This just in

Barack Obama will meet Spider-man in an issue of the regular comic. Spidey will apparently save Obama’s inauguration from a supervillain. Apparently Obama admitted to having been a Spidey fan as a kid, Marvel got wind of this, and one thing lead to another, yadda yadda yadda. Look, I’m not making this up, okay? Although looking at some of the panels they’re previewing, I kind of wish I were. Edit: also their Obama likeness is *terrible*.

These caricatured Doctor Who figures are *so* cute. Many more here. Not that I understand the point of collectibles. I still get occasional catalogues through the door from Forbidden Planet, and the entire catalogue from start to finish is pretty much composed of TV and movie characters done as figures, figurines, busts, miniatures, plates, T-shirts, scarves… Does anyone actually need 17 different figurines of Buffy in every outfit she ever wore? Or a tastefully sculpted tableau reproducing a scene from Ghostbusters? I mean, where do you put this stuff?

Meanwhile Outpost Gallifrey reports on the quite excessive lengths the BBC went to in order to prevent word of the new Doctor Who leaking out ahead of their announcement. (Can’t seem to link to the article directly, but it’s dated Jan 6th on that page).

And finally, it looks like Watchmen will get released as planned, probably after Warner Bros agrees to pay Fox huge sums of money. I would normally have no strong feelings about which company profits from a given franchise, but it’s hard to read this open letter from the Watchmen Producers without concluding that Fox are a creatively bankrupt bunch of money-grubbers.

At the Movies

The second trailer for Watchmen is out. (There are some new posters too.) I know that movie trailers are filled with Lies, but impossibly it looks like they may actually have succeeded in adapting the graphic novel for the big screen. That’s a very nice trailer indeed. Director Zack Snyder’s 300 was so slick and hollow that I do worry whether this will turn out to be an exercise in obsessive visual style over substance, but some of the dialogue scenes in the trailer hint otherwise. The source material is far richer and more thematically complex than 300 (which is, when all’s said and done, a fairly trite, macho, sexist and homophobic work). What’s clearly intact in the Watchmen trailer is the deconstruction of what it means to have superhuman beings or vigilantes in a more flawed, realistic and political world.

I notice that the film is R rated, which is a bold move since that’ll severely restrict its potential audience. By comparison, The Dark Knight was a 12A (even though that nasty little pencil scene alone should have pushed it to a 15 for me). The fact that they’ve gone with such a box-office-denting rating shows at least some artistic integrity is involved. Also the official Watchmen site currently crashes my browser. Yes, that’s how hardcore this film is.

Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster will direct the movie version of World War Z from a script by J Michael “Tin Ear” Straczynski. Not 100% sure what to make of this but my wife loved the book and the script has at least one glowing review. jms is also scripting a remake of Forbidden Planet, an idea so wrongheaded that even he thinks he’s walking on hallowed ground.

Finally, an image has been released of the new Starship Enterprise from the semi-reboot Star Trek movie. Casual viewers would probably shrug and say this looks exactly like every other picture of the Enterprise they’ve seen. Devoted fans have unleashed the kind of lack-of-perspective hate-storm not seen since Daniel Craig’s hair was deemed to be the wrong colour for Bond. (Although at least that fan implosion focused on the main role, not just a bit of hardware.) I kinda like the new design myself, but I don’t love it. It’s growing on me. There’s also an image of an earlier generation of starship from the movie, as well as heaps of cast images. It’ll either be awesome, or an utter disaster.


Assorted movie trailers:

Watchmen. The trailer is a strange mix of extremely faithful images, overly stylised slow-mo and slightly unreal visual effects. I think I sorta like it. (EDIT: now working.)

Outlander. A spaceman crashes in an ancient norse village while hunting an alien creature. The Vikings do battle. The Vikings are led by John Hurt… …I *know*. I may have finally lost my grip on reality but this looks really entertaining, in a “Vikings vs. Predator by way of Chronicles of Riddick” way.

Terminator Salvation. This looks surprisingly promising for an unnecessary sequel, but really it’s just a mixture of Christian Bale and some images taken wildly out of context. A teaser trailer in other words.

