Artbook of the Day : THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIAN STELFREEZE

 

http://amzn.to/2FwbB3o

 

 

This book, THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIAN STELFREEZE, i think I mentioned before , was hands down in a very crowded field of great artbooks last year, was easily my best artbook of the year. Three months into 2018, and it is still my favorite artbook of this year as well.

Boom did a FANTASTIC  job of putting togeter this very large and exquisite looking tome. The design and construction of the book is a work of art, befitting of the art inside.

I love, LOVE, gilded pages on a book. The James Jean REBUS book from 2011, was one of my favorite artbooks of 2011 for many reasons, chief among them the use of just beautiful red gilded pages.

http://amzn.to/2tyCSkf

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIAN STELFREEZE sports simply astonishing purple gilded pages that makes this book, even before opening it, a work of staggering beauty. Designers Scott Newman & Michelle Ankley should be applauded for such a wonderfully crafted tome.

Huge and imposing at 12″ by 12″ this tome should be on everyone’s coffee table or book collection. If you don’t have it (or REBUS) use the links above. You will be glad you did!

Highest Recommendation.

 

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Marvel Studios BLACK PANTHER in 3D – The Verdict?

I just came from a sold out upscale theater showing of Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Studios.

I’m going to try to be brief. As someone who went into this having avoided all trailers, and spoilers, and special feature exposes (that in my experience is like pre-chewing your food before sitting down to eat, making it impossible for fan or reviewer to truly be surprised by a film) I was… blown away.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTg1MTY2MjYzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTc4NTMwNDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_.jpg

In terms of look, performance, direction, pathos, and humor, and rock solid action, it is without argument one of the best of the EIGHTEEN Marvel Studio Films released to date. I saw it in 3D and it is worth seeing in 3D. You don’t get the things flying into the audience effect, but the sense of looking down, and into chasms and waterfalls, plays up to 3Ds strengths. So I recommend seeing it at least once in 3D. I say once because like the original AVENGERS film, this is a film that deserves to be seen more than once.

I plan to see it in 2D when I go back next time.

This BLACK PANTHER film, released during Black History month, in my humble opinion is in a three way tie for the #1 Marvel Movie of all time; tied with the original AVENGERS by Josh Whedon and CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER by the Russo Brothers. Those three movies share one shining exquisite truth; they are not just great comic-book movies, they are great films… FULL STOP.

Okay that should be all you need, go see the film now.

Okay still here, the following contains minor spoilers.

Black Panther Movie Poster

BLACK PANTHER is a great film from first frame to last. It is masterfully done; weaving effortlessly between drama, pomp, circumstance, humor, horror, tragedy, and heroism and hope. Chadwick Boseman is astonishing as the titular character, playing him with understated grace and elegance, that carries effortlessly the weight of the film. He is the rock upon which our tale is moored.

Writer/Director Ryan Coogler in three films has catapulted himself as one of the defining directors of our age, and BLACK PANTHER is that talent writ large. This is the tale of the death of kings, of fathers and sons, and things lost in the fire, this is about nothing less than the fate of the world, and about nothing more than the grief of boys for their fathers, a beautifully developed thread in all of Coogler’s films, but never done so well as here.

Coogler takes the admonishment of Hamlet ‘The common theme of life, is death of fathers’ and uses it like a lover and a lance, to both caress and break your heart. And he takes King Henry’s complaint in THE LION OF WINTER ‘I could have conquered Europe all of it, but I had women in my life.’ and here makes of it the saving grace of the protagonist, the film, and the world.

It is the women in this film who save the world, who save the men from their self extinguishing thirst for conquest and vengeance. And taking that line from LION OF WINTER, to also mean parental and familial influence, the difference between T’Challa and Killmonger then ultimately is in their relations to their fathers, even to the structure of their afterlives, one is defined by the inspiration of his father, and one by the lack of his father, and both of them have become completely extraordinary men in staggeringly different ways because of these relations.

It makes for a film of unexpected emotional intensity and depth. Coogler as a filmmaker has my number, as tears unbidden came to my eyes in places in this film. But I would argue he has everyone’s number, if you have the heart to feel, be you Irish or Korean or Ethiopian or American, Coogler will find those places that bind us all,… and squeeze. And then he’ll hit you with the action, then the humor, and sometime when you are laughing, he will squeeze again, and the tears will rise and you will know this is a filmmaker.

And it is wonderful when a director finds his muse, and an actor finds the director that gets him, brings out his best. Coogler and Michael B. Jordan are that combination.

