Category Archives: Comic-Con 2012

DVD Review: FEMME FATALES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Femme-Fatales-Complete First Season 2013

“Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season,” is available as of today. This is a show with a genuine connection to comics and fandom as it springs from the men’s magazine, “Femme Fatales,” that focused on film and television actresses in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It was the sister publication of the science fiction magazine, “Cinefantastique.” Mark A. Altman, well versed in sci-fi, who helped run the publication, now is co-creator and executive producer of the HBO/Cinemax series. Steve Kriozere, a televison veteran (“NCIS,” “Castle”) is also co-creator and executive producer.

“Femme Fatales” is, no doubt, a sexy show. It’s on the right track in mixing erotica with noir. “The White Flower,” the fifth episode of the series but first in the collection, is a fine example of what the show is capable of. After pulling off a perfect bank heist, Jimmy, played by William Gregory Lee, gets cocky and hatches a plan to rob his boss, Mr. Ryan, played by Stepehn Macht. He employs two gorgoeous call girls to help him out. First, he needs to get rid of his dim-witted partner, O’Brien, played by Geoff Meed. He invites him to enjoy some time with one of the call girls, Cynthia, played by Cristin Michele. Jimmy finds himself alone with Barbara, played by Tina Casciani. Just then, the host of the show, Lilith, played by Tanit Phoenix, makes a cameo and presents Jimmy with a bouquet of white flowers. What happens next is out of some good pulp fiction.

Tina Casciani

Tina Casciani

There are scenes, of course, that leave less to the imagination. In order for this all to work well, to get that Tarantino kick, everything needs to excel: the production, the writing, and the acting. And it does work well. Keep in mind, Tarantino can elicit a ton of sexual energy simply by focusing on an arched heel or the wiggle of toes. On “Femme Fatales,” the girls bare much more. It puts them in a vulnerable spot. “The White Flower” handles that loss of mystery well once the negligee slips off. Cynthia, we soon find to be the more earthy of the two girls and exerts a certain vibe. Barbara is the reserved and mysterious one. She’s the one who knows how to put a man in his place before ever removing any clothing. It all builds up to some satisfying tension.

While “Femme Fatales” will never be mistaken for “The Twilight Zone,” it does have a shot at rising to the level of “Tales from the Crypt.”

“Femme Fatales” made a big impression last year at San Diego Comic-Con with appearances during the con and a panel discussion. You will find a SDCC panel discussion from 2011 included in this collection. You can view an in-depth and lively interview with one of the great talents on the show, writer and producer Steve Kriozere, here. It is with TTN-HD’s Katie Uhlmann, part of her series of interviews, “Katie Chats.”

Keep up with “Femme Fatales” at the Cinemax website here. And you can purchase “Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season” here.

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COMIC-CON 2012: AN INTERVIEW WITH CLARE KRAMER

During Comic-Con 2012, I had the pleasure of being in the company of the talented Clare Kramer, known for many things including her role as the villain, Glory, on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” It seems we’ve ended up with some video technical difficulties so I will provide you with a magazine style observation of our meeting. It was one of those things that you can’t anticipate. I had been contacted regarding my interest in doing an interview and, after some back and forth messaging, I found myself part of the interviews Clare was doing on a pedicab around San Diego. Clare was doing the interviews. I was the only one interviewing Clare! One moment, I am searching through a sea of mingling people and then suddenly I’m seated with a member of the Hollywood in crowd who has left her footprint on pop culture and is now embarking on a new pop culture venture, a website dedicated to all things geek, GeekNation.com.

I should mention here that I was more than a little self-conscious. I’m not the Hollywood glamour type. I’m just a guy, I thought. I mean, I’m not one extreme or another. I am neither freak nor jock. I’m more the bookish type. My role model is Dick Cavett, for those who have long memories or care about pop history. Anyway, I’m a guy who actually toils away writing and drawing comics. I do stuff like this. I think I do it well, if I do say so myself. And I’ve gone on to take my unique experience as an artist and cartoonist and have also become a commentator on comics and pop culture. I’ve written about comics and pop culture for about seven years now. I gravitate towards quality wherever I find it, be it in the most obscure self-published mini comic or an offbeat graphic novel that deserves a shout out. I spend too much time indoors reading.

