Friday, June 18, 2010
Shortly after the character's unspeakably bizarre origin, he found himself taking the place of a recently deceased U.S. senator. As a result, the Black Condor was more likely to take on corrupt politicians and greedy industrialists than to battle super villains.
If Frank Capra had made comics, it might have looked something like this:
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Don't get me wrong. I liked Iron Man 2. I felt it was well worth the $6 I paid for a matinee show. I would have probably felt the same way about a full price ticket. The effects were good, the pace didn't drag and Downey remains an ideal choice. Nonetheless IM2 remains an almost perfect example of a coffee house script.
If you've lived in LA, you've probably been forced to overhear a couple of aspiring industry types working on a movie treatment. I suppose that technically what they are doing would be called 'writing,' but it's fundamentally different from any writing process I'm familiar with.
You won't overhear them talking about story or character or even great scenes; all they are interested in are elements.
A typical conversation might go like this:
"He's got a loner."
"A tortured loner."
"A tortured loner... and he's like totally dedicated to his job."
"Because his wife died and he wasn't there to save her."
"Because his child died because he wasn't there to save her then his wife left him because he had like a breakdown."
At this point the one with the laptop starts typing while the other sits back and reflects on which actress he should sleep with first once he makes it big.
I could easily imagine Iron Man 2 emerging from a similar process. The script is largely a collection of elements, almost none of which emerge logically from what there is of the story, from the terminal illness, to Downey's bad-boy bits to pretty much every fight scene (and while we're on the subject, how did Vanko know that Stark would be driving the car?).
The low point was unquestionably the daddy-loved-me moment. In no way justified by character or situation, it was simply there because the film-makers needed it there.
There are any number of ways to dramatically convey a man's discovery of his father's pride and love. If you give yourself a couple of minutes I'm sure you can think of a half dozen or so that are better than having the father pop up for no reason -- deus ex video -- and just spell it out.
Screenwriter Justin Theroux had never written a screenplay before (I have a hunch Favreau and possibly Downey had a hand in some of the dialogue but Theroux is the only credited writer on IMDB). Other than a story credit for Tropic Thunder, all of his previous work has been as an actor.
(just to be clear, it's OK to have a revisionist take on a Golden Age hero if you have something interesting to say. Check out Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100 to see this approach done right)
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Target Comics volume 3, number 6, August 1942
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
From the LA Times:
Himan Brown, the pioneer radio producer and director of "Grand Central Station," "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" and other popular shows of the 1930s and '40s who returned to the airwaves three decades later with " CBS Radio Mystery Theater," has died. He was 99.
Brown died Friday of age-related causes at his longtime apartment on Central Park West in Manhattan, said his granddaughter Melina Brown.
In a career in radio that began in the medium's infancy in the late 1920s, the prolific Brown's credits include "The Adventures of the Thin Man," "Bulldog Drummond," "Dick Tracy," "Flash Gordon," "The Adventures of Nero Wolfe," "Terry and the Pirates" and many others.
Along the way, he directed stars such as Orson Welles, Helen Hayes, Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.
"He was one of the great storytellers of the heyday of the golden age of radio," said Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. "He symbolized an entire era of dramatic radio entertainment."
Brown may be best remembered for creating "Inner Sanctum Mysteries," which debuted in 1941 and ran until 1952. The show's opening featured one of the most famous sound effects in radio history: an eerie creaking door.
"That great sound effect just gave you a sense of mystery and suspense, symbolizing Hi Brown's flair for the dramatic," Simon said.
Long after the rise of television, Brown returned to radio to produce and direct the Peabody Award-winning "CBS Radio Mystery Theater," which ran from 1974 to 1982.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I know this because the good people at Lambiek have a biological sketch on LeBlanc. You can also find an entry on Andre LeBlanc in Wikipedia. The only trouble is that it's not an entry on the artist; it's an entry on a fictional DC Comics villain probably named after the artist (though that fact isn't mentioned).
The only thing more boring than a fictional biography of a comic book character is a retconned biography. None of what's good about comics -- either as works of art or pieces of entertainment or business case studies or historical documents -- makes it into these dreary, badly-written Cliff Notes.
OK. I've got it out of my system. You can come back now and enjoy this story from July 9, 1944.
But as amazing as that work was, it still had a callow quality. The Spirit was, for me, the first fully mature, fully realized comic. There had certainly been entertaining, even great comics before but I don't think anyone before had used the medium to this extent before. Here's an example in a clever story involving an evil spymaster, a wind-up Spirit doll and two pairs of similar looking glasses
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The last post got me thinking, I don't know if someone has already tried this but the Light's Out scripts of Wyllis Cooper and Arch Oboler would make great comic books.
Here's a list of notable episodes from Wikipedia:
- "The Ugliest Man in the World", a sentimental tale of a hideously deformed man seeking love in a cruel world, inspired by gentle Boris Karloff's typecasting in horror roles, and enlivened by strikingly expressionistic dramatic effects.
- "Profits Unlimited", a still-relevant allegory on the promises and dangers of capitalism.
- "Bathysphere", a political thriller about a scientist and a dictator sharing a deep sea diving bell.
- "Visitor from Hades", about a bickering married couple trapped in their apartment by a hellhound.
- "Come to the Bank", in which a man learns to walk through walls, but gets stuck when he tries to rob a vault.
- "Oxychloride X", about a chemist who invents a substance that can eat through anything.
- "Murder Castle", based on the real-life case of H. H. Holmes, Chicago's notorious serial killer.
- "Spider", in which two men attempt to capture a giant arachnid.
- "The Flame", a weird exercise in supernatural pyromania.
- "Sub-Basement", which finds yet another husband and wife in peril—this time trapped far beneath a department store in the subterranenan railway of the Chicago Tunnel Company.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
With that out of the way...