31 December 2009
Patrick Stewart, the noblest of all to ever command the USS Enterprise, and the mentor of wayward teenagers hated and feared by a world they're sworn to protect, received a new title earlier today that, in all good ways, surpasses his previous prefixes, Captain and Professor.
As of this morning, Stewart is officially "Sir Patrick." At 68, Stewart, a native of Yorkshire, England, was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony today at London's Buckingham Palace. A Knighthood is the highest honor Britain bestows on its citizens, although non-citizens are also eligible to receive this award. And while 'Knighthood' sounds exclusively male, both men and women can receive the honor. Following their award, the men are often referred to as 'Knights', and the women as 'Dames.'
Prior to today's ceremony, our two favorite honorees have been Stewart's former X-Men co-star, Sir Ian McKellan, and James Bond's boss, M, Dame Judi Dench. Actor Christopher Lee, who, among his many other parts, portrayed both the dark Jedi Count Dooku in Star Wars and The Lord of The Rings' Saruman the White, has also been knighted by the good Queen. Hmmm. You know, now that Patrick Stewart has joined their proud ranks, he not only tops our short list, he confirms one of our oldest suspicions. Her Majesty's Secret Service isn't the cadre of licensed super-spies they'd like us to believe; it's Netflix. Daniel Radcliffe, your time will come. Patrick Stewart's photograph courtesy of Seth Kushner.
We haven't had clear skies above the Springfield Home Office since Thanksgiving; the rain's been non-stop, and the forecast calls for an even wetter New Year. Oregon's practically floating away on us, and we couldn't be happier. Especially when our morning web-surfing brought word that JMJ has launched their exclusive line of Star Trek: The Original Series wetsuits!
While the wetsuits (above) - available in Command Yellow, Science Blue, or Engineering Red - look better than the costumes we saw around Halloween, they're the real deal; according to JMJ, their Trek-suits are made of the highest quality neoprene material by expert craftsman, and offer the ultimate in warmth and exposure protection for surfers, divers and water sport enthusiasts..
These suits are individually tailored; that means, dabblers, these babies are custom made, and made-to-order. JMJ advises that anyone interested in their one-piece full Trek-suits be professionally measured before placing an order, since once the suit's made, it's your's. They're also not cheap, but we figure that the $470 price tag is more than enough incentive for anyone to make sure their measurements are exact.
Surfers, divers, and interested dabblers -- and any Oregonian worried about the State washing away -- should find the nearest transporter room and get out to JMJ's home base in Torrance, CA, to inspect these Star Trek wetsuits up-close. But if transporters aren't an option, you'll also be able to find them - and place your order - through Roddenberry.com HERE.
We didn't include Michael Spierig's Daybreakers in our list of 2010 Comic Book Movies, but given the current vampire hysteria among comics fans and non-comics fans alike, maybe we should have. Not to mention that the film stars one of our longtime favorite actors, Ethan Hawke, as well as former the Green Goblin, Willem Dafoe. According to Hawke, Daybreakers works as an allegory of man's pacing with natural resources - the quest for alternative energy sources, for example. In the movie's case, the natural resources are humans, who have become greatly outnumbered by the earth's new dominant species, vampires. Hawke plays one of a small group of rebel vampires, who want to forgo their bloodsucking ways and return to their former, all-human condition.
The movie looks fun, if not just a bit scary, and it fits right in with the half-dozen or so other apocalyptic films hitting the box office early next year. All that aside, Hawke's also called Daybreakers "low art" and "completely unpretentious and silly." In other words, the movie doesn't go to lengths to take itself seriously -- and if you had a chance to see the movie's TV spot, a PSA informing all vampires to turn in humans they find for the continued survival of all -- you'd understand perfectly what he means.
Maybe it's a matinee, maybe we'll wait for the DVD. Unlike Twilight: New Moon, Daybreakers is one vampire flick we are going to see. We're just not sure when. Daybreakers opens nationwide next weekend, on January 8th, 2010. [More information and the film's trailer can be found on its website HERE.]
That's it for abbracadabbling's Coming Attractions in 2009. We'll be back with more of what's Coming next year!!