But I try to mix it up too. That’s how I ended up crossing paths with Clare Kramer. Honestly, I’d never heard of Clare Kramer before Comic-Con! I am certianly glad to know her, or know about her, now. Hey, her success did not fall on my radar. So, when I got the chance to interview her, I did my research and got caught up in her prestigous education in drama. After reading that she’d gone to NYU and acted in some serious stage plays, I guess I was thinking of conducting the interview with her like I was James Lipton, host of “Inside The Actors Studio” on Bravo. I’m not James Lipton so I shouldn’t have even tried that route.

Clare saved the day by simply being herself. I think she did a beautiful job of staying on point when she described GeekNation.com and the many shows you will find within the site that focus on various aspects of the geek lifestyle, be it “Doctor Who” or even just focusing on a geek connoisseur’s love of beer. It’s all there at GeekNation.com.

The bottom line is that Clare comes across as a fun-loving and sincere person. When I asked her if she’d had a chance to keep up with “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” comics published by Dark Horse Comics, she immediately said yes, and described in detail story arcs from “Season 8.” And when I asked her about her Comic-Con experience so far on that Saturday afternoon, she spoke with great admiration about geting to walk the convention floor at the beginning of the Con and getting to meet up with friends and then went into detail about panels she’d been on. Suffice it to say, it was a delightful exchange between us after she kept me from drifting off into platitudes about the actor’s life.

And then the ride was suddenly over and I was back on my own amid the sea of mingling people and wondering about what had just happened.

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COMIC-CON 2012: CLARE KRAMER AND MEGA SPIDER

I have a video interview with Clare Kramer on the way. Clare is the founder of GeekNation.com. You can also catch her in the new Mike Mendez action thriller, “Mega Spider,” coming out this fall.

Clare describes “Mega Spider” as a cross between “Ghostbusters” and “Cloverfield.” The interview with Clare, by the way, was in one of San Diego’s finest pedicabs. That’s not a taxi that provides pedicures. No, it’s like a rickshaw but with a bicycle instead. I guess we have some of those here in Seattle. I don’t usually ride in pedicabs but I would definitely ride with Clare. She assured me that it would be a safe and fun ride so I went along with it. You can’t make this stuff up. Only at Comic-Con. Come to think of it, I think we might have ridden past that giant spider, that giant mega spider!

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COMIC-CON 2012: WILLIAM CLAUSEN and the story of ALF

William Clausen wrote and drew the mini comic, “Alf #3,” in honor of Richard Alf. The mini comic was part of the gifts to attendees at the Richard Alf memorial dinner during Comic-Con. Inside the specially made mug, right next to the Thor bottle opener, was “Alf #3.” I wanted to ask Mr. Clausen a few questions regarding his putting together the mini comic and about his recollections about Mr. Alf, and related subjects. What follows are Mr. Clausen’s observations and recollections from our interview after Comic-Con.

Mr. Clausen is an excellent artist and writer and an all-around nice guy. He’s also a pretty busy guy with a number of projects on his plate. He is known for his work on Trimark’s “Leprechaun,” Marvel Comics’s “The Silver Surfer,” and as the co-creator of “The Chameleon Commandos.” And for his involvement with a very special project known as, “Alf.”

COMICS GRINDER: William, tell us about this mysterious little mini comic, “Alf.”

