1 Nov

Name’s Ash. Housewares.

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday November 1, 2012 | News

Dad and AshListen up you primitive screwheads! Back in 2007 not long after I started up Cinema S, I announced the birth of my daughter Delilah here. In a way, she was the inspiration for this blog. Maybe one day I’ll explain it. But let it be known that I have once again procreated.

At 6:10pm on, I shit you not, Halloween, October 31st, my wife Nise gave birth to our second child, our son. We named him Ash and the reasons for that should be obvious. I admit, Ash isn’t his full name. Nor is it Ashley. It’s Ashton but because of a certain iconic horror franchise we’re calling him Ash. Our little goblin was actually due on the 23rd but the kid came built in with the weirdest DNA that seemed to inform him that he was a little more than a week out from his dad’s favorite holiday and being born on Halloween would probably be fucking awesome!

So here he is. Ashton Christopher. 7 pounds, 11 ounces and cute as hell.  Nise gives birth like a boss and she’s recovering nicely. Tomorrow we get to bring him home. So say hi to Ash!

We even found ourselves with a bit of celebrity well-wishing so excuse me while I show off.

31 Oct

It took George Lucas selling Star Wars to Disney to make me excited about Star Wars again

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday October 31, 2012 | News

 

Around 4pm eastern, news dropped today that inspired more Star Wars angst since we all stepped out of Episode 1 and realized that we’d been had. I’m sure by now you’ve heard. It’s late as I write this and everyone who wants to know knows. George Lucas has sold his company Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney company for $4.05 billion dollars. This means that Disney takes the reins over the entire Lucasfilm production company and its related properties meaning that primarily Disney gets total control of Star Wars.

George Lucas sells Star Wars to DisneyBack when Marvel was acquired by Disney the entire internet exploded. We’re talking an outpouring of fan emotion and anxiety the likes of which have never been seen. We had histrionic fans spewing the most ridiculous hyperbolic bullshit on every internet outlet that allowed them to panic in public. Fan speculation was anything but measured and reasonable. The general tone saw super Marvel team up books where Wolverine and Goofy teamed up to stop Doctor Doom and Cruella DeVille’s plan to flood New York City and loot it’s animal shelters to make new villain capes out of Dalmation pelts. No one on Earth could foresee a future where we got the shit entertained out of us at the receiving end of two Iron Man movies, Captain America, Thor and that fucking amazing Avengers flick! High octaine fun the way a summer movie should be, brought to you by The Walt Disney Company. Nobody seemed to notice as they tried their best to wipe the tears from their eyes at the conclusion of The Muppets without being seen that The Muppets was triumphantly brought back to screen by, wait for it, The Walt Disney company.

Maybe there’s little crossover between Muppet fans, Marvel fans and Star Wars fans that makes it hard to see that Disney’s involvement in Star Wars is not the cataclysmic ending to the innocence of your childhood that you think it is. I’m in a fighting mood right now and my need to spar verbally with short sighted nerds on the internet who need something, anything to complain about is being satisfied by an endless wave of endtimes prophecy that predicts cameos on The Clone Wars from Donald Duck. You have caught me at an interesting time, true believers.

Let me explain why this is awesome.

The stakes have never been lower. George Lucas got lucky with Star Wars. I’m talking “intelligent life in the universe” lucky here. For all his vision in the technical department, George Lucas is a supremely lousy storyteller. I once read a biography of him called Mythmaker and I gleaned two bits of fact from it.

  1. George Lucas hates working with actors. They’re a pain in the ass and they never do exactly what he wants them to do.
  2. George Lucas lifted all his best ideas from movies he enjoyed as a kid and as a film student.

Donald Duck Darth MaulNow, item number 2 doesn’t necessarily indicate anything bad. Plenty of filmmakers are derivative. It’s the nature of art and there’s plenty out there that there’s is seriously derivative of other work and is just as good if not better. Case in point, Star Wars. It lends credence to my argument, however, that Star Wars succeeded because Akira Kurosawa, to whom Star Wars owes a huge debt, is an awesome filmmaker and the formula of the Saturday matinee serial is proven to work in any medium. But poll your friends who like Star Wars and ask them what their favorite movie in the series is. Ten’ll get you twenty they say The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe they prefer Jedi but I guarantee that nine times out of ten they’re not going to say Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you actually call it that). The first in the series is great but the trilogy really takes off when Lucas handed off the writing and direction to other people and put himself in the producers chair. He was able to concentrate on the parts of the craft that he actually enjoyed, pioneered an innovative new wave of special effects and founded one of the leading companies in Hollywood post-production. The Empire Strikes Back was the true genesis of the Star Wars legacy and the hands-off material in Lucas’ magnum opus is the best of it all with some exceptions, which I’ll get to.

