Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: BPRD Hell on Earth Vol. 2 - Gods and Monsters

Review: BPRD Hell on Earth Vol. 2 - Gods and Monsters
from Dark Horse
On Sale February 1, 2012

It’s actually a challenge to find really good modern fantasy. That’s why UFN wanders, sometimes, into parallel universes, to find and report on things outside the norm, that isn’t what everybody else is reporting on.

This time, however, we don’t have to go any farther than the upcoming trade graphic novel from Dark Horse, BPRD Hell on Earth Vol. 2 - Gods and Monsters.

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, as most comic book fans know, is the agency that Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, etc. work for and with to protect America (and, really, the world) from supernatural threats. This volume’s lead story arc involves Abe and a teen girl on the run with other “nomads,” and this particular teen can see the future. It’s a handy skill to have when you need to keep a large group of people out of danger, but it’s not without its risks. The second half of the volume covers the curious tale of a grisly trailer park cult and focuses on Liz.

The art is not my favorite style, but the writing, and especially the dialog, is superb. People speak how people would actually speak. Events and interactions make sense. The story unfurls at a pace that doesn’t have me reading and re-reading every other page to try and figure out what’s going on (unlike some other books that I won’t mention here). The characters, even the bad guys, are enjoyable, interesting and compelling. I was hoping to see more of Hellboy (or any Hellboy, he doesn't appear in this volume) and Panya, but maybe next time.

BPRD is the perfect kind of tale for UFN, because it’s well-written urban fantasy that’s honest, gritty and clever. If you haven’t given these titles a look, please do, even if it’s at your local library. Chances are, you’ll be hooked.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A legend passes on: Anne McCaffrey

My first awareness of Anne McCaffrey came through a fantasy and science fiction book club in about 1978. One of the featured books that could be ordered (in hardback no less – quite a treasure for a younger sister used to hand-me-downs) was The White Dragon. As you probably know,  this was just one of many books in the Dragonriders of Pern series, and after reading the story of the little dragon who could, that nobody thought would amount to anything but that proved his worth, this twelve-year-old was hooked.

I went back and read all the Pern novels that were available at the time and many of the ones that came out after. Again and again the stories of bravery, of unexpected strength from those who society shunned, spoke to my heart. And the magic! I wished for a dragon of my own to soar with through the skies, who would be my lifelong companion, and to live in a simple society where things were made by hand and the homes were cozy and comforting.

I read The Ship Who Sang and many of her other tales, each of them similar in message. Maybe it sounds corny or trite, but honestly, Anne McCaffrey helped this girl along during some awkward teenage years when it seemed nobody wanted her. Maybe, I thought to myself, there was something special about me, too. Some bit of magic overlooked, that would blossom someday, so that I could prove my worth and belong somewhere.

So thank you, Ms. McCaffrey, for giving me hope and helping me along a little farther down my own path. We never met, but know that part of the reason I write is because of you. Because you showed that not only can women write fantasy, but that women can write brilliant fantasy full of imagination, wonder, hope and deep meaning. You are one of my role-models and a source of inspiration for girls who aspire to become writers. Your life and your works live on. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seeing double is a good thing with Twin Spirit

I don’t ordinarily review young adult novels because, with the recent glut of self-published books out there, the YA market has exploded and the quality has gone with it. However, Matthew Thompson has got a gem here with his debut novel, Twin Spirit.

Nine-year-old Rose is living a happy, middle-class life in 1960s England with her father and friends. The girls discover a book full of spooky old incantations and after her friends are gone for the night, Rose tries one that has dramatic effects – she discovers that her conjoined twin, Lily, may not be with her in body any longer, but her spirit is still firmly attached and has been with her the entire time, unseen and unheard.

Together they begin the search for their mother, who died at their birth, in the spirit land of Kiian. The afterlife is not nearly as safe as one would think, and a second death is entirely possible if you’re caught by the very dementor-like Govern.

Speaking of dementors, I found Twin Spirit to be something of Harry Potter meets The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, but with its own very rich world and set of characters. It’s almost too rich, as there is so much packed into this novel that as it neared the climax, I found  myself having to re-read parts to catch all the action and details. However, the main cast of characters is strong and distinct enough that I never got completely lost, and actually misted up a bit when one of them is killed near the end.

Thompson comes from a video game level designer background, and it works to his advantage in this tale full of twists, turns, puzzles, rescues, narrow escapes and overall exciting adventure. It could easily have been 25% longer, especially in the last quarter of the book which felt slightly rushed in my opinion, but that story compression does add to the sense of excitement and urgency.

Overall, Twin Spirit is well-told and will appeal to younger readers, especially adventurous girls from about 8 to 12.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mars Attacks in 2012!

IDW Publishing and Topps today announced a long-term partnership to offer new comics based on the fan-favorite Mars Attacks. Created in 1962, Mars Attacks will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012 with major product launches throughout the year. IDW’s new comic series, as well as high-quality reprints of existing material, will be a cornerstone of that effort.

“We are excited to be partnering with Topps on this classic brand. Mars Attacks has always been a favorite of the comics creator community, and fans can look forward to top talent bringing their visions to fruition,” said Greg Goldstein, IDW’s Chief Operating Officer. “I know we will definitely bring the comics to the next level.”

Originally developed as a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks was created by Len Brown and Woody Gelman, after Brown was inspired by the Wally Wood cover to Weird Science #16 (EC Comics). The cards went on to achieve cult status for their then-shocking imagery, fully painted by pulp legend Norm Saunders, and remains a staple of pop culture. Topps revived the franchise in the mid 1990s with a second card set, comic book series and toy line. The story was also adapted into the 1996 feature film, Mars Attacks!, directed by Tim Burton.

“When looking for a comics partner for Mars Attacks, we wanted a publisher with the right creative sensibilities and an appreciation of our brand’s fifty-year legacy,” said Ira Friedman, Topps/VP, Global Licensing. “There’s no doubt that IDW will provide a great home for us. We’re looking forward to Mars Attacks complementing their existing stable of powerhouse franchises.”

Debuting in summer 2012, IDW’s comic series will offer the first stories of an all-new Mars Attacks universe, bringing the brand’s outrageous action and dark humor to a new set of tales.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Touch of Class

Few upcoming shows are getting as much attention as Fox’s Touch, scheduled for a Spring premiere. And why shouldn’t it? With Kiefer Sutherland in the leading role (his first since 24), the creator of Heroes and Crossing Jordan at its helm, and a hopeful premise, Touch seems to have everything going for it from the start.

I’ll leave it to the Hollywood gossips and rumor mills to speculate and report on the more mundane aspects of production; they’ll focus on the cast, the guest stars, and the eventual fans that Touch richly deserves. Meanwhile, I’ll focus on the show’s strongest asset. No, it’s not Sutherland. It’s not even Kring. What this show has is a heart and a soul, both of which are sorely lacking from much of today’s television landscape.