WILLIAM CLAUSEN: Steve Garris did this for  Richard Alf’s mail order comic business in 1975. #2 followed  not that far after. It was published by Steve just before Comicon the same year he published my Starduster poster (possibly ’76). This led to me (being Steve’s roomate at the time) being asked to do #3 by Steve. I started doing so. Steve insisted he pencil the cover (without ever penciling it, he had me take CTHULHU off an Alan Dean Foster (who was doing mostly novelezations for movies at the time) cover he had done for Ken Krueger. We had done illustrations together for the book “The Final War” for Ken so I put the book in John Pound’s Lazy Lucy projector, traced the monster, and added Alf. So, I started drawing Alf #3. When it came to CTHULHU’s death, Steve told me I had to redraw the death scene because it looked like the death of Casper so I put it aside and went on to create The Chameleon Commandos (soon to be a movie) and did Leprechaun (Trimark) and The Silver Surfer (Marvel). I had kept in touch with Richard, and he convinced me to finish it. I redrew CTHULHU’s death and finished the trilogy. Unfortunately, Richard didn’t live to see its completion.

CG: Tell us about your early development and how your career unfolded.

WC: My first professional job was working for a local San Diego newspaper called The Coast Chronicle. I did the editorial cartoon, the comic strip, ad layout and design, negative stripping, plate burning, bundling, and collating. I assisted Shel Dorf on Steve Canyon, I helped Frank Brunner on The Prince and The Pauper educational filmstrip. I co-created The Chameleon Commandos and Rivit for Blackthorne (1986/87). I did Leprechaun #1 for Trimark pictures, inks for Marvel comics, backup features for Real Deal Magazine. A poster for Mighty Joe Young, phone Cards, label Designs, tattoo designs, model designs, prop designs, custom paint jobs, and album covers.

CG: Share with us your Comic-Con memories.

WC: Okay, Comicon memories: sitting around the pool at The El Cortez with Jack Kirby and Don Rico; getting kicked out of The Pro Lounge with John Carpenter by Tia Carrera’s goons; watching George Clayton Johnson come crawling into a party by way of the window…stark naked! And nobody else seemed to notice! Me and George looking down from the balcony while people below in Sandman costumes chased each other; bringing Shel Dorf to my gig and singling him out like Dead Sullivan used to do; doing a panel with Kelley Freas; Mark Hamill freaking out when he met me (which freaked me out); becoming good friends with my childhood idols (Like Frank Brunner) and other young artists (Like Whilce Portacio); serving on the Comicon committee for a few years; making the transition to Comic Pro, then Marvel Artist, and beyond; hanging out on the parking garage roof with Richard Alf and Clayton Moore; chasing down the parties with my deceased best friend Cham; occasionally crashing out in the all night film room; hanging out with my brother in the early days; meeting Peter Chung, getting a Frankenstein sketch from Mike Ploog, meeting Frazetta. Ah, yes…I remember it well.

CG: Feel free to add any other comments regarding upcoming projects:

WC: I am currently working on Young Merlin, Insectman, The Starduster, U.S.O. hunters, Rivit and many others as well as The Chameleon Commandos movie.

CG: Thank so much, William.

WC: You’re very welcome.

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Filed under ALF, Comic-Con 2012, Comics, Richard Alf, William Clausen

COMIC-CON 2012: CHARLES YU

Charles Yu was quite gracious to sit down with me during Comic-Con for this interview. Known for his inventive and hilarious, “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” Mr. Yu talks about his craft, life as a writer, his literay influences and his latest work, “Sorry Please Thank You.” If you enjoy character-driven stories spiked with the right amount of sci-fi and/or social commentary, if you enjoy Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth and Douglas Adams, then you will definitely enjoy the work of Charles Yu.

Thanks so much for this interview, Charles! And thanks so much to Random House for arranging it. Enjoy this video interview from Comic-Con 2012:

Visit the Random House site. And pick up your copy of “Sorry Please Thank You.” I will provide my own review of “Sorry Please Thank You” to you later this month.

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PAUL DANO IS OUR GEEK HERO

Paul Dano is a very interesting actor who continues to surprise. He has been in so many great films in his young career, including “There Will Be Blood.” He is such a versatile and natural actor in tune with who he is. He’s just a guy but not an ordinary guy. What great field to play in!

