A little over a year ago I (FP Manager and T-Shirt Guy Matt D) traveled around the entire country to interview people about their love of the VHS medium, earning the title Producer on the feature length documentary Adjust Your Tracking The Untold Story of the VHS Collector.
Do androids dream of celluloid sheep? Perhaps they will during the inaugural Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, scheduled for December 7th-9th at indieScreen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (at 289 Kent Ave: directions here). It’s being held in honor of the 30th anniversary of classic sci-fi noir Blade Runner, based on one of mind-bending speculative-fiction author Philip K. Dick’s most famous novels. The festival aims to encourage thought-provoking independent explorations of science as a subject of both fiction and fact.
Films on the festival’s roster include, among others, award-winning dystopian indie Sleep Dealer, psychological space drama The Last Push, and PKD adaptation Radio Free Albemuth, starring Alanis Morissette and Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham. Among the confirmed panelists are physicist Ronald Mallett, known for his inquiries into the possibility of time travel; prolific mystery and science fiction novelist Walter Mosley; Jim Freund, host of radio show Hour of the Wolf; and Dennis Paoli, screenwriter of several Stuart Gordon features (H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon).
This week a new batch of comics were added to the pile of minis, including a particularly handsome-looking book called Odessa: Birth of a New Nation. This is an independently-published trade collecting issues 1-5 of the Odessa series. There is a lot to like about this book, with only one or two minor complaints.
Production-wise, this is a very slick collection. It was produced via print-on-demand rather than by hand which, with the understated and elegant design of the covers and title pages, results in a very professional-looking book. At first I thought that Odessa was perhaps a miss-shelved small-press book.
The only aspect of the book’s design that I dislike is the use of dot tone. On the covers (front, back, and insides) this looks great; it makes the colors pop and gives the whole book a retro-quality (which is an especially nice touch given the book’s subject matter—more on that in a bit). However, the choice was made to use dot tone on the comic pages as well, something I find distracting. It feels like a cheat to me when one artificially “dates” comic art with tone; as though hoping to appeal to a reader’s nostalgia. I wouldn’t mind so much had the tone been restricted to the panels, but the gutter-space has also been dot-toned in an attempt to make the book “feel” older. Again, considering the subject matter, I understand why this choice was made. Regardless, I still found it distracting and superfluous.
The story of Odessa operates under a compelling-but often satirized-conceit: What if the Nazis had won? Fortunately writer Christian Rubiano (of Inkbot.net) has taken this idea much further, asking: How would a Nazi victory have shaped the Civil Rights Movement in the United States? Considering the United Sates’ incredibly troubled and troubling past, not to mention the widespread expressions of antisemitism and bigotry leading up to-and during-World War 2, the idea that a large segment of this country might welcome the Nazi party with open arms is hardly a stretch. Many influential people were sympathetic to the Nazi ideology; Henry Ford famously received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle (the highest medal a foreigner could win) for his many articles supporting the views of the now-thoroughly debunked Protocols of the Elders of Zion(an infamous hoax that, plagiarizing and doctoring sections from two different works of fiction, purported to be documents proving a world-wide Jewish conspiracy). In the world that Rubiano has constructed, the Union is once again split in half along familiar battle-lines, with racial tension in the North and a Confederacy-Nazi alliance in the South.
Of course nothing is cut-and-dry: when the country isn’t at war with itself, the respective sides are embroiled in internal struggles over ideology and power. This is a rich setting and Rubiano doesn’t let it go to waste. His characters are well-defined and their motivations both realistic and compelling. Continue reading →
I shot this idea at Jeff earlier this week of doing a Basement Tapes-like weekly column where he and I talk about this Wednesday’s comics and other comic related events the morning after. Hence, “Thursday’s Walk of Shame.”
Now, would probably be a really great time to say GIANT SPOILERS from this week, and last week’s comics. So you’ve been warned.
And. Here. We .Go.
DAVE: So, BLACKEST NIGHT #1: Really? Really, with the ripping out of the hearts of Guardians and Hawkpeople left and right? Jesus. Geoff Johns, you’re a good, pleasant guy, a kind-hearted individual, where does this come from? You gotta see someone. You have some repressed anger going on here.
JEFF: Reminds me of George Lucas’ similar fixation with using lightsabers to chop off limbs. The Star Wars universe is filled with amputees! The first comic book I ever read was an issue of Green Lantern when I was four years old. I think Hal used his ring to make a big-ass green fist to punch the baddie. I’d say this is a bit of a departure from the tone of that issue.
Yeah maybe a little bit of a departure. That’s funny. What is also funny, but probably not really, my first comic as a kid was a Green Lantern comic too. It was an annual, I think it, and I still remember the cover: it had Hal Jordan bursting through this giant robot. No idea what it was about, but I think I still have it somewhere in my parent’s garage upstate.
