Saturday, November 26, 2011

Steampunk And Zombies

Allow me a moment to rant.  There is a small independent comic book/Manga publisher out of San Antonio, Texas that has been on the cutting edge of popular culture since its creation over 20 years ago.

That company, Antarctic Press, has consistently managed to introduce new concepts to comic book readers before the mainstream media jumps on the bandwagon.  Whether its Manga, kids' comics, zombies, Steampunk or any of dozens of other current 'hot' properties, Antarctic Press has been at the forefront.

Case in point: long before the 'other' comic book publishers cashed in on the zombie craze Antarctic Press was already exploring the genre.  Another hot commodity is Steampunk.  Comic book fans see plenty of it at conventions but Antarctic Press is the only comic book publisher who has really exploited the genre.

Recently Antarctic Press released a trio of titles I believe deserve closer scrutiny.  All of them feature great art, clever writing and top tier production values.

First up is Fred Perry's, Rod Espinosa's and Kelsey Shannon's Steampunk Fairy Tales #1 that cleverly retells the story of Cinderella and the coming of the Apocalypse (renamed the Steampocalypse) in Fairyland.  Kelsey Shannon provides the beautiful painted front cover and illustrated back cover.

Gearhart's Steampunk Glamor Revue #1 combines illustrations, paintings and photos of beautiful Steampunk ladies in provacative poses along with bios, stories and art galleries.  Did I mention the live models are gorgeous!?

Writer Joe Wight and artist Rod Espinosa (is there nothing he can't draw?) tell the story about an entire planet inhabited by zombies and the spaceship crew who tries to survive.  It's a chiller in planetary proportions.

I highly recommend all three comic books and all of Antarctic Press titles.  Request your copies today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chaos: Head

Funimation recently released the anime adaptation of the popular video game Chaos: Head.

The anime centers around high school Takumi Nishijo who feels more at home in the 2D world of computers than he does in the real world.  His social intervention consists almost entirely of on-line chat rooms, games and other social media outlets available on the internet.

But, things are about to change when he is joined by first Grim and then Shogun, who shows him images of a brutal murder.

As it so happens a serious of grim and bloody murders have occurred around the neighborhood Takumi live in.

The next day Takumi witnesses a murder identical to the images sent to him by Shogun the day before- a murder committed by a pink-haired girl.

As event progress Takumi becomes more and more entangled in strange occurrences.  Unsure if they are real or imagined Takumi's actions attract the attention of the police.

Takumi is left with no one to trust and is forced to face the possibility that he is targeted for murder and that a much larger conspiracy is at work.

Chaos: Head is an unsettling anime.  The story jumps from illusion to reality suddenly and one is never quite sure what is real or imagined.  The paranoia of Takumi builds and builds with each episode revealing truths and half-truths and disturbing and sometimes cryptic images that are vital to story but not always immediately so.

Once you start watching Chaos: Head it's difficult to stop watching it.  It draws you in and provides just enough clues and bits of images to lock you in and keep you interested.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fangoria #308, November

In this issue of Fangoria magazine be sure to tag along as Fangoria visits the set of Dracula 3D, read the First Rites, drop off a letter at the Postal Zone, beware the Monster Invasion and its scary movies: A Serbian Film, The Last Post, Caprice and The Dagons. Check out the DVD Chopping List, revisit the animated Heavy Metal, and a new kind of animated film: Dr. Shroud and chill out with Chillerama. Avoid The Girl Of The Fear, listen to a tale of A American Horror Story and turn on the Terror Tube.

Travel to A Lonely Place To Die for a new kind of Mountaineering, take a Wrong Turn, travel back to The Colony, Barbara Magnolfi revisits her horror picture days, dig through the Trash Compactor, Italian Zombies bite back, beware the Queen Of Hell, and check out some books at the Nightmare Library.

The Adventures Of Tintin: Season One

With the upcoming release of the Tintin movie, produced by Steven Spielberg, Shout! Factory has obtained the rights to release the animated Tintin TV series first season episodes on DVD.

The 2-disc set follows the young investigative reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy on globetrotting adventures. Based on the graphic novels by the late artist, Herge, the adventures also include a wild cast of characters including Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and detectives Thompson and Thompson.

For seat-of-your-pants and dangerous adventures follow Tintin as he unravels mystery after mystery in these classic tales brought to life in animated form. All thirteen episodes of Season One are included, along with several that inspired the upcoming motion-capture live action movie.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy the intrepid Tintin’s adventures and the incredible locations, scrapes and escapes in each and every episode.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Silver Age Of Comics

I love reading comic books. I’m pushing 60 years old and I still get excited when it’s time to pick up my weekly stash at the local comic book store. As much as I like ‘new’ comic books my real love is Silver Age comics.

I was born in the early 1950s and grew up in the 1960s. I remember visiting the local drug store and purchasing many of the currently most sought after Silver age comics when they were first printed. My diet of early Silver Age comics consisted mostly of DC Comics until Marvel Comics introduced the Fantastic Four, then I became a Marvel Zombie.