I still remember when the prequels were announced and how insane I was going. I was going to school at the time and when the trailer hit, we crashed the school’s network trying to download it. The school eventually came up with a solution to save bandwidth by putting the quicktime trailer on a public server and letting us all in one by one to download it. We all went insane watching this thing. It played again and again and again and we all declared it the greatest thing in the universe. We were all so, so stupid. When the time finally came to the see the movie none of us could believe what we were seeing. I actually occupied a holdout of apologists who hung on to this naive idea that Episode 1 was actually everything I’d hoped it would be but after a couple of weeks and a couple more viewings I couldn’t take myself seriously anymore and had to admit that I hated nearly every second of it. If there was anything I enjoyed it was the fight between Qui Gon Jin, Obi Wan and Darth Maul toward the end because let’s face it, that fight is fucking awesome!

I allowed myself to get pulled back in for the sequel, hoping that there would be improvement, but there wasn’t. By the time Revenge of the Sith rolled out I took it in out of a strange sense of obligation but I loathed it and I still loathe it to this day. Why did I hate it so much? What was the culprit? This was easy to figure out. George Lucas was the problem. He insisted on writing and directing each one of them because his OCD had progressed to such a level that he’d never be able to let anyone else touch his baby. In the intervening time there was the needless Special Edition. DVD boxed sets arrived forcing you to buy them all or nothing in expensive sets. Theatrical re-releases were engineered to squeeze every last drop of blood out of the franchise and with each new development, Lucas drove more and more of us away. Star Wars as managed by George Lucas, science fiction’s analog to Moses, had become a zero-sum game. True fans of the order found before the Special Editions were impossible to find and the hold outs were the worst kind of nerd. A dork with no sense of taste or judgement, a sub-triple digit IQ with bad skin and a meaningless collection of unopened toys. By this point, even I’d sold off all my sealed Star Wars action figures for a modest profit.

Jar JarSo here we are. Lucas is old and tired and sick of trying to figure out a way to satisfy fans in a way that’ll make them spend their money on his product while still producing the product on his own misguided terms. He’s tired of being the greatest fallen idol of all time. Disney happens to be in the unique position of looking for an angle that sells something to boys. I’m the father of a five year old girl. I know all about the market power of Disney because of her. Thanks to Tinker Bell and Princesses, Disney has the little girl demographic on lock. She doesn’t give a fuck about anything unless it has Cinderella on it. But they’ve made all the money they’re going to make off Cars and boys are a market share that is slipping through their fingers like dry sand. They made some headway with Marvel but Disney is sealing the deal with Star Wars. Boys from 3 years old up to grown-ass men will be shelling out for this foolproof product because as much as we hate George Lucas, we still can’t pry ourselves away from Star Wars fully. Even though we know that we should.

The benefit is that Disney, love them or hate them, is a faceless money-making automaton. This is a company which shamelessly shook off the Disney family. It has become the Skynet of the free market and they know what you want. I should hate this being as I am a cynical asshole with high standards but I don’t. I understand Disney’s objective and their handling of both The Muppets and Marvel have been amazing, quite frankly. Disney remains hands off. They acquired troubled properties with a solid potential for growth and nurse them back to health by giving them the space to grow and keeping their hands out of the mix. The Muppets hadn’t been in the public eye for a long time, it’s a big part of the movie’s story. Marvel has always had trouble staying competitive and turning a profit. Star Wars is at an all time low and fan confidence in its creator couldn’t be any lower. From where Disney sees it, even if they fail, they’re still doing better than Lucas did.

There’s a caveat to all of this and it’s the one part of the deal which bugs me. Disney has announced a new Star Wars sequel, Episode 7, to be released in 2015.

