Friday, May 27, 2011

The Vincentennial

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Price.

Out of all the actors who have been associated with horror over the years, Vincent Price has always been my favorite. This is because of a few factors. Growing up in the 1970s, he was ever present on television, not simply in broadcasts of the vast number of movies he'd starred in, but also by his guest appearances on so many television shows, commercials, and his regular place on Hollywood Squares, so he was a very familiar face and name, and I associated him equally with humor and horror which meant that even though I saw him in numerous sinister roles, I thought of him more as someone who was really kind and funny who just happened to like pretending he was devious and evil. He was one of a trio of actors who I followed from appearance to appearance and can honestly say I've seen him in almost everything he's ever done. The other two actors, incidentally, were Kirk Douglas due to his role as Ned land in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Steve McQueen thanks to The Great Escape.

Vincent Price, like Bela Lugosi and John Carradine, also had a policy of saying "yes" to just about every role offered to him. Unlike Lugosi and Carradine, both of whom I think are fine actors, Price almost always seemed able to elevate the quality of any movie or tv show he did simply by being in it. He brought a professionalism, sense of grace and elegance to all of his roles, even the ones he was clearly not giving his all and simply falling back on a selection of mannerisms and deliveries that seem to define the camp side of his performances as exemplified by Michael McKean's impersonations of Vincent Price on Saturday Night Live. Even his campiness had a real charm to it, with his peculiar cadences of delivery completely distinct so that you know who it is speaking right away. Lugosi and Carradine may have brought fine performances to otherwise awful material, but I'm a lot more selective about what I'll watch with them in it.

In my youth, Vincent Price was one of a handful of genre actors that I wrote to via Forrest Ackerman. I think all of them wrote back to me, or at least sent an autograph, but Vincent Price's was my most prized one. Somehow during the years I went away to college and tucked it away somewhere safe, the letter itself was lost, but the autograph he sent me I still have. I'd rather have the letter though. It was brief and I'm sure he wrote hundreds more just like it, but he made it seem like the letter I wrote to him was very special to him, and as a kid, getting that letter from such a familiar face that existed only on tv and in ads in TV Guide for cheese slices, or in the pages of Famous Monsters was almost like being invited to his house for lunch.

I also feel great affection for him because out of all the actors tied to the genre, Vincent Price is the only one that I associate with Halloween. Like Ray Bradbury, the headless horseman, or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Halloween season just doesn't feel complete to me without the presence of Vincent Price.

So, today, I raise my glass to Vincent Price, and will make sure to watch at least one of his movies on this day.

Take a look at some of the events lucky residents of Vincent Price's home town of St. Louis, MO got to partake in here at the official Vincentennial website and make sure you order one of their t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. I'll be wearing mine today.

If you're in the St. Louis area also be sure to stop by the gallery at Star Clipper Comics. They have a great exhibit of original artwork featuring Vincent Price. The show runs through the end of June, and I'll be eagerly looking forward to the piece I bought once the show closes. Star Clipper has also been a supporter of Xombi, so if you've been enjoying it, be sure to let them know.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Xombi #3 on Sale Today

Xombi #3 is on sale today at a comic book retailer near you. In this issue David Kim must battle an ancient creature that is said to be God's wrath incarnate plus all sorts of surprises.

Scroll down to the previous post for a link to a five page preview of this issue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Read the First Five Pages of XOMBI #3 Now --For Free

Xombi #3 goes on sale tomorrow. For those of you who can't wait, or those of you on the fence about whether you want to buy it, or not, you can read the first five pages courtesy of the excellent folks at i09. Their preview of Xombi #3 can be found here, with a title which embraces the absurd nature of the comic itself.

New Xombi Interview

Just in time for Xombi #3, The Outhouse has posted an extensive interview with me pertaining to all things Xombi past and present.

