Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Uncle Forry!

Today is the birthday of one of the most influential people in my life. In fact, pretty much everyone who was born between the years 1950 and 1972, who works in the horror, fantasy, or science fiction field would probably say they owe their careers to this man.

Forrest J Ackerman, who turns 90 today, is a lifelong fan of the genre who passed on his love via the magazine he created with publisher, Jim Warren; "Famous Monsters of Filmland."

Forry is an extremely kind and generous man who not only opens his home every weekend to visitors from every corner of the world, so that he can show off his remarkable collection of movie memorabilia, but he also tolerated my frequent, and most likely inane, Friday night phone calls I used to make to him when I was a wee lad. He patiently answered all my questions, and seemed happy to do so.

I finally got to pay back his generosity by making him a character in "Midnight, Mass." where he appeared in a thinly disguised version of himself under the name J. Forrester Eckman, an alias that I'm sure the man of a thousand aliases would have approved of.

Happy Birthday, 4SJ!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Boris Karloff!

Today may be Thanksgiving, but it's also Boris Karloff's birthday! Born William Henry Pratt in 1887, Karloff made his screen debut in a bit part in the 1919 serial adventure, "The Lightning Raider." It was his starring role as the monster in "Frankenstein" (1931) that made him a household name, a huge star, and an icon of horror.

Give thanks to this great man, and celebrate his birthday by watching one of his many classic movies. Whether it's "The Raven" from 1935, or 1963, "The Mummy" (1932), "The Body Snatcher" (1945), "Targets" (1968) or even "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) there is plenty to celebrate with.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Frankenstein turns 75

On this date, in 1931, Universal's "Frankenstein" debuted. Directed by James Whale, the movie was a huge hit, securing Universal's exploration of horror as a viable cinematic genre which began with "Dracula" earlier the same year. It's star, Boris Karloff became a horror icon, and the monster make-up by Jack Pierce is one of the most well-known visual icons of the 20th Century. It spawned five sequels (six if you include "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein"), and it's look, especially the laboratory set created by Kenneth Strickfadden influenced horror movies for decades after.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while, today's the perfect excuse to do so.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Detective Comics News

I'm thrilled to announce that Tom Mandrake will be handling the artwork for my 2-part DETECTIVE COMICS story. Tom was the perfect choice. He's drawn some extraordinary things in the past, and I can't wait to see what he does here.

There's no publication date for this yet, but I will let you know as soon as I know. I had a blast writing it though. Even though I hate the word "reinventing," I had a great time doing just that to one of Batman's primary classic foes, giving him a bit of an overhaul without erasing anything that came before. I think this is an upgrade that fans of Batman will be happy with. Hopefully I'll get to do some m ore with that character in the not too distant future as well.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Xombi Trading Card

This trading card was part of a series of trading cards featuring Milestone characters and creators. When I was hired to write "Xombi", he was still African-American. The change to make him Korean-American happened shortly after I was hired. This card was clearly done almost immediately after that ethnic change was made, but before I'd written a single word of the comic book. The origin on the back of the card is the origin that Dwayne McDuffie created for the original (African-American) version of the character, who was conceived to be more of a Punisher-type.

Anyone who read "Xombi" will realize that the origin was radically changed when I came on board. This was a mutual decision between Dwayne and myself. I think the feeling was that the rejuvenation/vigilante thing would run thin pretty quickly, and I wanted to go into a more weird science fiction/supernatural direction with David Kim (the Xombi character) being more sympathetic than a machine of vengeance. It seemed to work out pretty well, except in the sales department, for the length of its 22 issue run.

I don't know who did the art for this card, but it's clear that David Kim hadn't been developed as a character at all. In this image, he looks like he'd have been at home in a Marvel kung-fu comic of the 1970s. As far as I know, this is the first depiction of the character as an Asian-American. Future depictions of him, would for some odd reason, often include a wooden staff, further carrying on the kung-fu imagery. The truth was that David Kim not only didn't know any martial arts, but was a really lousy fighter overall. The staff was never used in any story (though J.J. Birch did draw it leaning against a wall in David's apartment once as a joke) though every guest cover, and poster, artist (except John Byrne) chose to include it.

A second set of Milestone trading cards was planned but never produced. I remember writing the text for a number of cards based on characters I created.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dead High Yearbook

"Dead High Yearbook" is a graphic novel anthology of stories set in a high school, based on urban legends. I contributed a story involving tapeworms and bulk-up formulas used by weight lifters. oddly, it's not the first tapeworm story I've done, though this new one is a lot more disgusting.

"Dead High Yaerbook" was edited by fellow Milestone writer Ivan Velez, Jr., and will be published by Dutton Juvenile on March 22, 2007. It's available for pre-order now. So, contact your local independant bookseller, and let them know if you're interested.
The isb# is 0525477837.