Monday, July 31, 2006

Chilling in San Diego


I got to San Diego yesterday. I'm going to be here for a week, and I want to post pictures I take here and enhance them with my wordy (not to mention moving) prose. This wonderful idea is, of course, stolen from Alberto, who did just that a couple of weeks ago when he went to Washington, DC. The only problem is that I still haven't taken my camera anywhere. But I'm about to go downtown, and I'm definitely taking it with me; which means that you'll get to see something tomorrow. Meanwhile, to keep you entertained (and to keep with my streak of regular posts), here you have another random panel from my upcoming graphic novel. The medium is obviously pencil on bristol paper. I don't know why, but I really like this picture. I hope you do too!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Susanna Clarke: Revise for Length


At long last I managed to finish Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a whopper of a novel by first-timer Susanna Clarke. My relationship with JS&MN has been a peculiar one. As I've said a few times, I usually like what I read, and when I take chances with new authors, it usually turns out I -like Indy- chose wisely. I normally finish the books I read rather fast, and it's really unusual for me to put a book aside without finishing it (but I've done it in the past: Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick are the two examples that come to mind). So let's keep all that in mind.
Over a year and a half ago, a friend of mine who also likes fantasy and sci-fi, and who happens to be another big Joss Whedon fan, told me about JS&MN. She said it was a great book… if you could get past the first 80 pages or so. I checked out the book on Amazon, and the plot sounded really cool. Back in the 19th century, a couple of British magicians are recruited by the Government to fight against Napoleon and the French army using magic to aid Lord Wellington's army. Also, it was on sale, so I decided to give it a try.
I got the book. I started it. I struggled with it, but I kept thinking "get past the first 80 pages or so". My main problem with the book was that it was mind-numbingly boring. Nothing whatsoever happened in those pages. There was a lot of narration and an incredible amount of description: the paragraphs were long and thick, and the text offered this air of dense inscrutability that deters readers from taking on such works. And the occasional dialogue was not any better, with long, wordy, and not too natural conversations.
I kept going, and at some point, I decided to read another book in between chapters. So I started to do that every chapter, so I'd read a chapter of JS&MN, a book, and then another chapter. But after 200 pages (which comprise "volume I" out of three) I just couldn't take it anymore, and I put the book back in my "To Read" shelf.
A bit over a year went by, and I decided to give it another try (I'm really stubborn, I confess). The first volume was about Mr. Norrell, one of the two magicians, and not the likable one, as it happens. Volume two introduced Jonathan Strange, a more agreeable wizard. And it is when these two characters meet that the book actually takes off. I read the remaining 580 pages in a couple of weeks (and I admit that I read a few other books in between chapters this time as well), and I'm glad I stuck with it.
The story is good, and that's what kept me reading, regardless of what I think are the book's big problems. Or maybe I should say the author's big problems. Now you are going to hate me, but the main problem I have with her is her tolkienesque style. The world loves Tolkien, but I'm not one of them. He has great stories, but he just can't tell them in an entertaining -not to mention compelling- way. (And yeah: I put The Silmarillion aside after 60 pages a few weeks ago, so sue me.) Susanna Clarke suffers from the same disease: wordiness. She just uses too many words to describe anything, everything. She goes around and around, beating about the bush, describing the most insignificant of details, actions, and characters. This gives some richness to the universe she has created, no question about it. But why can't she stick to the story and be direct and to the point? She, like Tolkien, seems to be enchanted by her fictitious world, and gets lost in the details. And while doing that, she bores the reader, who keeps wondering why that is relevant. (Surprise: it is not.)
The hardcover edition I own is 780 pages long, and I can honestly tell you that the book would be twice as good if you got rid of 250 to 300 pages. I'm not exaggerating. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: cut it down to half its length, and it's gonna be twice as good.
And still, I liked it, after a fashion. It is certainly a book I will not recommend anybody, but I'm glad I got through it. I think this is going to be one of those few and exceptional cases (along with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Bridget Jones's Diary) in which the movie is better than the book. Not that they're working on a movie version as far as I know; but if they do it eventually (and, let's face it, it is likely), I say you skip the book and go see the movie. When they "cram" the story down into a couple of hours (no cramming needed, since that's plenty of time for what there is to tell), it's going to be a blast. I hope.

