Tonight is our audience dress rehearsal for All the Great Books (Abridged). I’m excited, thrilled, and horribly busy, which is why there was no Everything But Imaginary column this week and why — I’m sorry, guys — no Other People’s Heroes chapter today. I’d like to put one up this weekend, but I don’t want to promise it either. I don’t know for sure if I’ll get it up. But as soon as the play is over, I vow, I shall return to a more normal schedule. In the meantime, I love you all.
Archive for September, 2010
Once again, friends, we roll back the clock. This time we journey to July 12, 2003, when I faced a persistent problem that has gotten no better in the ensuing years: crappy movie theater experiences.
Oh — and listeners to the Evercast podcast will find some of this hauntingly familiar…
Let’s journey, shall we?
Five Star Cinema
There’s something about the movie theater experience. As great as DVDs and other home entertainment media are, some strange, ethereal quality keeps calling me back to the darkened chamber with the sticky floors and the eardrum-splitting sound systems. I love all of that stuff.
Now, however, I’m seriously pondering a road trip to Kansas City to see if I might not just find a way to love it even more. A movie theater in Kansas City — the one in Missouri, it’s a city that has the frustrating habit of existing in two states at once — has banned children under age six from attending the theater. Furthermore, it will not allow anyone under the age of 16 to be admitted without an adult.
I am so there.
How many times have you been in the movies only to hear some baby screaming or a five-year-old shouting out questions at the screen? And I’m not blaming the kids, folks. I love kids and I know they don’t know any better. I’m blaming the parents for bringing small children to see movies they are not ready for. When I saw Spider-Man last summer there was a little boy behind me, probably about four years old, repeatedly asking his father why Spider-Man was fighting the Green Power Ranger. It got even worse for the climactic battle scene, which featured a pretty violent death. The kid started bawling in horror.
I wanted to grab this kid’s father by the lapels and shout, “If your son is this scared, how could you have been stupid enough to bring him into a PG-13 rated movie in the first place?” I restrained myself, however, using the rationale that the kid would probably start asking why Friar Tuck was banging his daddy’s head into the railing.
So I think this move in Kansas City is a great thing. In fact, I don’t think it goes far enough, because while poorly behaved children are a big problem in this nation’s multiplexes, I think poorly behaved adults are even worse, because they should know better. I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie without some idiot’s cell phone ringing or pager going off. During a screening of 28 Days Later, I actually saw someone take out their cell phone and begin playing a video game during the movie. As I watched the film I realized early on that it relied on suspense and implied danger rather than buckets of blood to generate scares, therefore stupid people would not enjoy it. But I never thought I’d see someone so inconsiderate as to try to beat their high score at “Snake” while the rest of us were waiting to see if the world was going to end.
The worst, however, was when I went to see The Hulk. I very much enjoyed the half of the movie I saw. The other half of the time was spent by me turning my head to glare at people, trying to ignore pagers and lifting up my feet to avoid the spills of popcorn and drink trays on higher levels.
This theater was also full of people who didn’t seem to understand that other people who paid money actually did so with the intent of watching the picture and not having a conversation. One woman in particular — the one seated directly behind me, of course — said something so incredibly moronic even I, documentarian of human stupidity that I am, could not believe it.
Lou Ferrigno, who played the titular rampaging beast on TV in the 70s, has a brief walk-on cameo in “The Hulk.” As he appeared on the screen, I heard a voice behind me cry out, “Look, baby! That’s the real Hulk there!”
I wanted to hurl myself into the screen and let the monster have me.
So I’ve decided to open my own movie theater, friends. It will be like most other theaters, with one major difference. In regular theaters, ushers show up about every hour and walk up and down the aisles just to make sure nothing’s on fire or anything. In my theater, all of the ushers will have “Vinnie” on their name tags, and will be a constant presence in the theater. When a baby cries, when a pager goes off, when a cell phone rings, one of the Vinnies will politely escort that person the heck out of my theater, explaining to them that the continued use of their legs is more important than the ending of Charlie’s Angels.
