Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Space exploration

I like books that feature photographs of artist's studios. So I was really excited to order Studio Space published by Image, this past August. It's subtitle reads, "the world's greatest comic illustrators at work," and sold me with the one line. I was a little disappointed. The artist interviews read like an email survey, but there are some interesting answers here and there, and it's not a bad read, just not great.

But the real disappointment is in the artist portraits.

Each section starts out with a blank white empty full page on the left hand side, and the right hand page starts out with a small portrait. ONE SMALL PORTRAIT EACH! Some of the artist portraits include some of the artist's studio, some are tighter close ups, barely showing any workspace at all. But each only has the one photo.

For a book whose title is "studio space" and whose cover shows two great color studio photos, I was a little disappointed to find there was one black and white photo per artist and very few photos ACTUALLY showing a decent look at the studio. I would have liked to at the very least, seen one shot of each artists work space. Maybe that blank white page to the left could have been a full shot of the work space in addition to the portrait on the right hand page?

If you are looking for books that show a little more photos of artists studio spaces try, an older book, Dream Makers by Chris Evans, which features decent interviews along with one or more nice color shots of six artists, not all from comics some are illustrators and fantasy artists, (Artists included; Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, Charles Vess, Melvyn Grant, Julek Heller & Chris Moore). Or for a book which features a more serious focus on photographs of artists studios, there is a newer book, The Artist Within by Greg Preston which features hundreds of artists, and lots of great photos shot exclusively for the book, but unfortunately much less text, and is not as satisfying to read, but it is so full of rich photography, if you are fascinated by artist's workspaces as I am you'll find this book a much more rich and satisfying book than Studio Space. (The Artist Within, includes artists like Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson and lots more).

Start a discussion about your favorite books about comic artists on the League's message boards!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The ex-porn queen in the Princess Leia cosplay contest at the Olive Gardens of Mars!

Before Disney's ill-fated John Carter, there was Princess of Mars(2009), a very low budget direct-to-DVD film made by The Asylum, and is not authorized by the Burroughs estate. They could do this because the novel itself is now in public domain. The Martian ruins were obviously an old western set, the Martian landscape was a hours drive outside of Los Angeles, and the Martians themselves were a poor combination of rubber masks and some old costumes left over from some old gladiator film. No more than six or so martians were seen in any one shot, close up, so they must have had only six decent rubber masks. The rest must have been much cheaper and were only shot from a distance.

Let me be clear I love their films. They are horrible, but fun. And free on SyFy Saturday nights.

Some favorites just off the top of my head...

Aztek Rex
Mega Piranha
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus
Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

And my personal favorite, 2010: Moby Dick. Former Xena sidekick, Renée O'Connor stars and utters that iconic first line, "Call me Michelle."

Well nearly the iconic line.

Many Asylum films, are designed to be very sinilar in content to a big budget counterpart, Snakes on a Train, Almighty Thor, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, The Da Vinci Treasure, The Day the Earth Stopped, Paranormal Entity, Transmorphers, Pirates of Treasure Island the list goes on forever. They often take advantage of public domain,  Journey to the Center of the Earth, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls and of course Princess of Mars.

Last summer as Disney released their John Carter on DVD, Asylum  RE-RELEASED their version of Princess of Mars(2009). Obviously hoping to take advantage of the big-budget version's coat tails with their low budget mess, they even retitled it "JOHN CARTER OF MARS." I laughed out loud when I first saw the dvd at my local Target, "Apparently hoping to take advantage of all the financial success" And of course they were, the situation made humorous only because of the outrageously unfair criticism the film received. Listen we can argue all day whether or not it was a good film or not, whether it was a good adaptation or not. But many critics called it the worst fill they had ever seen, and said many people walked out. I've seen worse films. I saw worse films that were in the theater at the same time as JC. I'm not saying Ghost Rider 2 was the worst film ever made, but it certainly wasn't any better than John Carter, and it certainly wasn't the worst film ever made either. Battleship, Green Lantern, Cowboys & Aliens, Conan, Tron? No Oscar winners either but arguably no better than John Carter, at least in the same ballpark.

When a critic says a film is walk-out-of-the-theater-bad. I don't expect to see people walk out AT THE END OF THE MOVIE, muttering, "...that was kinda fun, what was so bad about that?"

Many fans, and online peer review sites have liked it very much, many enjoyed the film, despite flaws, and no one I know who has seen it, says it was the worst film they have ever seen. Most liked it.

So this brings me to my point.

I was at Target again last week and I saw the Asylum John Carter DVD marked $5, next to other crap, and even big budget theatrical movies marked down to $5, $7 even $9.99. No copies of Disney's John Carter to be seen. And it occurred to me, that this might actually be the first time, Asylum's product will pass for the mainstream counterpart because of all the unprecedented criticism. People sitting around watching it, thinking, "Wow, this really was as crappy as the critics said it was."  As they look at the Olive Garden sets, used gladiator costumes and six rubber masks, they will never get the deeper meaning. There is a deeper joke in there somewhere, that not many will ever know. Asylum finally made a film that will be able to pass as it's Hollywood counterpart, even if only for the critics perception of that Hollywood version movie and not the movie itself.

Who has time to explain it to them anyway, when there are dozens of Asylum movies to stream on Netflix!

Please feel free to join the discussion at the League discussion boards...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cowboys & idioms

Horror in the West, is a fun little anthology I picked up at the local comic shop a couple of weeks ago. Eleven stories of cowboys and aliens, zombies, ghosts, werewolves and demons and other monsters. Fun scary stories of an alien cattle-drive for human flesh, a man who cannot be killed by the hangman's noose,  and demon-slaying bounty hunters, and much more. And a particularly haunting story by Ben Truman, Kurt Belcher and Henrik Horvath called "The Devil's Promanade." Edited by Phil McClorey a comic writer from Toronto, Canada. His previous works include a contribution to New York Times Best Selling Graphic Book FUBAR Vol.2 Empire of the Rising Dead.

Published by Alternacomics. This is a really well laid-out book, with lots of great art and fun stories, all for nine bucks. I enjoyed this cover to cover, can't wait for number two.

Here read more about it and sample some pages at the publisher's website.

Start a discussion about your favorite Western Horror comics on the League's message boards!