Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bat Blog

With the prospect of a new Batman movie in production and the first glimpse of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman I thought I would blog about the current Batman series this afternoon before I headed into work. I'm definitely on the fence with Anne Hathaway and this has nothing to do with her acting skills. I'm just having a hard time picturing her as our favorite slinky cat burglar. But honestly. I can't think of any other actress who would be good in the role. Thankfully they didn't cast Angelina Jolie because I really can't stand her.

Well! I've spend a great deal of time complaining about what I have not liked about the Batman series. Although they've done a great deal to make the series enjoyable thus far, things like the Christian Bale's silly Batman voice, the length of the movie, Christian Bale's silly Batman voice, the tone of the film being a little too dark and Christian Bale's Batman voice haven't made the films completely perfect.

Did I mention I think Christian Bale's Batman voice is really silly?

Was that something he did in the first movie or was that something he started for the second one? Either way he should stop.

Instead of spending this blog complaining about what I hate about the series and how I would do it better (I'm not directing a film anytime soon. Trust me) I thought I would spend this particular blog talking about what I actually LIKED about the series and what worked for me.

I probably should warn readers that this post is riddled with spoilers. So, if if you're the type that seethes when a movie is ruined for you don't read on. However it HAS been six years since Batman Begins and three or four years since The Dark Knight. So, I think I'm well within my rights to ruin the movie for you ;-)

Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul. I have to admit, this has always been one of my favorite Batman characters. He's the Batman universe's equivalent to a James Bond villain. And up to that point I was seriously disappointed that they never did anything with the character.

At first I was a bit disappointed when they showed an image of Ra's al Ghul and it looked as though they were turning his character into a castoff from the Kung Fu series and Liam Neeson was appearing as this character Henri Ducard. I couldn't help thinking "He would have been so much better as Ra's al Ghul".

I was not prepared for the sucker-punch Christopher Nolan and co. had prepared when later in the movie we come to find out Liam Neeson is in fact Ra's al Ghul and Henri Ducard was just a charade.

I thought they did a relatively good job not only bringing the character to the big screen but somehow weaving Ra's al Ghul into the relatively weak Joe Chill origin.

Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. Again, kudos to the Bat-team for leaning on villains that aren't immediately recognizable to fans. I think the Scarecrow was always one of those villain that had potential of being really terrifying but never used properly.

Cillian Murphy was really great as a very smug and smarmy Dr. Johnathan Crane. Head of Arkham Asylum. Hey!! I'd be pretty smug too if I had deadly hallucinogenics at my disposal. What I enjoyed even more is they didn't kill the Scarecrow off at the end of the movie and you see him show up at the beginning.

He even delivers my favorite line in the movie "Not my diagnosis!" when Batman says to the Bat wannabe's "I don't need help"

Heath Ledger as the Joker. What can I say what hasn't been said a million times. HE MADE THE MOVIE. Every time he showed up he stole the scene. Not only that, he was a better Joker than Jack Nicholson was. And I enjoyed Jack Nicholson. And Jack was another one who outshined then Bat-actor Michael Keaton. And again. I liked Michael Keaton's Batman movies.

It's a shame about what happened to Heath Ledger because he had me wanting more. It would have been great to see him return in a third installment of Batman.

Michael Caine as Alfred. I love Michael Caine in almost everything he's done... with the exception of the last Austin Powers movie. And even then he was the best part of that cinematic turd. His performance as the ever faithful Alfred is different from what I was used to. And I really liked Alfred as a slightly sarcastic but ever loyal cockney butler to the more refined version of the past. You definitely get the impression that he has traveled and been around. And can aide the young Bruce Wayne in his training as the Dark Knight.

Gary Oldman and Lt./Commissioner James Gordon. I like Gary Oldman and I thought he was great as a relatively young James Gordon. And that's that's another thing I like about the series is the fact they went with the young Gordon of Batman: Year One rather than the old duffer he usually appears as in the movie.