I won’t lie. I’ll probably see it. I don’t know anything about it except that they’re referring to it as Episode 7 and I can only assume that it takes place after Jedi but I will pay for this. I know I will. I’m like that. But I don’t relish the thought. I like to think of Episodes 4-6 as a complete cycle. I don’t think it needs anything else. Upon review I decided that it didn’t need prequels. They were unnecessary. This is why I also don’t like the Expanded Universe. If you’re unfamiliar, Expanded Universe is all the Lucasfilm approved stories on the side in the form of books, comics, video games and any other means of telling more stories about Luke, Leia, Han and whoever else. There are hundreds of thousands of pages of this stuff and it all amounts to little more than licensed fan fiction. I know I’ll draw some flak for this as lots and lots of people enjoy all these books and games and shit but of nearly all that I’ve seen, I’ve hated. I prefer to ignore all of it. The only Expanded Universe stuff I’ve ever cared for was the Gendy Tartakovsky short animated series Clone Wars and the currently running Clone Wars show as both were pretty sophisticated and gritty for a franchise that had been watered down to meet the broadest market appeal.

We are facing a brave new world of possibility for Star Wars. There’s a new commander at the helm and the future for Star Wars looks bright. I have hopes that Disney will restart the production for the TV show that stalled due to budget problems (apparently it’s EXPENSIVE!). I’m also an unapologetic fan of Walt Disney World and an expanded, far less restrictive license hopefully means a greater presence of Star Wars in the theme parks. I have stars in my eyes thinking of an entire Star Wars themed resort.

I haven’t been this excited about Star Wars since I was a kid. I was a super fan. I can recite large portions of the dialog from The Empire Strikes Back from memory. But over time I’d grown sick of seeing it shit on time and time again by the very person who had created it. It was almost as though Lucas had nothing but contempt for it. As though Star Wars had locked his career as a filmmaker down to this one project when all he wanted to do was abstract shit like THX-1138. Now that he’s gone, existing in a consultancy role only, I am extremely excited and ready for more Star Wars.

To all the haters out there who think this news is the worst thing ever, I want to know why. I’ve seen your shitty, alarmist scenarios on Twitter and Facebook. Worry that Disney is going to make Star Wars something for toddlers but you’re wrong and you’re stupid. Disney has no interest in watering down the product. It’s succeeding on its own and their formula for success is to own it and then get out of the way so it can do its thing along with their vast network of market support. If you can’t see how Disney taking over Star Wars is a good thing, you’re a fucking idiot.

16 Oct

Seen the Evil Dead remake trailer from The New York Comic Con yet? Time’s running out.

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday October 16, 2012 | News

Evil Dead RemakeI try not to post this news-y shit anymore around here. Between Dread Central, Shock Til You Drop and all those other horror news sites (do we really need THAT many?) there’s really no point. I suppose I could just copy and paste the press releases I get just like they do, but I’m all about the opinion, yo. I couldn’t really resist with this one, though. Evil Dead and me go back a ways. A pivotal moment in the evolution of my horror fandom came when one night my friend Mike and I rented Evil Deads 1 and 2 (also Day of the Dead) and this represented one of the first times I’d ever seen gore on a scale such as those pictures present. I’m having feelings, you see. This remake, because it’s another motherfucking remake, really gets under my skin even though I’m on the record having surrendered to the inevitability of remakes. So here. I’ll just post the shit and then down below I’ll drop science. Get it quick, this is not likely to be around for much longer.

 

I need to keep reminding myself that I can’t go too hard on this flick because of the two Evil Deads I greatly prefer the sequel and what’s ironic about that is that it’s a fucking remake. Yes. I prefer a remake. I also prefer the remake of The Thing. No, not that recent one which isn’t really a remake even though the trailer makes it look like one, I mean the Carpenter version which is a remake of the Howard Hawks movie, The Thing From Another World. So I’m not going to shit on this because it’s a remake. That would be fatuous. I’m going to take it at face value and shit on it because it’s shitty and deserves the scorn that I’m about to heap upon it.

