Today’s handpicked headlines from the fanboy universe…
The death of Robin, again: I don’t usually root for projects to fail but I was relieved to read that a planned television show about a pre-Robin version of Dick Grayson has died on the vine. Michael Schneider has the story in that always arched language of the Hollywood trades: “The Boy Wonder won’t be flying into primetime after all. The CW and Warner Bros. TV have been forced to scrap their plans for ‘The Graysons.’ Show, which had been given a put pilot commitment, was set to revolve around Batman sidekick Robin in his pre-Caped Crusader days. Decision to yank the project came from Warner Bros. Pictures Group prexy Jeff Robinov, who initially gave his blessing but changed his mind in recent days. ‘Warner Bros. TV never had 100% clearance,’ said one exec familiar with the project. The CW had been counting on ‘The Graysons’ to fill the void left by the likely series end of ‘Smallville.’ Like ‘Smallville,’ ‘The Graysons’ is a superhero origins story. Show was developed to revolve around the world of Dick ‘D.J.’ Grayson before taking on the iconic Robin identity. …The one-hour ‘Graysons‘ was to be set in modern times and focus on young D.J. as he faced challenges involving first loves, young rivals and his family — a famous juggling act — as he grew up. (In Batman lore, Grayson was part of a family act called ‘The Flying Graysons’ and orphaned after a gangster had his parents killed.)” [Daily Variety]
The Art of Spiegelman: Essayist Sarah Boxer wonders if Art Spiegelman’s career has grown cold in the shadow of his most famous acheivement, “Maus: A Survior’s Tale.” In an article spread out over an 11-image slide show, she looks at “Breakdowns,” the new collection of Spiegelman’s pre-”Maus” work, for clues about the artist’s career hopes and fears. “Here, the ghosts haunting Spiegelman are no longer Freud and Henny Youngman so much as R. Crumb and Saul Steinberg — those fertile doodlers who never stopped drawing for lack of a grand story. … Spiegelman’s envy of his pre-”Maus“ self only makes sense if you consider what it must be like to be Spiegelman post-”Maus.” The tremendous success of that book must have planted in him a new kind of survivor guilt — the guilt that comes from realizing that without your family tragedy you might never have had a story to tell. Thanks for the plot, Mom and Dad. Sorry for your trouble. It’s the kind of guilt you can imagine other great graphic memoirists — including Alison Bechdel (“Fun Home“), Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis“), and David B. (“Epileptic“) — having, too. This list, by the way, suggests how wrongheaded the term graphic novel is, since many great “graphic novels” turn out to be in some sense graphic memoirs.”
Michael Crichton remembered: The author of “Jurassic Park” and “The Andromeda Strain” (and director of such films as “Westworld” as well as the creator of the venerable medial drama “ER“) died here in Los Angeles on Tuesday at age 66 after a truly varied (and sometimes controversial) intellectual life. Steve Spielbgerg said in a statement that the writer was “the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth,” but Charles McGrath writes that the legacy of the bestselling author isn’t as tidy as that. “As a writer he was a kind of cyborg, tirelessly turning out novels that were intricately engineered entertainment systems. No one — except possibly Mr. Crichton himself — ever confused them with great literature, but very few readers who started a Crichton novel ever put it down. … Like most genre fiction, the Crichton novels are windup toys of a sort, and in memory it’s hard sometimes to keep them all straight. We recall them by their themes and issues — the plague book, the gorilla story, the train-robbery one, the airplane thriller — and not for their characters or their fine writing. But they are nevertheless toys that require a fair amount of craftsmanship. Despite their way of latching on excitedly to the latest new thing, they often gleam with old-fashioned polish.” [New York Times] … also, Robin Lloyd at Newsarama has a nice summary of Crichton’s contributions to science fiction while Diane Haithman at Culture Monster has a snapshot of his role in the Los Angeles art scene.
That’s might high praise for a cat: Critic Richard Harville declares that noting in the recent history of novels, film and television holds a candle to Chris Onstad’s brilliant web-comic “Achewood” which has been collected in a new 104-page Dark Horse collection called “Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight.” Harville writes: “The best new fictional character across any medium in at least a decade is a neurotic computer-hacker cat named Roast Beef who calls everyone ‘dogg.’ That’s ‘dogg’ with two G’s, as in ‘Dogg don’t piss on me, I just invented Photoshop’… ‘Achewood’ is, like any surrealist alternate universe worth exploring, difficult to explain. Onstad is a Northern California tech-industry survivor who gradually built the strip around crude computer-template drawings of his wife’s stuffed animals — several cats, a couple of bears, a tiger, a naive young otter, etc. — who say outrageously crass but stupendously articulate things. [Village Voice]…You can read the webcomic at achewood.com and find the Dark Horse collection here.
– Geoff Boucher