Art by Frazer Irving

Monday, May 16, 2011

Xombi #6 - Cover and Solicitation Text

Here's Frazer Irving's gorgeous cover for Xombi #6 which goes on sale August 24, and here is my intentionally vague solicitation text found at DC Comics

Written by JOHN ROZUM; Art and cover by FRAZER IRVING
How is it possible to defeat someone who claims to see every moment of the future and plans for every eventuality? Unless David Kim and Annie Palmer can find an answer to this deadly puzzle, their lives – and the Ninth Stronghold – will be lost forever.
  • DC Comics
  • 32pg.
  • Color
  • $2.99 US
On Sale August 24, 2011

Stop by your local comic book store and pre-order a copy today.

The Grim Gallery

For a project I'm working on I needed to dig through my accumulated digital visual library of images of monsters and their kin. In doing so, I was surprised to see just how extensive (and unorganized) these archives had become, including a lot of rare material. This led me to create a new blog The Grim Gallery as a depository for these images. The images will be dispensed at the rate of one per day, without much in the way of commentary other than simple identification of what you're looking at (otherwise I will not be able to maintain any semblance of a daily schedule). So go take a look and get your daily dose of monsters.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Enchanted Tiki Room No Longer Under New Management

If true, this is welcome news indeed. I absolutely loathed the crass, soulless "update" that had been given to the Enchanted Tiki Room ( or Tropical Serenade as it was rechristened when it debuted in Florida in 1971)  at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The original incarnation of the Enchanted Tiki Room had simple charm, with playful interaction between individualistic characters, and a catchy tune, and importantly in terms of Disney history, was, at Disneyland, the first attraction to feature audio animatronic characters which would grow in sophistication as developed for other attractions over the years. In contrast, the updated attraction which opened in 1998 is crass and mean spirited. The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management features the grating obnoxious parrot, Iago from Aladdin and Zazu, the hornbill major domo to Mufassa in The Lion King as new managers of the Tiki Room.  The new birds interrupt the original show declaring it to be boring and out of step with the times and then sing an insipid, cynical song about how boring the original attraction was and how things are now improved with them in charge.  Really, what it does is draw attention to how the upgrade is anything but an improvement. Even my own kids, who'd never experienced the original show in person, didn't like it and felt it was mean.

The attraction was closed down after a January 12th fire which damaged the new animatronic stars of the show. Now the attraction is allegedly being returned to something close to its original incarnation and will open later this summer. For a full report read this story at Boing Boing. I hope this proves to be true. I can still recall my first time experiencing the Enchanted Tiki Room as a child. I had no knowledge of what was going to occur when I was inside, but was completely taken in my the talking, singing performing birds, and then the magic of the  inanimate objects joining in. Even the windows displaying weather and scenery not true to what was actually outside the attraction convinced me that I was transported some place magical. It has remained a favorite of mine to this day.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tomorrow Night on Cinemax

For those of you who have Cinemax as part of your cable package, tomorrow night at 11:00 pm will see the premiere of Femmes Fatales a new series in the tradition of film noir and pulp fiction of yesteryear, but set in the world of today. One of the executive producers on the series is my good friend, Steve Kriozere, and, under a nom de plume,  he and I wrote an episode together which will appear later in the season.

You can learn more about the series by visiting the Femmes Fatales official website.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

From the Archives 10

Just like my Brooke Shields: Agent of Fury the above were my rough pitches for Marvel's humor comic book, What The...? and were done somewhere around 1989. This was for a pitch titled "Team-Ups That We'll Never See." I think this was the extent of it. I don't remember doing any others. At any rate it was not used, and my guess is that it was likely because of legal issues in using Calvin and the Blondie characters. For Marvel's humor comics it was easier to just pitch my ideas in cartoon form rather than typed out even though someone else ended up drawing them (sometimes not as well). The idea and humor was more successfully conveyed in this manner as well.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

My take on the new season of Doctor Who

Now that the two part premiere of Doctor Who season 6 has aired I have my theory of what it all means. If you haven't seen these two episodes you should probably skip this post altogether as there are some spoilers present. If you have watched it feel free to read my speculation so that you can recall it with awe once these truths are revealed as the show progresses or so that you can ridicule me for my stupid theories that were way off the mark.

Rather than rehash the plotline of "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" written by Steven Moffat I will focus on the relevant mysterious element of the show, mainly who was that astronaut who shot the Doctor, and who was that little girl?