I don’t know if you had a chance to check it out, but I just got done with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep #1 and found it okay. Art not too flashy- refreshingly so- and a lot of bang for the buck. Given the source material (it’s a direct adaptation of PKD’s novel) it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Just one quam:
It’s #1. OF 24!!!!!! Am I going to be around in two years or so when it concludes? Maybe. Is Boom, the book’s publisher? Can they sustain interest in this for two years? I wish them all the best, but…. To paraphrase the closing line of Blade Runner’s theatrical cut (which I prefer): I don’t know how long this book and I have together. Who does?
Whaddya think of that Spider-Man variant with Nixon on the cover?
I did look at it [Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep], and you’re right, it is hard for them to get it wrong by transplanting Dick’s words into the comic. However, I imagine most of the people that book would appeal to are huge into the movie, and have probably read the book a while back. So, in the end, I’m not really sure why this is a must buy.
I don’t think anything of the Nixon variant, though I will say how about the giant reveal in Amazing Spider-Man annual with Ben Reilly being alive? Sorry, spoilers, but its been a week so if you have a problem, feel free to pick a fight in the comments.
OMG. I didn’t see that. Was he wearing that Flashdance meets Carnage Scarlet Spider costume? Cuz that thing’s rad…
No, he was calling himself Velociraptor, which is probably just as Flashdance as his previous version. He had jaws, and bone knives coming out of his forearms, very much like that formerly stupid mutant. What was her name? Oh yeah, Marrow. God, remember when the X-Men comics had a fixation on gross mutants…Marrow and Maggot? Those were the times.
I feel like I have to bring it up: but Wednesday Comics? I loved Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman strip, but I hear the predominant favorite is Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook’s Kamandi, but that doesn’t surprise me.
Ryan Sook could draw a comic about styrofoam and it’d be gorgeous.
Kerschl and Fletcher’s Flash page is my fave. Haven’t felt anything but “meh” about the character since the height of Mark Waid’s nineties run, but this is dead on the characters I loved growing up.
I liked Johns’ run on The Flash, but that was forever ago, and the book just hasn’t been that good (barring the short stint Tom Peyer had on it).
I just finished The Nobody and you mentioned something about how you liked the smell of it. I liked how it was this almost Cormac McCarthian statement on loneliness. I also really loved Jeff Lemire and how he captures a small town, I haven’t seen that done well in comics ever, but Lemire really captured what its like to be in a small town, or be from a small town.
Yeah. It’s pretty terrific, and as deftly executed as his previous Essex County books, which Top Shelf is reprinting in one volume later this summer.
Back to the smell of the book… from a book sniffer’s perspective let me say that it’s important your book stand out from the crowd. The Nobody’s piquant, inky aroma is distinct to say the least. And bloody hell is it pronounced!
[LAUGHS]. Yeah, this is my first introduction to Lemire so I will definitely be picking up Essex County when it comes out, and his new Vertigo series “Sweet Tooth”.
Last bit: ScarJo shows up in EW as the Black Widow. What are your thoughts on this? She looks more like Anna Mercury than she does the Black Widow but I still say I would rather see Emily Blunt.
Ah, Scarjo & Ryan Reynolds, comic book movies’ power couple. Ya know, I just IMDB’d Emily Blunt and I’ve not seen anything she’s ever been in. Daaavid, have you been watching “The Devil Wears Prada” behind my back? I gotta agree with you. She’s much more exotic and her cool eyes and demeanor more suitable.
At this point in the conversation, I jump through the screen like Ray Palmer does through a telephone and begin strangling Jeff for “The Devil Wears Prada” crack. This concludes the first issue of THURSDAY WALK OF SHAME. Maybe there will be another one next week, if Jeff survives. (Dave exits, while sharpening knives).
Okay, so maybe I could only will myself a week break from a “Shining” reference. I can’t stop myself, I’m a creature of habit. Regardless, its that time again, and that means some comics coming out this week.
The big one, of course, is “Blackest Night #1” which comes with a free Black Lantern Ring. I don’t know, but I’m pretty stoked about that, but this comes from someone who doesn’t even wear his class ring. Check it out:
For the adults, a new print of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s “Lost Girls” comes today as well. I’m going to say it again: this is for adults. This is NOT “Supergirl’s Adventures in the Eight Grade.”
From Marvel this is the week where we finally get all of the sold out “Deadpool: Suicide Kings”. I’ve been hearing nothing but a ton of fun things about this comic, but its been selling out before I get the chance to peruse an issue. So, I’m looking forward to checking them out.
Like I mentioned the other day, I’m a Doctor Who fan, and this week marks the first issue of the new ongoing series from IDW. Other notable releases in science fiction comics this week is the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” which was the basis for “Blade Runner.”