Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Month in Review: March 2009

March was a month of subtle change and a shift to better continuity on the blog: joining our regular practice of not posting on Sundays, we (read: Alex) made Waiting for Wednesday into a regular feature, and we managed to stick to posting at 11 AM most days. I also tinkered around behind the scenes a bit so that Exfanding Your Horizons is slightly more search-engine friendly.

Despite the increased continuity in certain areas of the blog, the topics of our posts were a mishmash of this and that. To illustrate this, and to give you a chance to catch up, here are links to everything we did, minus the few filler posts and the monthly GameCola promotion:

- An update on the state of Alex's graphic novel

- Issues two, three, four, and five of Waiting for Wednesday

- An introduction to Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, a Japanese game show taken over by American absurdity

- YouTube videos with audio commentary of me playing through the original Mega Man and Mega Man 2.

- My unreasonably long tale of pity and woe about making those Mega Man videos

- A celebration of our blog reaching 4000 hits

- A joint review of Watchmen (the film)

- An introduction to Garfield Minus Garfield, where the titular character is removed from the Garfield comic strips

- A review of Will Ferrell's one-man play, You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush.

- Ramblings about the decline of Watchmen's (the film again) success

- A collection of silly and ridiculous things found during mundane web searches

- A monster mash-up of a post, discussing Alex's graphic novel, The Goon, and more.

- An introduction to the refreshingly clever and diverse comic strip, FoxTrot

- A discussion about Previews, the dense publication that lists what's available in comics

- A review of the sci-fi thriller Sunshine

- A review of the Bruce Campbell self-parody film My Name is Bruce

- A farewell to Valerie D'Orazio's Occasional Superheroine blog and mega download site FileFront

- A bunch of links to relevant comics news, from Incredibles comics to more trouble with Wizard Magazine

- A discussion about my first steps to creating a board game with a friend

- A notification that the 125-page story conference transcript for Raiders of the Lost Ark is online

Monday, March 30, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of Someone Else's Astounding Blog Post

Back in 1978, a few guys--Lawrence, Steven, and George--got together to think up ideas for a movie. Their little series of pow-wows was recorded on tape and then typed up on paper, and now their documented conversation is available online as a .PDF.

Indiana Jones' fedora hatThese guys were Lawrence Kasdan, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, and this movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark. And you can download the 125-page transcript of their 5-day story conference right here. This is movie history, and a fascinating look at the creative process behind one of the most iconic movies in American cinema.

For a more complete and interesting background and review of the conference than I could ever hope to produce, check out this post from a blog called Mystery Man on Film.

Check this out or I will personally melt your face.

[Hat image from www.thinkgeek.com. Meltyface image from www.moviedeaths.com. ...Oh, don't be all grossed out. You knew what you were in for when you clicked the link.]

Designing games for fun and... well, just fun, really.

We're making a board game.

Well, let me clarify and elaborate: my friend and I have recently been collaborating on making a board game. There have been threats of getting together to make a video game for years now, but we've finally started the brainstorming process to create something a bit less technology intensive.

I've spent a lot of time playing games and thinking about what they did right and how they could be improved, but it's very different to create something from scratch. It's amazingly easy to fall into the trap of modifying existing games--while Oregon Trail In Space might be an entertaining game, I'd prefer for whatever game eventually (hopefully) comes out of this to be a bit more unique. Or for this game to rip off such a large variety of games that it's too difficult to pinpoint just one.

Right now we've got at least a vague idea of what this game might be (for now), but the next step is to playtest a few of our basic ideas to see if what we're brewing works at all. It is my hope that we can create a game that is simple, yet elegant, and infinitely replayable. I'm envisioning a basic, no-nonsense game that anybody can easily learn, and then offering all sorts of options and game modes that add depth and variety to the game.

Really, I'm looking at this project less as creating a game and more as creating the building blocks that can be used for a multitude of games. Think of this in terms of LEGOs: LEGO bricks generally come with directions that show you how to build a house, or a boat, or the LEGO Star Wars Death Star II Replica Play Set, but you can use those bricks to build just about anything. In the same way, I want to create a set of game elements that can be used to play any number of games, not just the ones we prescribe.

Maybe I'm too ambitious, and maybe the working idea is no good at all. But this whole creative process is a good one, and we'll see where it takes us.

Oregon Trail in Space

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Links and Things

It was a busy week in comics and the overreaching geek universe, so a link post is in order for this weekend.

--First, an interesting announcement from comics company BOOM! Studios that they have made a distribution deal with newsstands to sell their upcoming Disney/Pixar-related comics releases, including a series of Incredibles comics. Check out the announcement here.

This is a pretty big deal, as comics just don't show up on newsstands anymore. And who knows? Maybe this will lead to wider distribution, larger audiences, and maybe even younger readers, that ever-elusive comics demographic.

--As happy as that first item makes me, this one, unfortunately...not so much. While I am pretty uninitiated when it comes to anime, this bit still comes as a downer. As yet another sign of trouble over at Wizard Entertainment, Newsarama is reporting that Wizard's Anime Insider magazine will be going under.

As the death knell of paper publishing continues to toll, publication of AI will end with the upcoming issue number 67. Here's the story.

--As Nathaniel reported on yesterday, the great Occasional Superheroine blog, written by Valerie D'Orazio, will soon be closing shop. This is sad news for all of us who have read that blog on a daily basis over the years, and we wish Valerie the very best.

Now, on a somewhat personal note, about a month after Nathaniel and I launched our own little blog, Valerie had a call out for sites to be listed on her blog roll. We sent in our info, crossed our fingers, and waited. When we received word back that she would, in fact, add Exfanding to her list, we were both overjoyed, and we took it as a big vote of confidence from someone for whom we have great respect. So, thanks OC!

Oh, and just a reminder, if you're interested in purchasing a PDF of Valerie's "Memoirs of an Occasional Superheroine," you can do so by clicking here.

--And, finally, an awesome Watchmen-themed installment from the Web comic VG Cats. Check it, here. Thanks for the heads-up, Shannon!

Well, that's all the geeky goodness I've got in me for today. Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Goodbye to Occasional Superheroine and FileFront

Looks like I'm going to be the blogger of bad news today. Two sites you may be familiar with will be closing down shortly: Occasional Superheroine and FileFront.

Occasional Superheroine logoOccasional Superheroine is a blog we've had on our blogroll basically since the beginning. Authored by Valerie D'Orazio, who is currently writing Marvel's Cloak and Dagger series, OS has been a fun, geeky, intellectual, philosophical, and controversial blog that's been online for about two and a half years. Valerie recently announced that her blog will be coming to an end soon, though I'm sure the blog itself will stay online for some time.

