A routine that was so essential to so many of us out there has come to an end. Whitney Matheson completes a 15-year run of Pop Candy, the pop culture blog at USA Today.
We will all miss Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy at USA Today but, of course, when one door closes, another door opens. September 3 was her last day as she was laid off from her post that she had held for 15 years. Of course, fans have been caught by surprise and are showing their support at Whitney’s Twitter.
Here is one from the archives: A CNN iReport put together by Jennifer Daydreamer and yours truly, this is an impromptu interview with James Sime, owner of Isotope, The Comic Book Lounge, that segued into an impromptu interview with Whitney Matheson. The discussion here involves the state of comics, which is always evolving, and how they coexist with Hollywood. This is from 2010, the year that “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Walking Dead” were big winners at the Eisner Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Whitney hosted some awesome Pop Candy meetups through the years. Well, perhaps there will be something similar in the future.
Good luck to you, Whitney! We look forward to future observations and excellent writing! You are one of the best!
There was a lot of buzz at Comic-Con over this collection of the animated series, BATMAN BEYOND. It is the latest awesome Warner Home Video to catch my eye. Warner Home Video will distribute this limited edition DVD set of all 52 episodes of the series on November 23. All things considered, this would make an excellent gift for the holidays.
The series provides an intriguing new wrinkle into the Batman mythos. The setup is that Bruce Wayne is now an old man, retired and done with crime-fighting. Enter Terry McGinnis. He is just a regular teen boy until one day his father is murdered. This echoes Bruce Wayne’s own family tragedy. To make it worse, the murder mystery leads back to Wayne/Powers Corporation.
This DVD set is loaded with extras, including a movie celebrating the 75th anniversary of DC Comics. There’s also tons of stuff about Batman and his gear. Lots of amazing voice talent, which includes Henry Rollins, from the legendary punk bank, Black Flag; Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons) and George Takei (Star Trek). The production team, the writing team, everybody on board this one is providing you with quality product.
Press release follows:
BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE SERIES
LIMITED EDITION COMPILATION SET! INCLUDES ALL 52 ACTION-PACKED EPISODES
PLUS THREE NEW BONUS FEATURETTES
WARNER HOME VIDEO TO DISTRIBUTE DVD SET NOV. 23
BURBANK, CA (August 18, 2010) – Warner Bros. Animation’s breakthrough
series Batman Beyond comes to DVD for the first time in its entirety.
Featuring DC Comics’ iconic hero, Batman, Batman Beyond: The Complete
Series presents nearly 20 hours of animated action spread over 52
episodes, as well as all-new bonus featurettes and a 24-page, 8”x 12”
collectible booklet. Batman Beyond: The Complete Series will be
distributed by Warner Home Video on November 23, 2010 as a nine-disc
limited edition DVD set for $99.98 (SRP).
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series centers on Terry McGinnis, an
ordinary teenager … until his father is mysteriously murdered.
Suspecting foul play at his father’s company, Wayne/Powers
Corporation, Terry meets Bruce Wayne and learns of a secret identity
hidden for decades. Now too old to don the cape and cowl as Batman,
Wayne refuses to help – so Terry does what any brash young kid would
do: steal the Bat-suit and take matters into his own hands! Vowing to
avenge his father’s death, Terry dons the high-tech suit tricked out
with jetpacks, a supersensitive microphone and even camouflage
capabilities in search of his father’s assassin. It’s 52 action-packed
episodes following the adventures of the partnership between an
ex-crimefighter and his apprentice, starring Will Friedle (Boy Meets
World) as Terry McGinnis and, reprising his seminal role, Kevin Conroy
(Batman: The Animated Series) as Bruce Wayne.
Casting throughout the series’ 52 episodes featured award winners from
feature films, primetime television and the Broadway stage – from Paul
Winfield, Stockard Channing and Seth Green to
William H. Macy, Wayne Brady and Teri Garr – not to mention George
Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Dan Castellaneta (The
Simpsons), Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid), George Takei (Star Trek)
and Henry Rollins (the front man for the rock band, Black Flag).