Touch has begun to go viral, with the teaser recently being shown at MIPCOM a few days ago. The Hollywood Reporter picked up a story about it. But what does anyone really know about Touch, other than what little has been leaked or shown? There is such a disconnect between the publicity and gossip surrounding a show, that often, the show’s true colors are lost in the hype. In the case of Touch, this disconnect is unfortunate, because Touch is a gem waiting to be admired for its very real inner beauty.

This is a show that will stand out because of its complex simplicity. It isn’t a drama that involves backstabbing characters who all have their motivations and personal demons. It’s not a reality show where ordinary people compete for some huge prize. Nor is it an action adventure with the fate of the world at stake. It’s none of those, yet it has elements of all of those, mixed and simmered in the creative mind of a man who has something relevant to say.

There is nothing about Tim Kring that suggests that he has written several hit shows. He’s quiet and soft-spoken, thoughtful, and articulate. There is an energy about him when he is in his element, the writing room of a new show: it’s an intense, focused energy, and yet there is a sense of both exhilaration and purpose. Perhaps is it that combination that contributes to his success as a writer and producer; it certainly leads to Kring being involved in almost every aspect of his shows, and the attention he pays to the smallest detail such as the way a newly introduced character’s hair swirls as she gets up from a couch, or the slightest vocal inflection in his lead character’s offhand comment. Watching Kring at work, reviewing scenes, changing them, splicing them together, one gets a sense of the pride and artistry he puts in to everything he does. And yet, there is a feeling of eagerness as the crew watches the show come together, giving the sense that the writers, cast, and crew are not only putting their minds into their work, but their hearts and souls as well.

It is quite clear that, as with Heroes, this is a show that offers a hopeful vision of humanity, one where everyone is connected and no one is alone. It is a vision that is sorely needed on television. But unlike so many shows about humanity’s fate, Touch delivers its message with an immediacy and believability that has been absent from the airwaves for a while. While Touch is the brainchild of many brilliant artists, it is that believability which makes Touch the classy, much needed show that it is.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Karada needs your help to bend some spoons

All is not well in the multiverse, and Emma’s going to need your help.

As previously reported, The Karada is a supernatural thriller about a young woman, Emma Gossett, who struggles to save the multiverse as realities collapse around her. Who can you trust and rely on when each shift of the multiverse changes everything? Who will be there for you tomorrow? Who will unexpectedly turn up today? And just how can one navigate all these conflicting and ever-shifting realities? To make sense of the ever-changing conditions, Emma and her partner David Blunt will reach out to the audience to help them solve the mysteries that unfold through time and space.

The audience is a critical part of creating this story, and this is where The Karada gets most interesting.

Producer Tom Liljeholm and friends
“Community contributions will be taken seriously and matter,” said Emmy-award-winning producer Tom Liljeholm. “For example, participants will be called upon to write in the details of Emma’s alternate realities, the basis of which will be produced into a digital comic series. Further, as our heroine in the dramatic series crosses paths with these alternative lives, participants will feel the true impact of their contributions on the storyline.”

Beyond just passive entertainment, The Karada will involve a complete interactive experience, including the web, mobile devices and even live events that fans can attend in person. Each component is integral to the total experience – one in which the participants will have a say in contributing to the story.

The international production team behind The Karada is quite at home with creating immersive experiences with strong storylines. Jim Martin, who is best known for his work on Heroes’ Web series in which he won two webby awards, met producer Tom Liljeholm while working on Tim Kring and Nokia’s Conspiracy for Good, the darling transmedia project of last summer. Rounding out The Karada creative team is director Jakob Berglund of Furnace Fighter Media, Ki Henriksson, who penned the original concept of The Karada, writer for The Truth about Marika and Conspiracy for Good ARGs, and Tom’s partner in Tea4two Entertainment, and Carrie Cutforth-Young, a writer and multimedia artist based in Toronto.

Keep your eyes on The Karada website for the latest, and be sure to follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

Torchwood: More chemistry, less torture please...

How much more must Rex and his chest wound endure?
Let me begin this entry by saying again that I haven’t seen any of the old Torchwood series and very few episodes of Dr. Who, so I can’t compare Torchwood: Miracle Day with previous efforts. That said, the pilot hooked me and hooked me hard, being so far above the quality of most sci-fi shows on today and having a fantastic premise. Obviously both John Barrowman and the character of Capt. Jack Harkness are extremely charismatic, and being the main connecting thread  of Torchwood he deserves every minute of screen time he gets.

Last week’s episode was a fantastic showcase for Jack and his history, his endearing and loathsome traits coming through to show us that, despite his miraculous immortality, he’s still just a flawed man. “Immortal Sins” was extremely well written (by Russell T. Davies), and when I saw Jack begin to think about teaming up with his companion in more ways than one, I knew right then that I would watch an entire series of the very likable (and very hot) Jack and Angelo traveling through time and having adventures without the need for a Tardis and a sonic screwdriver. Apparently that would make a lot of other fans happy, too, judging from Facebook and Twitter.

“Immortal Sins,” however, was perhaps the best episode of the series so far, which is a shame. When characters do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, or that are just plain dumb, just to advance the plot, it’s obvious. Every previous episode of Torchwood, unfortunately, has suffered from this syndrome, and it’s maddening to watch unfold. I find myself frequently yelling at the television, “Why would you do that?!?” My husband has gotten so frustrated by it that he no longer watches and leaves the room rather than upset me further by going Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it.

I’m going to watch the “Miracle Day” arc through to the end for a number of reasons, however, in part because of “Immortal Sins” which I felt redeemed the series as a whole. I’m now dying (no pun intended) to know what happens with Angelo and Jack... but that’s about it. I like Gwen Cooper, even if she does shockingly boneheaded things for a supposedly amazing secret ops agent, and seems like she’s had about five energy drinks all the time. Rex Matheson is also likable, but how many times is this guy going to be tied up, tortured and generally kicked around? The rest of the characters... eh. I really don’t care if I ever see any of them again.

Speaking of torture, enough’s enough, writers. I loathe modern horror like Saw and its ilk, and the graphic nature of the show needs to be turned down by about half. I understand the need for Jack’s slaughterhouse scene, but it was double what was needed. I also did not need to see a pen being inserted into a chest wound at an excruciatingly slow speed, or two peoples’ brains being blown out. If you’re doing it for shock value, stop it. It does nothing for the plot, the characters, or the show at large, and actually cheapens the dramatic value of these scenes by showing cheap gore rather than creativity. Thank goodness you chose not to show every excruciating minute of Vera’s death but instead suggested most of it (and feed the frighteningly skinny Arlene Tur a sandwich, for crying out loud).

While my overall review of Torchwood has slipped a lot since my glowing review of the pilot, I still have hope for redemption, and it’s still better than almost anything else on television right now. C'mon, Captain, show us what you've got.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Decision 2012... in comic book form?