See, even though the first Evil Dead is actually peddled as a straight-faced horror flick, it’s still pretty fun thanks to Sam Raimi’s developing film chops and his addiction to high-silliness. This is why its reputation endures. The sequel goes bonkers and this is why the perception is that the entire Evil Dead franchise is the Bruce Campbell show – being on a spectrum of over-the-top – but this trailer seems to shake all of that off. It has all the elements. The cabin. The book. Those low-angle running through the woods shots. The witch in the basement. The car. It has the evil spirits possessing people and it looks really gory, which is what they’ve been tantalizing nervous fans with all along. It has the endorsement of both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, which to me says nothing. I’ve read stuff that Stephen King has praised in pull quotes and still didn’t care for it. What about this trailer that gets under my skin is the tone of it all. This movie looks mean. The violence appears to be without irony, without that Raimi smirk. Yes, I realize that it’s not a Sam Raimi movie but you absolutely cannot take an icon of horror like Evil Dead and turn it into this gut churning festival of evisceration without winking at the audience. If what you wanted to make was a contemporary gore-filled horror flick, that’s fine, I’m sure you can go through the motions and drench your cast in blood among that typical body count movie with all the trimmings that horror fans have come to expect but when you take the premise and familiarity of Evil Dead and remove all the likable stuff, leaving only cruelty and violence, what you have is just another formulaic modern theatrical horror movie with a familiar name.

One final note, the script has a credit for Diablo Cody who tops my list of most hated writers in Hollywood. I loathe Juno and my review of Jennifer’s Body is most unkind to Ms. Cody. Even if this trailer appealed to me and didn’t set off all these alarms I’d still be extremely suspicious.

I know I probably stand alone on this. Horror fans, as a community, have become a desensitized lot these days. Those of us on the older end of the fan spectrum are viewed with contempt and are widely regarded as grumpy old motherfuckers. Meanwhile, the younger fans are paying for this shit and reveling in it because they don’t know any better since they’ve grown up with this bullshit. So hate away. Even people I know who should know better are all over Facebook with OMG! OMG! I CANT WAIT!!!!

I am disappoint.

27 Jul

Grand Guignol Revival: The Conspiracy of Three, a gory play of love and betrayal in one act

Posted by Bryan White | Friday July 27, 2012 | News

An Evening of Grand Guignol, Theatre of Terror by Matt TalbotI know, I know. It’s been fucking forever since I’ve updated this place. I have a shitload going on these days. A baby in the coming months, a script in production on an indie horror flick and I just wrapped up a run at The Player’s Ring theater in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with my co-production with John Herman of An Evening of Grand Guignol: Theatre of Terror.

John is a local creative dynamo and I’ve talked about him a bit in this place since he and I have worked together in the past on some shit and we’ve had a lot of fun. A little while back I did a sort of capsule review of Le Theatre du Grand Guignol, the famous Paris house of horrors which staged hundreds of sadistic and gory plays much to the delight of France’s bloodthirsty theater patrons. John has done a series of one-act plays in the past with his ‘Evening of Steampunk’ and ‘Evening of Apocalypse Theater’ productions at The Player’s Ring, both done for the benefit of charity. In the wake of my article on Grand Guignol, it occurred to me that we could probably pull off another one of these Evening of… shows in the style of the Grand Guignol. John pitched the show to The Player’s Ring who gave us the thumbs up, we presented it to the press and their patrons one evening and then he, our friend E. Christopher Clarke and myself got to work on our respective scripts.

The idea of this show was to recreate the style of the Grand Guignol and I feel that with a couple of creative liberties, we got it mostly right. Each one of us produced and directed (well, not me. Michael Ficara directed my script) our own works. Chris Clarke wrote a very unpleasant, heavily Poe-inspired tale called The Boot, which featured a woman passionately copulating with the soggy reanimated corpse of her husband’s father while her husband looked on, helplessly trapped under the spectral weight of his father’s severed foot. John Herman adapted a Grand Guignol original by Andre De Lorde, A Crime In A Madhouse, wherein a crazy woman is terrorized by a pair of loonies in a crazy house who believe that an owl lives in her head and the only way to let it out is to tear her eyes out and I wrote my own, The Conspiracy of Three, which I have attached here for your reading and should you feel so inclined, I’ve slapped a Creative Commons License on it so that you can use it to stage your own Grand Guignol evening at whatever venue happens to think it’s grand idea.