Quantum of Solace. Hmm. Could be good. I loved Casino Royale, and it feels a bit strange saying this about one of the longest-running movie franchises in history, but it remains to be seen if they can catch lightning in a bottle a second time.

Oh and of course not forgetting:


Official images of characters from the Watchmen movie.  Most of these look pretty good, particularly Rorschach whose ink-blot mask translates surprisingly well from the printed page (he’s also seen in this recent shot using what seems to be a flaming aerosol can).

For those not familiar with the comic (and it’s a good long while since I read it myself) it’s set in a parallel 1985 in which Richard Nixon is still President, airships rule the skies, and the Cold War is close to exploding.  The point of divergence for this alternate history is the existence of superheroes (comics are saturated by Pirates instead), who amongst other things turned the tide of the Vietnam War.  The story makes a genuine attempt to extrapolate the influence of such figures, both good and bad, on the real world.  The realism extends to its characters: washed up overweight superheroes, media celebrities or murderous vigilantes.  Typically Alan Moore invests the whole thing with quite astonishingly meticulous detail (it sticks in my mind that one chapter, ‘Fearful Symmetry’, features panel layouts that are perfectly mirrored down the centre page).  It’s the kind of work where you only realise quite how complex and rigorous it is when you read annotations.   According to wikipedia Moore set out to make something akin to a comic-book Moby Dick, and that gives a good impression of its ambition.  I’m very rusty on it now, and flicking back through it the art and in particular the colouring seem dated and off-putting, but I still remember the impact it made on me when I first read it.

Of course a lot of what made it great back in the 1980s, as with Citizen Kane, are things that are now commonplace and therefore invisible to a modern reader.  For example the absence of thought balloons, now standard, the gritty treatment of superheroes, now hackneyed, and the use of storytelling techniques drawn from cinema.  The metafictional commentary in the pirate story excerpts that run through the tale (every bit as interminable as the whaling excerpts in Moby Dick…)  All that will be invisible in a film version.  Is the basic story strong enough when you strip away those elements?  Particularly given that Heroes nicked portions of it wholesale.  We’ll just have to see.  I’m at least encouraged by the images I’ve seen so far.  It may not be the groundbreaking, layered work that the comic was, but it may at least turn out okay.

After all, V for Vendetta (my preferred Alan Moore opus) turned out to be a surprisingly decent film.


Several coolish movie things:

Hot on the heels of the probably-very-good casting of Zachary ‘Sylar’ Quinto as the young Spock comes this simple but pleasingly retro poster for the new Trek prequel film.

A slightly naff yet iconic poster for the new Indiana Jones film. But more interesting still is the news that Karen Allen will be reprising her role as Marian Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A nice new image of the Joker from Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight plus a pretty nifty teaser trailer (more audio than video, but good nonetheless).

A stunningly visual trailer for the Neil Gaiman / Roger Avary penned Beowulf film with CGI that you’d be hard pressed to tell apart from real actors for most of its length. I still want to see the characters do some real face acting before I’m convinced.

Lastly some interesting casting for Watchmen.

Oh, and as a bonus I’m throwing this one in just because I can’t tell how crap it’ll be: a trailer for The Last Legion a film that seems to mix the end of the Roman Empire and the legend of King Arthur with such certainty you’d think it was actually telling real history. Could be just as bad as the recent King Arthur but you never know.


There’s a nice behind-the-scenes article on Babylon 5: The Lost Tales over at CG Society (Society of Digital Artists) with a lot of new photos and a few story spoilers.

AICN have a test image of Rorschach from the ever-mired-in-Development-Hell Watchmen movie. I’m still ambivalent about the movie, but the high-res image is very well-realised and faithful to the comic. Janet says that it just looks like a man in a cloth mask, but that in Watchmen this is probably part of the point.

A version of the image has been snuck into the middle of a new promo for 300 for some reason, a film which has just exceeded box-office predictions on its first day of release. The movie looks visually gorgeous and is getting very positive reviews, although I suspect it may be just a teensy bit OTT and hyper-macho for my sensitive tastes.