Wonders Never Cease


I've never been too fond of Will Ferrell. Everybody seems to like him fine, but he has this knack to annoy me I don't understand. But that seems to be changing.
First of all, I've seen the preview for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby a couple of times, and I'm almost ashamed to confess I've laughed my dear ass off. Both times. And second of all, and even though it's usually Halagan the one who posts links to silly videos, a friend of mine showed me this Will Ferrell sketch, and I admit I laughed hard again. Maybe -and that's a big maybe- if I can forget about Bewitched, I'll start liking him better.
I guess I'll make a last confession: Talladega Nights opens on August 4th, and you'll probably see me at The Rave that weekend.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Die, Tucker! Dieeee!


I just came back from The Rave, that wonderful movie theater. As I threatened a couple of posts ago, I went to see John Tucker Must Die. And hey, I liked it. I mean, what's there not to like? A bunch of hot chicks… Scratch that. A bunch of really, really hot chicks being evil and trying to destroy a player? Cool story! And awesome eye candy too, hehehe. I guess I'm easily pleased. Anyway. The movie is fun to watch, and I found it very entertaining. It keeps a fast pace from beginning to end (and, at 87 minutes, you don't have time to be bored), and it gives you a glimpse of devious teenage minds and how downright mean they can get.
Coming hardly as a surprise, Rotten Tomatoes.com gives the movie a 23%, making it the "worst" movie opening this weekend. Then again, these people gave Superman Returns a hilarious 76%, and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 a 54% (click on the numbers to read the reviews), so I guess they're only fallible humans, prone to make the occasional mistake (like the three I just mentioned, to give you, dear readers, an example).
So yeah. I usually like what the critics bash. Then again (and as I've said before), I'm in movies for the entertainment value, so you know the chances you're taking if you decide to go see the movie. At least, what you can do for free is to check out the main actresses: Brittany Snow, Arielle Kebbel, Sophia Bush, and Ashanti. And you can also check out some pictures from the movie here. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Milestone


I just finished page 72 of my graphic novel (or four-issue limited series, I don't care). That means the first three chapters are done. Which means I only have 24 more pages to go. I'm trying to do my best on each and every panel, even though some times it just doesn't work like that. I'm having fun most of the time, even though occasionally I feel like kicking the stack of pages and tearing some of them apart.
But mostly, it's terrific fun, and I'm even surprising myself from time to time (some times for the good, some other times… well… I guess I didn't know something I drew could suck so much). So I'm sticking to my summer project and finishing my story. Whether or not it is ever published, time (and editors) will tell. But I can honestly say I'm having a blast, and I'm learning in the process. I can think of worse ways to spend your summer vacation, don't you agree?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Double Feature



Last weekend I went to see a couple of movies. One of them, I was really interested in seeing; the other one, I thought I'd be kind of okay. Both of them opened on Friday, and my being my impatient self, I had to see both of them over the weekend.
The first one was Monster House. I went to see it on Friday as soon as it was showing. The preview looked really good, and I was really excited about it. However, it turned out to be a disappointment. It is well done, and the idea of the haunted house that is actually alive is cool. But it bored me. I guess part of the reason why I didn't like it were the main characters, who were annoying. Especially the fat kid. I felt like slapping him most of the time he showed his stupid face on screen. I found him so annoying that I was hoping against hope he would die or suffer some kind of horrible punishment. Oh, well…
The second one I saw on Sunday. It was Ivan Reitman's new comedy in what seems forever (since Evolution, maybe?): My Super Ex-Girlfriend. I thought it wasn't going to be very good -and the truth is that I don't like Uma Thurman all that much-, but I actually laughed a lot. It turns out Luke Wilson is quite funny, and his horrible dick of a friend, Rainn Wilson, is hilarious. And hey: Anna Faris is hot, so there you go. It's not the greatest movie ever, but it is a lot of fun. More so than Evolution, I think.
Anyway. My friend Kristin just let me borrow Kill Bill 2 on DVD, which I still haven't seen, so I guess I'll do that while I wait for John Tucker Must Die to open. (This Friday!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some More Artwork from Yours Truly


Now here's a post that is not about a book. How weird is that? Anyway. This is a little excerpt of the graphic novel I'm drawing this summer. I've already mentioned it a couple of times, but I know I haven't really shown a lot of it. I just want it to be a surprise for my two or three fans, I guess.
So far, I've drawn 61 pages out of the 96 the story will be, so I'm almost done. When it's done, I'll try to sell it to different publishers; and when that doesn't work, I'll see if I can self-publish it. If I stop buying prints from Richard Friend (check them out: they're great!), I might even have the money!
About this picture in particular, I drew it (pencil), and my sister inked and colored it, so this is a team effort. I hope you like it, and please don't steal it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Curse of the West