The Vinnies will also be equipped with rubber band guns. When someone speaks above a whisper, snorts at a piece of ironic dialogue or says anything so stupid that more than two people in the immediate vicinity roll their eyes, the Vinnies will take their rubber band guns and shoot the perpetrator in the forehead. Repeated transgressions will result in a removal from the theater and injection with a radioactive dye that will dissipate harmlessly in a month or two but which will, in the meantime, cause them to glow in the dark, alerting the Vinnies (should this person return) that they are temporarily banned from my theater.
I think this will make going to the movies a better experience for everyone, don’t you? Really the only major drawback will be that the tickets will each be about three pages long so that everyone gets a warning right up front. Otherwise they’ll try to sue me, and as we’ve learned from the movies, all lawyers not played by Julia Roberts are evil.
Blake M. Petit is pricing bulk rubber bands as we speak. He invites anyone with comments, suggestions or who can tell him what happened in the other half of “The Hulk” to contact him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com
Friday is our opening night. Thursday we go before an audience for our dress rehearsal preview night. Tonight we had almost all of our props and costumes, plus lighting and sound cues for the first time. Utter chaos, but in a great way.
All the Great Books (Abridged) is going to be a fantastic show, folks. Reserve your tickets if you’re in town, and forgive my sporadic posting this week if you’re not!
It was a huge week for comic book news, and the guys sit down this week to discuss the DC restructuring and the end of Wildstorm Comics. Also this week — shakeups for the Legion of Super-Heroes, possible directors for the Superman reboot, changes to the Daredevil line and… Sesame Street for Baby Boomers? In the picks, Blake presents Darkwing Duck #4, Kenny digs Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules and Mike goes with Booster Gold #36. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp!
Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.
Inside This Episode:
This isn’t exactly news, but I found out recently that Peter Cullen — the voice actor best known as Optimus Prime in the TransFormers franchise — has been let go from his other iconic voice, that of Eeyore the Donkey from the Winnie the Pooh cartoons. Process that for a moment.
And this voice?
At least until now. Disney is working on a new Winnie the Pooh movie for next year, and Cullen has been informed that he’s no longer Eeyore. Which sucks for several reasons. Okay, he’s not hurting for work. With Optimus, between movies, cartoons, and video games, he’ll be able to pay the bills until the end of the universe. But no more Eeyore? He’s great in the role, he’s the man we all identify with the character (even if we didn’t know it was his voice coming out of the donkey’s mouth), and the worst of all? Now there’s no chance of him ever accidentally mixing up the the voices.
I just keep thinking of how awesome that would be if it happened just once. Picture it.
The Autobots are pinned down beneath a blanket of Decepticon fire.
Optimus charges the front, leaping into the air and transforming into a big rig.
He barrels through wave after wave of enemy robots, crushing them beneath his wheels.
He storms the Decepticon citadel. He transforms, dodging a hail of enemy fire. He tackles Megatron and points his ion cannon right in the Decepticon leader’s face. And then, in that proud, commanding voice we’ve always loved, he says the line:
“Thanks for noticin’ me.”
Josh Corwood’s life is looking up. He’s got his own character, Annie has dumped the illustrious Dr. Noble, and he’s about to go on his first solo campaign against his old buddy Hotshot. But what happens when the adventure ends?
Sorry for the delay in this week’s episode, friends, but I’ve been slowed a bit due to my work on the latest production down at the Thibodaux Playhouse. Should you happen to be in the Houma/Thibodaux, Louisiana area, come by next week to catch us in All the Great Books (Abridged)!
Theme song, “Last of the Superheroes,” by American Heartbreak, courtesy of MusicAlley.com. Cover art by Jacob Bascle, FreemindGraphx.com and VisionaryComics.com. Evercast theme by Jeff Hendricks, JeffHendricks.net. Evercast logo by Heather Petit Keller.
E-mail me at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com
Blake M. Petit’s Evercast by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.evertimerealms.com.