In a nutshell I feel that the answer to both is River Song (Alex Kingston). Here's why. River Song is in prison for murder, and while she hasn't yet specifically said who she's killed, she has said it was the best man she has ever known. In the world of Doctor Who that can only be one person; the Doctor (Matt Smith). When the astronaut rises from the lake, the Doctor tells everyone to stay away no matter what happens,  he also announces to the astronaut that he knows who it is. We never see the astronaut's face, making it all the more likely it's someone we know as well and would immediately recognize. Also notice that after the Astronaut had shot the Doctor and walked back into the lake that River Song shot at it several times with a  large caliber  revolver from maybe ten feet away and apparently missed with every shot, yet throughout the rest of this story she displays incredible accuracy both in playfully shooting the Doctor's stetson from his head and seriously blasting through a room full of the Silence without spending a lot of time carefully aiming. Why couldn't she hit the astronaut? Is it because of some time paradox about killing yourself in the past? Is it because she knows it's herself in there, which would make sense, if she'd already experienced this in her own past.

Towards the end of "The Impossible Astronaut" Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) announces to the Doctor that she's pregnant, and then she isn't. We meet the little girl (Sydney Wade) wearing the astronaut suit, and then in the next episode Amy Pond encounters her again in photographs including one with herself lovingly with the child. The age of the child indicates some discrepencies in the passage of time. Either the child is able to age rapidly, or is jumping through time just as the Doctor and his companions do.

It might be a bit odd that Amy Pond turned out to be River Song's mother, but there are three connections which make this seem likely. First, as a writer, you are not going to give two of your central characters names that include bodies of water unless you are doing that deliberately, so that readers/viewers make a connection between them. Steven Moffatt is not a sloppy writer, so he had to have done this on purpose, otherwise he would have thought early on "I can't name her River. I already have an Amy Pond, so I'll have to change one of them." Secondly, in the same manner, there is a connection between the little girl and the person who shot the Doctor, and this is the astronaut suit, leading one to believe that they are one and the same character, lending support that the character who shot the Doctor was River Song since it was a little girl in the astronaut suit and not a boy. Third, the Doctor was shot in the middle of regenerating himself. We see the sand-like light energy pouring forth from his hands and face signaling his regeneration, and then it's gone. At the end of "Day of the Moon" we see the same regeneration energy pouring from the hands and face of the little girl, suggesting she's going through a regeneration. Is this because the Doctor figured out that River Song was going to kill him, and that it was going to happen when it did and transferred his regeneration energy to her as some sneaky means to keep himself from staying permanently dead? I think that part of this won't be answered until Matt Smith calls it quits as the Doctor and we need him to regenerate into his next incarnation. Even so, this could account for the little girl shifting through time, vanishing from Amy's womb and appearing as a little girl a short time later. It would also tie into the bit where River talks about how each time she and the Doctor meet she knows more about him, and he less about her, until eventually he's going to see her and have no idea who she is. Amy's own uncertainty about her pregnancy seems to indicate that something about it is unusual which I think has to do with the connection to the timelord regeneration energy.

This is all just my gut instinct based on a single viewing of these episodes, but because it all fell into place as I was watching them and not in hindsight, it feels right. Only time will tell how it plays out, and I could eventually come off looking like a big idiot instead of some kind of precognitive Doctor Who wiz.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Ask Me Anything #9

It's the first Monday of the month which means it's time for "Ask Me Anything," where you can in fact ask me anything. Anything at all. Whether you want to know what I'm reading, what I'm writing, what I had for lunch, or really anything at all, here's your opportunity to find out the answer to whatever question you have for me.   Head down to the comment section and post your question. I'll either post my answer in the comment section as well, or answer it in a special post all its own sometime later in the month.

Please take the time to view the previous questions so that we don't wind up with a lot of repetition. You can see the previous questions by visiting Ask Me Anything  #1#2 ,  #3#4#5#6 , #7 and #8.  Answers not found following the questions can be found in the archives section for each associated month.

Now ask away.