An all-star production team was headed by executive producer Jean
MacCurdy and producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami and
Paul Dini. Writers on the series included Burnett and Dini, as well as
Stan Berkowitz, Bob Goodman, Rich Fogel, Hilary Bader and John McCann.
Included in the beautifully custom designed package is a 24-page, 8”x
12” collectible booklet with the inside perspective and artwork from
the vaults especially compiled by DC Comics for this release.
Three new bonus features created specifically for the Batman Beyond:
The Complete Series are:
TOMORROW KNIGHT: THE BATMAN REBORN
The “Batman Beyond” creative team gives you a peek into the character
of Terry McGinnis, and what made him worthy to become the new Caped Crusader.
GOTHAM: CITY OF THE FUTURE
A look at Gotham City, circa 2039, and how the team built a realistic
vision of the near future while remaining true to the city they
created in Batman: The Animated Series.
THE HIGH TECH HERO
Explore the technology behind the Bat-suit, its amazing powers and the real world science that inspired it.
The collection will also contain the DC 75th anniversary documentary,
Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics.
“Batman Beyond was a landmark series as it created altogether new
directions for the iconic character, and added dimensions for fans
both old and new to the Batman mythology,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice
President of Family, Animation & Sports Marketing. “Warner Home Video
is proud to release this important series in an all-encompassing box
set, just in time to make a perfect holiday gift for the ultimate
About Warner Home Video:
With operations in 90 international territories Warner Home Video, a
Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, commands the largest distribution
infrastructure in the global video marketplace. Warner Home Video’s
film library is the largest of any studio, offering top quality new
and vintage titles from the repertoires of Warner Bros. Pictures,
Turner Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment, HBO Home Video and New Line Home Entertainment.
About DC Entertainment:
DC Entertainment, home to such iconic DC Comics properties as
Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD
Magazine, and Fables, is the creative division charged with
strategically integrating across Warner Bros. and Time Warner. DC
Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to
unleash its superheroic characters across all media, including but not
limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment,
and interactive games. Publishing over 1,000 comic books, graphic
novels and magazines each year, DC Comics is the largest
English-language publisher of comics in the world.
Entertainment Weekly shows a lot of love for Comic-Con in its current issue. It’s fun to look back and see in its pages what I began to accept in person: Oh, look, there goes Joss Whedon right ahead of us. Yeah, and I’m over here, next to Kevin Smith. Now, alas, that is a thing of the past, until next year. Here are a few thoughts on the Comic-Con that was.
One of the first images that came into focus this year at Comic-Con was a guy dressed up as Indiana Jones. There he was in the middle of the ritual of allowing an approving stranger to take his photo. But once the photo was taken, the guy slouched and seemed to revert back to himself. Getting a better look at him, I concluded he didn’t look all that much like Indiana Jones except for a fair attempt at a costume.
He must have picked up on my scrutiny and tried to look away and hide himself. I meant no harm. I wanted to embrace his participation even though I needed my time to process. What I should have done was just smiled at the guy. That is how I approach Comic-Con. I will always be the critic but I will always search for meaning too.
Do comics still exist at Comic-Con? The tongue-in-cheek question is asked each year as Hollywood seems to take more and more space from what was originally a comics only convention. As silly as the question sounds, it can send chills down the spine of the cartoonist and/or dedicated fan.
There had been talk of doing away with Artist Alley, the section of the convention floor dedicated to new comics talent, to make way for more of the Hollywood promotion machine. That never happened and hopefully never will. To some degree, that would be like killing the goose that laid the golden egg since it’s from that shaggy world of self-publishers that big budget movies and televison shows have emerged.