EDIT: For those who don’t read Neil Gaiman’s blog: Bob Dylan sings Dr. Seuss.

Viva le Vendetta

This is very nice (click for a much larger image).

For every thing I hear about this film which worries me, something else comes along which restores my faith. This poster is the epitome of how a V for Vendetta poster should look, one that evokes both the source material and its influences, and more importantly one that emphatically does not scream “vacuous blockbuster”.

It may end up having nothing to do with the quality of the film, but it does reassure me that the people involved have a faint clue.

EDIT: As do these:

All varying degrees of gorgeousness.

V for Vendetta round up

As I’ve mentioned once or twice, the Alan Moore/David Lloyd Graphic Novel V for Vendetta made a big impact on me when I first read it, and it’s stayed with me ever since.

It’s a tale of a future where the UK has become a fascist state (no comments please), and of an anonymous provocateur who styles himself after Guy Fawkes. The book tackles issues of democracy and totalitarianism, the individual’s right to rebel against the state, the ambiguous line between terrorism and protest… all sorts of things. It’s an intellectual book, but also one with great wit and style, and a peculiarly British air about it, aided by David Lloyd’s very particular art style.

The Wachowski Brothers of The Matrix fame are now making a film of this graphic novel, and so it’s natural to feel a certain amount of trepidation; after all the graphic novel is prickly, smart and British, and the Matrix is arguably none of the above.

Another mark in the Negatives column…

V for Vendetta

Compare and contrast….


The movie poster isn’t bad, although it’s too dingy to have the iconic impact of the comics version; I even had to brighten it up a bit just to show the detail. Nice logo.

I’m still of very mixed feelings about the concept of a movie. Especially as “From the Creators of The Matrix trilogy” appears to mean “produced by”. But, hey! It’s directed by the First Assistant Director of The Matrix. Better than being the Second Assistant Director, I suppose…

(The tag-line isn’t as bad as Elektra’s, though: “From the forces who brought you the X-Men”. Sounds like The Naked Gun 2 1/2: “From the brother of the Director of Ghost.”)

Who Directs the Director?

Meanwhile on the ambivalance front there’s yet another name attached to the movie of Alan Moore’s OTHER superlative graphic novel, Watchmen.

This obsessively intricate tale of cold war paranoia, and deconstructed superheroes (not to mention metaphorical pirates) is yet another one of the finest graphic novels ever created. Why do I feel all the complexity and subtext will fly out of the window in a movie version – which in any case lacks the appropriate context to deconstruct superheroes, since they normally look so ridiculous on the big screen to begin with. When Terry Gilliam was attached I at least had some hopes, although I’m not sure Gilliam’s sensibility really suits the comic.

Not the one with the lizards, the other one.

Colour me ambivalent, but it looks like they’re making a movie of Alan Moore’s superlative graphic novel, V for Vendetta.

If you haven’t read it, a) do so immediately, and b) it’s a very fine, very political story of a parallel 1984-style totalitarian Britain, and a mysterious figure who dresses as Guy Fawkes and brings anarchy and individualism to the system. It has all the intelligence and technical skill of Watchmen, but a much rougher, freer, more emotional feel. I loved it when I first read it, many years ago.


Just saw this speech by Neil Gaiman, which includes sensible things about comics as a medium.

I’ve rediscovered my love of comics lately. Or rather, trade paperback collections of comics, since I can no longer be bothered faffing about with the flimsy little monthly leaflets. (Yes, I am that person who doesn’t support monthly comics but waits for the trade, resulting in poor sales and quality series being cancelled.)

I used to read heaps of Spiderman comics as a kid, but grew past them, as you tend to. Like a lot of people, Neil Gaiman really got me back into comics as an adult, when I read volume two of his immensely famous Sandman series. It was unlike anything I expected comics to be – contemporary, mature, intelligent. From there his standalone graphic novels like Violent Cases and Signal to Noise just blew me away. Likewise Alan Moore’s stuff (especially V for Vendetta) was just definingly good. Nowadays I’m reading much more broadly (even getting past my snobbery and dipping my toes back in the best written end of the superhero market).

Read more, in which the author develops an alarming tendency to ramble…