Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CG Isn't Sexy: The Uncanny Valley Principal


I was waiting for someone to put this clip online, and here it is. In last week's episode of 30 Rock, Tracey decides his legacy will be to give the world the first great porn video game. Judah Friedlander explains why this is impossible, because of what he dubs (and what will forever be known as) The Uncanny Valley. All CG-happy filmmakers need to watch this clip before the movie-going public has to deal with another freaky, gold version of Angelina Jolie that doesn't have nipples but does have a tail. Uch.

Coincidentally, Sam of Sam and Max: Freelance Police (as channeled through comic genius Steve Purcell) recently had this to say about his computer-generated counterpart currently starring in Telltale's episodic adventure games ;

"We're depicted by patented, computer-generated simulacrums called "sythespians". They act up a storm for just pennies and except for the dead, soulless looks on their pasty, inhuman mugs I actually prefer them to our real selves!"

That is exactly why I can't get into those games, as big a Sam and Max fan as I am. That and I don't own a PC.

Just to drive the point home, some classic examples of the Uncanny Valley in action, after the jump...


Here's that horrible Final Fantasy movie from 2001. I actually saw this in theaters for some reason, and spent the whole time trying to put my finger on what was wrong with the way the characters move. Every gesture and change in facial expression is agonizingly slow, and weirdly fluid. This is back when people thought all you had to do to for realistic motion-capture was to tape a bunch of ping pong balls to a green screen suit. Shudder.

Since his lecture was framed around Star Wars, it seems like Jonah would have wanted to mention the public relations disaster that was Jar-Jar. Maybe they just didn't want to go there. I didn't even want to put a picture up. Cartoonish yet disturbingly bound to selective laws of real world physics, horribly ugly (he's got seg-ment-ed eyes!), and with a loping gait that would have flunked him out of clown college, he is genuinely upsetting to watch. It's upsetting to even talk about him, really. Let's move on.


Just look at this nightmare of soulless devil children and floppy, way-too-slow CG physics. What circuit is Robert Zemeckis missing from his brain that makes him think this is a good way to make a movie?

It's worth noting that the Uncanny Valley principal can be used in a filmmaker's favor when creating a CG character that is meant to be disturbing. Some successes in this vein include General Grevious, Davey Jones from Pirates II and III (and then at least they kept Bill Nighy's actual eyes), and of course the most well regarded CG performance to date, Andy Serkis's turn as Gollum. Gollum was actually TOO uncanny for me to be captivated by, I never believed his shiny skin texture and cartoonishly bulging eyes actually existed in that rough, tactile world of New Zealand, or wherever those books take place. Here's that scene that made people want to give Serkis a hundred Oscars for, but I still find too silly and unrefined to take seriously as any kind of brave-new-world indicator of how CG can blend with acting. But I can't deny, it's creepy as hell.

Tribute to Stephane Peru in Teen Titans: Year One

Teen Titans: Year One #4 was the first comic I read today, and I noticed this panel:


If you'll notice the stock ticker near the bottom of the panel, you'll see that above the Wayne Enterprises and Lexcorp stock quotes, the words "PERU 81-08" are scrolling across the screen. This is a nod to artist Stephane Peru, who died from a heart attack in February. I had no idea the guy was so young. Peru had been doing colors for the beautifully illustrated Teen Titans: Year One, which I had gotten so excited about when the first cover images showed up in previews. Back then I had given all the credit to penciler Karl Kerschl, but I wish I had taken the time to look up the name of the incredibly talented, young guy who had brought the excellent art to life with subtle yet vibrant, sculptural colors.

This is the cover for Teen Titans #6, the final issue in the series, due in May. I hope it's not morbid or crass to assume this too is a nod to Peru, given the obvious theme of the cover and the uncolored Titans in the sky. It reminds me of the famous "Speechless" tribute to Mel Blanc.

Issue #5 (thanks to inker Serge la Pointe for the correction) will be the last issue of Teen Titans:Year One with a cover colored by Peru, make sure to check it out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"That Was A Hell Of A Thing!" - Galaxy Quest Comes to Comics

Everyone knows that nerds like Star Wars and Star Trek. But you can really tell when you're dealing with a geeky individual of true good humor and taste by how strongly they react when you mention Galaxy Quest, the unbelievably wonderful sci-fi comedy classic. I used to work in a video store where we'd watch this about twice a week on the store monitors. Galaxy Quest and Bring It On. That was a great job.

Galaxy Quest ended with the doors wide open for a sequel, but stupid Dreamworks never made one. Why?! The movie made money and Tim and Sigourney Weaver both said they'd do another one, but ours is not to question the will of movie execs, just to complain about their decisions. Luckily, like the throngs of Buffy fans, we GQ cultists may now be able to half-satisfy our fandom with a new comic book that picks up where the movie left off. You can read the full press release over at Comic Book Resources, but the bullet points are:

  • The book will be a five-part series called "Galaxy Quest: Global Warming".
  • It's from IDW Publishing, the folks who publish Angel and a lot of Niles/Templesmith stuff, as well as Gnerd favorites Locke and Key and Zombies vs Robots.
  • It's written by Scott Lobdell,who's been writing X-Men books for Marvel since the early 90s, so we can assume he knows a thing or two about genre conventions and is ready to get to satirizing.
  • The artist is Ilias Kyriazis, and you can peruse his Deviant Art page to get a flavor of his work. He's also got a comic of his own on Zuda called "Melody", though presumably he will now be devoting 100% of every waking hour to making sure he's capturing the dry sardonic humor of Alan Rickman's facial expressions.
Are we excited yet? Let's all enjoy a classic scene after the jump.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Panel Discussion: Scans from Hack/Slash #11, Batman #675, and Countdown #1

Every week we at Geekanerd rip panels from our comics and put them on display here, recognizing the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the week. Beware some major SPOILERS.