The fact is, I love Comic-Con and I’m happy with it just like it is, a true melting pot of pop culture. Go ahead, I say, keep mixing comics with movies and see where it leads. I think we’re all familiar with the gripes from the media that Comic-Con keeps allowing itself to be taken over by Hollywood. Here’s the thing, the hottest trend now is to listen to what people want and it should come as no surprise that people appreciate originality. Truly creative content does exist amid all the glitz that descends upon San Diego each year. It keeps rising to the top. James Sime, owner of the comics shop, Isotope, in San Francisco, pointed out to me that two of the biggest hits highlighted at the con, the movie, “Scott Pilgrim,” and the new television series, “The Walking Dead,” come from creator-owned black and white comics. Sime, an outspoken supporter of indie comics, thinks that far from Hollywood taking over, it is original talent that rules.
I come to Comic-Con both as a comics fan and comics creator. For me, it is a little slice of heaven being among so many people sharing common ground. Of course, everyone is not there for exactly the same purpose. Even among comics fans, interests branch off in various directions. For instance, I’ve read a fair amount of “Green Lantern” comics since the character’s reboot by Geoff Johns and, for the life of me, I can’t quite get into it. Looking through panel discussion options at the con, I chose to hear Johns speak. He bound up to the stage with a baseball cap and swagger and proved to be very likable and charismatic. But, in the end, I still wasn’t exactly an all-out fan. I began to think I may never become a true fanboy as a I sat among true fanboys and fangirls.
Throughout the presentation, Johns would give clues about this and that plot development and he’d regularly interact with the audience, “You guys want to see another Superman movie?” Cheers. “A Flash movie? Yes, we’re developing a movie.” More cheers. As the newly minted Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics, I had to feel for Johns since he has more than a full plate. His specialty, love it, hate it, puzzle over it, is pure undiluted superhero stories, minus any quirky subtext. There had to be something to be said for that so l left the panel cheering with everyone else. Who can not like Geoff Johns, right?
Holding far more sway with me was when I wandered into the infamous Hall H, the gigantic pit that easily seats the population of a small city. You can go in and spend the whole day in there as you’re serenaded by one big studio sideshow after another. But, as luck would have it, I heard a truly inspiring call to arms by director Guillermo del Toro. He had me at hello with the two chilling clips from his upcoming, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” With the confidence of a maestro, he said, “You must respect genre on its own terms. You can go either of two ways: You can subvert it or respect it. Anything in between is of no interest to me.” He kept going, speaking about his distaste for postmodern irony. A good horror movie, in his view, needs to be about horror and not a smirk. So many Hollywood movies fail, de Toro explained, because there is so much fear to be bold while the truth is that the chances of screwing up are the same if you make a safe movie or a bold movie. Maybe his work did not seem to have a direct connection to comics but, then again, the con is also about pop culture and, in del Toro, you couldn’t find a more rousing supporter of the indie spirit.
You have to remember that, first and foremost, Comic-Con is a comics industry convention. That is what it was set up for some forty years ago and, at its core, that is what it’s about. There are plenty of young and not-so-young people dressed up as Storm Troopers, Wonder Woman, etc. but there’s also all manner of deeper appreciation for the comics medium. One place that you find it is at the annual Will Eisner Awards ceremony. This was a very good year. The show began with the entire cast of the movie, “Scott Pilgrim,” standing on stage as the first awards were handed out. You could say that such a high end display was worthy of the Oscars. And then, to top that, it was announced that there will be a new movie based on work by the legendary cartoonist, and the namesake of the awards, Will Eisner. One of the first graphic novels, published in 1978, “A Contract with God,” appears to be in good hands as it goes Hollywood.
As I made my way back to Seattle, I settled into reading over post-Con recaps. One moment I wished I had seen was during the presentation for the movie, “Green Lantern.” A little boy made an innocent request of Ryan Reynolds. He asked him to recite the Green Lantern oath. And that’s exactly what Reynolds did without a hint of irony! The boy then displayed his Green Lantern power ring and, in true Christopher Reeve mode, Reynolds returned the salute. Upon reading about that, del Toro’s giddy embrace of genre came to mind. And I was even willing to give Johns credit for doing something similar with his earnest take on “Green Lantern.” It was a moment of true Comic-Con clarity.