It’s a comic book industry first! This November, DECISION 2012 debuts the comic book industry’s first straw poll — with biographical comic books for all the top candidates in the 2012 Presidential race. The decision is in your hands; it's up to you to see who wins. All print runs of each series will be announced this November and the candidate with the highest print wins.

If you want your candidate to win comic book's first straw poll, you need to call your local comic shop and pre-order your candidate's comic book before September 29th, 2011. To find your local comic shop just go to www.comicshoplocator.com, or call 1-888-COMIC BOOK to find the shop near you.

The people of Iowa just had their straw poll and only Iowans could participate. Now with comic book's first straw poll, all of America can participate!

"The DECISION 2012 line of comic books has something for everyone," said BOOM! Studios Marketing and Sales Director Chip Mosher. "For those political junkies that love a good horse race, we have comic book's first straw poll. For those voters and our young soon-to-be-voters, we have some great non-partisan biographical comics on all the major candidates - announced and waiting to be announced - in the presidential 2012 race. And finally, for the comic book collector we have a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime collectible. The DECISION 2012 comic line and comic book's first straw poll is a great way to spotlight the upcoming 2012 election and get people excited about voting."

The DECISION 2012 line of comics and comic book's first straw poll isn't just a contest, but also a great way for voters and students to educate themselves on the candidates running in the 2012 Presidential election. This series of biographical comic books details the history and political lives of the candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election, giving non-partisan background on President Barack Obama and such presidential hopefuls as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The DECISION 2012 line of comic books are aimed at anyone of any age who enjoys reading and discussing U.S. politics.

More information on the straw poll and the DECISION 2012 line of comics can be found here: http://www.decision2012comics.com/

Remember to make sure you pre-order your candidate’s comic from your local comic shop by September 29th, 2011. If your candidate's comic book does not get pre-ordered by at least 1,500 copies then it will not be printed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Karada will be melting heads on an Internet near you

I just got wind of this new transmedia project yesterday, and I'm really excited about it. The Karada explores the concept of the multiverse and weaves it together with ancient archetypes to explore a new way of looking at reality. Or, in this case, overlapping and intersecting realities.

"The world is made up by endless layers of reality. Every time one makes a decision, reality is divided between what is and what could have been. Every reality has a group called the Patternseekers, safe-keepers who keep the alternate realities distinct and separate. When the threads of multiple realities begin to intermingle, problems arise.

"Since the death of her grandmother (the last Patternseeker alive), designer Emma Gossett has been experiencing strange unexplainable shifts in reality. One moment she has a brother, the next she doesn't. At night, she goes to sleep with one man, only to wake up next to another. Decisions no longer have logical consequences or repercussions. And it's starting to threaten her sanity."

This is a brilliant idea, and I cannot wait to see how it's executed. Considering that it's from the keyboards of James Martin, one of the writers of Heroes, and Tom Liljeholm, head of the Conspiracy for Good ARG, this has a lot of potential, especially as a transmedia project with audience participation. 

For a more complete description of the plot, visit the Facebook page for The Karada.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Is Comic-Con Too Big?

I first attended San Diego Comic-Con in 2007, and have been to three others, as well as a few other conventions of this kind, such as WonderCon and Dragon*Con. In 2007, you could still buy a four-day Comic-Con pass within a few weeks of the opening, but this year tickets sold out in January in a matter of two days, and tickets for next year were on sale at the convention, ensuring another sellout crowd. The attendance of Comic-Con is over 130,000 people, but I submit that the real capacity is actually much smaller.

It was Friday morning, I think, that was the final nail in the coffin for me. I had planned on attending the Torchwood panel as press, and had no aspirations of sitting in the front row, so I made my way over to Ballroom 20 at about 9:00 AM to get in line. After some time of being directed here and there and still having no idea where I was going, I asked one of the security personnel where the end of the line was. He pointed across the yacht harbor, and I saw a line of people stretching beyond that and around the corner behind the trees probably a half mile away. There was literally no end in sight.

I said something to the effect of “Are you s---ing me,” and after determining that it was, in fact, the line for Ballroom 20, I walked away.

Comic-Con has changed over the past five years. This year, as I passed by other people, I kept hearing the words “frustrated” and “disappointing” as they conversed with others. I saw the same thing on Twitter. I heard other attendees complain about how difficult it was to get into the panels they wanted. Friends that I had hoped to see there, both attendees and professionals, didn’t go this year. There seemed to be less of a feeling of joy and exhilaration in the crowd, and almost more of a sense of duty to be there.

And then there’s the problem with security. As you may or may not know, Rhys Ifans, who plays The Lizard in the upcoming Spider-Man movie, apparently pushed a female security guard out of the way after one of the people he was with was questioned about not having the proper pass. The security guard placed him under “citizen’s arrest” but he was later released without charges.

When I arrived on Thursday afternoon (hot and exhausted after an eight-hour car trip), the first thing I did was to walk to the back of the hall in order to pull out my cell phone so I could locate the friend I was supposed to meet up with. One of the red-shirted guards (if you’ve ever been there, you know the ones I mean) immediately took it upon herself to yell at me to move, despite the fact that I was standing there a total of about ten seconds next to several other people in the same area. I explained that I was merely getting out my phone, and she became hostile. I looked at her, clearly hot and tired, and said “Don’t. Just don’t.” Her reply was to raise her voice even more and yell at me “You don’t!” in her best “oh no you di’nt” voice. At that point, I thought it best to try and find somewhere else to stand to make my phone call.

Again, others experienced the same thing. Everyone I asked, which was a random sampling of friends, vendors, professionals and random people I was standing in lines with, said that security was a lot more belligerent and rude this year. I passed by one area where a dozen or so people were seated along a wall, and a man was saying to the nearby security person, “They get to sit there and I don’t? You just kicked me out of there!”

I’m not surprised in the least by what happened with Ifans’ group, since it was happening to less famous people all over the convention center the entire time.

The other question I asked my random sampling of attendees was, “Is Comic-Con too big?” Every single one of them, without exception, said yes. One man even applauded me. Literally. He said “thank you,” and clapped as we were standing in line for the Deepak Chopra booksigning which was across the street at the Hard Rock Hotel because there was no room in the convention center itself.

More and more of the convention is spilling out into the adjacent Gaslamp District, with many downtown parking lots being converted into party zones and the kind of spaces that companies used to have inside the convention center, which merely compounds the downtown parking and traffic nightmare. One entire parking lot was taken up with some kind of Playboy party – we could see the distinctive bunny logo on a flag from over the high security fences as we walked by.

What does Playboy have to do with a comic book convention? For that matter, why does Glee have a panel there? Why did I receive email press releases and onsite handouts for some kind of smokeless cigarettes?