Click the pics for high res goodness!

Only In Comics:
Hack/Slash #11
You know you're reading a comic book when a girl like that gives a look like that to a dude wearing a replica Star Trek uniform. Also unlikely; that a guy with such model-esque looks would be wearing a Star Trek uniform in the first place. But this part of why we read comics; they're better than real life.

After the jump, farewell to Countdown and Bruce Wayne just like we like him; violently insane!

Writer Self-Commentary: Countdown #1
This may not in fact be meta-commentary, but I'd guess that many folks on the Countdown team are glad to be done with what must have been a pretty unrewarding book to work on. That and Donna and Co's laughably self-important hero stances makes me think that Ray Palmer speaks for the DC creatives as well as DC readers.

Best Actor: Bruce Wayne, Batman #675

These panels could also be filed under our "Clearest Example of Batman's Insanity" catagory, but I really want to give props to artist Ryan Benjamin, whose work I've had problems with in the past, but who really brings it with his depiction of Bruce Wayne going from smarmy jerk to monstrous bat-demon.
First we get several of these shit-eating grins as Bruce attempts to smooth things over with his girlfriend...

But as she presses him on his increasingly evident dark side, the cracks begin to show...


This pic is a little silly, but I love how Bruce's bulk is accentuated and his eyes are just black silvers of nothingness...almost fully into Bat territory here...

One terrorist attack later, Bruce goes Bat for reals, sans costume. Nothing scarier than Batman with out the cowl.
This classic splash panel makes no apologies. Lightning crashing in the night sky before the bat signal? I'll take it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weekanerd NYC: Weird Musics, Wii Mario Kart, and 2001 at Tribeca

Hey Gnerd readers! We're thinking of making Weekanerd a weekend feature only. We'll still have daily event listings on the right-hand sidebar, but we'll only do write-ups for Friday through Sunday. Is that cool with you? Let us know at tips@geekanerdblog.com.


Friday, April 25
"Circuit Bending" sounds kind of dirty, but it's not. It's the act of modifying electronic toys (getcha minds outta the gutta) to create all sorts of crazy audio, from symphonic melodies to R2D2esque doots and dweets. Tonight's concert includes seven performers from around the globe, plus Free Singha beer from 7pm to 7:30, which is important cause it seems like you might want to be just a leeetle bit altered in your perceptions to fully appreciate the festivities. Check out the website for full listings, including workshops on Saturday in case you want to bend some circuits of your own. If you know what I mean.

Mario Kart Wii and 2001 with the weirdest bunch of guests ever, after the jump...


Saturday, April 26
  • Mario Kart Wii
  • FREE, 2pm @ Nintendo World Store, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan
Test drive the new game, see if those Wii Wheels are worth the cheap plastic their molded from, and get ready to learn how to do blue sparks all over again. Jason Priestly will be making a personal appearance, apparently he owns something called the Rubicon Race Team and well...I guess that's not keeping him too busy. All I want to know is if these guys will be there...


Sunday, April 27
Before there was GLaDOS, there was HAL. Wait, 25 dollars?! Oh right, it's part of the Tribeca Film Festival. So in addition to the screening, you get a panel afterwards with this ragtag bunch: Buzz Aldrin(!), Contact screenwriter Ann Druyan, MIT Professor Marvin Minsky, Matthew Modine and Ira Flatow. Jeesh! Sounds like the cast of some nerd's fever dream.

Snap Judgments: Quickie Comic Reviews for 4/23/08

Short comic reviews based on initial, lizard-brain opinions. There are probably some spoilers herein. Arranged from BEST to WORST.

Batman #675 gets an A from AHR
Excellent emotionally-charged art from Ryan Benjamin, and a story from Grant Morrison that on one hand feels like covered ground (Bruce's girlfriend senses a dark side), but on the other is done with a raw sense of urgency and ugliness that indicates a very dark road to come in the R.I.P. storyline.

Hack/Slash #11 gets an A from AHR
I dropped off this book for a while cause I thought it was getting a little cheeseball. But this issue is great; it picks up on old plot threads, yet also has a simple, impacting done-in-one storyline. It's nowhere near as depressing as the last issue, but still maintains some emotional depth around main character Cassie, who is thoughtful and reserved about her sexuality in a way that's highly unusual for an ass-kicking comic heroine to be. I'm hooked again.


Ultimate Spider-Man #121, Fall of Cthulhu #11, The Spirit #16, Countdown #01 and Flash Gordon #0 all after the jump!

Ultimate Spider-Man #121 gets an A from Albo
I haven't read an issue of this comic since the first couple of years it was on the stands. I never could get past Bagley's art to fully enjoy Bendis' great storytelling. Now Bagley is gone and the team of Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger are producing some really great stuff. They are capable of drawing teenage kids that actually look like teenage kids and have oodles of personality. Oh yeah, and Bendis is still a great writer.