In The Conspiracy of Three, the adulterous wife of a drug-addled physician plots to murder her husband with her lover and take off to Barbados with his money. My original intent was to portray it very seriously but upon reading it and seeing it performed in rehearsals, it occurred to me that it was, in fact, completely ridiculous and the director ordered the cast to play it up with maximum camp. The results were hilarious and the audience ate up every minute of the show. Lovers, Henry and Claire were played as though they were in a 30′s farce with Claire practically drowning in melodrama and Henry acting as a living, breathing analog of Pepe Le Pew. Dr. Clouseau was portrayed as a completely oblivious fool with a sort of silver age of Hollywood forcefulness. Night after night, the audience laughed its ass off until things got bloody and then they started squirming in their seats (while laughing their asses off).

This was a very effects heavy show by comparison to the other two plays in the program and to achieve the effects, director Mike Ficara and I parted with cash money to buy some serious gear. We hired the services of The Shoggoth Assembly of Portland, Maine to create the prop razor, the prop eyeball and a silicone appliance to be worn by William O’Donnell for when Dr. Clouseau, played by Matthew Schofield, cuts him open and pulls back the skin to reveal the meat and bone beneath. When Claire, played by Constance Witman, has her throat slashed, I built a device that she wore beneath her costume that used a CO2 gun to pressurize a cannister made from 1.5″ PVC pipe (yes, it was kind of big) full of fake blood. The blood snaked up through some surgical tubing and out the notched end of the tube hidden just below her collar to achieve a sort of Kill Bill arterial spray effect that hit the audience sitting in our “splatter section”. Night after night, this thing worked like a charm and was a real crowd pleaser. I wish I had pictures but no one ever thought to take pics of the show as it was performed.

So yeah. This is what I’ve been up to of late. We had a lot of fun and made a few bucks in the process to donate to a number of local charities. If producing a play wasn’t such a titanic pain in the ass, I’d be all over it again right now. Seeing my show performed for a room full of people who were very clearly enjoying it had a very addictive effect. Next up for me is a short film production of the comic Rich Woodall and I did for Zombie Bomb, Volume 2: This Night I’ll Eat Your Flesh, as part of Mike Ficara’s anthology horror film, The End.

Feel free to download, read, redistribute and perform my play, The Conspiracy of Three, available under a Creative Commons License.

22 Mar

Stardate, March 22, 2012. Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday March 22, 2012 | News

Happy Birthday, William ShatnerHail Shatner! The world’s favorite Quebecois Starfleet captain, he who boldly went, turns 81 today and that hair piece is looking as good as ever. He brought us some of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, Kingdom of the Spiders, The Devil’s Rain, that weird-ass horror flick in Esperanto, Incubus and a reputation for being a total dick to Ensign Sulu. What makes Shatner so special is his total embrace of that ridiculous quality that makes us love him so much. Who but Shatner would release more of those speech/singing albums? Shat’s the shit, y’all, and today we salute him with this, Cinema Suicide contributor, Larry Clow, reading his original composition, The Erotic Shatner, at William Shatner Beat Night (aka The Night I Shat Myself) back in 2010 at The Coat of Arms in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

22 Mar

Cronenberg is back, baby! Trailer for Cosmopolis (NSFWish).

Posted by Bryan White | | News

I’m a huge fan of old David Cronenberg. The shit he did in the 70′s and 80′s was freakin’ vital horror that twisted genre conventions and in many ways, carved out a creepy subgenre of its own where our own bodies become our worst enemy. Among my favorite horror movies of all time, Videodrome ranks pretty high. This period of Cronenberg had energy to it. It was daring and fucked up but going into the 90′s, that edge started to dull and even while he freaked out theater goers and pissed off film distributors with stuff like Crash, nothing that came after Crash felt quite as important or inspired. Going into the new millennium, I was pretty much resigned to the feeling that Dave was done and was going to coast to a quiet retirement as he mainstreamed with A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, two adequate flicks that didn’t inspire me to rant or rave about them and that’s the worst thing for a film to do when it enters my world. However, the French trailer for his upcoming feature, Cosmopolis, looks positively nuts and I am beyond interested. You could say that I’m ecstatic over what looks like David Cronenberg reclaiming his nihilism from Gaspar Noe.

Cosmopolis is adapted from a 2003 Don Delillo novel and I wish that I could say more about it but all I can do is parrot what I see on Wikipedia about this book. Cronenberg, however, proved himself a fan of J.G. Ballard whose novels always bear a nihilistic streak of nasty and from the sounds of it, Delillo walks a similar path. The general vibe of this trailer reminds me of the Ballard novel Cocaine Nights, which highlights a series of fast living types; too much money and free time on their hands, the only way to get their kicks is through extremely self destructive behavior.