San Diego Comic-Con has become a marketing machine that attendees have the privilege of paying through the nose for, if tickets can even be had at all. Once there, if you even want to get into the room for one of the larger panels, you have to camp outside in line for hours and hours. I later heard that the Torchwood line that I had been trying to get into was already 3000 people long at 6:00 AM.

Disappointingly, it looks as though Comic-Con may get even larger. A publicist friend of mine (one of the many who agrees that it’s too big) told me that there are plans to push the entire back wall of the convention center out into the current marina area, doubling the size of the hall, just for Comic-Con. I would guess that this is how the planners were convinced not to move the convention elsewhere – the promise of an even bigger San Diego Convention Center in the future.

Honestly? Count me out.

By contrast, WonderCon in San Francisco is a wonderful convention. Unlike San Diego, which doubles or even triples their hotel room rates, the flagship Marrott Hotel just two blocks away has a special half price WonderCon rate, making it accessible to most people who wish to attend. Additionally, since it is the flagship hotel, most of the talent stays there, and I had the pleasure of running into Sergio Aragonés in the lobby last year.

“Hey, I know you!” I said, recognizing his trademark glasses, mustache and tropical shirt.

“Yes, hello! Nice to meet you!” he said enthusiastically, shaking my hand.

“Are you having a good con?”

“Yes, I love WonderCon. You can actually talk to people here, unlike Comic-Con. That one’s just too big.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comic-Con pre-news

Just a quick entry to let people know what's what. So far we've secured interviews with the talent and producers of both Ugly Americans (the hit animated show on Comedy Central) and Grimm, (the new fairy tale police procedural mashup debuting this fall on NBC).

We're purposefully leaving our schedule as open as possible so that we can remain flexible to get other interviews as talent is available. Between the scheduled press interviews, visiting certain booths and displays we have on our checklist, grabbing people as they become available and evening parties, we're booked solid!

Sleep is for chumps! We'll report as we can, time and internet connectivity allowing. For the most current news from the convention, please follow us on Twitter and don't forget to tell your friends!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Canadian superhero Captain Canuck is back

Minds Eye Entertainment has picked up the rights to the Canadian comic book superhero Captain Canuck from writer/creator Richard Comely, as announced today by Kevin DeWalt, CEO and President of Minds Eye. Working closely with Comely, Minds Eye is currently in development on a film adaptation based on the comic book series.

The first issue of Captain Canuck hit newsstands in May 1975. Thirty-six years later, the superhero franchise has garnered fans around the world.  To date, more than 2 million copies have been sold and 26 different editions have been printed. IDW Publishing recently published two hard cover collections of the original issues that have since sold out.

DeWalt said: “I have always been a big fan of Captain Canuck, and we are honored to be working with Richard on bringing Canada’s greatest Superhero to the big screen.”

Over the years, there have been a number of licensed Captain Canuck products, including t-shirts, sweat shirts, doodle posters, etc. Canada Post issued a Captain Canuck postage stamp in 1995. In addition, Captain Canuck has also made the cover of Time magazine.

Creator Comely said: “I’ve had a great beginning with Minds Eye. I’m confident we can make a movie that will appeal to audiences both in Canada and around the world.”

Archaia debuts Bleedout webisodes

Publisher Archaia Entertainment is adding another layer to their digital offerings by hosting the worldwide debut of 10 original graphic webisodes centered on their latest graphic novel, Bleedout.  The webisode series is set to launch on Wednesday, July 20, opening day of the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.

Based on the expansion to the Massively Multiplayer Online shooter, CRIMECRAFT, from Vogster Entertainment, Bleedout tells the frighteningly plausible tale of a world destroyed by its own greed and shortsightedness. When every oil well on the planet mysteriously runs dry, utterly dissolving the cornerstone of modern civilization, global economies wither and nations fall like bone-dry dominoes, including the seemingly impervious United States. Caught in a zenith of chaos, Sunrise City now lies in the hands of a criminal cabal who may or may not hold the key to the future… and the secrets behind the planet’s tragic ruin.

The deluxe hardcover graphic novel, which also hits store shelves on July 20th, collects chapters from some of the comic industry’s hottest superstars, including Nathan Fox, Zach Howard, Sanford Greene, David Williams, Ben Templesmith, Gary Erskine, Howard Chaykin, Glenn Fabry, Vince Proce, and Trevor Hairsine, with cover art by Tim Bradstreet. Written by Mike Kennedy, this graphic novel presents the world of Bleedout in all of its grim, pulp noir glory, with page after page of supplemental graphic and story material that further explores this tragic future, and the frighteningly familiar current events that lead there in the first place.

The webisodes will go even deeper into Bleedout’s ambitious storyline, taking fans on a visual whirlwind tour through the graphic novel’s gritty and frightening world. The short films, written and directed by creator, Mike Kennedy, feature high-quality animation illustrated by the same stellar line up of artists featured in the book. The webisodes also feature original music by industrial legend Jason Novak of Cracknation, and narration by animation veteran Tom Fahn.

After the July 20 debut, new episodes will roll out every day leading to the dramatic conclusion on Saturday July 30. A sneak-peek can be checked out at http://vimeo.com/channels/bleedout.

Archaia will host several signings at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con to celebrate the launch of this exciting new book and webisode series, with featured signings by artists Tim Bradstreet, Nathan Fox, and Sanford Greee, as well as author Mike Kennedy.  Vogster will be distributing a limited run of free CRIMECRAFT game discs at each signing as well.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Torchwood premiere shines bright

I admit, I'm coming in very late on this. I've seen very little Dr. Who, and no Torchwood to date, until tonight's premiere of Series 4, which is set in Los Angeles. Let it be known that today I officially became a fan of Torchwood.


Let me count the ways, in no particular order:

1) High production value. Every minute of this show looked fantastic. Every location was lush and nothing looked cheap or thrown together or like a little sound stage. They weren't afraid to do night shots, driving in the rain shots, sweeping vistas of Wales (that house!), hospital interiors with that weird lighting they have, the inside of an airplane, dark hallways, high-tech command centers, and just about every other kind of location you can think of. And it all looked great! On top of that, the makeup and special effects were flawless.

2) John Barrowman. Hunky but not overly Hollywood, not afraid to be who he is, and a very funny and gracious human being off the set. He's extremely likable and easy on the eyes in a friendly way, and I wish we'd seen more of him in this premiere, but I do understand why we didn't.

3) Fascinating premise. I did go to Wikipedia to see what I'd been missing, and to fill in some of the information that the premiere hinted at but didn't give directly. Obviously, modern day alien hunters in Los Angeles and the whole X-Files feel is straight up the alley of Urban Fantasy News. Within that, the story introduced in the premiere episode is a fascinating mystery that is not neatly tied up in one episode, leaving the viewer wanting more in a good way, not with a frustrating cliffhanger that smashcuts to black.