Fall of Cthulhu
#11
gets a B from Albo
I picked up Cthulhu Tales on a whim last week and really enjoyed it, so I took a chance and hopped onto this book to see if it provided the same level of solid horror storytelling. The verdict: Pretty much. It doesn't really do anything new, but the ominous sense that the people in this small town are about to face some truly horrific shit provides a chilly enjoyment.

The Spirit #16 gets a C from Albo
*Sigh* I miss Darwyn Cooke. This tale is such a by-the-numbers murder mystery you wonder why they bothered.

Countdown #01 gets a D+ from AHR
This issue opens with Jimmy Olsen recounting a bad dream in which he was given the impossible task of writing a good story about the post-52 multiverse. Get it? Bet the fans who bought this crap every week for a year are loving that one. Though apparently Harley and Holly Robinson are living together now, so maybe it was all worth it.

Flash Gordon #0 gets an F from Albo
Oh God why? The storytelling in this preview book is nonsense. The art looks like the anime crap you can find painstakingly scrawled on notepaper in every high school in America. And not content to just draw poorly, the artist reuses the same drawings over and over again. Not in succession or for comedic effect but just whenever he doesn't have the energy to draw a character's face again. Which for some reason is a lot. You'll see what I mean when we do Panel Discussion this weekend.

Jackson Publick Posts Legit, High-Res Season 3 Preview!

Jackson Publick and Quickstop Entertainment just posted a totally official, non-bootlegged version of the Venture Brothers Season 3 Preview that was shown at the New York Comic Con last weekend.


This high quality goodness reveals a better look at younger-versions of The Monarch and Phantom Limb, a glance at Dr. Girlfriend in her new (spoiler alert for lame-os who haven't seen Season 2) Dr. Mrs. Monarch outfit with crown included, and a nice clear version of the G.I parody theme song! SWEETNESS AND LIGHT!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Zack Snyder Needs Your Help to Finish Watchmen


Got a camera and a hankering to be a part of the Watchmen movie? Well get your creative hat on, because director Zack Snyder is looking for a few good Veidt commercials he can use to populate the many TVs in the film. Forty finalists get a poster signed by Snyder, then those go to a user voting round where the top five videos get a High-Definition Canon Vixia HG10. Up to twenty of Snyder's personal favorites get $1000 and a chance to be in the film itself. Download some product assets here, read the official rules here, and hit the jump for a couple of sample commercials. Videos are due June 2.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NYCC 08 Cosplay Roundup

As we wrap up our Comic Con coverage, let's take a look at some of our favorite cosplayers...
This Golden Age Green Lantern was extremely well put together. Although... *ahem* Alan Scott wore the ring on his left middle finger.

There's a bunch more enthusiastic dressers after the jump!

Batman sneaks up on his rogue's gallery while I distract them with a camera.

The Black Cat. Prrr.

This Chewie had an awesome voice box that gave him a very authentic Chewie grumble.

Team Fortress 2's Medic is looking for someone to heal. He struck this pose without even thinking twice about it, the body language is straight out of the game. TF2 was a really popular cosplay choice this year, probably cause it gives folks a chance to make big cardboard and PVC versions of the weapons.

Aura Sing is just happy to be here. Remember how big a deal she was before Episode I? She was supposed to be the new Boba Fett....but the prequels destroyed all that they touched, and she's been mostly forgotten, though apparently not by this lady.

An unlikely couple, but I guess Superman has plenty of time on his hands now that he's drinking Red Bull. Click to get the high res pic so you can check out his killer blue contacts.

An excellent Static Shock, looking like a life-sized action figure with flying disc included.

The Monarch and the butter-voiced Dr. Girlfriend. At the Venture Brothers panel, these two asked Doc Hammer to be their minister at their upcoming wedding. He said he'd seriously consider it. A match made in nerd heaven, obviously.

Mario and Luigi in the house, plumbing gear at the ready.

These Spider-Men were getting along famously, posing for photos together and chatting up a storm.

This guy nails the Hugh Jackman eyebrows, and his claws were impressive to say the least.

This is one deadly lady. Francine Castle?

Anyone know who the lady with V is?

Monday, April 21, 2008

NYCC 08: The Mighty B! Panel

I came to Comic Con on Sunday for one reason; The Mighty B! panel. A full episode ("Sweet Sixteenth") was screened along with a number of pencil tests, character models, and background art, and I am now certain of what I had already suspected; this show (premiering April 26th) is going to be a solid hit with my slice of the cartoon watching demographic. That would be the Too-Old-To-Be-Watching-Cartoons crowd who helped to make shows like Spongebob and Powerpuff Girls such cultural phenoms. Just look at the team's pedigree:

Amy Poehler: Co-Creator and voice of the lead character. As you can see in the character models above, Bessie's personality is an amalgam of many of Amy's child characters, i.e. Andy Richter's Sister, SNL's Kaitlyn ("RICK!"), and especially Cassie the girl scout, who can be seen in the first episode of of The Uprights Citizens Brigade show (Cassie is my 2nd favorite of her UCB characters, right after Arby). Andy Ritchter and Rob Corrdy also contribute voices, and I imagine a number of other New York comedy folks will show up eventually as well.