Watch him as just a guy, but not an ordinary guy, in “Ruby Sparks.” Here he plays an aspiring writer who, by some supernatural intervention, has brought his perfect romantic match to life from his typewriter. “Ruby Sparks,” limited release July 25, 2012.

Keep a close guy on Dano because this guy is everywhere. See Mr. Dano in the Bruce Willis sci-fi time travel movie, “Looper.” If I had to pick just one movie coming out of the myriad of promotions at Comic-Con, it would have to be “Looper.” Bruce Willis is the man! And he’s into this movie. And then you add Paul Dano! Joseph Gordon-Levitt! Jeff Daniels! Emily Blunt! “Looper” releases on September 28, 2012.

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COMIC-CON 2012: deviantART PANEL

Our friends at deviantARt put together a very informative and inspiring panel for artists.

Some choice words of advice and highlights follow from a press release:

On Saturday, July 14, deviantART – the largest social network for artists, with 22+ million members – hosted the panel, How to Supercharge Your deviantART Profile Like the Masters.  Moderated by CEO Angelo Sotira, deviantART was honored to host the following superstars (all of whom are deviantART members):

  • ·         Adam Warren (“The Dirty Pair,” “Empowered”)
  • ·         Mark Brooks (Marvel Comics)
  • ·         Jim Zubkavich (Project Manager of Creative Services, Udon Entertainment)
  • ·         Dave Elliott (“Heavy Metal Magazine”)
  • ·         Wenqing Yan ( “Knite,” “1000 W0RDS”)
  • ·         Kevin Eastman (Co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • ·         Chris Sanders (Creator of “Lilo & Stitch”)

Each participant was asked to summarize the best piece of advice they wanted to impress on the audience. Below are direct quotes from the panel.

All wise words! Thanks to the good folks at deviantARt!

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COMIC-CON 2012: PRINT MAGAZINE’S MICHAEL DOOLEY’S RECAP

Michael Dooley’s weekly column for Print Magazine’s Imprint covers a wide spectrum of design topics with a keen eye on the comics medium. Mr. Dooley has some wonderful observations to make about Comic-Con 2012. With a focus on design, the world is at your feet at Comic-Con.

One item that stands out is a quite dazzling graphic narrative making engaging use of the tools iPad has to offer. It is called, “CIA: Operation Ajax,” by Cognito Comics’ founder and creative director, Daniel Burwen. The story tracks the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, plotted by the CIA and the British government, to overthrow the Prime Minister of Iran, and includes declassified documents and other intriguing materials all smoothly integrated into the narrative. You can read all about it here.

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COMIC-CON 2012: STEVE GEPPI MUSEUM

Steve Geppi, the founder and owner of Diamond Distributors, the largest comic direct distributor since 1982, was quite generous with funding the Richard Alf memorial dinner at the U.S. Grant Hotel during Comic-Con. One act of generosity that was much appreciated by all attendees at the dinner was the gift bag that I am posting the contents of here. The highlight is a wonderful hardback book on pop culture. This is the exhibition catalogue to the permanent collection at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. It is entitled, “Pop Culture with Character,” by Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg. What a delight. I definitely want to go see this for myself! Located in Baltimore, Maryland, it is a must-see.

Visit the website for Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.

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COMIC-CON 2012: SHAZZBAA AND KEL MCDONALD

It was awesome to meet Shazzbaa at Comic-Con! She is a force to be reckoned with. A very smart and talented artist with so many projects. One that she is currently promoting is the webcomic, RuneWriters. Here is how her website describes it: It’s a fantasy webcomic about a mundane deaf girl and some mages she is friends with, and magic that doesn’t always work! And horrible, horrible magical mistakes. It updates once a week, on Mondays. You can find Shazzbaa here.

Shazzbaa shared a table in Artist Alley with cartoonist, Kel McDonald, creator of a variety of comics including the series, “Veiled Truths” and “Sorcery 101.” Kel McDonald can be found here.

Both artists have a very bright future ahead of them. Check them out: socery101.net for Kel McDonald and shazzbaa.com for Shazzbaa.

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