4) Stellar writing. I sat down to watch this premiere without having seen one minute of the previous incarnations of Torchwood, and I was introduced to the premise and characters in ways that made sense and fit with the tone of the show, but that never felt like forced exposition. The only "I am explaining everything to you now" scene worked flawlessly as a natural result of the action. The humor was understated and, again, a natural result of the interactions of the characters. The pacing flowed well, the dialog was completely believable.

I predict a Torchwood sweep at the next Saturn Awards. I could not find any flaw big enough to be worth mentioning except maybe the Jeep chase scene at the end which seemed a little contrived, but it was fantastic eye candy, I have to admit, and made me want to get in a Halo Warthog and drive around for a while.

Torchwood fills in the holes left by such shows as Heroes, X-Files and Millennium (yes, I'm a geek, I still miss Millennium!) and does it with class, mystery and humor. You can see every dollar on the screen, and it's money well-spent, because I will definitely be back for more.

Friday, July 1, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 is Go!

A quick informal post to let everyone know that UFN will have two reporters on site at San Diego Comic-Con later this month! We're lining up interviews already, so if you have someone you'd like us to try and interview and any questions you'd like us to ask, be sure to message us here or on our Twitter.

Possible interviews we're working on obtaining include actor Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor Who), actor Todd Stashwick (Heroes, Supernatural), artist Dennis Calero (Batman, X-Factor, X-Men Noir, Legion of Superheroes), Heroes writers Oliver Grigsby, James Martin and Chris Zatta... and more! Often, surprise interview opportunities present themselves on site, so you never know who will show up here on Urban Fantasy News during convention coverage. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Foz McDermott: Helix Reminiscence

Foz McDermott was with Heroes on its first day, all the way to its last day. This is the first in a series of posts on his blog recalling what it was like to be there:

"It has been 5 years almost to the week where we started up production, so I figured no better time than now. What you will get in this series is a look back on my time at Heroes. I was one of the very few that were there from the very first, to very last day of the show. What you will NOT get in this series will be any huge insider secrets, or bashing, or tidbits of any huge dirty laundry piles. As I have said before, that show and it’s people were the closest thing I had to a family since moving to the West coast and I would never say anything horrible, mostly because there really isn’t anything horrible to say about people and experiences that you truly love."

For the rest of this terrific post, Click Here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition at San Diego Comic-Con

Legendary comics writer and artist Walter Simonson will appear at the IDW booth every day during the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, signing copies of Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition. In addition to the regular edition available in July at comic stores, IDW will offer a limited Comic-Con exclusive edition featuring a variant cover, only available through IDW at the convention. Readers can now pre-order both editions direct from IDW Publishing for pick up at Comic-Con.

“I wrote and drew The Mighty Thor for Marvel more 25 years ago now, at a time when it was the fate of old comics to be deployed to the back issue bins in comic shops and at conventions.  No one had any expectations of reprints or trade collections.  Now, it’s a new day,” said Simonson. “I’m pleased that IDW and Marvel have seen fit to go back and revisit this work as they have. I couldn’t be more delighted to know Thor, Beta Ray Bill, and all their friends turned out to have a much longer shelf-life than I would ever have imagined.”

The oversized, hardcover collection will present Thor 337-340, Simonson’s first classic story arc, which introduced Beta Ray Bill, and Thor 360-362, Simonson’s choice for the second arc in the book. All the pages in the Artist's Edition have been scanned from Simonson’s personal original art to ensure the highest possible quality reproduction. While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for instance, white-out corrections and blue pencil notations.

“Walter’s run on The Mighty Thor is one of the best ever in comics—period,” said editor Scott Dunbier, “and to be able to see it now as an Artist’s Edition, printed the same size as drawn, and scanned from all the originals… well, I just can’t wait to get my paws on it!”

This will be Simonson’s first visit to San Diego Comic-Con since 2004. Joining Simonson will be his wife, Louise “Weezie” Simonson, a noted comic book editor and writer. This book will be the first in a series of Artist’s Editions featuring legendary creators and comics from Marvel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dark Destinations

I stumbled on a neat website today, or rather, my husband did. In reading about the happenings over at Atlantis Fantasyworld comics in Santa Cruz, CA, his old hometown, he clicked on the Lost Boys link. The classic 1980s vampire movie was filmed in and around Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with the staff of Atlantis comics being featured in the film when the Frog brothers go to buy a comic book about vampires. My husband, knowing this, wanted to see what Atlantis had on their Lost Boys page, and ran across the Dark Destinations website.

If you have GPS and a little bit of wanderlust, visit their website to find the macabre location you're looking for, punch in the numbers, set a waypoint, and you're off on an adventure. Want to see where Lost Boys was filmed? How about the locations for Halloween? Or, if you're feeling less cinematic, you can search by type of destination (Cemeteries, Infamous Crimes, Mysterious Creatures, etc.) or by location, just in case you happen to be in the neighborhood and want to drive by Stephen King's house. Happy haunting!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jill Thompson first woman to win NCS award in comics

Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother) was awarded the highly coveted National Cartoonists Society (NCS) award this past weekend at the Reuben Awards Ceremony.  She was presented this award in regards to her work in the Dark Horse comic Beasts of Burden.

Jill Thompson is the first female creator to win in the comics category in the history of the Rueben Awards. To add to her list of credits, Jill Thompson is a New York Times Best Selling graphic novelist, as well as having received multiple Eisner awards for her work on Scary Godmother (2001), The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (2004) and The Dark Horse Book of the Dead (2005).

The collected trade Scary Godmother: Comic Book Stories will be on sale in stores June 15th.

Beasts of Burden returns this fall in issue #4 of the eighty-page anthology, Dark Horse Presents!, on sale in September.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles make a triumphant return to comics

IDW Publishing and Nickelodeon today announced that the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series, featuring the beloved “Heroes in a Half-shell,” will premiere in August 2011. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be back in action and ready to fight off evil once again, with an impressive creative team led by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman.

Starting in August, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will kick off with a brand new installment of the original series, led by Eastman and co-writer Tom Waltz (Silent Hill: Past Life, Infestation: Outbreak). Newcomer Dan Duncan will bring the Turtles to life with dynamic interior art, while Sam Kieth and Walter Simonson provide eye-catching covers for issues one and two, respectively. Eastman will also provide layouts for Duncan's art, as well as variant covers.

This first series will feature new storylines that maintain the “turtle power” core beloved by millions of fans. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael reunite to bring their ninja aptitude and teenage attitude in these all-new, action-packed adventures based on the original series. The first story arc will tell the origin story of the Turtles and introduce a new villain, the fearsome mutant alley cat, Old Hob. Featuring a cast of familiar characters, including Master Splinter, April O’Neill, Casey Jones, and true to the spirit of the original comics created by Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are bigger and badder than ever, and ready to rock old and new fans alike.

