9.28.2009

My review of Spider-Man Noir by Hine, Sapolsky and Di Giandomenico

I'll be honest, like with many comics over the years for me, it was the cover that drew me in [it is currently my screensaver on my home pc, great job Patrick Zircher]. That, and maybe also because I've been in a noir-ish mood. But this black-trench coat wearing, weapon-wielding Spidy throwback looked interesting enough to pursue.

The creative team was: writers David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky, art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, covers by Patrick Zircher, and edited by Alejandro Arbona. Fantastic job all around creating mood, tension, and dramatic desperation.

I did wait for the trade paperback on this one, and was pleasantly surprised when Marvel released the book in a 5 x 7ish trade, not quite manga sized, and yet not full-sized either. It was perfect for a mass transit ride, and it felt special in it's own mid-sized treatment.

I would have loved to see an introduction of some sort, telling me in detail how this project came together, and just who had the idea to set this exactly at the time period when it takes place [1933 by the way]. It is such a stylized book, a look into the specific creation would have been a nice addition.

Note: There is a cover gallery and development sketchbook in the back. Bonus!

Illustrations such as this splash page opener -- invigorating with movement and tension made for a perfect noir comic book experience.

And is that Spidy with a pistol? Why yes it is. This isn't your grandfather's Spider-Man. Actually it might be your great-grandfather's Spidy - as it takes place in the 1930s after World War I.

Spidy's Uncle Ben was a WW I veteran that tried to teach him about what it meant to be a hero before he passed. But this is a dark era, the Great Depression is here --Peter isn't the innocent kid that we know and love.

He blames the gangster - The Goblin - for the problems that the city and those close to him face. Peter confides in beat reporter, Ben Ulrick, a sorry cause yet an earnest character in this story.

It is the sad story of Ben, coupled with the reckless abandon of Peter, that bring the story to the amazing conclusion. I don't want to give too much away, but yes...Aunt May is a Socialist. Then...


...a jump from the window. The feel of this page fell somewhere between the old crime fighter we've come to know and a page from Sin City.

A daring escape from the cops who were probably on the take anyway. Evidence pointing in his direction, and a crime-fighting outfit comprised of a black trench coat, mask sown together by hand, and a pair of aviator goggles from the great war.

And a revolver of course -

I'm a fan of re-imaginings. Looking at iconic stories and characters, told in a different light, or in a different time. Such as an all-time favorite, Superman Red Son, the DC Elseworlds project supposing Big Blue crash landed in Communist Russia.

Or the 1980s film, Time After Time, in which Jack the Ripper, steals away to the future in a time machine.

Take an institution and re-imagine it in a new creative context. Sometimes it isn't done right, but when it is, it makes for some great reading or viewing.

I recommend Spider-Man Noir, if you're looking for a little something different, something darker from the red and blue crusader that you have always known. Maybe not for the youngster, but definitely for the definitive fan whose grown up with Spidy and wants to be challenged with a new concept.

9.25.2009

Toys in the Attic

I'm not sure exactly what Aerosmith had in mind when they titled this 1975 cd, but it's a gem. I also don't know what the man who designed the attic in the home I moved into this summer was thinking... but boy did he design it for me.

I've already spent loads of time up there going through boxes of my personal collection of comics, books, and toys to fill out my new hideaway.

I know once I've built in more book shelves--there was already one built into the wall by the stairway-- it will be glorious. I've already drawn up plans to add shelves to the walls which allow for it.

Also, somehow I have to get a desk up there and at this point I'm not sure whether that means building it up there or finding something to take apart and bring up the narrow secret staircase [Ok, the stairway is not completely hidden, but there is a door which simply looks like a linen closet which leads to the attic. Yes, I'm considering making it more like a hidden doorway.]

Here is an early photo of the attic before we moved in, and clearly this woodwork was not the toiling of an amateur. Every angle is accounted for and and as soon as I saw it I knew the room would be perfect for a library and reading room filled with my collection of books.
And as I move box after box, I keep rifling through them to find one piece of treasure after the next. Not to mention I continue to find duplicates of so many books, a side effect of many generous years of free books while working as a book club editor. Ask anyone who ever stopped by my cubicle/office/then cubicle again, and it was packed with books - a joy of the job for me.

So, the built-in shelf went from looking like this...


...to this. Quickly it was filled and as you can see more boxes of books await...I also took advantage of the top to place [from left to right] my: Ultimate Iron Man bust, the Dark Knight Strikes Again statue, Secret Wars Iron Man figure, Mr Freeze snow globe, special edition Boba Fett action figure, reading gargoyle statue, and Dark Horse Hellboy vinyl figure, all on top of the shelf space.