I also don’t give a shit that it’s Robert Pattinson. Unfortunately for him, he hitched his wagon to Edward Cullen and that sort of shit will dog him for the rest of his career. It makes sense that he’d go way out on a limb to prove to the filmmaking community that he’s more than just the stand-in for 1 out of 3 teenage girls’ ultimate boyfriend fantasies.

Frankly, I have high hopes that Cosmopolis turns out to be a fever dream of mayhem and carnage in the way that only David Cronenberg can deliver.

13 Mar

A salute to Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday March 13, 2012 | News

Jean 'Moebius' GiraudIt was on Saturday that I saw the news. Moebius had died after a long fight with cancer. This stung. A bummer like few things. See, as a teen I was the worst kind of comic book hipster. I paid the exorbitant cover price for a copy of Uncanny X-Men that featured the wedding of Cyclops and Jean Grey and after recovering from what felt like a grand mal seizure, I realized that I had spent an awful lot of money on the one comic where the X-Men had officially jumped the shark and swore off major-label publishers and super heroes for good (it didn’t last but you get my drift). Instead I began shopping on the high shelves at my local shop, going out of my way to buy the weirdest shit imaginable and while this often meant shelling out for Daniel Clowes’ Eightball or a weirdo road trip adventure called The Cheese Heads, it also meant stumbling my way into the world of Euro-comics and it wasn’t long before I found myself scouring comic shows to assemble a collection of books illustrated by French artist, Moebius.

Spider Man by MoebiusComic books from Europe have always carried with them a more sophisticated vibe and back in the day when I was a kid I felt like this made me stand out from my friends who actually gave a shit about the ongoing adventures of Wolverine and his woefully underaged female sidekicks. Desperate attention seeking behavior on my part notwithstanding, European comics often served a dual market. Here in the states, comic books had always been served up for children and as adults, hungry for the nostalgia of youth, we continued to buy Punisher comics even though he’d been turned into a black guy, killed off and then brought back as an Angel with a duster full of heavenly guns. In places like Europe and Japan, however, the medium grew up with the consumer and among the glut of adult comics coming out of France, Belgium and Italy, the group of titles that most easily caught my eye were by Moebius. Moebius perfected the art of hyper detail without going overboard. Plenty of American artists adopted this style but tended to go bananas with it (Todd McFarlane, I’m looking at you). Moebius kept a tight leash on his stylistic flourishes and for it we were rewarded with exceptional character illustrations. No matter who he worked with, be it Alejandro Jodorowsky on the incomprehensible acid space opera, The Incal or his own western series, Blueberry, every page in whatever book you read burst with thin line detail that had no trouble communicating the way-out concepts Moebius’ writers were often handing in.

Moebius DuneThrough trips to the film-related sections of book stores, it would later turn out that before I’d even laid eyes on The Silver Surfer: Parable (my first introduction to Moebius, thanks in part to a fascination with all things Galactus), I’d seen the work of Moebius in concept art and this was often the most fascinating shit to me. In the last few years I’ve devoted plenty of words to lamenting the movie that never was, the Jodorowsky directed adaptation of my favorite science fiction novel, Dune. Giraud had been tasked by Jodorowsky with production design for all things House Aterides as well as some character concepts and the stuff that Moebius came up with was positively mind blowing. Being the fan that I am of the David Lynch film, had Jodorowsky managed to pull of his Quixotic dream, the Moebius designs would have changed the way we watch sci-fi movies. To boot, he’d contributed outstanding concept art for Alien, Tron, Willow and Masters of the (fuckin’) Universe..

Moebius, Heavy MetalLastly, no tribute to Jean Giraud would be complete without a mention of the seminal sci-fi anthology comic (some might say magazine), Heavy Metal. Everybody knows Heavy Metal. Depending on where you bought it it was either kept next to the Playboys or next to the comics, both places being inappropriate spots for the magazine. Heavy Metal was Giraud’s home for the wildest shit kicking around in his head. Originally published in France, Heavy Metal, or Metal Hurlant, carried with it a particularly anything goes French vibe and explicit sexuality was an essential element to many a story. Look no further than the Moebius/Dan O’Bannon contribution, The Long Tomorrow for a taste of what I mean. Written during their tenure on Jodorowsky’s team of production maniacs, The Long Tomorrow has been namechecked by just about every important figure in science fiction with George Lucas lifting the design of the Empire Strikes Back probe droid right from its pages, William Gibson explaining that the general visual style of Neuromancer was pulled from those pages as well as the setting of Blade Runner.