IDW and Nickelodeon have a long-term partnership to offer an all-new installment of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and graphic novels. IDW’s new comics are part of a larger initiative to bring Turtles to a new generation of fans, starting with these new storylines from the original series that recapture the magic of the original Turtles comics. Additionally, in fourth quarter 2012, Nickelodeon will premiere a new CG-animated version of the wildly popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

Friday, May 13, 2011

eigoMANGA releases Danity Kane graphic novel

San Francisco based comic book publisher, eigoMANGA announces the release of the comic book graphic novel "Danity Kane: Keeper of Life". The graphic novel contains the complete Danity Kane mini-series that was first released on February 2010. "Danity Kane: Keeper of Life" is currently available at retail bookstores everywhere.

The graphic novel focuses on a naïve yet powerful young girl who was sent from a distant planet to liberate her people. She must combat a secret war between her people and their oppressors – a war that is now being fought on planet Earth.

"Danity Kane: Keeper of Life" was co-written by Natasha McGough and Austin Osueke with contributions from recording artist, Dawn Richard. The graphic novel was illustrated by Korean comic book artist, Kim Ji-Min.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thor navigates a difficult path with masterful storytelling

This could have been a simple popcorn movie. Show a bit about Thor's family, some sweeping scenes of Asgard, throw in a little something about earthly Norse mythology, make Loki a typical monologing Evil Villain (tm), Thor does some flashy superstuff to make the fanboys and fangirls squeal for about half the screen time, roll credits.

This was not a simple popcorn movie. Somehow this script, with masterful storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski and equally masterful direction by Kenneth Branagh, manages to balance the depths of space with the inside of a cramped travel trailer, balance wars between worlds with one human woman's struggles and needs, balance the grandeur of Asgard against a breakfast of scrambled eggs, while also tying Thor's story into Iron Man, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rest of the Avengers, including Hawkeye who does make an un-costumed appearance.

What could easily have been a confusing mess is anything but. The intricate dance back and forth between Asgard and Earth, the large and the small, works beautifully and never distracts from the complex story being told. There were only a couple of times that I felt a character suspended his or her own disbelief slightly more than was believable, and there were moments very obviously created to maximize the 3D effects (the weapon swinging into the viewer's face syndrome abounded), but they're minor flaws in the greater gem.

Thor is the hero's journey, with all the high notes of nobility, lessons learned, transformation, betrayal, love, honor and friendship rolled into one epic tale that does not disappoint in any way. Marvel films in general seem to have hit their stride after a few previous missteps (yes, I'm thinking Hulk too), and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of Thor.

Is it a perfect film? Of course not, but I'm not going to pick it apart either. It's an enjoyable movie that's well worth the ticket price, with superb acting (Anthony Hopkins in particular was brilliant), juicy visual effects, interesting production design, exciting fight scenes (the Destroyer is badass), and a story that hits all the right beats and leaves us wanting more at the end.

Speaking of more at the end, be sure to stay through the end of the credits for a bonus scene featuring Nick Fury as the franchise builds toward the Avengers, currently in production.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Alternative Press Expo (APE) announces special guests for 2011

Coming off its biggest year yet in 2010 with attendance topping 5,500, the Alternative Press Expo (APE), returns to San Francisco this fall at The Concourse Exhibition Center. The Expo, taking place Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, will again feature the expanded Exhibit Hall and additional programming tracks that debuted in 2010.

Five special guests have already signed on for the show: Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant!), Daniel Clowes (Wilson, Mister Wonderful; courtesy Drawn & Quarterly), Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi), Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, Scenes from an Impending Marriage), and Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man, I Thought You Would Be Funnier).

“Interest in APE has never been higher as evidenced by our growing attendance and roster of exhibitors,” said David Glanzer, APE’s director of marketing and public relations. “This year’s terrific mix of special guests really helps us continue that momentum as one of the ‘must-see’ independent comics shows in the nation.”

APE showcases the best in alternative and small press comics, with an Exhibit Hall packed with cutting-edge creators featuring their comics, books, zines, original art, hand-made items, and much more. Further details on APE 2011, including a complete list of exhibitors and the full programming schedule, will be announced closer to the event.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Retro Spidey and other fun statues coming from Dark Horse

The 1960s brought a cultural upheaval in music and art, with a host of new icons entering the scene: The Beatles, Andy Warhol, and, of course, Marvel Comics, led by a host of characters that defined modern comic books. Now, these characters will appear just as they did then, in a new line of collectible statuettes from Dark Horse Deluxe.

Beginning in September 2011, the program will include two alternating series: Classic Marvel Characters and the Fantastic Four. The statues portray these characters just as they originally appeared: Spider-Man is presented with his early “web wing” costume, and Daredevil is in his yellow-and-red uniform, for instance. This new line will be deliberately different than the common modern Marvel collectible sculpture, with features like a rougher surface texture, visible seam lines, and other slightly “distressed” aspects, such as the method of paint application.

“I’ve collected Marvel comics since I was a kid,” Dark Horse president Mike Richardson recalled, “so I am really excited by this opportunity to add these terrific characters to our classic Syroco line. From the beginning, the goal of this program was to give a very unique treatment to the greatest characters in comics, and now we have the good fortune to work with the fine folks at Marvel on some of my absolute favorites.”

Each hand-numbered statuette comes carefully packaged in a custom-tooled, full-color, litho-printed tin box, in a style similar to past releases in the Dark Horse Syroco line. Also included is a small booklet about each character and a vintage-style pin-back button of the character.

Dark Horse’s statuettes are inspired by figurines developed in the 1930s. Now highly prized by collectors, they were often used as advertising premiums featuring famous comic-strip characters. Now known as Syroco figurines, these statuettes are named after both the company that originally produced them and the woodlike resin material from which they were made at the time. Measuring between four and five inches, these statuettes have been sculpted in the original style, described by sculptor Craig Yoe as “primitive but charming.”

Disney’s Uncle Scrooge, the Kellogg’s cereal mascots, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, stars of DC Comics and Archie Comics, The Simpsons, newspaper-strip greats, and more have all previously appeared in this Syroco-style continuing series of collectible limited-edition sculptures.

Spider-Man, limited to two thousand numbered statuettes, will be the first in the Classic Marvel Characters series, going on sale in September. In addition to the ongoing Classic Marvel lineup, other anticipated series include the original Avengers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Priest Director Scott Stewart, in his own words

Director Scott Stewart, courtesy Sony Pictures
This interview was part of a media roundtable at WonderCon with about eight other print and online reporters. "Q" is a question from one of the others, "UFN" is us. A few minutes of 3D footage, as well as the "sizzle reel" trailer, were shown the night before at the Metreon a block up from the Moscone Center where WonderCon is held.

Scott Stewart: Hello! Did you have a chance to see the footage last night? What did you think? Did you like it?

All: Yes!

Q: I went in thinking "Oh, it's vampires, seen it," but I walked out thinking, "I've never seen that before." It was amazing.

SS: Cool!