I just finished reading (I wonder how many of my posts start with that phrase) The Art of Darkwatch, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
Darkwatch is a PS2 and Xbox videogame that came out last year. It's a first person shooter that combines the Wild West with vampires and steam technology. I've never played the game (I do all my gaming on my trusty laptop), but when I saw the book I remembered I had read about it when it first came out. I remembered seeing some illustrations of the main character, Jericho Cross, on the cover of some gaming magazines a while ago, and I remembered thinking they looked good. So I checked out the book. And I had a blast.
I am a big horror fan, and even though I'm quite ecclectic in my tastes, I seem to be on a horror streak. For the last few months, that's pretty much all I've read; and I guess that the fact that I'm working on a fantasy/horror graphic novel at the moment (more on that on my next post) does affect my mood indeed.
So, as I was saying, I got the book because I like horror, but also because I like drawing. And seeing as it was this book was one of those books compiling concept art, sketches, character and environments designs, production paintings, and all that plethora of stuff that's usually associated with the "Making of" and the "Behind the Scenes" documentaries, I knew I would enjoy it.
And enjoy it I did. The book is a fast read because it's packed with artwork; and said artwork is reproduced with great detail and quality (check out some samples here). The design and layout of the book is simple and effective, and the text accompanying the pretty pictures is actually revealing. I mean, who would have thought the game actually started as a comedy?
So yeah: go get the book. And if you don't want to spend all that money, Amazon has it on sale here. Have fun.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Talking About Fantasy Artists


After my previous post about Brom, I realized I still hadn't mentioned Raymond Swanland in this blog. Let's fix that.
I was at Barnes & Noble (shocking, I know), lurking around the fantasy section (something I never do either), when a couple of covers caught my attention. The pictures looked very distinctive, dynamic, and kind of dark. The books were part of The Fighters storyline, which I haven't read, but that take place in the Forgotten Realms universe.
I checked the back of the book and then the copyright page in my quest to find out who the artist was. It turned out it was a Raymond Swanland.
Since the Internet is one of Mankind's greatest inventions (along with the thong and the escalator --going up, mind you), it took like a couple of seconds to find Swanland's Official Site. And this man is nothing short of awesome. Just go and take a look at his artwork (the picture accompanying this post is one of my favorites, but it's been really hard to choose one), and then come back and thank me. You're welcome.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pop Goes the Weasel


I just finished reading The Plucker, a very entertaining dark fantasy by the famous artist Brom. The story is about Jack, a jack-in-the-box that has to spring forward and save his owner from an evil spirit that kills toys and feeds on their essence.
At 140 pages, the story is a short read, but the artwork is very detailed, and it shows the artist cared for every single drawing and painting in the book. While I would not urge you to read it, you could definitely do worse than checking it out.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Evil Reptile


This is part of a picture I drew for a friend's WarHammer short story. I've never played the game, and I don't really know anything about the WH universe. But hey: weird creatures are weird creatures no matter what.
Regarding the media, it's pencil and ink (quill), with some ink washes (brush). I suck at inking, but somebody had to do it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yet Another Delay


Please go back in time to March 2006. It was then that a little movie called Pulse was supposed to open. Yet another horror movie. Yet another teen horror movie. Yeat another teen horror movie based on a Japanese horror movie. But this one starred Kristen Bell, famous for her starring role in the TV show Veronica Mars (you could do worse than getting the show on DVD, by the way). So I thought I'd go see it, but it got pushed back to July. July 14th, as it happens. Tomorrow, in other words.
But the movie got pushed back again, this time to August 11th. The way I understand it, studios schedule movies they are either not confident in or they don't care about in those middle/last weeks of the month named after the Roman Emperor. But hey: Kristen Bell is in the movie.
But the story is starting to look more and more like the American release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on DVD, because -you guessed it-, it's been pushed back again. This time, to September 8th.
There's an interesting thread on IMDb.com (where else?) about this issue. Disastrous test screenings and negative reactions are mentioned. Some other people say the studio is shooting for a PG-13 rating that is just not happening. In fact, it seems the movie is rated R, but the Pulse Official Site says the movie is not rated yet. Interesting, right?
I understand the studio wants to make as much money as possible, and shooting for the PG-13 rating will give the movie a much broader target audience; but if the movie is supposed to be an R movie, all the cuts and changes to make it PG-13 are undoubtedly going to hurt the final product. And spawn at least a couple of DVD editions.
And you know what? In the end, the movie is probably going to suck no matter what. But hey, it's Kristen Bell, so I'll go see it, and hope for the best.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Siblings on the Moon