We came across this swanky photo of Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada on Seth Kusher's blog, Seth Kushner News. Kushner's a Brooklyn-based photographer as well as the co-author of the Act-i-Vate web comics collective series, Schmuck. Kushner's specialty, though, is his photography -- his blog's teeming with professional, candid snapshots of celebrities - most recently of actor Patrick Stewart and British musician Moby, among others -- as well as many of the comic book industry's high profile creators.
Kushner photographed Marvel's Quesada in late November for a short piece in L'Uomo Vogue Magazine. Quesada, a comics artist himself, became Marvel's EIC a decade ago when former-EIC Bill Jemas succeeded to the presidency of the company in 2000. Among his credits of the last ten years, Quesada's been instrumental with the expansion of Marvel's comic book offerings to include its Ultimate Universe line, and his creative involvement with Marvel Studios contributed greatly to the ascendancy of its superhero film properties. Add to those cap-feathers Marvel's many new licensing deals, from toys and action figures to home furnishings and sports footwear, and Quesada's mark on the Marvel Universe has been nothing short of Galactus-sized.
Nevertheless, all those accomplishments may pale in comparison to today's game-changing news. That's why we kinda figured that today would be the ideal time for us to post Mr. Quesada's fashionable foto. December 31st, 2009, is surely going to be remembered as one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- wins for the Marvel Chief. As to why, well, you'll have to stick around the comicsblog just a bit longer and find out. Of course, you could also click over to CNN Money -- but we're a hell of a lot more fun, don't you think?
Being the very last day of 2009, it only seems fitting to re-visit The Last Days of American Crime. Long-time dabblers will recall we introduced Last Days and its Portland-based writer Rick Remender to the comicsblog back in October. The series - already optioned for a feature film - debuted earlier this month from Radical Publishing, and now that it has, we're back to tell you those two months of waiting for the first issue to hit the racks were well worth the wait.
And we want you to see for yourselves -- you never know, maybe The Last Days of American Crime will be the first comic you'll decide to read come the New Year. Comic Book Resources is going to help both of us out, too. They've recently posted a seventeen page online preview of Last Days #1 HERE, so you can give it a good review before you venture out to the comics shop.
As for what you're getting yourself into, we'll let you read that for yourself as well. Radical Publishing's summary of Remender and artist Greg Tocchini's new crime-noir series is just below. Enjoy.
Mighty Muggs Spider-Man by Hasbro Toys
30 December 2009
Nationwide, comic book readers, collectors, and fans of all things Super have forged a unique and formidable community. Not only does the Comics Community represent a sizable population, its a population with considerable spending power and growing economic influence.
Our earlier blog of next year's Coming Attractions is but one indicator of influence comics fans wield; with twenty-three or more films on their way catering to America's comics and sci-fi hungry populace, films from these kind out-number those of many other genre, including comedy, romance, and horror. Of course, several of the films we listed, such as Twilight: Eclipse, Legion, and the remake of Red Dawn could fall into standard categorizations like horror or action as well as our broader context as 'Comic Book Movies'. DC Comics' western hero Jonah Hex is first a comic book movie, although it fits as a square second into the western genre. Regardless the extent of this cross-pollination, there can be little doubt that film makers are relying on their movies' appeal to the broader comics fanbase to make box office bank. One needs look no further than Christopher Nolan's Inception to prove this point.
A closer examination of our trust list reveals that eight (8) of the 23 movies we listed are specifically based on original comic book or animation properties. And our list isn't yet complete; films like Solomon Kane, an upcoming supernatural thriller, is a comics-realm character based on the pulp-era fiction of writer Robert E. Howard. (Howard, you might recall, also created the bare-chested hero that put Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map -- Conan The Barbarian.) Solomon Kane has already premiered in France, and is scheduled for 2010 release here in the United States, although no specific date has been given. Similarly, comic book writer Warren Ellis' graphic novel Red is currently moving into production, and is expected to premiere in October or November 2010.
So take heart, dabblers - especially those of you newbies venturing into the comics scene for perhaps the first time. We know many of our frequent dabblers are pretty new to comics, and we know that whether you're in a big city or a far smaller community like our Springfield, it does sometimes feel like you're the only person out there who enjoys reading comics. A review of next year's films is just first step towards knowing that you're not alone.
