Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Watch: House (1986)

I kind of suspect this was a "you sort of had to be there" thing in 1986.  I think I was a full 45 minutes into the movie before I figured out it was supposed to be funny.

Sorry to those of you who have a fondness for this movie.  I think my comedy/ horror allotment was already filled first, in 1987, by Monster Squad, and then in 1993 when I saw Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

Monkeybrain Comics Does an Amazing Thing

Full disclosure, I have, of course, met Chris Roberson and Allison Baker.  You are unlikely to find two more decent folks in any setting.

A while back, as iZombie was wrapping up (a series you can and still should pick up in trade paper back format), Chris made a statement about wanting to see companies do right by creators, and that he did not feel that was happening in mainstream comics.

Of course my fandom for Superman feels increasingly tainted by the ongoing litigation between the Siegels/ Shusters and Warner Bros., who own and operate DC Entertainment.  And you don't have to look further than Steve Ditko or Bill Finger to see how credit and financial compensation rarely goes where it could or should in the realm of intellectual property.

Chris and Allison understand the change in access and the opportunity presented by digital comics and platforms like Comixology.  They also understand fair agreements with creators.  They launched Monkeybrain Comics not so long ago in order to provide a home for creators where they could have a shake at publishing their own work with a fair deal in place and be on the digital shelf with other books.

Very cool.  I was excited, and I'm a fan of a large chunk of Monkeybrain's output.

Now, however, Chris and Allison took it up a notch.  For the month of November, they're giving all profits headed for Monkeybrain to The Hero Initiative.  I'll let their press release describe what this is and what it means, but I will say:  It's nice to see the rare opportunity for comics folk on the business side do something far above and beyond what business is usually willing to do for their own contributors, let alone contributors who never worked with or for the company.  Monkeybrain is supporting the folks who gave us, as readers, the stories and characters we've loved since childhood by supporting The Hero Initiative.

This is what heroism looks like.  Other publishers, especially those who have built their companies upon stories and characters taking steps beyond human to help others, who became empires built on the work of those they never offered anything beyond the next check for the next story...  they haven't quite sorted this out yet.  I imagine a legion of attorneys advises against any acknowledgment of contribution.  In any case, they aren't famed for stepping up and doing the right thing.

Monkeybrain is a new publisher.  This decision should tell us all a lot about what they value, and that they've built a moral compass directly into the DNA of their company.

Below the jump: the press release

Octoberama! War of the Worlds on the Radio!

On October 30th, 1938, the Mercury Theater performed a radio show adaptation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds.  I expect that most of you will have heard of this presentation.

On the eve of Halloween, 1938 - war brimming over in Europe, Asia in chaos, science and engineering on the march despite a decade of financial instability - Americans tuned into the radio for their after dinner relaxation.  Sure, everyone knew Halloween was coming, but like the first April Fool's joke sprung on you each year, it may not be the first thing on your mind.

The broadcast was the one that supposedly set the nation into a panic and had people driving around, shooting at water towers and running from imaginary space men.  It also ended in folks calling for the head of Orson Welles - well before he decided not to sell any wine before its time or voice the monster planet in the Transformers Movie.

Monday, October 29, 2012

AXE COP. NICK OFFERMAN. GO!!! (Halloween, Cartoons and Awesomeness)

If you're like me, you're busily trying to model your entire work persona off Ron Swanson, head of the Parks Department on NBC's Parks and Rec.*  Ron Swanson is played by the amazing Nick Offerman, the man manly enough to be married to Megan Mullally.

Mr. Offerman is now also The Voice of AxeCop.**

Here is the first clip from the upcoming show, an adaptation of one of the "Ask AxeCop" mailbag sections popular in the comic strip.

Bear in mind, the strip is written by a 6 year old. That may fill in some important blanks as you consider the mind-boggling sequence about to beset your eyes.

*and, seriously, Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows right now
**thanks to Kristen B for the link!

October Watch: House of Wax (1953)

When I was, maybe, 13, House of Wax (1953) showed on local UHF affiliate, KBVO.

It scared the bejeezus out of me.

I haven't seen it again since, nor did I catch the 00's-era remake featuring... sigh.  Paris Hilton.

House of Wax was my first full Vincent Price film, and while it may not be as straight up creepy as House on Haunted Hill or weird as The Fly, it still freaked me out pretty well when I was the right age.  It also gave me a lot of respect for Vincent Price as someone other than a guest star on The Muppet Show and Batman.

The film, while gothic in spirit, is shot during the era where Technicolor required a lot of light, and movies were offering up all sorts of color to compete with the monochromatic invasion of the television screen.  The movie was originally seen in 3D, but I've only ever seen it on television, so...

Octoberama! Donald and the Nephews!

and a cartoon!

October Read: At the Mountains of Madness (1930's)

Despite his profound impact on much of the fiction I consume, I've never read or consumed any actual HP Lovecraft.  Like everything else, I just never got around to it.

What I'd read about Lovecraft's writing was interesting.  Even by his fans, he's not considered to know much about how to turn a phrase.  The term "purple prose" comes up a lot in the sniffier descriptions, but everyone acknowledges his wild imagination and ability to generate a palpable sense of dread that other writers strive for, but force with nameable threats and terrors.

With Halloween coming, I figured it would be a good time to finally delve in and check out what all the fuss was about.

I will not say At the Mountains of Madness is my new favorite novel(la).  But it is a fascinating work - complete in its mythology, striking in its building of atmosphere and dread, and it feels like a single man's efforts to restrain an entire culture's imagination and mythologies, pouring them out onto the page with force rather than cultivating smaller ideas and lulling the reader with craft.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

FYI: A Personal Note

Today is the "dating anniversary" of Jamie and myself.  Today marks 17 years of together-ness, at least as Jamie marks it.

We don't make a big deal out of it anymore.  Wedding anniversaries are generally seen as more important.

Here's to 17 years of love, true love.

what I think she was saying was "oh, thank you for taking my picture, my love!"

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride! Part 2!

As we head into Halloween, let's just celebrate with some Bride Miscellenia and fan art from around Tumblr!

As Ms. Lanchester celebrates her 110th somewhere in The Infinite, clearly I'm not the only one with a thing for girls with interesting hair-do's.

If you didn't read our post on Ms. Lanchester earlier today, please take a moment to do so.  It's her birthday.

from the Mondo Universal Horror celebration.  Saw this in person, and it is absolutely stunning.
This is a collection of fan-art of varying provenance - some official, most not.  From what I can tell, somehow The Bride and The Monster have become icons for the rockabilly-retro crowd as it exists in 2012, applying late 50's aesthetic to the 1935 character with the tattoo sensibilities of today.

Go, pop-culture.

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride - Happy Birthday, Elsa

Last week, JimD emailed me and asked if I planned on posting about Elsa Lanchester's 110th Birthday, which happens to fall on today, the day I'd planned the finale post for Sundays with The Bride.  Honestly, I had no idea the birthday was coming, so, everybuddy, take a moment and thank JimD and then take another moment and appreciate cosmic happenstance.

I had another post ready, and so you'll still see that today, later, but as it's Elsa's birthday, we need to give the lady her due.

We all grew up seeing clips from The Bride of Frankenstein, or saw the role of The Bride parodied in other films, in cartoons, or pop art.  The role passed into western iconography as much as the rest of the Universal Horror pack of monsters, but - oddly - The Bride appears for a total of one scene in this single film.  The Bride has no speaking lines, and, of all the Universal Horror "monsters", she is the only one which hurts nobody.

But that's only if you don't count breaking hearts.