I've been telling Halagan about Ultra: Seven Days, by the Luna Brothers, in my comments to one of the posts below, so I decided to make it "official" and talk about it out here. Ultra was the first book the two brothers put out, and it's been followed by Girls, and a Spiderwoman miniseries for Marvel Comics.
Ultra is a fun book about three superheroines and their romantic issues. They always complain about how hard it is to find a nice guy, and so on and so forth. I like romantic comedies, I kinda like chick flicks (I confess), and I like humor. And this book has all those ingredients. The artwork is really distinctive. I don't like all that much, but it's not bad, and it fits the story, so I won't complain too much about it. But I definitely think the story and dialogue are far better than the artwork. This is one of those books you should get because of the story rather than the pretty pictures.
Regarding Girls (check out this interview about the launching of the series a while ago), I've only read the first trade paperback (the second one is out already), which compiles the first six issues of the series. The first issue is HILARIOUS, and is, by far, the best one. Sharp dialogue and funny situations will make you laugh until you cry. After that, the book is still enjoyable, and I most certainly recommend it... but it gets weirder and weirder. You've been warned.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bad Books Too


I told you it was coming, and it is here at last. This is the second and last installment in the Bad Books series. In a previous post, I said I’d talk about five terrible books I read last year, but the truth is that only two of those five are really abysmal. The other three were just disappointing, but kind of entertaining. The books I’m going to talk about today have no excuse for existing, though.

The first one is Sandstorm (which I'm trying really hard not to rename Shitstorm), by James Rollins. This is the only book I’ve read from the author, and given I still have nightmares about how boring it was, I am pretty sure it’ll be the last one as well. The story sounded interesting, mixing action, archaeology, high-tech gadgets, spies, hotties, and a continent-to-continent quest to find… I don’t remember. And honestly, after a hundred pages, neither would you. A novel that had all the elements to be fast-paced, intriguing, and compelling, turned out to be a half-hearted effort at thriller that bored me to death. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care about the story. I didn’t care about the world being in danger (if that’s what it was all about, since I honestly don’t remember), or anything else. In a true Superman Returns fashion, I just couldn’t care less. I give it a ZERO out of 10.

Before I move on, let me point something out. I’ve recently found myself saying that, when I don’t like a story, it’s because it wasn’t “compelling”. On the one hand, I feel like I’m overusing the word. On the other hand, good stories, no matter their format or length, are always compelling. If you don’t care about the action, the peril, the characters, or the consequences of whatever is being told, it’s not a good story. If you find yourself thinking about all the fun stuff you could be doing instead of sticking with the story, then it’s not a good story. If the writer/director/actor/artist doesn’t make me care, they’ve failed in their attempt at entertaining me. And yeah, I mostly base my opinion on entertainment value because that’s what I look for in a story: a tale that makes me forget the world outside of that little make-believe universe. A story that sucks me in and doesn’t let me go until it’s over. And for that little magic trick to happen, you need a good combination of story, characters, and storytelling, simple as that.

Moving on. The second one is Grimm Memorials (which explains the picture accompanying this post), by R. Patrick Gates. Again, I had never read anything by him, and you can bet whatever it is you bet when you’re betting it’ll be the last one. Overall, the book was perverse, which is something I really have no problem with. This is fiction, after all, and I understand the difference between make-believe horrifying violence (and here, “horrifying” entails eating children alive and other such delicacies), and real violence. Actually, this gross-out factor was the only thing that kept me going (I learned a long time ago that not finishing a book because you don’t like it is okay), but the story was lame, and the characters were –you guessed it- not compelling at all. In fact, I was rooting for the bad guy (a witch) to eat them all and be done already. And “rooting” might be too strong a word, since I didn’t really care about her either. Also, the pace was ill-conceived; and, worst of all, the characters didn’t act in a very realistic way. It was as if the demands of the story forced them to act in a specific way so it could all “work” in the end. I give it a 1 out of 10 for the creative violence.