An even better second step is taking just a quick peek at our nation's largest comic book conventions. Abbracadabbling will explore these conventions in greater depth down the comicsblog road; for now, our focus briefly falls to just three of the most popular annual comics gatherings and the sheer number of fans these conventions represent.
Far and away the biggest of all comics conventions is the San Diego Comic-Con International, held annually each July. From its relative obscurity years ago, Comic-Con has become today's mecca for not just comics, but the entertainment community, gaming community, and the broad collectors' market as well. The event maintains an active online presence, and has even begun publishing quarterly magazines with news and features about the summertime event. While both of those actions are contribute greatly to building the Comics Community, nothing is as telling as Comic-Con's attendance. The convention sells out completely each year, and 2009's attendance topped-out at a whopping 125,000 comics loyalists. [To read Comic-Con Magazine's Fall 2009 issue, you can go HERE to download it as a Free PDF!!]
If you're getting a better feel for the Comics Community, then we're doing our job pretty well. We're also not done by a long shot. The comics convention closest to our heart is Wonder Con, also sponsored by the same folks responsible for San Diego's aforementioned show. Wonder Con belongs to San Francisco, however, and for The Dabbler, there couldn't be a better show to network, shop, and meet fellow fans and comic creators alike. Wonder Con's attendance is considerably smaller than its parent Comic-Con, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either. Last year's figures exceeded 34,000 - and filled San Francisco's Moscone Center to the hilt. The 2010 convention will happen this coming April 2nd through the 4th, and more information can be found HERE.
Dabblers on the East Coast have no reason to even think they're among the few and the proud; they're among a proud legion of comics fans, if the relatively new New York Comic Con has anything to say about it. Not more than five years old, the NYCC has always been an early Spring event as well, although next year's convention will take place over the weekend of October 8- 10th. The 2009 NYCC boasted an attendance in excess of 77,000, up 15% from 2008. Chances are, someone you knew was there, and the chances that they - and you - will be in attendance come October is even better. If you want more NYCC info, check it HERE.
Of course, not everybody who reads, borrows, collects, or creates comic books can attend a comic book convention. They're not cheap, and the crowds are be considerable. Thus, even the Convention scene and its astronomical attendance don't give us abbracadabblers the best idea of just how large our Comics Community really is.
Abbracadabbling, being the intrepid comicsblog that we are, did a little digging closer to home. And by 'home' we don't mean Springfield; nope, we mean the world wide web, because the busiest places on the planet these days happen to exist in a virtual world.
On the internet, comics fans find as well as build community in a variety of places, including: online bulletin boards, chat rooms and forums; fan-driven blogs like abbracadabbling as well as blogs run by comics creators and industry insiders; the home pages of publishers large and small; and, at the top of the list, comics industry news sites, many of which feature their own array of blogs to boot. It's from these latter sites that the size of the Comics Community comes even clearer. (Granted, while the 2003 census reported that sixty-two million households - or 55% of American homes - had internet access, 45% still weren't online at that time. Given the historic increases in those numbers, though, today's numbers are likely closer to 75% or 80%. And as the demographics closely match those of the comic book reading public, we believe these internet figures provide us the best and most accurate snapshot available.)
With the research assistance of fellow comic book blogger Kevin Huxford and his blog Schwapp Online, abbracadabbling chose 17 of the top or most-recognizable comics-related news providers on the internet and ranked them below according to the number of visitors each site received for the month of November 2009. (Links to all of the websites below can be found on our blog's Pull List.)
CBR - or Comic Book Resources - leads the bunch, with 303,000 November visitors. The number two site, Newsarama, is right behind them with nearly 270,000 comic book clickers dropping by. While this is just November '09 data, we should note that historical data trends reveal that Newsarama and CBR generally alternate the top position almost monthly. Both web sites also feature their own blogging community; Newsarama's collectively known as Blog@Newsarama and CBR's as Robot 6. Blog-wise, Newsarama draws nearly 30,000 more readers per month than Robot 6, but when added to their parent sites totals, both websites show impressive readership.