There will be a new chapter of Other People’s Heroes this week, friends, I promise. But because of assorted play-related activities, it’s being delayed one day. I’ll be up on Friday. Please forgive me.
In the meantime, please enjoy my (also a day late) new Everything But Imaginary column from cxPulp.com. In EBI #368, I look at the news that DC Comics is shutting down its Wildstorm imprint: Everything But Imaginary #368: The End of the Storm.
And in this week’s classic EBI, I travel back to 2004, when I took a look at some great comics that I hadn’t even read yet…
June 9, 2004
The Best Comics I’ve Never Read III: Payback Time
Longtime readers of “Everything But Imaginary” will recall my infamous November 12, 2003 column where I outlined some of the best graphic novels I’d read and discussed what I’d heard were the best ones I hadn’t. You remember that, don’t you? C’mon, it was a classic! Um… Julia Roberts guest-starred in it.
Anyway, a few months later on Feburary 25, 2004, I came back with my first progress report on which books from that reading list I’d read and whether or not they cut the mustard. Well, that time has come around again — I’ve read a few more books on the list and a few more that weren’t on the list that I want to share. The rules are simple: I have two lists, one of books I haven’t read that people have recommended and one of books I have read that I’m recommending to you guys. Once I read a book on the first list, if I like it, it “graduates” to the second list. Simple enough? Let’s get to it.
The first book I picked up off the list this time around was recommended repeatedly by my friend Jenny. Jenny told me I had to read The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion. I resisted for quite some time because, frankly, I don’t really like the Punisher as a character. I finally relented because I trust Jenny’s judgment, because I really enjoyed the Preacher series by the same creative team and because I heard several elements from this comic were being used in the then-upcoming movie.
What I got was the best Punisher comic I’ve ever read.
Ennis brought Frank Castle back to his roots in New York City, dispelled an earlier storyline where he killed people as a service to a band of angels with one snarky page of captions, and infused the book with a sense of humor I’d never seen there before. It went from being a crime drama about a gun-toting mob-targeting serial killer to being a dark comedy about a gun-toting, mob-targeting serial killer, and somehow that made all the difference.
I still don’t like The Punisher, but I liked the story Garth Ennis told about him very much. So much, in fact, that I’ve already gotten the second book of their run, The Punisher: An Army of One. It too, was a lot of fun. The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank has graduated to my recommended list.
The second book I tried this time out was Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery, recommended by our resident Steve Niles junkie Andrea Speed. After Andrea convinced me to try Steve Niles’s Love Me Tenderloin one-shot, I started grabbing everything I could of his: 30 Days of Night, Fused… and this great graphic novel featuring the hardboiled film noir spook hunter Cal McDonald investigating an odd alliance between various groups of monsters that typically have nothing to do with one another. McDonald is a real detective, part Sam Spade, part Peter Venkman, with lots of hard-drinking, hard-living entertainment thrown in to boot. As a lover of old movies — both detective and monster — seeing those two genres sandwiched together makes for an excellent read.
The art, by 30 Days collaborator Ben Templesmith is just gory enough to satisfy slasher movie fans and just chaotic enough to get across the world Cal is living in. It’s a perfect fit.
I’ve jumped on with the next miniseries, Last Train to Deadsville, and read one of the three prose books Niles has written about Cal, Guns, Drugs and Monsters. I’m still trying to hunt down the first novel in the series, Savage Membrane, and the collection of Cal short stories called Dial “M” For Monster.
So it’s safe to say I liked this one. It graduates, big-time.
Finally, I’ve got to give props to a book that Andrea reviewed last month, which I had already purchased but hadn’t had a chance to read yet: 24 Hour Comics. Back in 1991 Scott McCloud (whom you should know because his Understanding Comics should be required reading for anyone who picks up a comic anywhere in the universe) first proposed the idea of trying to create a complete 24-page comic book in 24 hours. You could get together your materials, food, etc. together beforehand, but no writing, preliminary sketches or anything creative was allowed. Once you put your pen to the paper, the clock starts, and you’ve got just 24 hours to write, draw, letter, color (if you wish) and edit the comic to make it qualify.