Q: Paul Bettany was telling us how easy it was for the two of you to work together. How was it?

SS: He's totally lying. It was horrible. No, it was great. It was really great. We had gotten to be friends on the last movie. We only worked together for a certain amount of time on that picture because it was an ensemble, and this was a chance to kind of put the whole movie on his shoulders. I knew it was something he could do, and everything about the movie is a big leap forward from the last movie we did. It's a more ambitious story, a much more straightforward story, and it was a chance to design a whole land and allow him to really inhabit a character he has to carry. I read the script and thought about who the archetypal heroes are, and I thought about Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen and John Wayne. Paul's somebody, when you look at him, you can put him in any time period. You can put him in the future, put him in the past, whatever, and he fits. Some faces are really contemporary. They just feel really contemporary. So I wanted somebody who looked like he would fit in this world that would be a little heightened. He also does a really great job of making his face look like a mask, and you just get the sense that there's a rage there. You know, he sits down and he's so charming and funny and nice. In movies, he's got a real ability to convey that anger. That, to me, was reminiscent of some of the characters John Wayne had played, so that's what we went for.

UFN: He mentioned that this had three times the budget of Legion.

SS: Which meant we had three dollars! Yeah, Legion was a really low-budget movie by the standards by which we work, generally. So yes, this was definitely more. By the standard of other movies... we don't have the budget of Pirates 4, probably not even a fraction of that, so what we had to do was be really clever as to how to make the movie feel visceral and exciting and textured and detailed, and make the world comprehensive. We just had to plan it really carefully and focus our planning and efforts on just the things we were going to see in the movie and try to be really efficient.

UFN: I think you can really see that on the screen, and I'm wondering if you feel that, compared to Legion, you're at another level now.

SS: Yeah, [Legion] was a little movie, a throwback to 70s horror. Yeah, I hope so! It feels like a nice step forward, because in every way I have more experience. I felt better equipped to do it. The learning curve of a director is... [makes a sharp upward angle with his hand]... and I guess in any great art it never ends, so every time you do it, you get better at it. I would have been very ill-prepared to try and embark on something as complex as this movie, given the schedule and the budget, without having embarked on it once before. So it's really helpful. It felt like it was a trial run for Priest.

Q: You said you did some of the visual effects yourself?

SS: Some stuff I did. I took much more of a hands-off approach on this one. I used my ability to do the visual effects more as a pre-visualization, doing storyboard animatics and those kinds of things, helping to design the vampires, helping the studio see what the world was going to look like and feel like. Because we really did want to try and push it, and that can be challenging. They have to take a leap of faith with you, so my goal is to try and make it not that much of a leap by showing them as much as I can, and hopefully delivering it, and they were all really excited about it. We designed the movie for 3D, we had talked about shooting for 3D. I wanted to shoot on film, and Don Burgess, my cameraman, a legendary guy who's shot Spider-Man and Cast Away and Forrest Gump and a lot of great movies, he's a great cinematographer... It's a landscape movie, it's part of being a movie that has real scope, and we wanted to shoot wide-screen and shoot on film and use old lenses. So we kind of got the best of both worlds, because when the studio started seeing the movie being put together, they went, "Oh, okay then... let's talk about converting this film to 3D." We did initial tests and they just looked so good! And they gave us the time. They pushed the release date to May for that. It was a nice big vote of confidence because it's expensive to move a release date.

Q: How closely did you work with [Priest graphic novel author] Min-Woo Hyung?

SS: He came out while we were in pre-production and spent a few days with us. The TokyoPop people brought him out. And we were nervous, because I had come into the movie with Cory Goodman's script, and there were 16 books and this sprawling thing mostly set in the old west, and some in the crusades, and there's a little bit of stuff in the future, but he never finished it. It's a cliffhanger, and you have no idea where the story's going, and Cory realized it would be really tough to make into a movie, like how to structure it for the time period. Westerns are hard, so he put it in a kind of apocalyptic future and imagined that that storyline had gone into the future. When Min-Woo came and read the script and looked at all the design stuff we had, and we sat down and talked about what our intentions were, it was really pleasing to us, because he said "I was thinking where the story would go if I thought I would ever write more, and I imagined going here, and here, and here, and that really feels like what you guys did." He was inspired enough by that to actually, much to the pleasure of TokyoPop, go back to Korea and write this big long bridge story between where the books left off and the movie began, which TokyoPop released as a new series of Priest comic books, which is really cool.

Q: Has there been talk at all about making a sequel?

SS: Not quite ready to talk about that. There are some things that we're working on that are ways to take the most successful aspects of that story and put it in a new context in a way that's exciting, and lets us really get into the story and the characters, that I think you'll enjoy.

Courtesy Sony Pictures

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exclusive: Brea and Zane Grant on their upcoming projects

Zane and Brea Grant

You may remember Brea Grant as Daphne the speedster, Hiro Nakamura's frenemy from Heroes. Our Heroes-related section of the interview is on our sister site, House Petrelli, but UFN asked some more general questions about Brea and Zane's upcoming comic book projects, which are both entertaining and very diverse.

UFN: We Will Bury You... I was going to say that launched at Comic-Con '09? Am I right on that?

BG: We started promoting it in '09, but it actually didn't come out until a year ago, and then the trade came out this past fall.

UFN: And who's the publisher on that?

BG: It's IDW.

UFN: Ah, okay. And what's the premise?

ZG: It's the story of a zombie apocalypse that begins in New York in 1927 and follows a sex worker and her girlfriend as they try to survive, the people they meet and so on.

UFN: Okay, interesting angle on it. So we see the underside, and they see these things happen in the corners where most people don't?

ZG: Yeah, it's basically a survival story set in the 20s.

BG: There's a lot of comic books and zombie comic books specifically that look at people with power, with money, who are cops, who have skills... and we wanted to look at people whose survival skills are more street skills. Street smart rather than having money to buy your way out, or get on a boat, or do whatever you would do to survive.

UFN: Are there other projects you guys are moving into? Other titles, other...

ZG: Yeah, we're still working on comics together, we're pitching out a few things right now. We're pitching out a slasher book with Eric J who does some really amazing art. He was the co-creator of Rex Mundi and he's doing a book called Fly right now. So that's a really fun one, and we're working on a comic about a graffiti crew that learns to do magic. It's really an urban fantasy thing. The tentative title is Dead City Kids.

BG: And we have a Suicide Girls comic book coming out in April with IDW as well.

UFN: I think of them as pictures... what are they going to be doing?

BG: Well, we wrote a story for them. It's sort of a Charlie's Angels-esque group of elite fighters fighting against a giant religious corporation in a sort of dystopian future.

UFN: I did not see that coming.

ZG: It's sort of a science fiction spy story kind of thing with espionage. It's fun. I think we did a good job! And we have Cameron Stewart who does some amazing art, and David Hahn who also does some amazing art, and Steve Niles is writing a back-of-issue story. I think it'll be a fun project. It's coming out in a few weeks.