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey (Two-Face) Dent definitely did a great job at erasing that awful memory of Tommy Lee Jones's Joker lite version of Two-Face. What was nice about this one was that Harvey Dent wasn't sane then turned crazy when he finally becomes Two-Face. They show signs that he is a loose cannon in scenes. And they do it well. So, you get the impression it's only a matter of time before something makes him finally snap. Who knew being hideously scarred and having your girlfriend die tragically would do that. Which leads to...

...the very best part of Dark Knight. THEY KILLED OFF RACHAEL DAWES!! Who I think was THE WORST character in the movie series. Which has nothing to do with Maggie Gyllenhaal's acting skills or anything like that. However, Miss Melty Face Katie Holmes's acting skills are another question. Seriously!! It looks like her face is sliding off her skull when she smiles.

Rachael Dawes was just a weak character. Honestly, as the building blew up it made me sorry that Katie Holmes left the part.

But I was not sad to see the character go. I just found her sanctimonious and annoying. And the fact she gets angry at Bruce Wayne for not stopping Harvey Dent for taking the fall just annoyed me more. It irritated me almost as much as the first movie when she slaps him in the face for wanting to shoot the guy who killed his parents. And then you leave him for Harvey Dent. Yeah, that's supportive.

And I was somewhat disappointed that they offed Harvey Dent at the end of the movie. Even though they did it in a way where they left enough of an opening for him to return in the next movie. However, with announcement of Bane being one of the baddies, it looks less likely we'll get a chance to see Two-Face as one of villains in the upcoming film. Again, I'm disappointed. Admittingly, Two-Face is another one of my favorite Batman rogues and I think the way Aaron Eckhart portrayed him in The Dark Knight, he could have carried the third movie.

Although, Christopher Nolan did sucker-punch us with Ra's al Ghul. So, it's quite possible that he's also going to surprise us with finding out that Two-Face really wasn't killed.

We'll see.

Well, that's my overview on the best bits of the Batman franchise thus far. I just hope when they decide to do a new series with a new actor and crew in seven or eight years they will take the series in a different direction than the super dark and gritty one they did for this series.

I suppose it's only natural after what a flashy neon piece of crap both Batman Forever and Batman and Robin were that they would go in a totally opposite direction with this series.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing them do a Batman series that's sort of a cross between the Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams version of the Caped Crusader.

Not the Lite Knight of the Joel Schumacher films. But maybe something more along the lines of the comic books rather than the dark and depressing that Batman has become. And dare I add, maybe something a little more fun and adventurous like the 1943 Batman movie serial.

Indie Art Market in Womag

There's a really great article about Indie Art Market which takes place every first Tuesday of the month on Worcester Magazine's website. I did a short interview talking about my experiences selling there as well as the the great atmosphere Niki and the crew at Beatniks has created for the artists, musicians and patrons who frequent Beatniks.

Seriously!! If you had seen the place when it was Blenders, you would be amazed with how much they have cleaned it up transforming it from a sleazy dive bar to a really laid back and hep place to relax, enjoy a drink and a bite to eat.

Their Cheddar and Horseradish Sliders are amazing by the way.

Click on the link below to read the article. Also, if you are a local artist or crafter looking to sell your wares, there is a link to Beatnik's website in the article itself so you can contact Niki and take part in the next event:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

I have probably mentioned several times in this blog how much of a fan I am of Walt Kelly and his comic creation Pogo. I'm not sure how much many young readers would understand a great deal of the humor of the strip nowadays. It was very much a strip rooted in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. Much of the political humor is based in the McCarthy era and unless you're studying that time period in a history class, I'm not sure how much a young reader would understand the jokes.

Berke Breathed's Bloom County can be seen the same way. Another favorite strip of mine that is very rooted in the 1980's politics and pop culture.

However, it's Kelly's artwork (and Breathed's as well) that transcends time.

A great deal due to the fact that Kelly started out as an artist at Walt Disney from January 6, 1936 to September 12, 1941. And looking at his designs for Pogo Possum and many of his friends in the Okefenokee Swamp, you can definitely see the Disney influence. Mostly in the way he draws the eyes on his character. That was very Disney. He actually contributed to animations like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Dumbo and The Reluctant Dragon.