Since then hundreds of people have taken up the challenge. This book collects nine of McCloud’s favorite efforts. From a bizarre tale by Steve Bissette to a rare story written and drawn by comics writing legend Neil Gaiman (who couldn’t finish 24 pages in the time allotted and stopped when the time ran out), these nine stories really show what a creator can do when he pushes himself. Some of them, I admit, fall into the category of what I think of as “pretentious alternative comics” (which is a different category than “quality alternative comics,” of which there are many), but all of the effort is appreciated and the very idea of the experiment is exciting enough for me to recommend this book. And stay tuned, because back in April a nationwide “24 Hour Comic Day” was held, allowing creators from all corners to take the challenge. A second volume will be published later this year collecting the best stories from that event.
One last thing I want to recommend, technically, isn’t a comic book, but it is about the purest comic there is: Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts. A few weeks ago here in EBI I did a column trumpeting the arrival of The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952, the first in a proposed 25-volume set that will collect all 50 years of the legendary comic strip. Around the same time I stumbled onto the website of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., and specifically, found my way to two books offered through its online store. Li’l Folks is a collection of early strips featuring the childlike characters that would eventually evolve into Peanuts. Second was a volume called Tribute to Sparky, a collection of cartoons and comic strips done by other artists to honor Schulz upon the announcement of his retirement, his death in February 2000, and then again that May when nearly every newspaper comic strip in syndication ran a tribute to him on the same day. Tribute especially is a particularly moving collection, and these two books will make very fitting bookends to the Complete Peanuts collections once those are complete.
Anyway, there’s my two cents for this round. As before, I’ll finish this column by printing my complete lists — if you’d like to recommend something for me to look out for the next time I do one of these in a few months, go right ahead. If I haven’t read it, it’ll go on the list. I’m looking for great comics that you think people might not know about, preferably something available in graphic novel form, because it’s just plain more economical and easier to find. And if you’re suggesting a series of graphic novels, make sure you give me the title of the first book in the series so I know what to look for. Ready? Here goes:
BLAKE’S READING LIST
Animal Man Vol. 1
Black Panther: The Client
Cerebus Vol. 1
Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
The Gypsy Lounge
Herobear and the Kid
Hulk: Boiling Point
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World
Jinx and Goldfish
Knights of the Dinner Table: Bundles of Trouble
Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Red Rocket 7
Rex Mundi: Guardian of the Temple
Safe Area Goradze
V For Vendetta
YOUR READING LIST (From Blake)
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius series
Astro City series (Vol 1: Life in the Big City)
Bone series (Vol 1: Out From Boneville)
The Complete Peanuts
Daredevil: Wake Up
Dork Tower series (Vol 1: Dork Covenant)
Fables series (Vol 1: Legends in Exile)
Fantastic Four: Imaginauts
Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction
The Liberty Project
Meridian series (Vol 1: Flying Solo)
Preacher series (Vol 1: Gone to Texas)
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Road to Perdition
24 Hour Comics
Understanding Comics/Reinventing Comics
The Wizard’s Tale
So that should keep us both busy for a while. Let’s get reading.
FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: June 2, 2004
It was a pretty slow week for me at the comic shop, and the Favorite of the Week this time out gets the crown mostly on sheer potential. Tony Bedard was one of my favorite CrossGen writers (I am hoping against hope for the salvation of Route 666 and Negation), so when I found out he was taking over Exiles, a book I’d long thought about trying out anyway, I jumped on board. I haven’t been disappointed. Bedard gave me a pretty good grasp on the characters and situations, and last week’s issue #48 closed off his first storyline with a strong finish, and good close to the previous chapter of the characters’ lives, and a great launching point for the next chapter. This story took place in the mainstream Marvel universe, though, and idea of hopping from one alternate universe to another is the hook that got me interested in this title in the first place. I’m very anxious to see where it goes from here.
Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.