Here in the United States we had comic book titans like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby to steer the style of comic book art. Their European counterpart was Moebius. Less a force of design and art, Moebius was a force of nature. His art and visual prowess so powerful that even if you don’t realize it, your own illustration style has been influenced by him as the people who inspired you were first inspired by Moebius. The world lost a powerful science fiction mind on Saturday and Jean Giraud will be missed. I strongly urge all reading this to seek out everything you can by Moebius. It’s a genuinely mind-expanding experience to read the comic books he was involved in.

For example:

The IncalThe Incal
Jodorowsky has a reputation for way out psychedelic movies but while he hasn’t made a movie in forever, he has been studying the shit out of psychoanalytics and the Tarot, evident in The Holy Mountain. Never being able to get Dune off the ground clearly stuck in his craw and throughout his comic books, he got to explore ideas conjured up during the Dune period and came to life on the page with the help of Moebius in the form of The Incal, a sort of metaphor for the gnostic journey to the godhead. The Incal is about the trials of John DiFool, a mostly worthless layabout who likes to fuck robots and smoke cigars and not do much of else. Several forces in the galaxy, including extremely powerful forces of galactic government and alien races are going nuts for The Incal, a massively powerful crystal that falls into the possession of DiFool who must keep it out of the hands of the most powerful people in the galaxy whether he wants to or not. It’s incredibly fucking strange stuff.

Moebius BlueberryBlueberry
Western comics are nothing new but American western comics tended to mirror the camp found in any given 60′s western television series. In Europe, however, the Spaghetti Western vibe with its gritty anti-heroes easily found its way to Moebius’ page in this, what is considered to be his magnum opus. Blueberry follows the many adventures of Lieutenant Mike Blueberry, a blending of Clint Eastwood and James Bond (and totally not in that Hokey Wild, Wild West way). In later years, the book would dip its toe into psychedelic and spiritual waters, inspiring American western characters like Jonah Hex. This quality was eventually blown way out of proportion in the Jan Kounnen adaptation of the comics, which features a lengthy psychic battle during a peyote trip . It’s been a while since I looked but last I knew, getting your hands on the out of print English translations of the comics meant parting with LOTS of money.

Silver Surfer: ParableThe Silver Surfer: Parable
Confession: I think Stan Lee is a lousy writer. Indeed, he was responsible for some absolutely vital parts of pop culture with his output at Marvel but when it came to writing dialog, I can barely stand it. However, the Silver Surfer: Parable redeems him quite a bit in my eyes and I feel like it had a lot to do with Moebius being on the set. The Surfer is probably the best character that the two could have chosen to work with and the character’s philosophical, head-shop past enabled Moebius to run wild in his usual psychedelic way. The comic brings Galactus back to earth putting in motion the means for mankind to kill itself off so that he can eat the planet. It’s a fairly basic plot summary but inside is all commentary that at the time was extremely relevant to American culture as the climate of televangelists was coming apart at the seams. Galactus announces himself a god and a hungry TV preacher hitches his wagon to that in order to gain personal power. There’s a lot at work here about faith, power and corruption that if you ask me, is way out of step with your usual Stan Lee script.

The ArzachThe Arzach
I’ve only actually seen bits and pieces of Arzach over the years as it’s one of Moebius’ greatest works for Heavy Metal that came out in bits and pieces through the years. There’s actually nothing to read as the adventures of Arzach are wordless picture stories taking place in strange, extremely psychedelic fantasy settings. Often times, Moebius’ work in these stories made think that he put up posters of artwork by Frank Frazetta and wondered on the page what the rest of those fantasy worlds looked like. Like most of Moebius’ best stuff, these collections are way out of print and may cost quite a bit.

Further reading: http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/jean_giraud_moebius_1938_2012/

 

14 Feb

Be My Suicidal Valentine!

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday February 14, 2012 | News

Ah, yes. Valentine’s Day. Few holidays do I loathe more than this one. Why, you ask? My entire social media experience on this day can easily be summed up with the following image.