And that’s it. No more bad books in the near future (at least, that I’ll tell you about), and no more long posts, since my last three have been gargantuan in length. Go read something cool (like the Age of Unreason series, for instance).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Why Is the Rum Always Gone?


I guess I could pretend I’m not biased, but this is the sequel to my favorite movie of all time, so I was pretty sure I was going to like it. Well, I was wrong. I didn’t like it. I loved it.
I knew from the very beginning the idea behind the first Pirates movie was to start a franchise. However, Johnny Depp’s movies had never been blockbusters, and the last few pirate movies to be released (in the last decade, give or take a few years) had all flopped (Cutthroat Island, anyone?). I guess that’s why the first Pirates had a pretty much closed ending. If it worked, they could do some more; if it didn’t, well, that was it. But the movie went on to plunder $305.4 million, becoming an unexpected blockbuster.
Three years later, we get the second (out of three) installment. I love the first movie, so I didn’t want to get my expectations up, because I knew I’d be disappointed. Then I saw the teaser trailer, and wasn’t very impressed (the teaser for the first Pirates blew me away, but it’s not in the DVD; does anybody know how I can get it?). Then I saw the extended trailer, and I started to hope: it looked damned good.
Then Friday came, and I went to the first showing at 11:30. The theater was packed with people and families and cute little 6 year-olds dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow. I saw the movie. And it was fantastic.
What’s there not to like? Great dialogue, excellent performances, compelling characters, a solid story that uses many elements from the Pirates universe that was introduced in the first movie, old and new characters alike, the bad guy with the coolest design I’ve ever seen (he reminds me -in a less flaming way- of Dead Pirate Zombie LeChuck [follow the link and keep scrolling down for a little paragraph I just found discussing exactly that: the similarities between LeChuck, Captain Barbossa, and Davy Jones] from the fabulous Monkey Island games), incredible special effects, fights and action sequences so well orchestrated and so full of audacity that leave you gasping for air. Gasping and laughing. And laughing. And then laughing some more.
I loved it. I loved it all. So I went to see it again that same day, at 7:30. And I liked it even more than the first time. The movie theater (my beloved Rave) was packed, more so than I had ever seen it before. The parking lot was a nightmare of cars, and I was hoping they were all there to see the movie, because I wanted it to do well. Hell, I wanted it to blow competition out of the water. And when I read the newspaper earlier today, I saw it had. Big time.
According to USA Today (you can also check the numbers at Rotten Tomatoes.com), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest has already broken a couple of Hollywood records. First, it’s had the biggest opening weekend in history with $132 million. (The four former champs being Spider-Man with $114.8 million, Star Wars III with $108.4, Shrek 2 with $108, and X-Men 2 with $102.8) And second, it’s had the biggest single-day take ever at $55.5 million. (Former champs were Star Wars III with $50 million, and X-Men 2 with $45.1) In other words: it looks like this movie is going to be HUGE, which it certainly deserves.
The only “bad” thing is that, since they shot this one and the third one back to back, the movie just stops after a certain point rather than end. They’re pulling a Back to the Future (or, more recently, Lord of the Rings, even though BTTF follows the exact same pattern POTC does) on us, and they leave us hanging until next May 25th, when Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End will open, and the story will end.
So do yourself a favor and go see it (I’m definitely going again). And when you do, wait until the credits are over because, just like the first one, there is a hidden scene at the end. And don’t tell me the credits are boring, because Hans Zimmer’s cool music is playing. So there you go. Show your love for Captain Jack Sparrow, and go see the movie. You won’t regret it.

Pre-sophomores

Another recommendation destined to fill those moments of spare time, today in the form of a comic book. It’s called Freshmen, and it surely doesn’t count with the most original exposition in comic history. A bunch of college freshmen repudiates suffer the consequences of a scientifical accident: a machine called the Ax-cell-erator, destined to empower body cells with healing purposes, explodes and grant superpowers to our soon-to-be heroes. Each one of them gets the exact same thing he was thinking of at the moment of the accident. Each one of them… except Kenneth "Norrin" Weismeyer, a guy obsessed with comic book superheroes, who had went out for a pizza.
The kind of powers they receive… well, they are pretty unconventional, to say the least. A French ladykiller who thinks himself a squirrel, a genius math whose burps, when drunk, have the effect of intoxicate every person at smell distance, an Amish guy who can cause earthquakes by shuffling his belly…
A fantastic mini-series, a light but very interesting story, and despite what it could seem, a much recommended read, written by Hugh Sterbakov and originally developed by himself and Seth “Oz” Green. The six first issues and a yearbook with special artwork have been published also in the form of a trade paperback, and the series will continue next November, with the first issue of Freshmen II: Fundamentals of Fear, which Sterbakov defines as their own Empire Strikes Back. Okay, now I need to read it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

