Friends in the Connecticut area might be interested in checking out a cartoon art exhibit currently running at the Wilton library (through Nov 11th). Comic strips have been an integral part of our cultural fabric for over 100 years. Fans will get to see original work in this show from the likes of Hagar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, and Beetle Bailey. Artists on display include my pals Chance Browne, Brian Walker, Bill Janocha, and many others. I can't think about being a kid in the 1970s without fondly remembering what it was like to grow up around Dik Browne and his family. I'll never forget the day Dik's son Chance gave me a paperback book of the first Hagar collection and said, "Check out my dad's new strip!" (Chance also gave me my first guitar). I watched Dik and Chris Browne produce comics in their basement studio for years (when I wasn't playing in their pool). When I moved away I lobbied my local paper to run Hagar and then dutifully clipped the strip out of the newspaper every day for my scrapbook. Seeing their comics and holiday cards kept the Brownes close. They also inspired me to become a cartoonist. Although I was able to publish comics in a number of national magazines, their lasting influence is on me as a teacher- passing along the love of cartooning to my students now for almost thirty years. As an adult I became close with the Walkers, with whom the Brownes still produce Hi and Lois. In 2005 I published the book, Mort Walker Conversations, for the comic series by University Press of Mississippi. I love this group of artists! Don't miss the show if you are in the area. More info about the exhibit here. Enjoy!
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
New release: SPACE 1999 Soundtrack. "Penta Music is proud to present the world premiere CD release of SPACE:1999, featuring the original motion picture soundtrack of the Italian theatrical version composed by two-time Oscar-winner Ennio Morricone. SPACE: 1999 premiered in Italian theatres on January 14, 1975, and was created through the process of editing together three episodes from season one of the TV series: “Breakaway,” “Ring Around the Moon” and “Another Time, Another Place.” The theatrical release of SPACE: 1999 predated the series’ debut on Italian television by a year, with the first six episodes being broadcast from January 31, 1976. Six more episodes followed in July and the remaining twelve episodes in the fall of the same year. The series’ original iconic score was not used for the Italian theatrical version (the series originally premiered on British television on September 4, 1975), instead being replaced with a fascinating score by Ennio Morricone, who composed original material featuring frantic jazz themes and futuristic electronic sequences reminiscent of Barry Gray’s work on UFO. This release also includes avant-garde material by Morricone that was carefully selected as background music for various scenes in the movie, taken directly from the RCA promotional series of library vinyl LPs titled “Dimensioni Sonore,” performed by symphonic orchestra and presented here in full stereo. Also included is the final large orchestral theme heard over the end credits, featuring vocals by Edda Dell’Orso and I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni. This theme was reused for the 1979 mini-series Orient Express, again scored by Ennio Morricone. The CD has a running time of 70:11 and comes with a full-color, 20-page booklet containing archive stills, a foreword from Fanderson chairman Nick Williams (the official Fanderson UK fan club) and plot synopses and credits for the three original episodes. This release was officially approved by ITV Studios and will be available from September 13, 2016, the day in which the moon separated from Earth’s orbit in SPACE: 1999." More info at Screen Archives Entertainment.