They join legendary director/star pairings such as:

  • Ford and Wayne
  • Hawks and Wayne
  • Kurosawa and Mifune
  • Hitchcock  and Grant
  • Lee and Washington
  • Scorsese and Dinero
  • Scott and Washington
  • Woo and Yun-Fat
  • Ayer and Smith
  • Fuqua and Washington (It is not lost on me that Denzel Washington’s name appears with three different directors. It just shows the kind of fantastic actor he is, the longevity of his career, and that he can embody for many directors, the perfect actor).

Black Panther Movie Poster

Those pairings when they happen are the source of cinematic gold. And it happens in BLACK PANTHER with Coogler and Jordan, two of the respective best of their generation.

Simply a masterful film, with a stunning cast, and great performances. And Kudos to Kevin Feige who with 18 films under his belt, is not just producing films that transcend the source material, he has proved himself the most successful and influential film producer, in the history of the medium.Supplanting such names as Zanuck or Lewton.

It is a success richly earned.

That said, a lot of fans and reviewers care about the numbers, how much a movie makes. I do not. I could not care less if BLACK PANTHER made $1 or 1 Billion Dollars. In this day where studios own the films and the theaters; that is money that is being taken out of local economies. It is good the movie is successful in that we get more such movies from that director, that producer, those actors, but as far as making Disney richer, that does not concern me.

Now should we go back to the days of local and community owned theaters, then that matters, that we should support, because those dollars are staying in the community.

So I’m happy for the movie not because it does this much business, or that much business, I’m happy for the movie, because such visions raise us all, and the success allows such visionaries to keep telling stories.

Grade: An unqualified A+.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Black Panther (#18 of 23)

If you like this movie I recommend the following:

The following movies are too good, to trust in the ‘cloud’ or ‘streaming’ to always have them available, or always have them available in unchanged, unedited, or unaltered versions. The below movies deserve to be owned in physical form, in the age of digital.

Chadwick Boseman in Message from the King (2016)

Chadwick Boseman’s excellent A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
LION IN WINTER
http://amzn.to/2CtUltq
HAMLET
http://amzn.to/2C6aEk6
AVENGERS
http://amzn.to/2C5Lx0W
CAPTAIN AMERICA : WINTER SOLDIER
http://amzn.to/2C3M97v
CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR
http://amzn.to/2szGli8

Currently Watching : CW’s BLACK LIGHTNING Season 1 Episodes 1 -5

This is, despite some misfires, a golden age of TV. With just about every broadcast, cable or streaming channel producing quality shows.

CW after spearheading the SuperHero explosion on television, with its ARROW show, leading into a veritable universe of comic related shows, has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. Other channels buoyed by ARROW’s initial ground breaking success have followed suit, and quite frankly have surpassed what is coming out of CW. The action and fight choreography of DAREDEVIL making the once jaw dropping ARROW fight scenes, look gimmicky and sub-par by comparison.

Black Lightning Movie Poster

FLASH while filled with likable characters, gets increasingly less inspired stories each season. SUPER-GIRL after an initial strong first season, follows it up with a weak syrupy second season, that spent too much time on her Sister’s Lesbianism, which I really could not care any less about, and introducing other uninteresting characters. SUPERNATURAL jumped the shark over 5 seasons ago, and hasn’t had an engaging season since (as every season,simply plays out as watered down ou can definitely add BLACK LIGHTNING to the mix.. variations of that, And LEGENDS OF TOMORROW  is just bad on every level. Shows such as LEGION and RUNAWAYS making the CW shows look like the 60s BATMAN or GREATEST AMERICAN HERO show, by comparison.

Only IZOMBIE, currently on hiatus, has been consistently entertaining to date.

Now after five episodes you can add BLACK LIGHTNING to that list. It has the freshness and energy and charisma and captivating stories, that the other CW shows largely lack. With a great lead, excellent costars, vicious enemies, and mysteries abounding. It from top to bottom isn’t just an exciting and addictive and fun show, but also a needed one. If ARROW five years ago was the show we needed then, BLACK LIGHTNING very much, is the show we need now. Five episodes in I’m hooked, I love it. Grade: B+.

 And while the show can b e released and enjoyed anytime, I do appreciate it being released during Black History Month/Year. It touches with a deft hand on issues that still resound.

Currently Reading : BATMAN Vol1-3 by Tom King

Tom King in a few years has made quite a name for himself as a writer of Slims (comic books).

Always suspicious of hype, I went into his VISION quite skeptical. Long story made short, his VISION lives up to the hype. You can come into it not knowing anything, and be quickly swept away by the sheer power, and humanity and hurt; in a story about what it means to be human, in an inhuman world.

http://amzn.to/2sytRaa

 

It truly is fabulous and if you have never read it, it is a highest recommendation. There is a just dropped hardcover available at remaining Bookstores everywhere.