Forever Alone

My social circle seems to be constantly moaning about the lack of romance/ass in their lives and those of us who have found a way to manage functional romantic relationships tend to keep quiet about it on this day. On the same hand, though, as many of my peoples can’t help but Facebook their feelings for their other half/subjects of their polyamory so basically on Valentine’s Day I am bombarded by relationship status updates and a lot of complaining about how so and so will be eating pizza alone with nothing but Skyrim and a marathon beat sesh to occupy their evening.

Let it be known, however, that I am not a romance scrooge. While my evening will be dominated by repeat viewings of the same Cake Boss episode that my four year old daughter is presently obsessed with, I do have a mushy spot and this morning’s post from Rondal Scott over at Strange Kids Club hit me right in the schmaltz production centers of the heart with this tech demo/short zombie comedy from the students of the Media Design School in New Zealand. For a student film, it’s pretty badass. I present to you: Rotting Hill.

8 Feb

Let The Bullets Fly ain’t no Avatar

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday February 8, 2012 | News

I don’t know how this one slipped past me. I apologize, folks. I’m supposed to be on my toes about this shit. You’d think that a slapsticky wushu bullet opera starring Chow Yun Fat would throw up dozens of red flags on my radar and I’d be wired directly into its signal. I have failed you, Internet, and I am sorry.

Let The Bullets Fly has actually been out in Hong Kong for over a year now and thanks to a snappy trailer full of bang-bang and crazy weirdo shit from The Far East, it’s now beginning to make the rounds on the American movie fanboy sites. For instance, this trailer from the fanboyest of them all, Ain’t It Cool News, so expect to start seeing pullquotes from Quentin Tarantino and all the low-rent film school jackasses who worship him. I’m sure Eli Roth has already jizzed all over it on his Twitter feed seeing as how a dude ripped in half woders where his ass landed (the answer is in the trailer).

Set during a period of civil war in China, Let The Bullets Fly concerns numerous shady individuals vying for power in a time when organized crime flourished in China. Hijinx ensue and from the looks of it, a lot of people wind up shot in the head or at the very least punched in the face. I have a feeling that this flick is going to run wild in hip film fan circles.

7 Jan

Happy 100th Birthday, Charles Addams!

Posted by Bryan White | Saturday January 7, 2012 | News

Happy 100th birthday, Charles Addams!

Charles and Barbara Addams, 1955I’m really shitty when it comes to remembering dates. I have a few keys dates committed to memory: Birthdays of both my wife and daughter and my anniversary. These are key and forgetting them would be catastrophic. You learn this through the magic of sitcoms at an early age and when the time comes, you make sure that you don’t forget them. Otherwise, I forget everything else. Parent’s birthdays. Brother and Sister’s birthdays. Close friends. Everybody’s. Were it not for Facebook, I’d never remember. I never forget names and faces but, for the life of me, dates elude me. Today I leaned on Google to remind me that it was Charles Addams’ birthday. A fact that I’m sure Facebook would have told me had Charles Addams had one. But he doesn’t. On account of him being dead since the 80′s.

When it came to monstrous 60′s sitcoms you had your choice of either The Munsters or The Addams Family. I was an Addams Family guy. This preference had a lot to do mostly with Morticia Addams (rather Carolyn Jones’ proto-goth presentation of Morticia) and John Astin’s portrayal of Gomez Addams bleeding equal parts Barnabas Collins and Groucho Marx. The genesis of all of this, however, was cartoonist, Charles Addams.

The Addams FamilyFor 50 years, Addams was a cartoonist for The New Yorker where, beginning in 1938, he contributed his first Addams Family cartoon. Addams was known for contributing other toons and strips but his true legacy lies in this morbid family of fiends. The Addams Family style was distinct. Rudimentary black and white illustrations existed in a single panel, sometimes with a quote, always saturated with subtle yet extremely black humor. Each panel was a single, unrelated image with no continuity between them. As a matter of fact, The Addams Family as we know them, existed without names until the sitcom premiered nor is their monstrous nature ever truly revealed. This was Addams’ style. Even his non-Addams Family toons were bizarre and contained gruesome and fantastic qualities.

Today is the birthday of  Charles Addams. He would have been 100.

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