April 22, 2012 | 4:43 p.m.
It’s Earth Day and Dark Horse Comics is marking the day by giving away free digital copies of “The Massive,” the new near-future sci-fi tale about life after global calamity from writer Brian Wood (“Northlanders,” “DMZ”) and artist Kristian Donaldson (“Supermarket”). We caught up with Wood, who said this new saga was motivated by something far more insistent than political beliefs — he says it was driven by the searing fear he feels as he sizes up the future awaiting his children. HC: Constructing the calamity scenario and finding the textures of this changed world must have been a key challenge for you — can you talk about approaching that challenge? BW: Coming up with the high concept was easy, essentially just asking myself, “What if everything went to hell all of a sudden?” It was easy to think those thoughts back in 2009 and it […]
Feb. 18, 2012 | 4:35 a.m.
This Presidents Day, almost 150 years after his assassination, Abraham Lincoln is poised to become the breakout star of 2012. In June, he will fight the undead in a movie adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling novel, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Later this year, Steven Spielberg will offer a more historically accurate – if disappointingly vampire-free – biography of Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis. And (ahem) in my own upcoming novel, “Red, White, and Blood,” Lincoln gives advice from beyond the grave in order to save the current president’s life. But these are, honestly, just the latest additions on Lincoln’s post-mortal resume. Long before Paul Bunyan swung his axe or Superman battled Lex Luthor, Lincoln was America’s first superhuman. He’s partied with Keanu Reeves in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and fought alongside Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. He […]
Oct. 10, 2011 | 9:36 a.m.
In the thinly fictionalized “Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths,” manga artist Shigeru Mizuki recounts the brutality with which the officers of the Imperial Army treated their own men, a story that has received less attention than their savage abuse of the Chinese and other conquered people. Mizuki drew on his painful experiences as a draftee during World War II, when he was sent to the island of New Britain off the northwest coast of New Guinea. He lost his left arm in battle and caught malaria — which kept him from certain death in a suicide charge ordered by his superiors. Private Maruyama serves as Mizuki’s stand-in: a grunt with a talent for drawing, struggling to survive short rations, miserable weather, tropical diseases and American attacks on the island. Like Willie and Joe, the dogface American privates in Bill Mauldin’s […]
Sept. 09, 2011 | 3:18 p.m.
Sept. 11 seems an unlikely topic for the newspaper funny pages, but cartoonist Brian Walker might be considered an expert in finding the positive. Walker, who writes the syndicated strip “Hi and Lois,” was one of nearly 100 cartoonists challenged with dedicating Sunday’s comics to the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in honor of the tragedy’s 10th anniversary. “We’re reductionists,” Walker said. “We take something that’s big to the point of almost being overwhelming. Like, you think about 9/11 and everything it’s meant, and everything that’s happened since then, and it’s just too much to deal with, really. How do you take that and put it into four panels or six panels?” “Blondie,” Wizard of Id” and “Doonesbury” are among 93 strips from King Features Syndicate, Creators Syndicate, Tribune Media Services, Universal Press Syndicate and Washington […]
July 30, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.
“Captain America: The First Avenger” had a heroic opening weekend and overcame all the skepticism about period-piece patriotism in a contemporary movie marketplace. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige played a major role in stitching the film into the widening Marvel Universe on the silver screen, but the story began with a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the duo who also wrote the “Chronicles of Narnia” screenplays. Our Geoff Boucher sat down with them to talk about the film’s success, the choices made and a bit about their daydreams for Cap’s film future (Peter Dinklage as MODOK? Sign us up now…) GB: You have a character with a name, a costume and a sensibility that are very much of another time. This is a Roosevelt superhero. Going in with all of that, what choices needed to […]
June 30, 2011 | 8:01 a.m.
For the better part of a decade, Frank Miller has been talking about a graphic novel on terrorism called “Holy Terror,” but it was only this week that he could say the one sentence everyone was waiting to hear. “I’m done,” Miller said. “It was eight years in the making, but I’m done.” The 120-page book will hit the shelves right after the 1oth anniversary of 9/11 and Miller — the 54-year-old creator of “”The Dark Knight Returns,” “”300” and “Sin City“ – promises that the tale and imagery will be “pretty rough,” which is saying something given his history of scorching political rhetoric and ultra-violent artwork. For many followers of Miller’s career, though, the biggest shock of “Holy Terror” is the fact that it’s actually reaching stores. Miller is arguably the most important comic book artist of the last three decades but […]
June 05, 2011 | 3:57 p.m.
Kids used to hide their comic books inside their school textbooks, but these days it feel like history-class homework is being tucked into superhero movies. “X-Men: First Class” uses the Cuban missile crisis and World War II as the major backdrops for its sleek and smart tale of retro-melodrama. In July, “Captain America: The First Avenger” goes into the battlefields of 1940s Europe, although director Joe Johnston already has some superheroes-in-wartime experience with “The Rocketeer,” which featured actors playing Howard Hughes, Clark Gable and W.C. Fields and used some archival footage of Adolf Hitler. In “First Class,” digital wizardry and editing sprinkles real-life historical figures into the film’s tapestry of superhuman mythology — not unlike Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen,” in which masked mystery men shared the screen with Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Henry Kissinger, John Lennon and Albert Einstein. John F. Kennedy was in “Watchmen,” too, and he seems […]
May 15, 2011 | 3:44 p.m.
Ted Anthony of the Associated Press considers the legend — and the passport – of Superman. There is a scene in the 2006 movie “Superman Returns” that captures the fabled Man of Steel in an extraordinary moment. Floating high above the Earth, gazing down upon America, he listens with his super-hearing for cries of help as a cacophony of people, in all the world’s languages, live their lives. The message is clear: Kal-El of Krypton – strange visitor from another world and, let’s face it, America’s ultimate illegal immigrant – is a citizen and protector of the entire planet Earth, not merely the 50 United States. For 73 years, Superman walked, leaped and flew through the skies as a presumed American, his red, yellow and blue a stand-in for the red, white and blue of the nation he adopted as […]
May 02, 2011 | 9:33 a.m.
DAYS OF THUNDER: We’re counting down to Friday’s release of “Thor” with a month of on-the-set reports, exclusive photos and interviews with the cast and crew of the first truly cosmic Marvel Studios film. Today: Co-star Idris Elba. I’ve seen “Thor” and Idris Elba is a dominating screen presence as the grim, glowering Heimdall, the all-seeing, ever-listening sentry of Asgard. But not everyone is thrilled to see the British-born actor from “The Wire,“ “The Losers“ and “Luther” in the role. In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, the actor said he has heard the purists who say that a black actor shouldn’t portray a character rooted in Norse mythology but he is also hearing a chorus of complaint that sounds to his ears like racism. “Purist comic-book fans are one thing; out-and-out racism is another,” the 38-year-old actor told journalist Leslie Gornstein in a Q&A published […]
April 18, 2011 | 4:09 p.m.
Freelancer Sophie Grove reports from London on the city’s Cartoon Museum putting on its own royal airs ahead of the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton — an exhibition of satirical drawings about the monarchy and nuptials through the years. The engagement gathering isn’t going well. A scrofulous groom-to-be gazes admiringly in a mirror, while his distraught, porcelain-skinned fiancée sobs into a handkerchief. At their feet, a shackled pair of dogs symbolize the ill-fated union that is to come. This is the first frame of William Hogarth’s 1743 series of scathing caricature engravings titled “Marriage à la Mode” — the story of a wedding across class lines and for all the wrong reasons. The signs are unmistakable; the wealthy middle-class father-in-law brandishes a marriage contract while the penniless, gout-ridden, aristocratic father of the groom waves his family […]