We were a little surprised that MTV's comics-centered Splash Page didn't rank a little higher than it does, coming in on our ruler at 12th overall. They're a great source of information, and often grab their own exclusives. Splash Page is just one part of the overall MTV site, however, and its possible this has affected their visitor count. It's also possible that MTV, and other sites with impressive content like Bleeding Cool are also relatively new on the comics scene, with readership numbers yet to reach a plateau.
Whatever the case, our intention isn't to speculate on the performance of the fantastic comics news providers above; our focus is simply to show that they perform - and perform big. Together with the thousands of people who attend comic book conventions each year, belong to the untold number of internet comics forums, collect action figures, show up for the latest superhero movie at the corner ten-plex, tune-in weekly to shows like NBC's Heroes or Marvel's Super Hero Squad on Saturday mornings, and regularly pay visits to their local comics shops, the truth is out there: comic book fans are everywhere.
And we're Super -- in every way that counts.
Gentleman Ghost - DC Universe Classics by Mattel
For the past few weeks, abbracadabbling has been peppering the comicsblog wit just a few of 2010's Coming Attractions. Hollywood's been upping the ante every year, and the super-cool movies marching into next year's box office promise to keep every comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy fan drooling until the cows come home. Judging by the 23 movies on our official 'must see movie roster' for the New Year, those cows won't be getting back for quite a while.
We've highlighted 2010's comic book offerings in red, the sci-fi and fantasy in black, and scheduled release dates for all films fall just to the right. Time to open up your Outlook and sync those iPods, dabblers - these 23 movies are not to be missed!
29 December 2009
Although it almost might too early, we're beginning to smell a trend. You? Avatar might be making most of the headlines, but we're more interested in a movie that's a little closer to Holmes. (And no, once again, it has nothing to do with the fact that everyone else is at a matinee of that very movie even as we speak.)
It does, however, have everything to do with Sherlock Holmes 2. Yep, you heard it here first, dabblers. While Holmes' opening box office of $65M may not be news to the internet-at-large, director Guy Ritchie's confirmation of the sequel is. On one hand, the ex-Mister Madonna has already signed both Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law, who portrays the great detective's sidekick Watson in the current flick, for the second installment. We're pleased. Though not nearly to the extent that we're pleased for what's on the other hand.
Actually, we're psyched. Pop Eater has just reported that our favorite pretty boy Brad Pitt also announced his Holmes 2 confirmation today. That would be enough to get us pumped. But the fact that he'll be playing none other than literature's first super villain - and surely the next one to grace the Silver Screen --- Professor James Moriarty, has really got our panties in a bunch.
In case you're not up on your Conan Doyle, Moriarty was, of course, Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis. He was so evil, London's underworld - and Sherlock himself - dubbed him the' Napoleon of Crime'. Long story short, Moriarty was Crime itself. And in just a couple of years, Brad will be, too.
Pitt and Ritchie have apparently been big fans of one another since 2000, when Pitt starred in Ritchie's Snatch. Holmes 2 will be the next time they work together. Clearly, that's one reunion where The Dabbler won't be anywhere but in the front row.
Tuesday's looking like it's going to be a quiet day on ye old comicsblog - and the fact that most of the Springfield Home Office is catching a Sherlock Holmes matinée has nothing to do with it. Okay, maybe it does. But before those lucky bastards left for the day, my neighbor Raley passed me this great photo from our friends over at the Hero Complex. Recognize this guy? We had to look twice before we did. Yes, Robert Downey, Jr may become the Holmes of the next generation, but Leonard Nimoy's approach will always be classic in our book.
Star Trek's Mr. Spock has left his mark in almost every field of entertainment, including several years post-Trek as a stage actor. At the same time Nimoy lent his trademark tones to the 1970's X-Files predecessor, In Search Of..., he also won acclaim for his roles in several different stage performances, including Oliver!, Caligula, and Sherlock Holmes. Shortly before this photo was taken, Nimoy refused to reprise his role as the Enterprise's Vulcan Science Officer when Gene Roddenberry approached him for a new Star Trek Phase II television series. Not long after this photo was taken, Nimoy accepted Roddenberry's offer to once again become Spock when Paramount Pictures scrapped their TV plans and instead set their sights on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.