Thursday, April 19, 2007



I went out last night and finally checked out this flick and goddam is this a great flick! First of all it’s 2 movies in one by 2 of my favorite directors. Second it’s a throwback to old exploitation/B-Movies/Horror movies. Third it’s a couple of guys making flicks they want to make, the latter being something that has become increasingly more important to me as of late.

Being that I’m a little late to the boat (along with everyone else who is going to see “Wild Hogs” instead of this movie) I’m sure you know the deal. Robert Rodriguez kicks off the show with “Planet Terror” a Gore-Fest of great Zombie movie proportions. Full of everything you’d expect from a movie starring a Go-Go Dancer with a machine gun leg Rodriguez has brought his filmmaking to a place where he can virtually put anything he can imagine on screen and he has a hand in every aspect of his work. He writes, directs, edits, does the sound track, acts as visual effects supervisor and director of photography. He’s working fully digital all from his own friggin’ house. He’s one of the few modern day filmmakers who are harkening back to the days of the 1970’s Film Brats. Back when guys like Francis Coppola were starting independent studios like American Zoetrope. Zoetrope never came fully into fruition thanks to some impatient studio heads, but the genesis of the studio spawned into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and others. Rodriguez’s own studio “Troublemaker Studios” is even farther from the vile clutches of Hollywood, residing in Austin, Texas. “Planet Terror” pulls no punches and is a wild ride complete with Rodriguez’s trademark fast action and super quick cuts. Along with some fancy “Missing Reel” editing, “Planet Terror” alone was worth the admission price.

In between features you have a handful of hilarious “trailers” by Rob Zombie and Eli Roth’s hilariously disturbing “Thanksgiving” trailer. All of this and we haven’t even gotten to Quinten Tarantino’s “Death Proof”.

Now pretty much everyone I’ve talked to or read about who’ve seen Grindhouse prefer QT’s flick to Rodriguez’s. But the best part of this is that both movies are completely independent of one another and are just different interpretations on a theme, the theme obviously being Grindhouse movies. Death Proof stars Kurt Russell in one of his best roles ever as Stuntman Mike. You know what. I’m not even about to spoil the wild ride Tarantino takes you on through this movie. It’s honestly one of the best times I’ve even had in a theater. Amazing dialogue with one of the best car chases since “The French Connection”. QT is flat out one of the greatest filmmakers ever. To ignore anything that this guys puts on film is waste of every movie lover’s time.

In true “Lazy Rambling” tradition I should go into a long diatribe about how the American Film going audience is a giant gaggle of blubbering idiots who should all have their theater going rights revoked for the remainder of their lives…. But I won’t.

Go see the movie…

Friday, April 13, 2007

All Star Superman

When All Star Superman came out, I had my doubts. Morrison is one of those writers that is just hit or miss with me. He starts off strong and just fades away before the finish line. So going into All Star there was some trepidation mixed with hope. Hope that there would be a Superman comic that I would actually love to read. With the release of the 7 issue I’m forced to gush over this book. Maybe it’s because my beloved “The Goon” (Eric Powell) is on a hiatus but I actually read All Star 2 times in a row in one sitting. Issue 7 is a 2-Part Bizzarro storyline with an amazing cliffhanger backing up a fun, action packed storyline that made me laugh-out-loud and just enjoy a good old-fashioned superhero story starring the original superhero. It’s worth mentioning that this 2-part storyline is as long a “storyline” as you’ll find in this series. If memory serves me right, this is the first multiple part storyline of the book. Check out Morrison’s 1 page, 4-panel, 8-word retelling of Supes origin. There’s no “Decompressed” storytelling going on here.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Even if you’re one of those readers who isn’t a huge fan of Grant Morrison the incredible art by Frank Quitely is worth the cover price. (The colors by Jamie Grant are amazing by the way.) The hardcover of the first 6 issues just came out so you can grab the whole run in one trip to the shop.

So I hope you enjoyed my gushing.

Gent signing off.


p.s. Go read Randall over at Pixelstrips.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Remember when Comics used to be 2 Dollars!

How much more expensive can comics get? $2.99 was always my cut-off for a 22-page comic. Sure 3 bucks isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but there are so many comics available why stick around for long on something for that price? A 6-issue storyline is going to run you around 20 bucks. You might as well wait for the trade at that price. At least you won’t have to flip through a ton of ads and wait god knows how long for the book to actually come out. Plus by the time the storyline ends there’ll be plenty of reviews to look at before you really decide if you want to buy the thing. And if you really want to save some money, order your trades online at a place like InStockTrades and pick it up for like 10 bucks.

Now I’m more likely to drop 3 bucks for an independent comic than I am for a comic from the Big 2. In my opinion the Indie guy earned the extra buck while the Big 2, with more hype, more ads and shoddy scheduling have to prove themselves a bit more to me. Sure the Indie book might wind-up sucking just as much as the Spider-book but I just feel a little better about giving my hard earned money to an indie book than a corporate comic. My li’l way of stickin’ it to da man, you might say. (The Man stuck it to me for 7 years so what the hell.)