I would highly recommend taking a look at OS if you've never been there before, though an objectionable content warning is in order. If nothing else, consider reading Valerie's series of posts known collectively as Goodbye to Comics, which she describes as "a theoretical memoir of what *might* have happened in the life of a woman in the field and fandom of comics." It's very deep, very personal, and very thought-provoking (to say the least), and it's sure to stir up conversation.

To provide some closure to the blog, she's now offering her full memoirs (160+ pages), covering topics she's blogged about in lesser depth such as gender issues in comics, ultra fanboys/fangirls, and her own personal experiences. Click here if you're interested.

Whereas OS should be sticking around awhile, albeit with no more updates, FileFront is going to up and disappear altogether.

FileFront logoFileFront, a huge download site for anything videogame-related (demos, patches, mods, etc.), is suspending its operations indefinitely on Monday, March 30th. I'm super-sad because this is where my Jedi Knight II levels are hosted.

So, if you've got any files uploaded there that you want to keep, or if there are any downloads that you want, go there ASAP to grab what you're looking for. I imagine everybody's going to go download-crazy in the final hours before the site closes down, which could very well crash the entire Internet. Once FileFront goes offline, there's no telling where or if you'll ever find some of those files again.

Okay, now I'm depressed.

As for Exfanding Your Horizons, I promise you that we've got a great many posts left to write; if ever there comes a day when we are to close up shop, rest assured that we'll give you plenty of advance warning and won't just leave you hanging in the middle of

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Exfanding Review: My Name is Bruce

My Name Is Bruce posterCampbell. Bruce Campbell.

A name all dorks know, and love. The most common thing you hear in regards to a Bruce Campbell movie goes something like this: "Well, the movie was pretty lousy, and the 'actors' were pretty lousy, and there was no discernible plot, but Bruce was awesome." And, therefore, said movie becomes "watch-able" and, eventually, it becomes a cult favorite.

With something like My Name is Bruce, the latest effort from the B-list (should be A-list!) icon, that notion is still essentially true. However, this film is also directed by Campbell, and his unique brand of humor creeps into all of the actors' performances. That, and a pretty well written script add to an overall enjoyable watching experience.

Bruce Campbell directingReleased by Dark Horse Indie, the film division of Dark Horse Comics, and written by the geek-friendly Mark Verheiden, Bruce is certainly a movie for Exfanding fans to take note of. There are plenty of references to Campbell's past films, and there are several "in-jokes" for the geeky crowd.

So, what's the film about, you ask? Well, personally I think the premise is pretty smart, and quite funny. Basically, an ancient and evil demon called Guan-di (the Chinese god of war and protector of the dead), has been awoken in the cemetery of the small, backwoods town of Gold Lick, Oregon, and begins to kill off denizens of the town.

Guandi at the mine shaftWith no one willing or able to confront the vengeful spirit, a local teenager (and Bruce Campbell fanatic) decides upon the only reasonable course of action.

Kidnap Bruce Campbell so he can vanquish the spirit.

Though angered and terrified at first by his kidnapping, Bruce soon comes to believe that the whole thing is a birthday present from his agent and he happily, and stupidly, goes along with said vanquishing. That is, until he figures out that the whole thing is real.

Bruce and his group look for GuandiThe film's (and, Bruce's) portrayal of Campbell as a drunken, mean, clueless, and falling star living in a tiny trailer is incredibly funny and, as always, Bruce brings great physical comedy to his role...as himself.

While some of the other acting isn't...uhm...let's say "Sean Penn-like"...everyone else is more than passable in their roles. And, as with any Campbell flick, this one has so many elements of the downright absurd that I'll only mention my favorite of which here.

When the movie opens, three of the film's characters present background information through song, strumming away on their guitars and happily providing funny exposition to set things up. These characters pop up all along the way, keeping the viewer informed as things move along. Here are two of the singers, accompanied by their director.

Musical trioSo, overall impressions time. I liked the flick, and thought it was funny. It's a very low budget movie, something all Bruce fans are used to, and as such it has its charm. It's a ridiculous, strange comedy, and I think Exfanding readers might enjoy it. For Campbell fans, well, this is a must. And, for any of the uninitiated out there, give this one a shot as a rental.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting for Wednesday, Issue 5

Before I launch into this week's Waiting, a loyal Exfanding reader sent me an awesome link this morning. Check out this story, about Spider-Man rescuing a child in Bangkok. Pretty cool, right?

And, with that as our preface, let's get right into Issue 5 of the long-running, and wildly popular, Waiting for Wednesday. Here's what I'm most looking forward to buying, then allowing to pile up in stacks (higher than most people) on my floor.

First up, Marvel's Dark Reign tie-in issues. Now, this being the last shipping week of the month (usually the heaviest shipment week, if you haven't noticed) Marvel releases five--count 'em!--five Dark Reign tie-ins. Well, actually, there might be more than that, but there are five that are on my pull list for today.

And, for the uninitiated, Dark Reign is the name of the "non-event" that has been spawned from the very-much-of-an-event Secret Invasion storyline, where Skrulls attacked the Marvel Universe. And Dark Reign has, so far at least, been quite enjoyable (as was Secret Invasion, I might add).

So, in no particular order, the five tie-ins today are: New Avengers 51, Mighty Avengers 23, Ms. Marvel 37, Thunderbolts 130, and the not-so-subtly-titled Dark Reign Elektra, issue 1.

Out of these, I'm most looking forward to New Avengers, as it has probably been my favorite Marvel title of the past few years. It's written by Brian Bendis, with art by Billy Tan.

New Avengers cover This issue centers around Doctor Strange, and here's Marvel's solicitation pitch:

WHO IS THE NEW SORCERER SUPREME? Doctor Strange has failed as the Master of the Mystic Arts and all the other mystic characters are the heir apparent. Strange comes to the New Avengers for help as the mystic battle royale begins. Plus, how can the Avengers trust Spider-Man if he won't take his mask off?

And, for those of you out there going, wait, hold up, didn't Spidey unmask in Civil War?

Um...let's just go with it, okay?

Anycontinuityfixes, let's move on to the next, shall we? Second on my list for today is a...let's say...bizarre...book from Dark Horse. Written by My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy is one of those series that's just tough to classify.

The first volume, which is out in trade for those of you who might be interested, was strange, and entertaining, and well written, and the art was stunning. Here's the product description from Amazon, about the first series:

Gerard Way, of My Chemical Romance, makes his comics writing debut in this outrageous superhero epic that Grant Morrison called "An ultraviolet psychedelic sherbet bomb of wit and ideas.

The superheroes of the 21st century are here at last..." In an inexplicable, worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who'd previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, "To save the world."