This Year's Bad Books


My dear friend and collaborator Halagan asked me to mention a book I read I didn't like, so he doesn't have to go crazy buying everything I recommend. The truth is that I'm usually lucky when it comes to choosing books by authors I've never read, but there are some exceptions, of course. Therefore, I'll give you the three books I've read I haven't liked this year (out of 31 books and 19 graphic novels so far), and tomorrow I'll write about the five books (out of 60) I didn't like last year.
The book that has the dubious honor of opening my peculiar list is The Accidental, by Ali Smith. The premise was interesting: a girl that suddenly shows up at a house and gives each member of the family what they want. The book, however, bored me to death. Also, the author thought it would be cool not to use quotation marks when characters speak, so, most of the time, you go like "Hold on. Did he say that, or thought it?" (actually, you would go like Hold on, did he say that or thought it? If your lines were written by said author), and you have to backtrack and make sure what the context is. I'll tell you what the context is: a big boring piece of crap: a big fat ZERO out of 10.
The second book on the list is actually not a book, but a graphic novel (based on a book, though). It is Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, originally written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and adapted into comic book format by somebody I don't remember (and I don't want to get up and check the book, cause I might end up burning it), and illustrated by somebody I don't remember either. (I guess I could check it on the Internet, but you can follow the link and find out by yourselves).
I saw the book at Waldenbooks, and thought the artwork looked nice, and the story was probably going to be okay. Still, I had misgivings, because I had read the first two books of a trilogy by Weis & Hickman like twelve years ago (in a Spanish translation, because I didn't read books in English at the time), and I hadn't liked them very much. But I thought I'd give them another chance, and thus I bought it.
When I got home, I started to read it, and after two or three pages, an unsettling feeling of déjà vu started to creep over me. I kept reading, but it was hard work, because the dialogue was not very good, the story was not very interesting, and the narration boxes were very expository and redundant, which is never a good thing. Also, the artwork didn't really look as good as I had first thought it did, and the artist's storytelling was not exactly awesome. Not too happy, I kept going, but the story was appallingly bad, and that was certainly influencing my opinion of the pictures, because I started to actively dislike them.
By the time I was halfway through the damned thing, and still unable to shake off that feeling of déjà vu, I realized I had the two aforementioned Weis-Hickman books with me, some of the many books I brought with me when I moved in. I went to my bedroom and checked the titles. The first one was called (but in Spanish) "The Return of the Dragons", but I know better than to trust the translation of a book or movie title, so I went to the copyright page. And sure enough, the so-called "The Return of the Dragons" was but a translation of the original "Dragons of Autumn Twilight". I was reading the exact same book I had read and despised all those years ago! Shaking my head and thinking it was kind of ironic, I finished the graphic novel, but I hated every single page I had left. When I was done, I put it back on the shelf. If anybody is interested, I'll sell it to you, 50% off (and it is brand new). It gets a negative 1 out of 10.
And the third book on the list (or second, depending on your point of view, I guess) is Faith & Fire, by James Swallow. It is the first Warhammer 40,000 book I've ever read (and it'll probably be the last); and no, I've never played the game either. The story is your basic "escaped prisoner needs to be brought back to us", but the fact that the people after him were a warrior Order called the Sisters of Battle -all clad in cool, high-tech armor- made it look interesting to me. No such luck, though. The book is mildly entertaining (much more than The Accidental, mind you), but it's not very compelling, and you don't really care about any of the characters, so it doesn't really matter when somebody dies. But I'm feeling kind of generous (especially after comparing it to both The Accidental and Dragons of the Boring Sunset), so I'll give it a 4.5 out of 10.
And that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed the rant.