Obviously this is a work in progress. A proud work I would say, a room I've spent a lifetime putting together. And it will change as time goes by and I get rid of non-essentials and purchase more gems for the collection. I look forward to posting progress as more shelves get built and filled.

9.16.2009

Good times at the Brooklyn Book Festival

On Sunday I spent the beautiful day in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Book Festival and what a terrific day to support the local book trade. I arrived early with my friend Nancy and her colleagues who work at DK Books [part of Penguin] and helped set up their terrific booth, just as other publishers, book stores, and authors were setting up shop all around us. There is Nancy setting up the DK booth. [If any of my new friends at DK read this, thanks for letting me set up and be part of the action - I had a great time meeting you!]




I walked around a lot which was was just fine with me as earlier on in the day it was cool and overcast, but later on when the sun came out - wham - it was hot, over 80 I think. But the show pleasantly filled up with all kinds of Brooklyn's bookish best - and we all enjoyed the show. Here's a photo of the book mobile, open for passersby to enter and check out.




Several book publishers, such as Brooklyn's own Akashic books set up great stands [this photo below is of Johnny Temple, publisher of Akashic books being interviewed by New York 1]. I was more than happy to pick up one of the fantastic books in Akashic's Noir series [proudly for me it was Queens Noir edited by Robert Knightly - review to come soon.


Also many indy bookstores such as Brooklyn's Freebird books, who had what I thought was the most cleverly themed t-shirts of the event [and where I spent my good money], with their novel-t shirts. I grabbed the Ahab one, gotta love the "literary" team captain!


I also had the pleasure of meeting actor Wallace Shawn, a veteran of stage and screen, who has appeared in everything from The Princess Bride to recent episodes of Gossip Girl. I picked up his new book, Essays, which he kindly signed [to my wife] for me. So far the essays are interesting, and quite personal about his viewpoint on just about everything. Not finished yet.



Seriously, how does one look at a photo of this lovable actor and not just giggle. He's a riot, and has had such a long and interesting career, I was more than happy to support his book.


Another real treat for this comic book guy, was the fact that New York Comic Con sponsored panels all day long. I attended the panel entitled: Sci-Fi and Fantasy in NYC which comprised of authors living in and sometimes writing SF and fantasy in New York. The panel consisted of my good friend and fantasy writer Peter Brett, also fantasy writer S.C. Butler [with the quote of the day about genre writers and in essence genre lovers, "we're the orcs of the literary world"], urban fantasy author Anton Strout who helped us flashback to sortid RPG-playing days, and Dave Roman. This was all moderated ably by Brian Slattery. All gave good examples of how New York life influences their writing whether or not they actually write fiction based in a New York setting. The boys in action in photo below, probably talking about D&D.


It was a good day, full of an active scene of bookish people [something that always makes me happy]. I only see this festival growing every year. And it was great to see everyone embrace everything from comics to literary magazines. In a perfect world it all mixes together, and on Sunday, that perfect world was Brooklyn.

9.09.2009

A Time of Change at DC Comics...

There are many details coming out since yesterday's announcement that Time Warner has created a new group called DC Entertainment, Inc. and that well-respected president & publisher of DC Comics, Paul Levitz, is stepping down to return to his writing roots [as well as act as an editorial consultant for DC] with Diane Nelson being named president of this new group [along with a new publisher for the still-in-existence DC Comics group to be named in the near future].

I'd like to mention that over the years as an Editor for the Science Fiction Book Club, I had the chance to meet Paul Levitz several times and he was always friendly and willing to chat for a bit, and I honestly wish him the best in his new endeavors. He is someone I respect very much.

It is difficult for me to determine at this time if this announcement is the result of various Warner execs sitting in a conference room and creating this plan to "combat" the Disney purchase of Marvel Comics. Certainly a major power struggle in the entertainment industry has just hit a new level and each side is bolstering up.

What this might mean for the comics fans out there... who knows? But as far as that precious entertainment dollar, well, I'm sure each company will be working hard to make sure it goes to their side with boatloads of game/movie/tv/animation/toy/etc. products coming along.


This industry professional, comics fan, movie aficionado, and reader of all things comics-related will stay absolutely glued to the blogosphere and media sites to see how this progresses.

9.07.2009

It has been reported..


...that Guy Ritchie has signed to direct a feature film based on the DC Comics badass character LOBO. That could be awesome. Lobo is a bounty hunter and killing machine [I'll write up an in depth profile soon.] Production is to start in early 2010.