These seven children form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.

If that sounds like the kind of crazy that's up your alley, then by all means go buy the trade. You won't regret it. And, as for this week's Umbrella Academy, we see the release of volume two, issue five, entitled Dallas, in which our heroes travel back in time to prevent nuclear Armageddon. Here's the cover image:

Umbrella Academy cover And, finally, we come to the last pick of the week. And it's not a comic, but rather a book about comics. Well, okay, it's not really that, either. Instead, it's a book about comics prices. The 39th edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide hits store shelves today.

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide coverThe Overstreet Guide is a comic book staple, and even though I haven't bought more than a couple of back issues in the past year or so, I'll be buying a copy of this today. The book comes in both hardcover and soft, with the HC carrying a $35.00 price tag, while the SC will run you $29.95.

An indispensable book for anyone interested in current market values, conditions, and news, the Overstreet Guide is a book every comics dork should own, even if you buy one every few years.

Well, sir, that's it for my list this week. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Exfanding Review: Sunshine

Sunshine DVD coverIf you've been following the animated exploits of Weebl and Bob, you most likely know that they've teamed up with those Cadbury Creme Egg chaps to create a series of movie parodies featuring said eggs. Their latest endeavour is called Gooshine, a parody of the sci-fi thriller Sunshine.

Now, I like to be "in the know" when people parody and make references to movies, and I had never heard of Sunshine, so I borrowed it from my local library to see what it was about.

It was about an hour and forty-five minutes. This is one of the most favorable things I can say about this movie.

The premise: Earth's sun is dying, so a spaceship filled with people is sent to blow up and rejuvenate the sun with a huge-riffic bomb, thus saving Earth from certain freezation and death. ("Freezation." It's a word. Found next to "huge-riffic.")

The problem: A peaceful trip to the sun and back is boring, so all sorts of stuff needs to go wrong and people need to die to make the movie more interesting.

The real problem: There came a point where I just stopped caring.

I knew from pretty early on that I wasn't going to care about the characters: in retrospect, I suspect the only reason any character development happened at all was to foreshadow a conflict that was to come or the way that somebody was going to die.

Sunshine castThe one character I actually liked? First to die. I had to resort to liking two other characters to get me through the movie, one character because he was the most rational remaining crewmember and almost had some depth to him, and the other character just because she was kinda cute.

Proven fact: If you don't care about the characters, you root for cute. Especially if the alternative is kinda creepy to look at.

Creepy Blue Eyes looks through a windowThat might not have been so bad, though (the lack of character development, not the creepy face), because I've watched and enjoyed plenty of movies where I didn't care much about the characters. Y'see, that's where the "Ooh! Aah!" factor kicks in; if the thrills, visuals, and ideas are impressive enough, then the characters can get away with being unlikable or inconsequential.

I'll admit that Sunshine is very pretty. Panoramic vistas of space, very shiny and realistically futuristic spaceship interiors, some cool special effects, and good use of lighting (I mean, c'mon, it's the sun--how can you mess up blindingly bright light)? But pretty only goes so far with me.

Staring at the sunI took issue with the stupid actions of a few crew members (without which we would not have conflict) as well as the bonehead oversights of the people who built the spaceship that was mankind's last hope. Sure, I predicted a few of the big plot points as well as who would live and who would die--and how--with rather excellent accuracy, but I'm not sure whether that means the movie is predictable or that I'm just that good.

Sunshine didn't really surprise me, but I guess there's only so many ways a movie can go when you've got a small crew trapped on a ship where everything is going wrong. Nevermind that half of the science was all wrong; it was pretty enough that it at least wasn't a total waste of my time--until they decided to switch genres.

I suppose I should have seen this coming: all of the previews that played before the movie were for horror films. I'll try to keep this vague so as not to spoil anything, but as the movie gets closer to the end, something happens that shifts Sunshine from being a sci-fi suspense movie into being a horror movie in space. And a pretty weak one, at that.

Creepy Blue Eyes runs through a corridorI called it, too, but I kept hoping, "please turn out differently than I'm expecting," and when it didn't, I started hoping, "please don't continue on with this for the rest of the movie," and when it did, I started hoping, "please let them fail their mission so that Earth is doomed to certain freezination--that's the only plot twist that could redeem this movie."

And that's about the time when I stopped caring. Actually, it may have come much sooner, but that's when I fully realized it. It could have been an okay sci-fi thriller, but it ended up being a cheap survival horror film with a big budget.

If Sunshine sounds at all interesting to you, do give it a shot, but shut it off at the first sign of dislike or disinterest--it probably won't get any better for you.

[Images from www.imdb.com and www.sunshinedna.com]

Monday, March 23, 2009

Finding What You're Looking For

I was kinda worried about today's post, mostly because up until about ten minutes ago, I had no idea what to write about. Now, this weekend certainly gave me a few interesting options, as I (finally) got around to watching the fantastic Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog episodes by Joss Whedon, and I even played the Nintendo Wii for the first time ever.

Hilarious as it was to see me...uhm...video game golfing, and even though I really enjoyed Dr. Horrible, I'm just not in the mood to do a review-y kind of post this morning.

So, instead, as I climbed into my car on my way to the office a couple hours ago, and I looked down at the floor and saw my Previews Order Form sitting there, underneath a left sneaker (don't ask about the right sneaker), nearly two full weeks late, I came to two realizations.

The first one was, wow I need to get this into my LCS as soon as possible and hope it'll be OK. And the second was, I should really blog about Previews.

Actually, come to think of it, I had a third realization, as well. More like a question, actually. And that was, where on Middle Earth could my other sneaker possibly be? And the answer to that will, for the time being at least, remain a mystery to all involved.

So, onto Previews then. Now, if you're a person who heads to the comics shop every Wednesday, then you likely know what Previews is. For those who may not, a quick summary. Basically, Previews is a phone book-like monthly publication and is put out by Diamond Comics Distributors. As you likely already know, Diamond is the company that acts as the middle man and gets comics and other merchandise from the publishers to the retail stores.

Retailers (and customers, as you'll see in a minute) use Previews to order the comics, books, toys, posters, statues, and whatever else you see in your LCS. And they do this on a monthly basis. When you crack open one of these bad boys, what you get is a rundown of everything shipping from all the comics publishers in business right now.

Each issue of Previews contains shipping information for products that will be in stores approximately two months down the road. As a fer example, this Wednesday sees the release of the April issue of Previews, and this book will feature product shipping in June.

Now, Previews (and Diamond, for that matter) is the only way for retailers to get their books and things, so it's an essential tool for them. But, Previews can also be a really great tool for consumers, as well.