Friday, October 7, 2016
New release: Dynamite is launching a new KISS comic series on October 19th. With the band's larger-than-life image and theatrical performances, it's no wonder they've had great cross-over success in the world of comics. They first appeared in Marvels' Howard the Duck #12 in 1977, then famously starred in the first issue of Marvel Super Special (battling Doctor Doom) in a book famous for adding of their own blood to the printing ink. It's a very fun read! After many years with various publishers, the group is back in print in Dynamite's adaptation of their concept album, The Elder. Press release: 'KISS is back! Back to the FUTURE in this dark sci-fi adventure. In a world without sun and a world without heroes, four young friends embark on a dangerous mission - to uncover the truth about the mysterious Council of Elders and their underground home, the city of Blackwell. But first they need some help from the past... Amy Chu reflects: "What is the power of KISS? I was having breakfast recently with the fabulous writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. When she found out I was writing this series, it was like firecrackers had been set off in the restaurant, she was so excited. So I'm doing this not just for the hardcore fans (like Kelly Sue) but also the new ones, like her children. It's a huge challenge for me. KISS is iconic. Legendary. It's global and cross-generational. So much has been done before with KISS in comics, a LOT of fun and crazy stuff. So for this series, I thought, why not go more serious? For research, I hunkered down and listened to the 1981 album Music from The Elder several times. Like the movie Blade Runner which came out around the same time, people didn't know what to make of it. If this album came out now, I think it would be entirely different reception. So this storyline is more focused on mythology, heroism, and legend, and inspired by themes, lyrics, and song titles from that album.' Band co-founder Gene Simmons expressed his excitement over the project in a recent interview printed by The Hollywood Reporter: "The wonderful thing about the Dynamite team is that we are all of like minds," he says. Everyone involved wanted to take our personas and do a classic KISS comic book, and to include deep fanboy references to [Music from] The Elder, our one and only concept album." Dynamite will also print a KISS: The Demon solo series in January: "Before Blackwell, before Morpheus, there was the MUSIC. In a small town in Iowa, three young KISS fans meet at a concert and form their own band, unaware they are about to embark on a journey that will not only change their lives, but also the fate of the world. A prequel to the ongoing series!" Check out some of the cool covers coming our way. One sports the KISS Army logo and features a blind-bag chance at limited-edition art by John Cassady. Enjoy!
Sunday, September 25, 2016
There are a number of new releases coming out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Labyrinth (1986) starring David Bowie. The film has gone through a 4K restoration, which I recently saw on the big screen. So far I find 4k projections flat and lifeless overall, but this print might be better suited for the smaller screen of home TV. Certainly the image was more detailed! For those wanting to upgrade from their 2009 discs, the restoration has now been released in DVD and Blu-ray editions with additional bonus features. Fans should also look out for the deluxe version with display and the Best Buy steelbook. David Bowie, Jim Henson, Terry Jones (Monty Python), George Lucas, and Jennifer Connelly created such a fun and iconic movie! If you want to go deeper into that world, check out these new books: Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History (Oct 18), Jim Henson's Labyrinth Tales (Sept 27), and Jim Henson's Labyrinth Artist Tribute (Nov 8). Still no word about a soundtrack re-release, but my fingers are crossed. Enjoy!
Saturday, September 3, 2016
So sad to hear of Gene Wilder's passing. He brought such a spark and special energy to his work. I was touched to hear he kept his illness from his fans because he didn't want to disappoint them and “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.” Raging Cinema has put together a tribute to Wilder's special talent for the comedic pause. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 27, 2016
New release: A new book came out this summer that focuses on three heavyweight writers from the UK who really helped redefine comics. Many of their stories have become iconic classics in the field. And even if you're not a comic reader, I bet you've seen some of their creations on the big screen. The British Invasion: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and the Invention of the Modern Comic Book Writer. From the press release: "They came from Northampton, West Sussex, and Glasgow, and even though they spoke with different dialects, they gave American comics a new voice — one loud and clear enough to speak to the Postmodern world. Like a triple-helix strand of some advanced form of DNA, their careers have remained irrevocably intertwined. They go together, like Diz, Bird, and Monk… or like Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg… or like the Beatles, the Stones, and the Who. Taken individually, their professional histories provide an incomplete picture of the British Invasion, but together they redefined the concept of what it means to be a comic book writer. Collectively, their story becomes the story of mainstream comics in the modern era. It’s the story you’re about to read." More info at Amazon and Sequart Organization. What did these writers create? Here are just a few highlights: Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Miracleman, Stardust, Neverwhere, Coraline), Grant Morrison (Animal Man, Batman, The Invisibles, Area 51). Thanks to my pal, Stephen Bissette (Swamp Thing, Sgt Rock, Heavy Metal), for getting this on my radar. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Kenny Baker passed away today at the age of 81. His role as R2D2 in the Star Wars saga and his appearance in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits loomed large in my imagination as a young teen. Lucas had said Baker was the heart of R2, but indeed he was the heart of the story itself. Although Luke's journey resonated with us on the grand scale of human mythology, R2-D2 served as our eyes and ears. Baker's R2 was our everyman, rolling us through the emotions of the saga with his emotive beeps and movements. I'd hoped to see Baker recently at the London Film and Comic Con, but I was pretty tied up with Doctor Who stuff. Sad to have missed him in person, and sad we have lost one of our beloved icons of the era. Below: Baker on set of Star Wars and more recently with director George Lucas.