Ah, well, it's no use prevaricating about the bush. Getting to my initial story (which includes the image above) I had recently gone on a little day trip with Sydney up to Concord MA when I found out my Thursday night class had been canceled due to the weather. We ended up poking around some really great shops one of which was this really cute little book shop called The Barrow Book Store. It was a neat little place with that great smell of used books in the air.

Well, as we were poking around I happened to see in the art and humor section a copy of We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us sitting there on the shelf. My eyes instantly lit up. You can ask Sydney and she will attest to this.

This book is rare to say the least!! If you want to see how rare it is, log onto and you will see the cheapest copy you can get of it starts out at $26.95!!


So naturally I had to get it!!

For those unfamiliar with that phrase coined by Pogo, it was originally for an anti-pollution campaign started by Walt Kelly for the first Earth Day.

Later Kelly had planned on doing it as a short animation with partner and future wife Selby Daley. Kelly had been greatly dissatisfied with Chuck Jones's treatment of his characters in A Pogo Special Birthday Special. Kelly had actually contributed voices for some of the characters as well as some of the story. However, he had mentioned that the story he had written had been completely altered.

I admit to be someone who really liked the special (being an admirer of both Kelly and Jones). And to be fair to Chuck Jones, he got the characters of Pogo closer to the look and the feel of the strip than many comic strips turned animation like Heathcliff or Dennis the Menace in the 1980's.

Kelly actually started doing most of the animation himself. A great deal of the time from his bed since he was very sick at the time. Kelly even recorded many of the voices as well for the animation.

The cartoon ultimately went unfinished due to Kelly's ill heath. However, most of the storyboard was used as the basis for the first half of the book version. With the second half being a collection of Kelly's daily Pogo strips that came out at that time.

The 1960's to the 1970's are probably some of Kelly's best artwork. Not only with his own characters but also with many of his caricatures. Likenesses J. Edgar Hoover, Spiro Agnew and George Mitchell all appear in the volume.

If you're ever able to obtain a copy of it, I highly recommend you pick it up. It's a great book and a portal into a bygone time. And probably some of Kelly's finest work to date in my opinion!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Indie Art Market at Beatniks

No time like the present to start promoting. It happens the first Tuesday of every month. I hope to see you all there!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Signing tomorrow at That's Entertainment

If you're in Worcester MA tomorrow from 12pm till 5pm, stop on by That's Entertainment on Park Avenue. I will be signing copies of Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner which is in it's third printing!! I will also be selling signed prints as well as original artwork.

Hope to see you all there!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Earth Station One interview

I did a really great interview with Earth Station One recently talking about Alice Faulkner, my previous work as well as some of the Doctor Who related work I've done as well. Click on the link below to listen to it right now. My interview wraps up the podcast:

Sherlock Holmes signing at That's Entertainment this coming Wednesday!!

I make it no secret that I enjoy doing events at That's Entertainment. I've been going to the store since I was probably nine or ten.

And I remember the Chandler Street location folk!!

But crew down there are always great and friendly to everyone who walks through the door. So whenever I get the chance to do a signing down there I take it!! Everyone goes out of their way to make you comfortable and I always have a great day no matter what.

So, to kick off the official nationwide Diamond release of Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner's THIRD PRINT RUN, what better place to than in my hood to celebrate!! I will be signing copies of the book as well as selling original art and signed prints from Noon till 5pm on Wednesday January 19th at That's Entertainment.

Also, I may arrange for another silent auction which will feature framed Sherlock Holmes art by me that will take place during the signing and will come to an end when the store closes at regular hours.

Because I know many folks can't get out of work before 5pm so I want to give everyone a chance to bid if they do so feel like it.

So, I hope to see everyone there on Wednesday :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Win Alice Faulkner + Original Art Featuring Famous Sherlocks!!