I'm sure you've all seen that giant stack of these things, either on a table, or most likely, on the floor of your LCS. And I'm sure many of you have picked up the book, looked at that $5.99 price tag, and put it right back. I did the very same thing for the first three or four years of going to the shop on a weekly basis.

But, pretty recently, I decided to spend the extra six bucks a month in order to utilize the catalog. And I'm glad I did. While I'm not the biggest fan of Diamond being the only game in town when it comes to purchasing comics, I have to admit that, as a consumer, I love Previews.

As you can probably tell by past entries here, I typically don't stick to mainstream, Marvel and DC books each week. And, while I certainly buy books from those companies, I tend to venture out and read a good amount of independent titles, as well.

And, because every LCS has a limited amount of space, retailers just cannot afford to go crazy and purchase a bunch of titles and things beyond what's available from the biggest publishers. And Previews is set up to feed right into this mindset, as the big-name companies (Marvel, DC, Top Cow, and Image) take up pretty much the first half of the book, and everyone else is relegated to the back.

But I'm one of those people that likes to go out and find something new to read, and one of the only ways to "discover" new talent in comics is by poring over an issue of Previews.

So, if you're like me, and you find yourself reading off the scheduled releases each week and going, hmmm...I wonder if my LCS will have that latest issue of Boneyard, or that latest trade from TwoMorrows Press, then do yourself a favor and pick up this month's Previews, take a look through the book, and simply fill out the handy little Order Form with all those Indy gems you find.

Then, your retailer will take the form, and order the books you want so you know that you'll not have to scour the globe searching for, let's say...a right sneaker.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nathaniel Rediscovers YouTube

Once upon a time, YouTube videos had one format: garbled and blurry. Now, YouTube has added a second format: beautiful.

At long last, viewers have the option to watch YouTube videos in Higher Quality (TM).

Basically any YouTube video you've ever seen is the result of serious audio and video degredation due to conversion and compression, which makes great videos look okay, and halfway decent videos look putrid. Higher Quality (TM) appears to leave the original video file in its original format, which means that great videos still look great, and halfway decent videos still look halfway decent.

Of course, I uploaded my run of the original Mega Man about a week before Higher Quality (TM) was introduced. I am pleased to report that I have re-uploaded my entire run to take advantage of this new development, so you can view these prettified videos on my YouTube channel or on this blog in a revamped previous post.

But wait! There's more! I am also pleased to report that my run of Mega Man 2 is now online as well. There were still some hiccups and some frustration in the making of these videos, but the whole process was at least a little easier because I knew what I was doing this time around. These videos are also on my YouTube channel, but you can watch them right here, right now.

(Please, please hit the "HQ" button [or whatever the modern equivalent is] to experience them in high quality. Your ears will thank me.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

FoxTrot: The comic strip with something for everyone

FoxTrot logoIf you don't read the funny pages in the Sunday newspaper, then it's entirely possible that you're missing out on FoxTrot, one of the cleverest and most varied comic strips to reach the general public since Calvin & Hobbes.

FoxTrot, started back in 1988, is your quintessential Fox family sitcom. (That is, about a family with the last name of Fox; not the kind of sitcom you'd find on Fox. We have standards about the kind of material we review.) The characters appeal to a wide audience, wider than, say, Drew Carey, or, for that matter, Drew Carey's audience.

There's Andy, the mother and thankless housekeeper of the family who is a writer, through and through, and a disgustingly healthy cook; Roger, the overworked, football-crazy father who's out of touch with technology and modern trends; Peter, the music-loving, face-stuffing oldest son who's too much of a jock to be a geek and too much of a geek to be a jock; Paige, the teenage daughter in the middle who's into hunky boys and fashion and can't cook to save her life; and Jason, the smart and consummately nerdy little brother with a pet iguana and a penchant for terrorizing his older sister.

(click to enlarge)
FoxTrot comic - Jason and PaigeAnd that's to say nothing of the numerous supporting characters, from Morton Goldthwait, the nerd who out-nerds the nerdiest of nerds, to Paige's impossibly suave dream boyfriend (literally, dream boyfriend), Pierre.

Ooooh, Pierre.

FoxTrot is frequently clever and witty, and both the stories and the humor often come from the dynamic character interactions, which help to keep the comics fresh--a strip with, say, just Peter and Roger in it has a different plot, sense of humor, and feel than a strip with Jason, Paige, and Andy in it.

FoxTrot can be found in over a thousand different newspapers, in book collections, and on the Web at www.foxtrot.com. It's a great laugh with characters that you'll quickly grow to love, and it's delightfully geeky.

FoxTrot comic - The whole family talks about raising the thermostat

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Couple Things...

A monster mash-up of a post for today, since we haven't done one of these in a while. (Well, that, and because I don't have it in me for a rant-y post this morning).

First off, for all three of you who might be wondering, my graphic novel is still coming along, and the artist is still attached to the project, and he is in the middle of drawing Page 13, as I write this. So, still quite a bit to go, but the publisher is happy with his new found commitment to churning out pages faster, so I'm happy, as well.

The artist is currently only charged with completing pencils and inks, so if anyone out there knows (or is!) a colorist, please feel free to post a comment, and I will get back to you.

But, all in all, the whole situation has managed to settle down a bit, and, like I said, for the moment, I am content with it being in the stage that it is.

Next up, an "in case you missed it" item. Monday night on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, Exfanding favorite [read: "Alex's favorite" --Ed.] author Neil Gaiman appeared, and the whole bit was very entertaining. You can check it out here.

Another item of Exfanding interest posted on MTV's Splash Page comics site this week, and it had to do with an unlikely crossover comics event. Apparently, The Goon will soon be teaming up with...or is that fighting?...characters from Adult Swim's Metalocalypse cartoon. Check out the just released image:

The Goon in Adult Swim's MetalocalypseNow, sadly, I have to admit that I really have no clue what this means, because I do not watch the show. But, if you're familiar with the show, please do post a comment to give us some details! For now, though, you can read about the crossover right here. And, I'll read anything by Eric Powell, and I'll watch anything with The Goon.

Finally, over on the fantastic blog by comics and cartoon writer, columnist, author, and Convention Panel Host Extraordinaire Mark Evanier, a note that four-day passes for this summer's San Diego Comic Con have already sold out. You can read his take on the matter here. So, if you're planning to attend, well, I'd buy those tickets ASAP.

Recession? What recession?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Waiting For Wednesday, Issue 4

Welcome once again to the show that never...um...never isn't...on...Wednesdays. Ya know, I've been staring at that little blinking cursor for awhile now, in an attempt to start this week's Waiting off with a nice, funny, witty little blurb. And that's the best (by far, actually) of what I came up with.

