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.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
School starts up again in a week. Although I'm sad to say farewell to summer vacation, I always look forward to meeting my students and putting together our clubs around common interests like Anime and Sci-fi shows. Over my break I had so much fun hearing from my pals Alan and Alys about their experiences as young Doctor Who fans in the UK in the 1970s. In our present internet world it would be hard for my students to imagine a time when there was the FIRST Doctor Who convention, and when there were fan-made zines (and audio zines), and the formation of the Appreciation Society. I've been talking with pop culture historian Andrew Pixley recently about the era and he observed there was a great sense of honesty to those early days, when the pure love for the shows brought fans together for the sheer joy of sharing their enthusiasm and common bond. I think that's how my school clubs function now. Thinking about it now, I can't wait to spend my lunchtimes with my students, immersed in episodes of Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Red Dwarf. Scanning the internet tonight I came across these great images of from the Doctor Who Appreciation Society days in the late 1970s. If there really was such a thing as a Tardis, I'd love to travel back in time and join my friends at their Who events, where they got to meet greats like John Pertwee, and where they met the people who would become their lifelong friends (and spouses!). What a great scene! Looking at these images feels like a touchstone back to those times. And I'm so happy I finally met this tribe of early Whovians, even if I did take the long way around to reach them. Maybe I can interest my students in making a zine about what we watch this year and keep the cycle going. Want to read an old zine? Check out Fury From the Deep. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 6, 2016
The wonderful Target book range kept Doctor Who stories alive in the imaginations of viewers in the pre-video era. David J. Howe wrote the complete history of these classic publications in his lavishly illustrated tome, The Target Book. Readers who missed it after it went out of print will be pleased to hear The Target Book is back in an updated edition from Telos. From the press release: "A new edition of the popular and acclaimed guide to the Doctor Who Target paperback range of novelisations. With an additional Appendix covering audio releases and the recent BBC reprints of the books." Large format, hardcover, 176 pages. Whovians can pick it up for only 24 pounds from the publisher and for 27 pounds at AmazonUK here. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 4, 2016
The wonderful Target book range kept Doctor Who stories alive in the imaginations of viewers in the pre-video era. Join Peter Capaldi and others in this visit to the UK Cartoon Museum last spring to see some iconic book cover illustrations and to hear from a number of Doctor Who writers and artists. Enjoy!
Monday, August 1, 2016
I wanted to give everyone a heads up about an exciting new Blu-ray from UK distributor Network. They are working on a huge restoration project to release the ultimate edition of Gerry Anderson's groovy Sci-Spy classic, UFO. Man, I can't wait to see those purple wigs and Nehru jackets in glorious hi-definition! As a teaser to their set launch, Network just put out a Blu-ray edition of Invasion UFO, the 90-minute movie cut from various episodes that was originally made for theatrical release in 1980. More from Network: "Earth's greatest fear becomes a reality when UFOs are finally confirmed - the aliens come from a dying planet millions of light years away, seeking human organs to repair their own decaying bodies. In a raging inter-galactic space-battle, top secret defence organisation SHADO attempts to save Earth from this alien terror! Specially made on videotape for syndication in Europe and America, this amalgamation of six episodes from Gerry Anderson's UFO has always looked and sounded below par - until now! Re-made in full widescreen from restored High Definition elements sourced from the original 35mm negatives, Invasion: UFO is presented here with both original mono and Dolby 5.1 soundtracks." Special features include the original 1980 videotape version, 1980 trailer, full-frame credit sequences and end titles. Only 10 pounds from Network here. Enjoy!