Other smaller publishers like Tower and Charlton jumped on the superhero band wagon and I bought most of those titles too. The Silver Age was a boom time for comic books with new concepts and storylines that made me come back for more.

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to Silver Age comics, but, compared to the encyclopedic knowledge of author William Schoell I’m an amateur.

Mr. Shoell’s new book, The Silver Age Of Comics, published by BearManor Media is one of the most comprehensive books ever written about the Silver Age.

In the book the entire Silver Age, from start to finish, is meticulously examined with every title dissected and analyzed. However, the book is far more than a statistical compilation. The author has done an admirable job of infusing the text with life.

Readers will learn about the comic books, their creators, their publishing history and the significance of their stories. I learned a lot and readers will too after reading this impressive work. If you want to dig deep into what made the Silver Age what it was then be sure to pick up a copy of The Silver Age Of Comics.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded

He’s back! Bond, James Bond is back in Activision’s reengineered, re-imagined and rejuvenated classic James Bond video game: Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. It’s a brand new HD, 60 frames per second, completed built from the ground up take on a classic James Bond film loaded with surprises.

Based on the legendary adventure, the game pulls out all the stops with incredible graphics and environments, the addition of classic Bond villains (how do Oddjob, Jaws and others sound?) and so much action the screen can barely contain it.

Bond has his choice of weapons, including the infamous golden gun, and single-player, four-player and 16-player online capabilities. Introduced for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded delivers on all levels: from full 360 degree high definition action, spectacular settings, fully rendered characters, a pulse-pounding soundtrack and a script written and updated by renowned screenwriter Bruce Feirstein.

Relive a classic with updated missions, settings, exciting action sequences and challenging campaigns such as Assault, Elimination, Stealth and Defense objectives.

Step into the shoes of one of the most famous heroes of print and cinema as you take on the bad guys, complete your mission and once more save the world for God, Queen and country. See if you have what it takes as you face off against Bond’s greatest enemies now controlled by Activision’s clever A.I. game play. You never know what to expect-your next mission could be your last.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

Wow! The finale chapter in the Harry Potter movie series certainly went out with a bang. I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them, but as far as being a Harry Potter fanatic I’m not. But, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 totally blew me away.

The finale confrontation between Harry and his arch nemesis, the evil sorcerer Lord Voldemort, was spectacular on so many levels.

The story grabs viewers from the moment the screen flickers on, the acting by the cast was superb - reaching levels of Academy Award status and the script never wasted a word.

Of the entire Harry Potter movie series, I have to say this is my favorite. The special effects and set designs were on an epic scale. I especially liked the sequences in the vault, storage areas and the battle at Hogwarts rivaled anything seen on the Silver Screen.

The truth about Harry Potter and other key characters was eye-opening, to say the least, and the conclusion was both satisfying and surprising.

Warner Bros. has done the Harry Potter series proud and I predict that the films will be considered classics for years to come.

The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy disc set contains some spectacular extras. Look for featurettes on Blowing Up Hogwarts as seen through the eyes of the filmmakers and cast, candid conversations with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and author J. K. Rowling, a spotlight on the Goblins of Gringotts, an retrospective of The Women Of Harry Potter, additional scenes, a Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and a very special Pottermore Preview. No other words can best describe this collection other than-it’s magic!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Screen World Volume 62: The Films Of 2010

Recently I recommended a book that I was not familiar with (imagine that!?)  The book, Screen World (by Barry Monush and published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books) is the bible by which movie professionals (actors, actresses and production people) refer to when gauging and researching movies put out year-to-year.

Screen World: The Films Of 2010 was just released and in its pages every movie (and I do mean EVERY movie) produced during 2010 is categorized, given a short synopsis, has its acting repertoire and production people listed, studio or independent filmmakers credited and several stills from each movie shown.

Besides listing movie statistics, other movie-centered information is also included such as awards given, obituaries, top-grossing films, promising new talent and so forth.

Screen World is a ‘must-have’ resource for any serious movie lover.  I literally spent hours looking through its pages at photos and reading information.  It’s a fascinating read that digs into the meat and bones of the movie industry. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Space Adventure

Back in the 1950s I, like millions of other kids, tuned in each day for the latest episode of The Mickey Mouse Club.  I loved it then and I still love it.

The new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is high-tech for today’s kids and they, like myself when I was young, enjoy watching the animated and live action adventures of the Clubhouse citizens.

Preschoolers be prepared!  Mickey Mouse and his friends have blasted off to space in Disney Kid’s new DVD/Digital Copy Combo (with free stickers) in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Space Adventure.
While on a quest for a space treasure, Mickey and his friends invite youngsters along for the ride as they learn about the planets, space, the universe and alien life forms. 

Mickey’s new alien and Earth resident friends join in the hunt. Even Pirate Pete comes around, even though he was looking for the treasure too.  What’s the treasure?  Find out for yourself in this delightful animated adventure for preschoolers where they can watch and learn.  Also included is a never-seen-before Goofy animated short.  Garsh!