I guess it's just one of those days. Weeks. Whatever.

So, onto what I'm most looking forward to buying this afternoon...or whenever I make enough of a dent into this stack of work on my desk that I can actually venture outdoors to leave the office.

Now, there's some very good, solid mainstream stuff this week from Marvel, such as Dark Avengers, issue 3 by Brian Bendis and Mike Deodato and Wolverine, issue 71 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

But the Marvel release I'm most looking forward to is Deadpool: Games of Death, issue 1. Written by Mike Benson with art by Sean Crystal (whose work I am not familiar with, actually), this book has the potential to be the funniest thing you read all week. Check out the cover, below:

Deadpool: Games of Death coverAnd for those of you who aren't going to run out and buy this simply because of how great I think the cover is, here's Marvel's description of the issue:

"Pain Factor" -- the reality TV game show so controversial, it's been banned around the world! Today, eleven desperate men will travel to a desert island to compete in a series of outlandish challenges that will leave one of them rich and the rest of them dead.

Among the competitors, a certain "Merc with a Mouth," who's been hired to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a millionaire's son. The trail ended here for Junior, but will it for Deadpool? Not if he has anything to say about it. After all, nothing brings out Wade's competitive streak like cold, hard ca--I mean, justice.

Next up we have Wildstorm's (DC) latest attempt to suck all the cash out of my wallet, Mysterius, the Unfathomable, issue 3.

Mysterius, the Unfathomable coverI'm really digging this series so far, as it has stellar writing by Jeff Parker and great art by Tom Fowler. The book follows an eccentric magician and occultist (Mysterius) as he and his new assistant solve supernatural mysteries--and...well...problems, let's say--for money. Great stuff so far, and I'm looking forward to this week's installment.

And last, we have Lillim, number 1 of 5, from Image Comics. Now, I know very little about this series, but I read an online preview yesterday, and it looks very good. From the five pages of art and story that I've seen, I'll certainly give this launch issue a chance. Here's the cover:

Lillim #1 coverAnd here's the issue description from Image's Web site:

A battle of epic proportion ensues in an ancient time. Since the death of his mother Lilith, Odin, first son of Adam and Lilith, vows to continue to punish Eve’s children as his mother desired. The second child of Lilith, known as Loki, has had enough of his sibling Odin’s grasp upon the children of Eve.

After witnessing their death at his hands, Loki crawls deep into the ocean depths... and time passes. Many years later, Loki awakens to a modern world, where he meets and falls for an ER doctor named Bridgette. Their happiness is short lived, as Loki realizes that his siblings are still very much alive and wrecking havoc upon the children of Eve once again!

And, whether or not you think Image meant "wreaking havoc" and not "wrecking" it, for $2.99...well, it's likely Lillim will be the cheapest comic you buy today!

That's my list. So, what are you Waiting For?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tell me if this sounds funny to you...

Searching for things on the Internet is funny sometimes.

A while back I was involved in a historical research/fact-checking project that ended up taking me through countless websites on a variety of topics, and I came across some rather amusing tidbits in the process.

I can't for the life of me remember the search terms that brought me to these gems, but needless to say, these made work a little more interesting. Enjoy a sampling of some of the random, inane, and interestingly worded things I came across on real websites:

- "Coloring Book of Prominent African-Americans."

Just think about that for a moment.

- "Boston Massacre Game."

Wholesome fun for the whole family.

- Introductory blurb to a historical biography:

"[General P.G.T. Beauregard] was the only Southern general who was involved in the most momentous events during the Civil War."

Evidently all the other Southern generals went home when all the history happened. Obviously the historians have blown the importance of Gettysburg and Appomattox out of proportion because there's no mention of Beauregard ever being there.

- Hooray for advertising:

Ads by Google

Safe Search --- Kid Songs
--- Black Kid

- Actual links this time, not Google Ads:

Outhouse Facts & Trivia
Outhouse Gallery
Outhouse Jokes
Outhouse Screensaver
Outhouse Links
Reader's Stories & Photos

Seriously. There's, like, pages of this stuff.

- An excerpt from an article found at Tennessee History for Kids:

Every October, Lewisburg celebrates its legacy with a goat festival. If you like goats, you'll have a great time!

Shifting from goats to governors: Marshall County, which is not a big county by any measure, has the odd distinction of having produced three chief executives.

The whole article is even more amusing.

- Lastly:

Drugs activity fun
...I think this one speaks for itself

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Ramblings

Ah, Monday. Don't know about you, but I sure do love the smell of stacks and stacks of paperwork in the morning.


But, as it is recommended for all good, hardworking employees to do, I need to take a moment of my time to whip up a blog post for this morning. Well, okay, so that's not really true at all. The part about it being recommended. I do, however, need to post something for this morning.

And, as luck would have it, this weekend brought some pretty significant comics news. I guess the big story (okay, so I'm speaking in relative terms here, as the real "big story" would likely be much more important than what I'm about to talk about) is this weekend's box office take. Watchmen, in its second week of release, took a pretty steep drop-off from last week.

And, by "pretty steep," I mean it fell head first off a cliff and landed on the rocks below. And by "rocks below," I don't mean the nice, flat ones. I mean the jagged, pointy, and surely death-inducing ones off to the side.

Watchmen comic cover - The Manhattan on the MoonThe Zach Snyder-helmed flick took in $18,070,000 (according to Box Office Mojo), a nearly 70% decrease from opening weekend returns, and it finished second behind Disney's Race to Witch Mountain.

Not exactly Dark Knight numbers, those.

With a reported production budget of $150 million, Watchmen's worldwide take thus far is still under that number, clocking in at just over $112.5 million.

So, what does this mean? Well, in my opinion it means that the flick has underperformed a bit, but I can't say that I'm all that shocked. I mean, the biggest obstacle that the movie needed to jump over is the fact that there's no Batman or Spider-Man running around Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' masterwork. And, because of that, the vast majority of moviegoers have never heard of the book.

HOWEVER, DC Comics reported an estimated one million--yes, one million--sales of Watchmen graphic novels since the first trailer premiered during the theatrical release of Dark Knight last summer.

And, you have to assume (well, I guess you don't have to, but I did, anyway) that the majority of those purchases were by brand new readers, and I'd even surmise that traditionally non-comics people made up a large portion of those numbers.

When I read about those figures, and I saw the full-on assault of Watchmen merchandise (including...shudder...a Rorschach bookmark...) in chain bookstores all over the place, I started to think that this movie might just have a much wider appeal than I originally thought, and that "civilians" would flock to it, much like they do to any well-made comic book movie.

So, what happened?