Another opportunity to win a copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner from it's THIRD PRINT RUN along with some original art. The illustration in question is The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes featuring some famous (and favorite) Sherlock's of mine. From right to left: William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch.

I decided to portray Rathbone as he appeared in his later Holmes WWII serials to balance Cumberbatch's modern interpretation of the Master. Also I made Cushing an inch shorter because the other four actors were listed above 6' and Cushing was listed at 5'11 1/2".

Click on the image below to start bidding:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Too much chocolate cake is just not good for you...

The title of this blog will make more sense later in the post...

Last night Sydney and I decided to sit and watch the series premiere of Bob's Burgers. I had seen some commercials for it and I can't say I was very impressed with what I saw. But I thought I would give it a chance.

Three minutes into the show we weren't laughing. Five minutes into the show we STILL weren't laughing. At probably around the fifteen minute mark I can't take it anymore.

"I'm not laughing," says I.
"Me neither," replied Sydney.

Something was dreadfully wrong. The characters were annoying. I even found the fact that the mother and the older daughter being voice by men to be unnerving. And drag has never bothered me being a fan of both Monty Python's Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall. Or when Mel Blanc would voice some of the female characters in the Looney Tunes.

I think what annoyed me is there was no effort put into the voices. Python, KITH and Mel Blanc put an effort in their drag. This was just lazy.

And yes. We could have changed the channel. But we decided to endure this painfully unfunny half hour of our lives to the bitter end. Because you never know. There could be one scene that could turn this show around.

It never happened.

Although it did achieve making The Simpsons, Family Guy AND the Cleveland Show funny by comparison that Sunday. But even with those shows, as much as the Simpsons or Family Guy aren't what they used to be, there's still elements of the show that you find yourself chuckling at. I was never a fan of Futurama when it was on prime time television. But even with Futurama there was still scenes where I would chuckle at the jokes.

I couldn't even manage to muster a sympathy chuckle watching Bob's Burgers.

But I think that's the problem. Prime time cartoons have just gotten lazy. I've enjoyed both the Simpsons and Family Guy. However, cartoons like the Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park (YES! You're not exempt from this South Park) have gotten into this lazy pattern where the only way they feel they can make an audience laugh is to shock you. So, each episode is an attempt to make the next one more outrageous.

But once you've reached the top, where do you go from there?

And there's a place for that type of humor. I mean, I love the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges and the verbal comedy of the Marx Brothers. But the problem right now, or at least as far as prime time comedy between the hours of 8pm till 10pm on Fox is that they is little to no variety. It's all the same. And that's the problem with Bob's Burgers. It's more of the same.

Not to mention it seems very much like the last Austin Powers movie where you get the feeling that it was written on a Saturday and filmed on a Sunday.

It's like eating Chocolate Cake for breakfast every day. It's a novelty at first but you're going to get sick of it after a while.

And it's not like there aren't any good cartoons on anymore. Even though I haven't seen an episode, cartoons like the Venture Brothers are very popular with a great deal of my friends. And I don't think that relies on the shock value Fox seems to think it has to rely on.

But it does make me miss the classic Warner Brothers and Tex Avery cartoons. I'm not saying that they need to do away with the Simpsons or Family Guy. However, I think Bob's Burgers proves we really do need something new.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Batman Incorporated

About a year or so ago (I think) I commented in this blog about thinking it was only a matter of time before they brought Bruce Wayne back. Characters very rarely stay dead in the DC Universe. And besides the fact it was later revealed that Bruce Wayne wasn't dead but thrown back in time. Or something along those lines.

But that's besides the point.

Around the time Bruce Wayne was missing, dead or both I had made a comment how much I was actually enjoying the Dick Grayson Batman in Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin series and if they were to eventually bring Bruce Wayne back I thought they should do like they have done with the Flash and Green Lantern and have Grayson remain Batman. Sort of the way Wally West has remained the Flash even though Barry Allen has returned.

As much as I doubt either Grant Morrison or the head honcho's at DC Comics read my blog religiously I was very pleased with the return of Bruce Wayne, my off the cuff blog comment seems to be coming to fruition.