The other two co-creators are Erik Wiese of Spongebob and Cynthia True of Fairly Oddparents, two shows that I'd say are the finest comedy Nicktoons of the last decade (okay, there may be room on that list for one more). Also on the animation team are folks from Ren and Stimpy, and you can really see the influence of all of those shows in both the writing and especially in the kinetic, wild-takes-aplenty style of the animation.

After the jump: hand drawn animation! Gorgeous painted backgrounds! Goofy, hyperactive female protagonists! They said it couldn't be done, but we have the technology!


Mighty B! is set in San Francisco, and creators Wiese and True mentioned wanting to set the show outside of the generic suburbia so many kids cartoons seem to exist in. They projected several of the show's outstandingly beautiful hand-painted backgrounds during the panel, and though these photos hardly do them justice, you can see the amount of care and artistry the Mighty B team is putting into the show. As an East Bay native who has spent my share of time in San Francisco, I'm impressed with how these painting capture the unique architecture and angularity of SF through the vibrant filter of a child's perspective. The panel also projected a still from an episode called "Bat Mitzvah Crashers" (noted as a favorite by True and Wiese), certainly not something you'd expect to see in a typical nicktoon (okay, fine, Rugrats) so it seems like the diversity of living in a big city will also be reflected.

The animation is all hand-drawn, which combined with a real sense of spontaneity in the voicework (how could you not allow for improv when your cast includes Amy, Andy Richter, and Rob Corddry) gives the show an extremely free-wheeling feel. At times the pacing felt almost out-of-control in the episode I watched, though I don't imagine that kids are going to be phased by any formal wonkiness that nerds like me care about. Besides, nothing risked nothing gained; the chaotic pace also results in some really inspired moments of humor that recall the craziness of Ren and Stimpy's early seasons.

Lastly, the prospect of seeing a girl protagonist in a cartoon that is not "a girl's show" is really exciting. Growing up as both an obsessive fan of cartoons and a goofy, nerdy girl, I was aware from a very young age that all the cartoon characters that made me laugh were boys. Girl protagonists were, as aptly put by Cynthia True, "straight-men and sidekicks". As much as I love female characters like Sandy from Spongebob and Wanda from Oddparents, their roles are generally to pull back the action, to worry and advise against things. Even girls who have their own shows in this brave new millennium such as Kim Possible and Jenny from Teenage Robot tend to have almost model minority personalities; level headed, strong, smart, pretty, and bland. These are cartoon characters with no extremes; where's the fun in that? The most silly, strange girls in modern cartoons may be Bubbles of the Powerpuffs and Starfire of Teen Titans, and both of these characters must share the stage with others. The Mighty B! is Bessie's show, and I can't recall ever seeing an animated character like her before. Wacky to the point of unhinged, energetic to the point of hyperactive, Bessie is made of extremes. Will kids respond to her? I think so. The show's inclusion of choreographed action sequences by animators from Airbender (we saw an pencil test from a Ping Pong battle which had me laughing out loud) and a good amount of ever-popular gross out humor, I think this show has a great chance of connecting with kids, and it's success would go a long way in changing people's ideas of what a girl protagonist can be. This is a show I have been waiting for for a long time, and I'm eager to see how it's received. Fingers crossed.

Panel Discussion: NYCC08 Edition (i.e. Just One Panel)

Every week we at Geekanerd rip panels from our comics and put them on display here, recognizing the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the week. Beware some major SPOILERS.

Click the pics for high res goodness!

Coolest Demon:
The Damned: Prodigal Sons #1That is some ballsy character design! There's almost something cute about him, which makes it so much more unsettling.

Um... Sorry for the thin PD, it's been a busy weekend. Why don't you spend your newfound time catching up on some of our Panel Discussion Greatest Hits?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NYCC 08 Day 2 Notes: New Details on Incredible Hulk (Tony Stark!), Dark Knight, The Spirit and More

A bulleted list of all the Day 2 goodness:


New Dark Knight Trailer

  • It goes down like this: Standard shots of Gotham rooftops, then we come across a perched Batman. He jumps down. The Joker's voice: "Where do we begin?" There's a scene of him organizing a table of Gotham crooks, very reminiscent of The Hood's meetings in New Avengers. Crooks: "What do you propose?" Joker: "Kill the Batman." Oh, we've never thought of that! "Here's my card," he closes, holding up a (wait for it) Joker playing card. There are some shots of Maggie Gyllenhaal 'breaking up' with Bruce Wayne and going with Harvey Dent. She tells Bruce "I can't be your only connection to a normal life." Dent asks Alfred if Wayne is the kind of ex-boyfriend he needs to look out for (I forget the exact wording) and Alfred gives the old superhero movie standby "You have no idea." The Joker then crashes a fancy gala in a scene that reminded me of Nicholson's museum crash from Batman but without the Prince. He singles out Gyllenhaal (probably because she's Dent's girl now). Then there's a bunch of explosions and fighting, and a quick shot of Dent screaming "Don't!" or "No!" or something as he's laying with half his face in (or close to) some menacing liquid. From another scene, he says to Bruce "You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain." Well well.
UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters (Snoo, VRICH10, ultimatefan and others) at Superhero Hype for straightening me out on a couple of points. Memory and a notepad are imperfect beasts!

Lots of details about
The Incredible Hulk (including Tony Stark's cameo!), The Spirit and more after the jump!