Well, as a friend of mine pointed out, and as we are all feeling every day lately, things are pretty lousy right now. The economy stinks, and there's still a war going on, and people are unemployed and anxious and tired and losing money. And, in the end, Watchmen is just not an uplifting story.

RorshachPeople want to escape when they go to the theater, which would explain why Paul Blart, Mall Cop killed at the box office. That, or a Kevin James/Satan pact that I'm not aware of.

Paul Blart: Mall CopAnd Watchmen certainly isn't an escape from the darkness--it's an immersion into said darkness. I mean, at the end of the film...


Rorschach doesn't get the bad guy, becasue 1. the bad guy is one of the good guys, and 2. Rorschach doesn't make it to the end of the film.


And, if people read the book before going to see the flick (which, according to the above statistics, many people did just that), then they knew what they were in for with this movie, and this story.

So maybe that had something to do with it.

Anyway, as we wrote about in-depth last week, the film was a big hit here at Exfanding, and in my case, it's made me go back and read the graphic novel for a fourth time. I just finished Chapter Nine last night, and I haven't once thought, wow, Snyder really messed that up.

So, hopefully it makes back its budget in the theaters, and I think it'll be a very strong seller on DVD...or Blu-Ray...or Laserdisc...whatever.

Now, before I let you go, I wanted to mention one other thing. The Web site Ain't It Cool News has released the first images of the David Fincher-produced Goon animated movie (!!!!) and you can check them out right here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to the drawing board...

Well, I had hoped to have my Mega Man 2 run ready by now, but I've got to fix a few problems before they're ready for public consumption. So, to be safe... let's say next weekend, 'kay?

I know, I know. You were so dearly counting on me having them ready. Sorry to utterly ruin your Sunday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Post? What post?

Oh, right. A post for the weekend. Sure thing. On it.

Actually, I was hoping to have my run of Mega Man 2 on YouTube by now so that I could post about it, but it's still in the process of being put together. It is my hope that it will be ready before the end of the day, but you never can tell with technology I don't exactly comprehend.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday with Ferrell

Will Ferrell as George W. BushAs previously mentioned on Ye Olde Blogge, this past Tuesday I ventured into the city (New York City, that is) to see Will Ferrell's one man show on Broadway, You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush.

As the title suggests, the show is Ferrell's extended impersonation of our 43rd President. Over the course of its hour-plus running time, Ferrell gets up and presents the major events and people of the Bush administration's eight years in office, and he does so with the absurdity and hilarity that his fans have come to expect from him.

The performance is pure, unadulterated satire, but the tone of the show changes constantly. It is, at times, scathing in its condemnation of the former Commander in Chief and the policies of his administration, but then there are moments of such absurd levity that all the audience can do, no matter what one's politics may be, is...well...laugh out loud for prolonged periods of time.

I mean, it's Will Ferrell!

Over the course of the show, Ferrell ostensibly plays "dress up the former President," as he uses incredibly funny scene breaks to run backstage and get changed into different examples of Bush's attire through the years. For example, here's "Camp David W":

You're Welcome America
And "Mission Accomplished W":

Mission AccomplishedSee, it's like a George W. Bush action figure, only funnier. Anyway, back to the show. Ferrell mixes completely fictional stories of the President's youth with cringe-worthy historical moments and actual quotes to create a...well...a portrait, let's say, of the man known as W.

As for my overall take on the show, lemme just slip into my critic hat for a second and say something incredibly cliched--It's a raunchy, laugh-a-minute thrill ride. There. I've always wanted to write something that inane (and yes, I know you can argue that I write something just as inane every time I post to this blah blah blah).

But seriously folks. Here's my real take on You're Welcome. I enjoyed it. Quite a bit. I laughed almost continuously through the show, and I could have stood to watch another hour of the performance. Ferrell's comedy is always dubbed as immature and childish, and as some have noted, "all he does in his movies is take his clothes off and run around." And, while that's pretty accurate, it's always funny when he does so.

That said, Ferrell doesn't take his clothes off during this show, and he doesn't rely on physical comedy (though there is some of that) to get your laughs. Instead, the comedian shows just how politically aware he is in his satirical shots at Bush, going for both subtle jabs at real life decisions and windmill punches at hyperbolic Bush back story.

In my opinion, Ferrell really shines in the performance's last leg, when he displays how quick-witted he is with an ad-libbed interaction with audience members wherein he gives people nicknames (as Bush often did with White House staffers) based on first name and occupation.

Trust me, it's pretty hysterical.

Now, I don't want to give too much more away, because this weekend, HBO will air Ferrell's final performance, Saturday night at 9:00. If you're a Ferrell fan, this is must see television, and if you're into political comedy and you just flat out need a good laugh, then give this show a shot.

That's it for today, so Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Garfield Minus Garfield: Stripping a strip shows sorrow and silliness

Jim Davis' widely distributed Garfield comic strip has been around since 1978 and has maintained its popularity throughout the years, so it's difficult to find somebody who isn't familiar with fat cat Garfield and his owner, Jon Arbuckle.

Most everybody knows that Jon is awkward, odd, and luckless, but we learn just how depressed and eccentric Jon can truly become when Garfield, Odie, and the entire rest of the cast are removed from the strip entirely.

Garfield Minus Garfield does just that, leaving strangely empty panels and a strange, empty man in its wake. Isolating Jon Arbuckle and taking him out of context is downright hilarious at times, and at other times it helps the depressed and lonely among us to realize that there's somebody else who's right there with us, and possibly worse off than we are.

Garfield Minus Garfield - I could use a hugThat being said, Garfield Minus Garfield is the perfect remedy for those can't-find-a-job/can't-get-a-date/don't-have-any-friends/what's-the-meaning-of-life blues. And you don't even have to get a prescription. Whether you need someone to relate to or just need a laugh, Garfield Minus Garfield might just be for you.

Garfield Minus Garfield - Furniture store

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting for Wednesday, Issue 3

Another week, another Wednesday. It's like a little bit of Christmas every seven days, isn't it? Sure it is. Stop snickering at me. Before I launch into this week's list of books I'm most looking forward to throwing my money at, I wanted to mention that last night I saw Will Ferrell's one-man show, You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush.

And, since I jumped into the DeLorean to go back in time to Tuesday morning to write this week's "Waiting," uhm...I guess I'll write about how funny Ferrell was later this week.


So, on to it, then. It's a light week for me, which is good, because of all the money I spent...last...night.

First up we have a book that's put out by Image Comics, called Soul Kiss. Issue One shipped last month, and I finally got around to reading my copy this past weekend. It was a good first issue, with enough intrigue to get me to come back for Issue Two. Here's how Image describes the series:

A deal with the Devil gone bad leads production assistant Lili Bloom to strike a second deal with the Devil gone worse: To save her boyfriend, Lili must deliver ten innocent souls to Hell by sealing their fates...with a kiss.