This topic makes me think about the future of digital comics as well. While I really believe that web comics like those on Ac-Ti-Vate are providing the model for self-publishing online, the future of mainstream comics online is still a murky one. Recently Top Cow announced that they would be providing digital downloads of their books through the website IGN. For a Buck you can download a PDF iTunes style but the catch is… all downloads will be at least one-year behind their new releases. Now while I know this basically the first time a “mainstream” company is doing this, I have to say they’ve screwed this up in a major way. I understand that they’re protecting the retail comic shops by keeping the books a year behind, but who the hell is going to download a year old Top Cow book for a dollar? First off, reading a standard comic book as a PDF file is a major pain in the ass. Second, printing 22 pages of a full-color comic is a giant waste of ink and with the price of your standard ink-jet printer toner, forget it. Third, this is Top Cow. I defy you to not find a Top Cow book in any 50-cent bin and I’m not talking about a Top Cow book from last year (which will surely be in there) I’m talking about last month’s Witchblade. Which apparently they’re still publishing and Michael Turner isn’t penciling. This isn’t going to work and nobody is going to care.

Mainstream books have to take their web comics to the next level. Offering old books or chunks of current books isn’t making a big impact.

How can they make their web comics significant? Offer something online that readers can’t get anywhere else. A daily strip that is New. Tell something that happened between the pages of the current issue of Amazing Spider-Man. It can’t hurt to try. Pay a creative to create a webcomic. You won’t have to pay for printing costs so what the hell?

Comics are going to need to change soon if they’re going to survive in their current stapled form. More needs to be offered if they’re going to gain new readers and keep them. Not to mention if they’re going to get old readers like myself.

Thanks for reading, folks and feel free to add your thoughts… this is a topic that spurs my inner geek.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Randall Reminder

We're weekly again! The adventures continue every Wednesday at Pixelstrips.

If you want to brush up on what has already went down here.

Thanks for looking and feel free to write me at

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wanna Letter Comic Books, Kid?

Every now and then you see someone talking about lettering online. I came across and interesting conversation between a few big name writers and Richard Starkings (of Comicraft fame).

If there’s any doubt as to why I couldn’t keep lettering on a daily basis anymore, this might give you an idea.

From what I can see, this all started due to a post by Greg Rucka on his live journal page about going over the lettering he got back from a issue of “52”.

Want to know a lost art?

Just spent an hour and a half going over the lettered copy of Week #48 of 52. The issue is of particular importance to me for obvious reasons if you've seen the cover. If you haven't, you'll know it when you read it.

An hour and a half compiling detailed notes and making extensive corrections to 18 out of 20 pages. Nearly 50 separate mistakes, from missing punctuation to mixing up captions with spoken lines, right down to giving the lines to the wrong characters.

A fucking hour and a half.

I miss Todd Klein.

Instead of artists like him, we get [Comicraft] instead.

This prompted a thread over at another "Big Name" writer’s message board, Warren Ellis.

That was one of the biggest wrenches when I started working for America. "Where are your placements?" "Why aren't you numbering your copy fields?" The number of times I had to explain that lettering know how to both place and count...

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Comicraft but I’ll sure as hell stick up for them before I do a writer who makes more money on one page than then a bullpen letter makes on a book.

Why do these guys need placements? Because there’s a million different characters not named Spider-Man and Batman, that’s why. Talking heads of detectives in suits who look the friggin’ same… or my personal favorite from my time lettering: A scene in the United Nations… full shot of the entire room full of dozens of men in suits… no placements and I’m supposed to know who Joe Schmo is. And if you point to the wrong character (because how the hell would you know where the balloon is going) you get snide comments and cries of you being lazy from an Editor or a writer. Not to mention that placements speed up the lettering of a book that is likely late due to the artist and/or writer.

Does Rucka think this letter wanted to mess the book up? Did the letterer get placements to make sure it went more smoothly? Or was Rucka too busy? If he was, then maybe he ask himself if sitting down with a sharpie and doing the placements would take him an hour and a half. What script did the letterer get? I know from experience that you’re more likely to get struck by lightening while hitting the lottery than you are to get a script that was proofed by the editor. Hell, many times an editor gave me the wrong draft of a script. Imagine lettering the first draft of a script only to find out there have been 3 drafts after that one that you just spent 5 hours lettering. And guess how much the letterer gets paid for re-lettering that book? ZERO. Or how about the writer who won’t do his final draft until the letterer finishes the book with a script that he and everyone involved knows is going to change dramatically later on? And how much extra cash does the letterer get for lettering entire pages that will be completely scrapped and replaced with new dialogue? ZERO.

So the next time you’re a Big Name Writer. Making really good money to do a job you’re privileged to do… a job that is likely your dream job… a job that pays royalties for years to come. Remember that the letter is a guy who makes a flat rate that is a fraction of what you make. And remember that the letter is busting his ass to get that book out on time because nobody gives a shit how much time the letterer has to finish the book. Remember that the letterer probably finished that book overnight only to wake up a few hours later to reletter it. And remember that the letter takes a ton of pride in how his work looks on the page.

Reading that stuff gave me the old lettering feeling again. One of frustration and aggravation.