The Incredible Hulk
  • Lots of juicy bits about this movie. The first clip they showed us was Bruce Banner being hunted down by the government. They have him locked in an above-ground glass walkway, but when they gas him he transforms into the Hulk and smashes out. They chase him around with gunner vehicles that always seem to be jumping (blame the floaty Halo warthog), which he demolishes. Finally Emil Blonky (played by Tim Roth) has a one on one man-to-monster showdown with him. Blonksy isn't the Abombination yet, but he has been treated with some of the Super Soldier serum (which is colored Captain America blue!) so he fares pretty well, flipping around and shooting Hulk with a grenade launcher and a handgun. At the end of the scene they are just standing there eying each other, Blonsky says "Is that all you've got?" and after a pause Hulk gives him a giant foot to the chest. Applause erupts.
  • When asked about an Avengers movie, producer Kevin Feige said "It depends on how this film and Iron Man do. I'd like to see it happen."
  • On his character in the film, Tim Roth said: "Blonksy is a combat man, not a desk man. He loves it. But his body is aging. Then he sees the Hulk and sees another option."
  • Someone asked about the Ed Norton trouble and the question was deflected by Gale Anne Hurd: "If he wasn't happy he wouldn't be out there supporting the film." Meanwhile Kevin Feige leans in and whispers to director Louis Leterrier "Is this ok?" to which Leterrier responds "It's ok." Clearly there's more than a little truth to the rumors.
  • Leterrier claims that originally Hulk and Abombination didn't talk, but that so many people on the message boards wanted to hear things like "Puny humans" and "Hulk smash" that they changed the CGI and made them talk.
  • Lou Ferigno came out and confirmed he has a part in the film. They wouldn't confirm what.
  • They showed us the full trailer, which seemed to spell out the whole movie: It begins with Banner in hiding in a foreign country (South American?) trying to find a cure for his condition. General Ross (William Hurt) finds him: "He stole military secrets. Take him." There are a whole bunch of shots of him running around whatever country he's in, then a random one of him in Antarctica or something which I'm wagering is the last shot of him in the movie. Like Frankenstein's monster floating away on an ice floe, Banner goes to the pole to be alone. Back to the trailer, it becomes a lot of Hulk smashing tanks and helicopters and whatnots. Then Blonsky gets Ross to agree to turn him into a beast that can face off with Hulk. And when Blonksy becomes a monster and starts trashing New York City Norton heroically exclaims "There's only one thing that can stop him, and it's inside me!" Cue fight.
  • After the trailer they showed us Tony Stark's long-rumored appearance in the film. If I were to place it I would imagine it was at the very end of the film. General Ross is drinking in a bar, looking extremely depressed and defeated. Stark rolls in and says "Ah, the smell of stale beer and defeat. I hear you have an unusual problem." Ross: "You should talk." Stark: "You should listen." UPDATE: Clips from this scene have surfaced in a new TV spot for the movie!
The Spirit
  • Frank Miller was actually dressed as The Spirit without the mask. Black suit, bright red tie, black fedora. Seeing him in front of his poster with the same look was almost comical.
  • When asked by MTV's Kurt Loeder how he blended his signature aesthetic with that of Will Eisner, Miller joked "I threw out everything he did." But as you've probably seen in the teaser (seen at the end of this article), he wasn't really joking. He claims "I knew Eisner well. And I know that if I raised a rusty monument to his work Will would rise from the grave and strangle me. We used the most advanced technical methods available to translate his vision into a very modern movie. It will be a bit of a shock to purists, but you will see Eisner's touch throughout. Look out for a particular manhole cover."
  • Miller spoke about how hard it was to find a good unknown male actor for the part, quipping "Hollywood produces many great actors. But very few men."
  • Responding to Kurt Loeder's poorly phrased question about if she felt like she was "just a hot babe" in the movie, Eva Mendes replied "Hell no. I'm a kick ass jewel thief who's been married fourteen times and killed all of her husbands. Does that sound like 'just a hot chick' to you? I'll kill you right now, Kurt!"
  • Speaking of Eva Mendes, her and Miller were very touchy-feely kissy-kissy throughout the panel.
  • Miller got serious to note that "We were able to do something that was not homogenized because Will insisted on owning his work. The Spirit has adult motivations that separate him from your usual superhero stuff."
And the trailer:

Assorted notes:
  • Wondering how long they're gonna keep up this baby thing in Cable? Duane Swierczynski stated that as the series goes on, the girl will grow--and specifically mentioned stories with her as a four year-old down the road.
  • Orson Scott Card on Iron Man, the character he writes for the Ultimate Universe: "My first impression of the character was that Iron Man is the stupidest hero I've ever seen. He has three full time jobs. He's an inventor, the CEO of a huge company, and he still finds time to put on a suit and go save individual people. It seemed very silly to me."
  • Orson Scott Card announced he is writing an Ender's Game comic that will come out in Fall 2008.
  • LucasArts finally answered one of my burning questions about the new game The Force Unleashed: If you are Vader's secret apprentice, why do all the trailers show you killing stormtroopers and blowing up Imperial ships? The answer is that you are so secret of an apprentice that Vader doesn't even want the Emperor to know about you, and that means no witnesses. I don't buy that Vader would be hiding anything from the Emperor between Episodes III and IV, but AHR has a pretty good argument for it. Ask her about it sometime.