As I mentioned, today sees the release of Issue Two, written by Steven T. Seagle and with art by Marco Cinello. Seagle's story is fast-paced, with a minimalist approach to exposition and dialogue, and he lets Cinello's stylized, painted art do most of the "talking."

Soul Kiss coverThis is a mature readers' book (that's a cropped cover image by and by), though, so far, it seems to be a case of the covers being more risque than the material within, which is a tried and true comics...uhm...marketing thing. Anyway, so far so good with this series, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Next up we have X-Men Noir, Issue 4. Written by Fred Van Lente with moody art by Dennis Calero, this series is a re-imagining of the X-Men universe. A classic whodunit set in the 1920s, this series so far has been a nice change of pace for Marvel.

And, since we all know how bad I am at giving a summary of something, here's the Issue One description from Marvel's Web site:

The coroner's men flipped the redheaded corpse over so Dukes and Magnus from Homicide could get a better look at her. 'Better' being a relative term in this case, with the claw marks that slashed her face into a featureless, bloody mask and turned her guts into a butcher shop explosion.

But the tattoo--the simple, encircled 'X' above the left shoulder blade--remained intact, and Dukes pointed it out with the toe of his wingtip once Peter the rookie was done heaving up lunch.

"See this ink?" he said. "Means she did time at this reform school upstate, run by this shrink, Xavier..."

X-Men Noir #4 coverI've never been the biggest X-fan, so I'm enjoying seeing familiar faces (how many names did you catch in that write-up above?) in different, interesting settings and situations. The first three issues have been entertaining, and the art is dark and...well, noir-ish. If you haven't yet checked this series out, picking up today's Issue Four may not be the best place to start, but it's a six issue mini-series (at least, I'm pretty sure it is), so the trade is just around the corner.

And, finally, we have something completely different. Written by Brian Hibbs, owner of the hugely successful Comix Experience shop in San Fransisco, comes Tilting At Windmills, Volume Two.

Now, this is an actual book (no pretty drawings) but it is a book about comics. Well, actually, it's a book about comics retailing. And, before you ask, no I don't own a comics shop, nor, I imagine, will I ever. However, this stuff interests me, and I bought Volume One on a whim, and ended up greatly enjoying it.

Basically, these are collected columns that Hibbs wrote for both a retailer magazine, and then later online. He is in the middle of writing Volume Three of Tilting for Comic Book Resources.

Tilting at Windmills coverVolume One focused on the 1990s comic book bust, and the insights of a retailer that survived that time are pretty intriguing. I like Hibbs' laid back and informal writing style, and he has a wealth of information about the direct comics market.

He's very opinionated and passionate about comics, and about the comics industry, and all that comes across very clearly in his writing. So, if you're a retailer, or if you're thinking about one day opening up a comics shop, or even if you're a creator trying to figure out the day-to-day operations of the stores where you'll eventually sell your wares, check this book out.

And that's all for me this week. So, only one question remains: What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Exfanding Your Horizons Watches the Watchmen

Watchmen posterWe watched the Watchmen.

"We" encompasses Alex and my girlfriend and myself. We caught the 6 PM showing on Friday night, and we had bought tickets in advance in the slim chance that it would be sold out. Judging from the crowd, you would have thought that the movie had already been out for a week or two.

But hey, more arm room for us.

Watchmen clocks in at a ponderous 2 hours and 43 minutes; there's sex, strong language, cruelty, gruesome violence, and frequent nudity (as someone pointed out, we see a lot of Dr. *ahem* MANhattan); and the plot may be potentially too intricate for someone unfamiliar with the source material.

Clearly, this film is not for everyone.

Yet, somehow, there were points throughout the entire film where I heard few giggles from somewhere in the back. There were one or two children watching Watchmen, and I would place them at about 3-4 years old. The giggling, little snippets of talking I caught, and an innocent "I love you, Daddy" helped me to arrive at this conclusion. I have no doubt these people followed us from the Renaissance Faire.

Public Service Announcent: Help stimulate the economy. Hire a babysitter.

Everybody's throwing in their two cents about Watchmen, and we succumb easily to peer pressure, so here's what we thought of the film:

Alex's Review

And, no, before you ask, I wasn't one of those people in the back of the theater giggling. I was in the middle/front of the theater. And I did giggle. But only a little. Anybluething, before I start my review of Watchmen, I want to lay my cards on the table.

And, no, I'm not talking Dr. Manhattan style. You're all sick, by the way.

Watchmen castWhat I mean is, I've read Watchmen three times, and I have a sad confession to make. While I enjoyed the book the first time I read it, and I completely understood why it was a watershed moment in the history of comics, I guess I just didn't fall in love with the work the way that so many have over the past twenty-odd years. And I skipped over the supplemental material at the end of each issue, figuring, eh, what's the point?

Then, I read the book again. This time, instead of focusing on the book as a whole, I tried to take it chapter by chapter. And, being that I knew how it all ended, and being that I knew plot points and the really big things in the story, I was able to take a closer look at all the details on the pages and in each and every panel. And I started to get the admiration that others have for the book. But I still didn't read the book excerpts at the end of each issue, because, again, I was all, eh.

But then I sat down about a year later, and I read Watchmen for a third time, this time a chapter a night, with the supplemental material included. And I took the time to pore over every panel, and I tried to soak it all in as best I could in order to see the the smallest details as well as the whole picture.

And I did this in an attempt to find out what Watchmen really is, and why Watchmen has achieved all that it has. And I think I did a pretty good job of it, because I realized that, while there are pictures in Watchmen, and speech bubbles and sound effects, Watchmen is something much more than a comic book. It's something much more than a "deconstruction of the superhero," as so many critics have reverted to calling it.

And that's not to say that it isn't. A deconstruction of the superhero, that is. Because, Watchmen is certainly that.

Rorschach fires a grappling hook gunBut, more significantly to me anyway, Watchmen is a mystery novel, and a science fiction epic, and a philosophical journey, and it happens to be a superhero book that you can buy at a comics shop. What's more, it's a superhero book that me and you can read on the train (that is, if I rode the train) and not get a strange glance from someone clearly confused by the sight of a grown person reading a comic.

Watchmen is literature with pictures, plain and simple.

And, my point in all this (haha, very funny--yes there is a point) is that, Watchmen is a whole bunch of different things; a story with multiple layers and meanings and subplots and minutia.

And that can't be filmed.