2010 was a very good year for the Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards. The entire cast of “Scott Pilgrim” stood on stage for the first round of awards. To have that big studio show of support is huge and shows how comics and movies are so inextricably linked. Not only that, but Hollywood is shaking off that compulsion to rely on boring formulas and is seeking out and respecting original content. That was brought home by the next big moment at the show, the announcement that Will Eisner’s “A Contract with God” will be turned into a movie. It was a very tasteful presentation by the producers and the four directors on the project.
The Eisners and the Oscars. You are not going to mistake one for the other but they share similar qualities. They both have a panel of industry professionals who decide the nominees and then those are voted on my a myriad of industry professionals. The choices for nominees are pretty accurate in acknowledging excellent work from the previous year and try to be as inclusive as possible. Voters will take a look and reach their own conclusion. Sometimes voters will make obvious choices and sometimes they will try to send a message. In the end, the voting results can be looked upon as a great source for where comics are heading.
Best Publication for Kids
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf)
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, by Eleanor Davis (Bloomsbury)
Tiny Tyrant vol. 1: The Ethelbertosaurus, by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme (First Second)
The TOON Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (Abrams Comic Arts/Toon)
(WINNER)The Wonderful Wizard of Oz hc, by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young (Marvel)
Best Publication for Teens/Tweens
Angora Napkin, by Troy Little (IDW)
(WINNER)Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
A Family Secret, by Eric Heuvel (Farrar Straus Giroux/Anne Frank House)
Far Arden, by Kevin Cannon (Top Shelf)
I Kill Giants tpb, by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura (Image)
Best Humor Publication
Drinky Crow’s Maakie Treasury, by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
Everybody is Stupid Except for Me, And Other Astute Observations, by Peter Bagge (Fantagraphics)
Little LuLu, vols. 19-21, by John Stanley and Irving Tripp (Dark Horse Books)
The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets, by Roger Langridge (Boom Kids!)
(WINNER)Scott Pilgrim vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni)
Best Cover Artist
John Cassaday, Irredeemable (BOOM!); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
Salavador Larocca, Invincible Iron Man (Marvel)
Sean Phillips, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon); 28 Days Later (BOOM!)
(WINNER) J.H. Williams III, Detective Comics (DC)
Brian Fies, Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? (Abrams ComicArts)
(WINNER) David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Tom Orzechowski, Savage Dragon (Image); X-Men Forever (Marvel)
Richard Sala, Cat Burglar Black (First Second); Delphine (Fantagraphics)
Adrian Tomine, A Drifting Life (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Digital Comic
Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl
Bayou, by Jeremy Love
The Guns of Shadow Valley, by David Wachter and James Andrew Clark
Power Out, by Nathan Schreiber
(WINNER)Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart
Steve Hamaker, Bone: Crown of Horns (Scholastic); Little Mouse Gets Ready (Toon)
Laura Martin, The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures (IDW); Thor, The Stand: American Nightmares (Marvel)
David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Alex Sinclair, Blacket Night, Batman and Robin (DC)
(WINNER) Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, Umbrella Academy, Zero Killer (Dark Horse); Detective Comics (DC); Luna Park (Vertigo)
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Michael Kaluta, Madame Xanadu #11-15: “The Exodus Noir” (Vertigo/DC)
Steve McNiven/Dexter Vines, Wolverine: Old Man Logan (Marvel)
Fiona Staples, North 40 (Wildstorm)
(WINNER) J.H. Williams III, Detective Comics (DC)
Danijel Zezelj, Luna Park (Vertigo/DC)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Emile Bravo, My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Mauro Cascioli, Justice League: Cry for Justice (DC)
Nicolle Rager Fuller, Charles Darwin on the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation (Rodale Books)
(WINNER) Jill Thompson, Beast of Burden (Dark Horse); Magic Trixieand the Dragon (Harper Collins Children’s Books)
Carol Tyler, You’ll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man (Fantagraphics)