NYCC 08 Venture Brothers Panel: Clips, We Got Em

The Venture Brother's panel at the NY Comic Con was completely packed, and why not? The Astro-Base team was certainly the most articulate, entertaining group of creators I saw all week. Let's go to the video proof.

video

There's something magical about seeing a man do a cartoon's voice, live and in person. Especially when that man actually writes the show, and can ad-lib in character.

More clips from the panel (with classy graphics from Mantis-Eye's screencap gallery) after the jump...

video

Ask and ye shall receive; here's James Urbaniak answering a fan's request to do a pick-up line in Dr. Venture's voice. Vulgar hilarity (I call it "hilgarity") ensues.

Here's what happened when a fangirl asked the panel if Kim would be making an appearance in the third season. You know, Kim? Triana's friend who looks like a supervillian? Apparently you were not the only one who thought her 30 seconds of screentime were enough to warrant a major crush, and Doc Hammer is none too happy about it.

video

Don't act so surprised, DH. You wrote a scene in which Kim thinks Doctor Girlfriend is coming on to her. People are going to like that.

video

A fan asked why Brock couldn't simply break off the lock of the chastity belt keeping him from consummating his highly unusual relationship with Molotov Cocktease. Doc Hammer sets him straight and shuts him down. Sex is complicated. Cartoons fans need to hear this stuff.

Watch this post Venturers, it'll fill up with more bite sized morsels of Q&A goodness as the day goes on.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Venture Brothers Season Three Preview

video
If you could have had an aerial view of the New York Comic Con exhibition hall just before they opened the doors to the Venture Brothers panel, you would have seen a line that filled the entire hall, coiling around the space like a snake made out of nerds and girls wearing Triana costumes.

The hour-long panel kicked off with exactly what we all wanted to see; a five-minute preview of the achingly anticipated Season Three (coming June 1st! O the pain, the pain of longing!). The preview includes lots of appearances by fanfavey secondary characters, such as Dr. Killinger, Hunter Gatherers, The Pirate Captain, and The Alchemist (maybe it's a stretch to call those last two fan favorites...I like them). Many members of the show's mammoth supporting cast who aren't seen in the preview were confirmed by the panel in the Q&A; clips and quotes are forthcoming, so check back soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New York Comic Con 2008 Day One

Here are the panels I attended at NYCC today, with easy to read bulleted notes:

The Legends Behind the Comic Books
Panelists: Stan Lee, Joe Simon, Jerry Robinson, John Romita Sr., Ramona Fradon, Dick Ayers, Joe Sinnott, Irwin Hasen, and Murphy Anderson.
  • Combined age of panelists (not including Fradon, because it's impolite to ask a lady's age): 681. Holy crap.
  • Stan Lee, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, says that's for posterity to decide. He adds his wife would probably say it was the allowance he gives her.
  • Irwin Hasen (a diminutive man) notes that drawing Wonder Woman started him off on a habit of dating very tall women. "That's true!"
  • Ramona on the early Marvel bullpen: "It was scary in there with all the boys throwing erasers and things at each other. I used to hate that."
  • Joe Simon was asked what he thought of the death of Captain America and he said he thinks Marvel should go back to the original Captain America. "Without the pop gun, the knife, the shield." Maybe I misheard him, because I was pretty sure Cap had a shield in his first appearance.
  • When the panelists were asked who the most creative person they ever met or worked with was, the panel became a Jack Kirby love fest. Stan Lee notes: "Jack could make every panel exciting. He was a writer, not with words but with pictures. He just never ran out of ideas. I stole as many as I could."
All of these guys are in a movie called The Legends Behind the Comic Books, which is screening on Sunday at the con. I've seen the film and I recommend anyone who is interested in comics history go check it out. It's a great look into how these guys basically invented the modern comic.

Announcements from Vertigo and Marvel, some time with Neil Gaiman and X-Files: I Want to Believe after the jump!