It just can't, no matter what anyone says or does. And that's how I went into the film this past Friday (see, I told you it had a point). I said to myself, This is not Watchmen, the graphic novel. This is not Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. It's not. It's an adaptation of the work, as imagined by Zack Snyder.

And that's exactly what I watched for two hours and forty something minutes. And I really did enjoy it. (Oh, and SPOILER ALERT from here on out.)


Going in, I, like everyone else with even a passing interest in the source material, knew about the changes. No Black Freighter subplot running through the main story, and no alien invasion at the end. Something else to unite the world, but not an alien invasion. And I was fine with both those things, though honestly a little worried about what would replace the alien at the end. As it turned out, I liked the ending of the film, but I won't go so far as to say I preferred it.

And, with the Black Freighter, as important to the story as that is in the comic, I think any reasonable person has to understand that a movie cannot be released in the theaters with a running time over three hours. As it currently stands, Watchmen is about 2:40, with nearly 20 minutes of trailers at the beginning. That's three hours of moviegoers' time, and that's pretty much the ceiling.

That said, I will happily purchase the inevitable Director's Cut, with the Freighter scenes woven into the film. Now, onto what was actually in the film.

From an opening sequence unlike anything I have ever seen in a film before, to Rorschach's gravely, perfect voice, there were many things that the filmmakers got right. Well, okay, probably not if you ask Alan Moore...but I liked them.

I think the things I wasn't thrilled with, like the prolonged sex scene in "Archie" (boy does that sentence sound dirty), and the over-the-top violence, are things most people probably either winced at, or in some cases, even laughed out loud at.

Dr. Manhattan makes people EXPLODEWhereas Watchmen was violent and graphic for a comic book in the mid-1980s, the violence was not as...um...Zack Snyder-ry...as the violence in the film. But, hey, it's a Zack Snyder movie, so I went in expecting some blood and gore.

Okay, so maybe I didn't expect quite so many axes to the head, but still.

I didn't think the frequent, quick shots of violence added anything significant to the fight scenes in any way, other than to get a disgusted reaction from theatergoers. For example, I could have done without the old school Texas Chainsaw-style closeup of a prisoner, sans arms, and the bones of bad guys popping through their skin.

But, just to be contradictory, I have to say, I really enjoyed the long, drawn-out fight sequences, and The Comedian's death scene is a fine example of taking a page or two from the book and translating that into film.

Speaking of staying "true" to the graphic novel, I think the filmmakers did everything possible to do just that, and there were times in the theater where I kept thinking things like, I can't believe they're pulling this off. The scene with Dr. Manhattan on Mars is the perfect example of how to be true to source material. And I don't know about you, but when Rorschach breaks into Nite Owl's home, I felt like I was watching moving panels from the book.

Oh, and Nite Owl--Dan Dreiberg. Wow, did Patrick Wilson pull that role off, or what? He flat-out looked like the Gibbons character, he sounded like I always imagined the character would sound, and for me at least, his performance was a highlight.

Dan Dreiberg is contemplativeAnd then there was Kelly Leak as Rorschach. Bad News Bears jokes aside, Jackie Earle Haley was outstanding. He embodied the role of the psychotic and uncompromising Rorschach completely and utterly, and his performance ranks up there with Heath Ledger's Joker in Dark Knight in terms of his immersion into the character.

If Wilson's Nite Owl was a highlight, then Haley's Rorschach was the highlight. And that part--that character--needs to be the highlight of an adaptation of the graphic novel. In the book, we are introduced to the world of the character by Rorschach, and it is his voice that runs through the entire work. If Haley doesn't pull off Rorschach, then the movie has no hope.

But he did pull it off, and the movie was able to go from there. Actually, I thought everyone involved played their parts well, and I was never taken out of the movie because of a bad performance.

So, in summation (ooh, good word), here's my take. I liked the film. Quite a bit, actually. And I would see it again, and I will definitely be buying the DVD. I guess the only question I have is, is the film accessible to those unfamiliar with the book? I imagine several friends of mine watching the movie, without any clue as to who Alan Moore is, and just completely not getting it. At all.

With that said, the day after I saw the movie, I went out and bought Absolute Watchmen, a book I've had my eyes on for some time. And now I've just started reading Watchmen again, for a fourth time. The movie made me want to return (again) to the source, and I think it's because, as I got to the end of the film, I couldn't help but think, how did they manage to pull this off in a comic book? And I think that is the true legacy of the novel, and why it will always be in print, and in demand.

Anyway, it's time for someone else to talk now.

Nathaniel's Review

Reading the graphic novel was difficult for me. It was masterfully constructed, to be sure, but so dense. So very dense. It was absolutely worthwhile to read, and I did enjoy specific parts here and there, but I can't say I officially enjoyed Watchmen--the amount of effort required to piece together the basics of what was going on, plus the dark nature of the story, are not things that generally appeal to me.

That being said, I was astounded that I not only liked the movie, but that I greatly enjoyed it.

One of the biggest difficulties I had in reading the graphic novel was that there were so many plots running at the same time, and just about all of them seemed to be of equal importance. The film, on the other hand, has a very distinct main plot, and the other stories and plots are skillfully woven into the main plot or into the background--for example, the opening credits sequence covers a great deal of the Minutemen saga while brilliantly setting the scene. I can't even begin to list exactly what was cut and what was very subtly worked in, but I can say that it didn't feel like anything was missing, with the small exception of how Rorschach got his mask.

I was thrilled by how much of the dialogue I recognized, and by how many camera shots were direct translations of panels in the graphic novel. Even with the omissions and changes, I've never seen a movie so faithful to the source material.

Overall, everything was spectacularly done. I had slight qualms about certain aspects of individual characters, but they didn't ruin the movie for me (except maybe the last one or two): Ozymandias didn't look quite as jacked as I had expected; Miss Jupiter could have been a smidge older; Rorschach's gravely voice felt just a tiny bit forced; Frost/Nixon is too fresh in everybody's memory for Watchmen's Nixon to be wholly convincing, and, most lamentably, Dr. Manhattan was not voiced by Issac Hayes.

Ozymandias standing around, looking coolWatchmen's version of Richard NixonStill, the soundtrack and scenery kept the film rooted in the time period, the costumes looked as natural as real-life costumed heroes would ever look, the actors were totally immersed in their characters, and the action sequences were fun, albeit too gory for my taste in several spots. So Alex and I are in agreement that the movie was a little too graphic.

Even so, I think I'd sooner watch the movie again than reread the graphic novel. The movie left out most of the things that I wasn't so fond of in the graphic novel, and I liked the pacing better. I've drawn all of the deeper meaning that I care to out of the graphic novel for now, so at this point I am content to simply be entertained by Watchmen.


That's our take on Watchmen. What's yours?