to see why it's so difficult to do so. Every cinematic and television adaptation fails in someway, but this version doesn't even seem like anyone was trying hard to do it right. 

If you want to watch a version of "Alice" which will feel rewarding, I recommend "Alice" by Jan Svankmajer. 

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Milestone Years - A Look Back

Evan Narcisse has written a nice reminiscence of Milestone Media here. Milestone was the publishing company that expanded the cultural diversity of the characters that occupied its shared universe, and in the process told some of the best stories being told in comics. It was at Milestone that I wrote XOMBI, KOBALT, and for a brief time, HARDWARE. This was a period I look back on with nothing but fondness.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Tony Isabella has given BRAVE AND THE BOLD: MILESTONE a really nice review, and had some particularly kind words to say about my contributions to this trade paperback collection of the recent meeting of DC and Milestone characters in "Brave and the Bold" as well as classic Milestone stories.

You can read the review here:

Mighty Crusaders Annual Creators Speak

Vaneta Rogers recently interviewed Brandon Jerwa, Eric Trautmann, Matthew Sturges and myself on the forthcoming MIGHTY CRUSADERS Annual from DC Comics illustrated by Javi Pina, which teams up the Web, Inferno, the Shield, the Hangman and others in an exciting story full of intrigue, action, and more DC villains than you can shake a stick at.

You can read the interview here .

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

In Comic Book Stores Today

In CARTOON NETWORK ACTION PACK #47, the Saturdays investigate the Thetis Lake Monster in a story I wrote with Scott Jeralds contributing the artwork. The cover is by "Secret Saturdays" creator Jay Stephens. There's also a second Secret Saturdays story I had nothing to do with.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday, worthy of celebrating for so many reasons including his transformation of the children's literary world from one of stodgy lesson stories, to a a fantastical landscape of fanciful excitement and stories that kids were actually interested in listening too. He has been a major influence on me, and at one point I did have a complete library of his work, though many volumes have been incorporated into my own kids libraries, where they now reside in less than pristine condition, which is how it should be.