Vertigo Panel
Panelists: Karen Berger, Grant Morrison, Amy Hadley, G. Willow Wilson, Josh Dysart, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Brian Azzarello, David Tischman, Russ Braun, Mark Buckingham
  • Bill Willingham will be writing a new House of Mystery series. It won't be an anthology book, but each issue will feature a story within a story that features art by a different artist.
  • Amy Hadley chatted about a new Madame Xanadu book that's coming out in June. It's going to be something of an origin story, and Karen Berger piped in to tell us we finally find out why she's called Madame Xanadu.
  • G. Willow Wilson (who is a very attractive lady, lemme tell you) talked about her new series Air. She got the idea while being questioned in the Amsterdam airport by a little blond woman and she thought to herself: "What if she was a lot cooler, I was a lot cooler, and this was a comic book?" She also claims the book reads like Alias done by Miyazaki.
  • Dave Tischman talked a bit about The Mates, a story following a group of superheroes that "aren't the Beatles but who hold the same place in the fictional zeitgeist that the Beatles hold in ours." Basically, it's about how if superheroes were real they'd act like rock stars: sex, drugs and all that.
  • Karen Berger announced a book called Hellblazer: Chas - The Knowledge that sounds really interesting. It's about Chas, the cab driver from the series. Apparently every London cabbie has to read this book called "The Knowledge" that details every little alley and passage in the city and honestly I missed the rest of the description because that sounded so awesome to me.
  • Hellblazer: Pandemonium is a new book written by original Hellblazer scribe Jamie Delano, in which Constantine goes to Iraq and falls in love with a woman who may be a spy.
  • Grant Morrison rambled incoherent Scottish gibberish about all the things that will be going on in his new Seaguy series. I can't be sure of anything I heard, but I think it involves a seedy pirate companion and a new profession as a "bull dresser." You see, in the future Mad Cow Disease has turned cows and bulls into a protected species so instead of stabbing them matadors deftly dress them up in stockings and hats and high heels. Seriously.
  • Bryan Azzarello, who spent most of the panel shooting a killer's eye at photographers and questioners, opened up about the ill-fated book Loveless: "I failed you guys on that book. I'm sorry. I didn't do enough to keep that book going. It had a birth defect, it just never caught on. I still have stories to tell with those characters." He quickly went back to his surly self when asked what his post 100 Bullets project will be. In his best biting Millar impression: "It's gonna be hot, man." Karen Berger mentions that it will be with Eduardo Risso, which gets some applause.
Marvel Panel
Panelists: Joe Quesada, Jim McCann, Duane
Swierczynski, Brian Reed, Bill Roseman, Dan Slott, Axel Alonso, Mark Guggenheim, Kevin Grevioux, Daniel Way, a bunch more
  • Most of the panel was Q+A, to which the A was more often than not: "Keep reading the books. All of them. Buy all of the books."
  • On delays, McCann said: "We're very aware of our "problem children" and try to insert one-shots and annuals to make up for books shipping late."
  • In regards to where the Cable storyline is going, Swierczynski said "If you love the baby, sorry. If you hate the baby, keep reading."
  • A new Deadpool ongoing series is coming from Daniel Way and Paco Medina in September.
  • Bill Roseman said Super Skrull will factor into Secret Invasion, but the Skrulls don't take him very seriously anymore and think he's past his prime.
  • Kevin Grevioux sounds like Tay Zonday.
  • The question of why no one in the Marvel Universe thinks it's strange that they've forgotten Spider-Man's secret identity will apparently be addressed in future stories, but probably not until after Secret Invasion.
  • Quesada said Marvel just hops from event to event because fans speak with their wallets and they're saying "We love events!"
An Evening with Neil Gaiman
  • Bill Hader, who is apparently a huge Gaiman fan, gave the introduction. It includes impressions of Vincent Price as Coraline, and a suspiciously Sam Jackson-sounding Al Pacino as Dream.
  • Gaiman begins by announcing that Rome, GA comic shop owner Gordon Lee has literally just now been cleared of all charges in a case brought against him for giving out a free comic on Halloween that had Picasso painting nudes in it. Gaiman says it's thanks to the CBLDF, which ponied up more than $100,000 in Lee's defense.
  • Gaiman did some good readings: first was a sweet poem called The Day the Saucers Came, then a funny story called "Orange," which structured as responses to some sort of interview about a girl's sister using too much self-tanner and turning into a glowing orange ball of light. Last story I heard before I left was a sort of study in progressive intoxication wherein Gaiman (or the character he's writing in the first person) tries to see if drinking while writing increases his creative capacity. The verdict? About halfway through the bottle he tells a great story about elephant ejaculate feeding an anthill for a year, so... Half a bottle is where it's at.
X-Files: I Want to Believe
Panelists: Chris Carter and (I think) Frank Spotnitz
  • Nothing new to show us, just that same teaser that's been around the web.
  • The guys let slip that Wildstorm will be publishing a new X-Files book. This was an announcement that was going to be made tomorrow by DC, wonder if they're upset that their thunder was stolen.
  • When asked what he wants fans to take home from this new film, Carter said "The trash under your seat."
Tune in tomorrow for highlights from Day Two!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Snap Judgments: Quickie Comic Reviews for 4/16/08

Short comic reviews based on initial, lizard-brain opinions. There are probably some spoilers herein. Arranged from BEST to WORST.

The Damned: Prodigal Sons #1: A
The ignorant S.O.B that I am, I didn't realize this issue was a continuation of previous material when I picked it up. That being said, I had no trouble hopping on and getting into the demonic noir world of The Damned. Honest to goodness solid cartooning spiked with a story I actually haven't read before makes this my fave of the week. -Albo


X-Men: Divided We Stand #1: A
I heart emo superheroes! Abadonment is the theme du jour, or more specifically the sense of betrayal and loss that the x-kids feel after coming back from Iraq, er, I mean whatever went on in Messiah Complex. I didn't read that, but like many a great superhero comic, these stories work out of context as tales of the (meta)human experience writ large. -AHR

Cthulhu Tales #1, Pigeons From Hell #1, Powers Annual 2008 and Captain America #37 all after the jump!