Both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are now becoming dual Batmen the same way Barry Allen and Wally West have become the Flash. I figured it would be Wayne Batman teaming up with Tim Drake's Red Robin while Grayson remained a team with Damian Wayne's Robin.

Speaking of which, are Oliver Queen and Conner Hawke sharing Green Arrow duties? Oh, never mind ;-)

However Grant Morrison seems to be going a step further than I would have imagined by having Bruce Wayne pretty much turn Batman into a global franchise called Batman Incorporated! And to show the distinction between the two Batmen, they have once again given Wayne's Batman costume a different look as seen below.

One comment online mentioned it seems very inspired by the costume design for the Arkham Asylum game. To me it seems like a slight cross between the Arkham costume with the Christian Bale costume from the movies. But slightly lighter. Which kind of gives it a very James Bond international adventurer sort of look.

One blogger pretty much described Bruce Wayne's Batman pretty much becoming a cross between Nick Fury and Tony Stark.

I imagine the messageboards will start buzzing with debates, arguments and all out hockey style cage match fisticuffs's between people who either love the new look and the whole idea of a global Batman police force.

Personally, I don't mind the idea.

I don't see myself keeping up with the series. But the idea intrigues me and I may sneak a peek at a few issues when I'm nosing around my local comic book shop from time to time.

New year. New look...

Becoming somewhat of a yearly tradition. With the beginning of a fresh new year, I thought it was time for a fresh new look for my blog. So, after much debating I decided to go with this Indiana Jones-esque globetrotting style background. The original design went with a brown. But since brown was the last color I decided to go with this purplish/burgundy/whatever it is color.

Also, I think with this particular layout the links on the corner of the page are a bit easier to see as well than they were with the last layout.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bid on Alice Faulkner+ORIGINAL ART!!

BACK IN PRINT!! And it never felt so good ;-) To celebrate the nationwide THIRD PRINT RUN, here's your chance not only to win a copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner PERSONALLY SIGNED TO YOU but also a chance to win some ORIGINAL SHERLOCK HOLMES INSPIRED ART!! Click on the image below to place your bid today:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Alice Faulkner is OUT NOW!!

Officially the book will be hitting stores January 19th!! However I just got copies in the mail yesterday and I will be unveiling it at tonight's INDIE ART MARKET at Beatnik's in Worcester!! It features a brand new cover for it's THIRD PRINT RUN!!

It sold pretty quickly in it's last two print runts!! So come on out to Beatnik's tonight to get your copy!!

Indie Art Market at Beatniks's

The first Tuesday of every month Beatnik's Bar on Park Ave in Worcester puts on a really great show called Indie Art Market!! This show features some really great artists and crafters from around and about the Worcester area!!

I've been taking part since their second show and I always have a great time there!! This time not only will I be unveiling the brand new THIRD PRINTING of Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner but I've also finished three new illustrations just in time for the show.

One of which happens to be an illustration featuring five of my favorite Sherlock Holmes actors William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch. I opted to have the WWII version of Rathbone's Holmes because I thought it would be a balance for Cumberbatch's modern interpretation of Holmes.

The show starts at 6pm and runs till 9pm!! Come on down and chat with Sydney and myself over a drink and a bite to eat. Both are excellent at Beatniks :-)

Check out the new artwork below:

Monday, January 3, 2011

My interview in ANA Comics

Fellow Worcesterite Richard Caldwell interviewed me for ANA Comics. Richard wrote a couple really great reviews for my work. In particular he wrote a really great review for Polly and Handgraves. Which he has stated to be a particular favorite of his.

I had a great deal of fun corresponding with him for the article and we discussed everything from my influences, current projects and my future.

Click on the link below to read it:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011

"All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace."

Okay so that never happened!! So much like 2001, there were no monoliths turning Jupiter into a new sun. However, I think 2010 wasn't a disappointment. At least it wasn't for me.

Well, Happy Binary Year everyone ;-)