UFN: And is that with IDW?

ZG: That one's with IDW, the other ones we're still pitching out and we're talking to some people about them. I'm doing a web comic with a friend called Detective Warlock, Warlock Detective. It's kind of a horror-comedy about a small town warlock detective. He does things like he fights a graveyard hag at a skating rink, things like that.

UFN: Is that set in the present-day?

ZG: Yeah, it's set in the present-day. It's pretty cool. I think that'll be up next month.

UFN: Do you have a website?

ZG: I do, it's ZaneGrant.org.

UFN: Dot org?

ZG: Yes, I'm an organization.

UFN: Or you're very organized. Or both. Do you have any parting thoughts or other work you're doing?

BG: I co-wrote a screenplay that's going to shoot in September that's one of the big projects I'm working on on my own besides other acting ventures. It's independent and still in the early stages, it's called Best Friends Forever and it's an apocalyptic road trip movie.

UFN: The horror genre, pardon the pun, just will not die. Zombies and vampires and the apocalypse... do you think there's still a lot of audience? Do you think it's played out at all?

BG: I don't think horror will ever play out. I think people are drawn to it for whatever reason they have. I never wake up and think, "No, I don't really want to watch a horror movie or read a sci-fi book. I consistently want to be in those genres, whereas I do sometimes feel like I don't want to watch a depressing drama or something like that. I think it's here to stay. I think certain things will probably go out of style. I have this theory that werewolves are the next big thing. So I think zombies will go out of style, other things will go out of style, vampires will go out style, but I think at some point it's still gonna cycle through.

UFN: Horror as a genre, obviously, has been around forever, since Mary Shelley, since before that, scaring people, things that go bump in the night... it's kind of blown up recently, but you don't think it's going to shrink any time in the near future?

ZG: I don't think so. I think as a genre there's a lot of room to find new stories, especially now that so much money is going into remakes, or even just rehashing the same stories from the same authors. And those monsters do have specific meaning to our society. In international horror, over the last ten years people there have been some really interesting new kinds of stories that people are telling, or telling in a different style. Even vampire stories, like Let the Right One In, that movie's amazing. It's so different than anything.

UFN: Well, like Priest is coming out, and the interesting thing about the vampires on that is that they're actually some kind of non-human alien infection kind of thing, and the people are light-sensitive instead of... it's a twist on it that's really interesting.

ZG: Yeah, I think there's a lot of room for tweaking things and playing with what's there, but definitely the genre is getting maybe a little bit stale involving the mainstream-ization of it, but hopefully some money will go into some great projects.

BG: I think the true fans will keep it alive.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paul Bettany on Priest, in his own words

Courtesy Sony Pictures
This interview was part of a media roundtable, where about eight media folks (including myself) were seated and the talent was brought to each table in shifts of about eight to ten minutes each. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the names of all the media present at our table, so the other questioners will be noted simply as "Q" (how mysterious!), with "UFN" being my question in particular. (The Legion poster referenced was mine, I brought two to get signed from Comic-Con, which he did gladly! //fangirl)

Q: So is the second time a charm? (Referring to Bettany's second major film with Scott Stewart as director)

Paul Bettany: Is the second time a charm? I think it's 'third time's the charm,' but in this case it was the second. It was a really great working experience, and I think you could ask anybody in the cast or crew, and I mean it, if they had a great time, and they'll all say yes. Even the days I got injured, we had great days.

Q: What sort of injuries did you sustain?

PB: I fell on a de-acceleration wire, and I landed on my foot, which is where you should land, but it failed to de-accelerate, and I landed about 20 feet... it was painful. But it was fine, thanks to the pleasures of Vicodin.

Q: Were you doing your own stunts?

PB: Oh, yeah! As many of them as insurance would allow me to do, I did. I really enjoy that stuff, and, I mean, if you're in an action movie, and you're not doing the action, what are you getting paid for? I wanted to do it, I wanted to have that experience. It's such an amazing experience, and I loved it.

Q: What you said at the footage screening last night, was 'I'm British, so I'm starting from a butch deficit.'

PB: Yeah, it's true, so I started training before the movie, and my trainer came out with me from New York. I've known him for years, we worked together on Legion. He did a really amazing job, I think. He kept me safe, put a bunch of weight on me, made sure I didn't eat badly, and woke me up at 4:00 in the morning to go training every day. We start work at 6:00, so Mike would wake me up to go training at 4:00 in the morning. I can be a rude bastard at 4:00 in the morning if you're waking me up.

Courtesy Sony Pictures
Q: The six-pack on the [Legion] poster she had, does that come naturally?

PB: No, it doesn't come "naturally." It comes from a huge amount of deprivation! Yeesh... my body very quickly retreats very quickly back to the body of a reader who eats too much cheese and drinks beer. I can't get fit unless somebody's... I have a very strong work ethic, but I can't stop eating cheese unless somebody's paying me an enormous sum of money not to eat it.

Q: You're walking kind of a fine line in this movie. You're a supernatural priest who's reciting "Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death..." before he throws crosses at vampires. How do you, as an actor, keep the line between that and camp. How do you walk that line when you're reciting those scenes?

PB: I think you understand, as the actor, that this is a sort of really enjoyable moment for the audience. You understand that it looks like he's reading from a Bible, and the familiar says "Your words mean nothing here, Priest," and then the audience get revealed that what's inside the Bible ain't f***ing words. But you have to play it straight. You understand the entertainment value of that as a series of shots. I love that kind of stuff. I really do.

Q: Is that what drew you to the part?

PB: Well yeah. A bunch of things drew me to the part. Scott being a huge part of that. Scott with over three times of the budget that he had the time before -- a really broad canvas and enough money to buy really great paints finally for him. It's really paid off for him, and I'm really proud of the result. I was so shocked last night at the footage that we saw. So proud.

UFN: Is this your favorite genre to do?

PB: I love making movies. I love watching movies, I love making movies. From Legion I went on and played Charles Darwin and put on a bunch of weight for that, then I lost a bunch of weight to make this movie, then made a film in 17 days, unbelievably, with Kevin Spacey and Stanley Tucci. A small little independent film about the financial crisis, so I will continue to make as many different sorts of movies as I'm allowed to.

Q: How is it going from action to a more serious type of role?

PB: It's like two different jobs. They really are. They're totally separate.

Q: You have a pretty good sense of humor, so what kind of humorous subtitle would you give "Priest 2?" Sequels always seem to have an odd subtitle.

PB: I haven't the smallest idea...

Q: "Priest 2: The Priestening?"

PB: I remember at Comic-Con last time, Karl Urban signed a poster to me and said, "Thanks so much for being in my movie." He signed a poster to me, which I didn't ask for, and he'd hand written in his name, "Priest, starring Karl Urban."

Priest opens in theaters Friday, May 13.