There's no other like your mother

This has to be the tackiest music video ever. Undoubtedly everyone will remember Mr. T, from the A-Team. Yeah, that TV show in which every episode went just like the previous one: an attractive farmer’s daughter hires them because of the owner of a large estate, who wants to steal their land (she talks with Hannibal, who happens to be disguised as a dinosaur with a great cigar in his mouth); the A-Team comes (not before having broken into a mental hospital to recruit the mad Murdock, who, BTW, will have throughout all the episode a puppet sock in his hand) after drugging Mr. T, who is afraid of flying; Face and the farmer’s daughter flirt with each other; they pay a visit under disguise to the bad guy and his thugs, and a great brawl follows (at least a couple of tables and windows are gonna be broken, they like it or not); the bad guy vows revenge and, after two or three possible variants, depending on the episode, a final attack is set; far away, an army General hears that the four fugitives have been spotted and rushes to go catching them; the A-Team make the most of the farmer’s old warehouse, which happens to be a DIY superstore (and it always contains: an old broken car chassis, a not-so-broken car motor, a lot of steel sheets and a welding torch); then the final battle is fought (and, although many bullets –and nails- are fired, nobody actually dies) and the bad guy is forced to leave with his metaphorical tail between his real legs; Face and the farmer’s daughter flirt with each other a little bit more; just when the A-Team is ready to leave they see the aforementioned General, who comes for them (causing an uproar at the front of a extremely large convoy, all lights and alarms set off), but too late; they escape, and the episode finishes with Mr. T throwing a punch to Murdock because of some stupid joke with the puppet sock he’s just made. By the fun of it, check this page out.


Back to the video, if you manage to see it till the end, you will gain all of my admiration and respect. Those lyrics, those three girls in the back trying to dance but not succeeding in their task, those lights, that bad interpreted scene of the beginning and Mr. T’s subsequent speech… Priceless. Because it isn’t worth a penny.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Would the Devil Wear if He Lived in NY? (and was a woman)


I just came back from the movie theater, where I went to see The Devil Wears Prada. And hey, it was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed it. Meryl Streep does a great job with her relentless character, Anne Hathaway is good too, and Stanley Tucci is priceless. The story is fast paced and entertaining, and even though it's not too difficult to imagine how things are going to end, it's still a fun ride. Oh, and the redhead (Emily Blunt) is really, really cute, but she needs to eat more. Her character says she hasn't eaten in weeks because she's trying to lose weight, and, truth is, she does look like she's only heard of food (that persistent myth). At any rate, it's worth seeing. Much more compelling and entertaining than certain return from certain Kryptonian whose sense of fashion is also a bold statement of his personality. And hey: the girls working at The Rave in Chattanooga were wearing red horns on opening day. It just doesn't get better than that!

Thou Shalt not Suffer a Witch to Live


A couple of days ago, I finished Writ in Blood, the first book in the Serenity Falls trilogy. I had never read anything by the author, James A. Moore -I hadn't, in fact, even heard his name before-, and I am really, really glad I picked up this book. Each chapter is divided in three different parts. In the first one, and old resident of the aforementioned town talks to different people in an effort to compile a history of Serenity Falls. In the second one, we get to read different parts of that history, only to discover there have been an awful lot of people murdered by their good neighbors in this town over the years. Also, you get to see whose relatives are still around and why they are the way they are. And in the third part, we get to follow Jonathan Crowley (a sort of badass Wesley Windham-Price from Buffy), a mysterious supernatural hunter. He is a brutal fighter with little or no feelings whatsoever, but he is clearly the author's favorite part, because the narration is at its best in these sections of the chapters. The book is violent and horrifying, but it is told in an amused way in which you can almost hear the detached narrator chuckling and having a great time. I'm still to read the other two books, but this one is supremely entertaining.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Return of the Artwork


Hi everybody! It's been a while since I've posted new artwork, because I'm working on a graphic novel, and that's pretty much all I'm drawing these days. If I'm drawing, then it's a page for my story. And when I'm all drawn out, well, then I don't draw. My graphic novel is going to be 96 pages long (4 issues of 24 pages), and I finished page 43 last night. But since it seems Halagan and I are posting a lot recently, I decided to keep the ball rolling. I was wondering what to post (yesterday was Lindsay Lohan's birthday, and I find the fact that I thought about posting something about it really, really disturbing), and decided to post a little panel from the aforementioned comic book. I mean, my friends Alberto and Lori (great people and great couple) are always writing about important issues, news, and politics; and here I am, trying to choose the best Lindsay picture to add to her birthday celebration. I seriously think there's something wrong with me.

