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 Aragon├ęs 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.

Why?

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!