Twister Mania

The board game Twister! first appeared in the turbulent ‘60s at the height of the ‘Hippie” generation.  And what a great fit!  After all it was decorated in bright colors and encouraged people to engage in close physical contact.  Sounds like the Hippie counter-culture to me! 
Majesco Entertainment’s Twister Mania for Xbox 360 Kinect lets eight players twist and turn through 16 wild and wacky Twister! environments.

If you think Twister! is crazy you haven’t seen anything yet.  Get a load of Twister Mania. Go solo or better yet: team up with friends to gyrate and intermingle in some of the most outrageous moves and positions possible.  It’s crazy, spine twisting and a close encounter of the most outrageous kind imaginable!

Choose from three game modes: Party Play, Play-It-All and Quick Play as you gyrate and twist, tumble and contort through Shape Frenzy, Twist & Fit, Break It down and Spot On.  It’s a whole new twist on Twister! amidst bright colors, rockin’ music and fast-paced fun!   This ain’t your grandma’s Twister!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Previews, November

The holiday season is over, the kids have packed away their new toys and electronics, Dad adds to his tie collection and Mom is left with the mess to clean up. Credit cards are maxed out and savings accounts strain and yet---there’s still lots of goodies you can buy come this January, 2012 and Diamond Previews catalog has all the new collectibles you just gotta have. What’s a little bankruptcy when compared to having the latest collectible?

New comic books are Lobster Johnson, Knights Of The Old republic, Wolverine And The X-Men, Infestation 2, Fatale, Robots In Disguise, More Than Meets The Eye, Danger Girl: Revolver, Whispers, Mondo, Nancy In Hell, Dragonsbane, Kevin Keller, Ferals, Simpsons Illustrated, Peanuts, The Lone Ranger, Dead Man’s Run and Steed And Mrs. Peel.

Books and magazines to read include the Bionic Book, Back issue, Under The Moon Of Mars, Honey West and The Magic Of Reality.

Trading cards are Star Wars Galaxy 7and Benchwarmer 2011.

Play around with these toys: Emma Frost, Shanna, Marvel Select, Marvel Universe, Rocky, Predators, Sesame Street, Star Wars, Cowboys & Aliens, Mass Effect, Arkham Asylum, Final Fantasy, Doctor Who and Beavis and Butthead.

Game on with Magic, Locke & Key and War Of The Rings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Princess Knight

It’s no secret that early Japanese Manga and Anime were inspired by and emulated American comic books and animation. The Japanese would go on to make each their own unique art forms and eventually each would become highly popular in the United States.

Manga master Osamu Tezuka was one of the early pioneers of what would evolve into the modern day Manga. His early works (influenced heavily by Disney with its cute characters, tone and design) nonetheless introduced several important and ground-breaking concepts.

In Vertical’s first volume of Tezuka’s Princess Knight several elements are introduced. In the story a child is given two hearts (one male, one female) by a mischievous angel. Since the young princess Sapphire has the tendencies of both male and female she grows up in the royal court a beautiful young woman with swashbuckling tendencies. She is an excellent warrior, swordsman and is completely fearless.

Her male tendencies are encouraged as only a male can inherit the throne thus the title Princess Knight. Although proficient in ‘manly’ pursuits, the young girl is still completely feminine and soon she has a suitor: Prince Charming.

Raised as a prince, Sapphire at first shuns her female tendencies but after a series of outrageous adventures filled with danger, incredible escapes, fights and magic the gender-bending princess comes to accept her unusual situation and becomes the prototype for the strong-willed and capable female characters seen in Shojo Manga designed specifically for girls.

Princess Knight is a great vehicle to transport you back in time to the early days of Manga and the genesis of an art form which influence is felt all around the world.

Triumph Of the Walking Dead

Zombies-ya gotta luv ‘em! In the past decade zombies have evolved to become this generation’s premiere monsters. Since the early days of monster movies each generation has had their own particular brand of scary creatures.

During the 1930s and 1940s it was classic monsters like Frankenstein, the Werewolf, the Mummy and Dracula. The 1950s made way for creatures from outer space paralleling America’s fear of nuclear war. The 1960s saw a resurgence in classic monster movies and a smattering of space monsters. The 1970s first introduced zombies but eventually focused once again on a wide variety of scary creatures. The late 1970s and 1980s introduced the long psycho killer like Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers and the 1990s continued that trend with a smattering of earlier genres thrown in for good measure.

The start of the new century saw a number of living dead films and books but it wasn’t until Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic book appeared that zombie madness truly kicked in.

In BenBella/Smartpopbooks’ new unauthorized Triumph Of The Walking Dead several author’s look at the incredible success of The Walking.

Robert Kirkman’s Zombie epic is traced back to its early roots as a fledgling title in the Image Comics roster to its current status as a popular trade paperback collection and TV series. Editor James Lowder has assembled an impressive collection of Walking Dead essayists who examine not only the popular comic book series and TV show but he Zombie phenomenon as a whole.

Many ask the questions “What exactly would happen is such a zombie plague actually occurred? Who would survive and what would become of humanity?” Interesting questions and an interesting book that zombie fans are sure to love.