Surfing & Linking

Surfing the net, the other day I came across a bunch of curious webpages. I’ll share with you the three of them that attracted my attention the most. The first one’s title is: Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sit-Com Character. It’s one of those games that manages to have you entertained for hours –well, actually, only one or so. If you spend more time playing, then you really have a good problem. Go see a psychologist-.

The second page is entitled Dueling Analogs –a reference to the Duelling Banjos song? Who knows? - and is apparently carried by one Steve Napierski. It publishes a videogame referencing short comic strip every Monday and Wednesday. It’s sometimes funny, depending on if you know the videogame that is being made reference of or not. Not that I like them all, but here goes my favorite...


And, finally, for all of you out there who love the Monkey Island videogames saga as much as finn5fel and I do… an outtakes short movie created by FatSatan (I don’t know who you are, but... Good job!). There are links in the bottom of the page to other Monkey Island parodies, but I really wouldn’t spent any time checking them out. Believe me, this one is the best. By far.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What's Cooler than Big-Ass Robots?


I just saw the teaser for the upcoming Transformers movie. It doesn't really show anything, and if you're hoping to get a glimpse of our favorite robots... well, a glimpse is all you'll get. Literally. Anyway, I think this could be a really cool movie. Then again, Transformers #1 was the first comic book I ever bought, and the first and only series I followed for a long, long time, so I might be biased. Then the series was cancelled. Then, they made that crappy Robots in Disguise miniseries. And then the artwork skyrocketed with Pat Lee and the Dreamwave guys. But Dreamwave passed away, and I think they're on IDW now. (For the complete timeline plus all the different TV shows and publishers, check out The Ultimate Guide, but keep in mind it was published it 2004, so it doesn't look ultimate anymore.) Anyway, check out the preview if you were a middle school kid in the 80's. And have I mentioned they're also making a Voltron movie?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Superman Has Returned... But Why?


I went to see Superman Returns yesterday. I wasn’t very excited about the movie because I’ve never been a Superman fan, but still. I am a huge fan of Smallville, though, and Bryan Singer was directing the movie. Besides, having no expectations whatsoever was a good thing, because then I would most likely enjoy the movie without being disappointed.
Well, I was not disappointed, but that’s probably because my brain was so numb from the dullness of the movie, that I couldn’t feel anything else. I was so bored that I surprised myself wishing I was watching the movie at home so I could do something entertaining while watching the movie. Maybe play Alice on my laptop. (Talking about Alice, they’re making a movie out of it, as it happens.)
The acting is fine, and I thing the movie is well cast. Brandon Routh makes for a great Clark Kent/Superman; Kevin Spacey is an okay Luthor; and Kate Bosworth… well, I wasn’t all that impressed with her, but I guess she’s okay. However, and even though I was trying really hard not to compare them, I couldn’t help it: I was missing Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and Erica Durance.
Routh is likeable enough as Clark, but I’d choose Tom Welling over him any day. The same goes for the bad guy. Rosenbaum’s Luthor is infinitely more nuanced and scary –not to mention less campy- than Spacey’s, and I wanted to go back and watch Smallville instead of the movie. And Erica Durance is a much cooler (and also, paradoxically, hotter) Lois than Kate Bosworth. And more fun to watch. Just like Smallville. You can watch four episodes of the show in the same amount of time it would take you to watch the movie, and any of those episodes would be more fun and more compelling than Singer's movie.
Cause that’s my main problem with the movie. Superman Returns is not fun to watch. It’s too long and too boring. It’s not compelling. It’s not entertaining. It’s just long and dull, and it drags on and on and on, until it’s mercifully over. The best part of the whole experience was watching the Spiderman 3 teaser for the first time. Now that was exciting. (And bizarre, I thought, since they were pairing a Marvel icon with a DC one.)
In short, I’m just going to go ahead and blame Bryan Singer for two recent bad movies: X-Men 3 and Superman Returns. Superman did not need to return at all, especially if he was going to do so in such a lackluster movie. And the fact that Singer left X3 to do it makes him responsible for the not-quite-disastrous-but-almost third installment of Wolvie & Friends. It’s a good thing Pirates of the Caribbean 2 opens in a week. ‘Tis a good thing indeed.