Cthulhu Tales #1: A
As you'll see, this was a week of experimentation for me. I know jack diddly about the Cthulhu mythos, so why I picked up this anthology book from Boom! Studios is a mystery. Actually, it's pretty simple: I like Steve Niles' work on Simon Dark and his name was on the cover. But enough about me. Every one of these stories was a great little nugget of horror goodness, especially Niles'. Their only fault is that at the end of each I wanted more more more. Except maybe the last one that was about a bunch of fat sports fans. -Albo

Pigeons From Hell #1: B
If you can believe it, this book also has a backstory that I was unaware of before I picked it up. Apparently the story was originally told by Conan creator Robert E. Howard, and this is just a "modernization" of his tale. The story is pretty contrived and the dialogue is way hokey, but the energetic art by Nathan Fox and superstar colorist Dave Stewart is enough to make me not regret the purchase. -Albo

Powers Annual 2008: C
You know, there may be something great about this ish (primarily written by artist Mike Oeming) but I'm really not sure what it is. It's a story about cavemen fighting. Maybe it's an allegory? Maybe it's just boring. -Albo

Captain America #37: D
If you have friends who think all comics are about smarmy, laconic, self-righteous manly men in tights, DO NOT give them this book. Cause there's a lot of that crap, and it's boring. All posturing and intense stares, zero drama. -AHR

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Super Mario Bros. Theme Played With RC Car and Wine Bottles


Think you've seen the Mario theme played with every thing under the sun? Well think again! This guy has raised the bar. I love the security guy at the very end just standing there. I expected applause when he finished, but all I got was the stoic guard.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Panel Discussion: Scans from Wonder Woman #19, Fantastic Four #556, Young Liars #2 and More

Every week we at Geekanerd rip panels from our comics and put them on display here, recognizing the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the week. Beware some major SPOILERS.

Click the pics for high res goodness!

20% Percent Gratuity:
Wonder Woman #19
AHR: Here is how I believe this panel came to be....imagine if you will a conversation between artist Bernard Chang and editor Matt Idelson...
"I'm supposed to set this conversation between two men in the shower, but I don't want it to be too homoerotic."
"No problem. Put a sultry naked woman in the foreground."
"....in the men's shower?"
"Military bases can have co-ed showers. Didn't you see Starship Troopers?"

Great art, bad art, an evil Russian girl and a compromising position after the jump!

WTF Happened? - Young Liars #2
Albo: One minute the girl is whispering in the guy's ear and the next she's getting the "protective friend" hand on her shoulder and our hero is getting flipped off. Did he somehow project his fantasy for the world to see? Surely he's not getting the finger because the tickets aren't his? And just what WOULD that girl do to see Spoon? Especially considering that the book is set in 2005 Austin, where Spoon lived and assumedly played pretty frequently.

Best Actor - Evil Russian Girl, BPRD 1942 #4
AHR: I think this character has a name, but I can't be bothered to look it up. All you need to know is she's an evil demon in the form of a Little Russian Girl, and she displays a wide range of both evil and childlike emotions...
Ironically framed innocence! "Who, me?"
A classic "bad cop" interrogation pose.
Sulking
Two more adult expressions. Take charge confidence and affronted annoyance; "who is this bitch and who does he think he's talking to?"

Art Worth Praising - Chris Bachalo, Amazing Spider-Man #556
Albo: What an awesome composition this panel is. The patterns in the floor and in Jameson's gown feel very Sienkiewiczian, the block of light keeps our attention well-focused, the restricted color palette works really well, and the top down perspective is just f-ing cool.
Oooh, what a bleak and stormy night it is! I know this doesn't seem that exceptional out of context, but the whole issue does a really wonderful job of isolating Spidey out in the cold. Bachalo doesn't use black borders around the panels, furthering the feeling of being surrounded on all sides by snow.

Best Comic Timing - Simon Dark #7
AHR: I think many other artists would have been content to simply repeat the first panel to convey an awkward moment of thought process in the second panel. The joke still would have worked, but the blank look away really sells the confusion.

(Mis)Adventures in Computer Coloring - Amazing Spider-Man #556Albo: Please click the image to get a high res glimpse. Now take a look at that image of earth. Get a bucket ready because if you don't vomit at the "I just pulled this lossy jpeg off Google image search" look of that crap then you aren't paying attention. This is the second time we've had to call out this book for crappy use of photos.

Anachronism Alert! - Young Liars #2
Albo: Going to play Guitar Hero, are you? Well I hope you have a time machine, because you're living in April 2005 and Guitar Hero doesn't come out until November 2005!

Product Placement Sucks - Fantastic Four #556
Albo: Marvel is the biggest product placement whore on the planet. I'll accept your intrusive ads if A) You lower the price of the books or B) You remove all other advertisements. Otherwise I can't help but feel like I'm getting ripped off. And for all you guys saying product placement adds realism to a book, please tell me what sort of self-respecting human wears a t-shirt advertising Guitar Hero III: Mobile?

Biggest Letdown - Bryan Hitch's Art, Fantastic Four #556
Albo: It feels like only yesterday I was praising the art in this book. I'm not sure what's happened in the meantime (I hope it's something joyous like Bryan Hitch having a baby and therefore no time for art) but this stuff has gone way downhill. What the F is wrong with Johnny Storm in this panel?! He's been up all night shagging some supervillain, so a little weariness is in order, but c'mon! He looks like a zombie Gary Busey!
Now this one I'm willing to exonerate Hitch for and blame on the colorist... This is supposed to be a pretty impressive splash. And it would be, if I could tell what the hell is going on. There's no focus, it's all terribly jumbled.

From A Certain Point of View - Fantastic Four #556
Albo: Alyssa on ground spread eagle? Check. Sue Storm's head positioned directly between Alyssa's thighs? Check. Alyssa drawing closer to Sue with lips parted and eyes closed?
Check.

WTF?