Everyday Hero, your roundup of handpicked headlines from the fanboy universe …
Is this the year that the Academy Awards recognizes the heroic achievements of a cape movie? There’s considerable speculation that the late Heath Ledger will snag a nomination for best supporting actor for his searing performance in "The Dark Knight," but does he have a chance to actually win it? There have been nominations in the past for actors in sci-fi and fantasy films (such as Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in "Aliens") but their names weren’t inside the envelope. And, when it comes to pure superhero fare, there’s been no Oscar love at all in the acting categories. Justin Chang has a long essay on the topic titled "Credibility Comes to Comics" in which he argues that 2008 may mark the turning point. "In a year that saw a surfeit of memorable performances in superhero pictures — Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Gary Oldman in ‘The Dark Knight,’ Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Iron Man,’ Charlize Theron in ‘Hancock’ — it may be time for the academy to start taking this work as seriously as the actors and filmmakers have. [Variety]
Manga with grape expectations: Norimitsu Onishi reports from Tokyo about an odd pop-cultural twist on wine tasting and critique — it’s a manga called "The Drops of the Gods" with a character named Shizuku who has become a tastemaking force. "In Tokyo, wine sellers monitor his weekly pronouncements before adjusting their stocks accordingly. In newer markets like Taiwan and urban China, his recommendations are turning the newly affluent into wine converts. And in Seoul, South Koreans now hold forth on "terroir‘" and how a bottle "marries" with a particular dish without blinking. Never mind that Shizuku is a comic-book figure, the hero of a manga series, ‘The Drops of the Gods,’ created and written by a middle-aged Japanese sister-and-brother team. Asian readers who have never heard of Robert M. Parker Jr. scrutinize the comic hero’s every sip, learning about wine in words and images that may seem strange to traditionalists." [New York Times]
Money problems: Steve Geppi is a powerhouse figure in the comics sector as CEO of Diamond, the only show in town, really, when it comes to national comics distribution. But Geppi’s side project, a namesake pop-culture museum in Maryland, is a bit shakier, reports Liz Farmer. "Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which opened in Camden Station 25 months ago, went 19 months without making any kind of payment to its landlord and accumulated a debt of more than $700,000 to the state in rent and other fees, according to documents obtained by the Daily Record. The museum, founded by Stephen A. Geppi, CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. in Timonium and publisher of Baltimore Magazine, accrued approximately $622,500 in unpaid rent to the Maryland Stadium Authority as of Oct. 6. The museum also owed more than $77,000 in late fees and unpaid electricity bills that have accumulated since February 2007, according to accounting documents from the authority." [The Daily Record (Maryland)]
Thunder and lightning: And, finally, here’s the trailer for the new Marvel animated series "Hulk vs. Thor." The straight-to-DVD release hits stores in January.
– Geoff Boucher
Photo: The late Heath Ledger in 2006, photographed by Jochen Luebke of AFP/Getty Images