His MISTER MIRACLE released half a dozen Slims in 2017, the issues were definitely good, though the final verdict is out till he sticks the landing this year. Like the VISION and his earlier OMEGA MEN, it is about a damaged character, a broken character. A slightly off kilter world view.  So far all titles are relatively intriguing and well crafted.  In the case of the VISION masterfully crafted.

 

Then we come to the books up for review this installment, BATMAN VOL 1-3 from the DC Rebirth Line of books, by Tom King.

 

http://amzn.to/2EstqnA

http://amzn.to/2EtmNRZ

http://amzn.to/2swBT3r

 

The irrationality and poor decision making and erratic, even stupid, behavior; that worked well in the tale of a broken Android, a torn freedom fighter, and a suicidal God, does not work well in the BATMAN books.

The very conceit for the whole three volumes, is that Batman (the world’s greatest detective and inventor), is distraught about an emotionally damaged ward, and decides in a world of super scientists, magicians, and Gods, the only way to help his ward, is by stealing a mediocre villain, with the power to make people feel happy, so he can smile at Batman’s traumatized ward and make her feel happy. If that is not a brain-dead enough premise, it becomes even more moronic, when he decides to accomplish this by putting together a suicide squad and risking war and death, and doing this knowing it will wake a retired and sleeping dragon.

It is just the type of moronic plotting one tends to associate with brain-damaged villains seeking world conquest, not the resourceful Batman. And adding stupidity on stupidity, KIng redefines what drives Batman, to be not a sense of justice, or outrage, but a desire toward… (wait for it) Suicide.

And that definition doesn’t stick. Not with any interpretation of the character that makes sense. The desire to die doesn’t push you to be a beyond Olympic level athlete, it doesn’t push you to endure, it doesn’t push you to overcome.

Ultimately this addled definition is Tom King’s definition of the character, unfortunately, it seems to be the same broken, frayed creature that he tries to shape all the characters he writes into. And what worked with THE VISION, and THE OMEGA MEN, and seems to be working with MISTER MIRACLE, does inherently not work, does not graft, does not fit… onto the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Plus I can really do without the Yellow costumed Sidekick. I can do without the sidekick dynamic period. Either make him his own character (his own man) and get him out of the insipid yellow costume, or don’t have the character in the book.

Tom King is instead of tailoring the story to the character, seemingly making every character fit into the same story mold. All Tom King’s character are horrible tacticians, who make horrendous plans. That is not any type of Batman I want to read about. I picked up the three Tom King Batman volumes from the library to give a try, and I am so glad I didn’t buy them. It is surprisingly uninteresting, tedious, and disappointing reading.

Final Grade: AVOID

 

 

 

 

Currently Watching: PANELLOGY 85 & 86!! Watch these episodes before buying your next expensive hardcover!

I have recently found quite a few great Youtube shows courtesy of the Youtube channel on Roku.

A new favorite is Earl Grey‘s simply superb PANELLOGY. Two of his older episodes that I just watched are episodes 85 and 86, and as someone who purchases quite a few hardcover books, especially of the graphic novel or collected edition variety, his two episodes are essential viewing.

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/0/07/Batwoman_Hydrology.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20121218200628

Get your copy here:

http://amzn.to/2BQ8Qf4

 

And can potentially save you quite a bit of money as they point out binding issues/defects to be on the look out for

Earl Grey, you definitely should do more of these ‘issues with collected editions’ type shows.

Informative stuff!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1ZtauWih38Lr1aVEXuZybw

 

 

 

 

Best & Favorite of 2017!!!

This is a bit belated but I think you will find a nice overview to 2017 and pointers to 2018 in the ramblings below.

Favorite movies seen in the Theater in 2017:

KONG:SKULL ISLAND

LOGAN

 

I only saw two movies in the theater in 2017, so looking to improve on that in 2018. Nothing in January had me jazzed to pay theater prices for, however I am looking forward to the following in 2018:

click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable)

EQUALIZER 2

click for larger (if applicable)

 

FAVORITE TV SHOWS IN 2017:

  • LEGION
  • TAKEN
  • POWER
  • AMERICAN NINJA
  • CHOPPED
  • AMERICAN PICKERS
  • LOVE IT OR LIST IT
  • LETHAL WEAPON
  • THE GRAND TOUR
  • GODLESS
  • RUNAWAYS

FAVORITE STREAMING TV CHANNEL IN 2017

The one two punch of AMAZON PRIME and HULU gets this award. NETFLIX that was riding high in 2016 with LUKE CAGE and other shows, had a disappointing 2017. With a non user friendly interface compared to Amazon Prime and a selection of shows and movies that weren’t as interesting or well curated as either HULU or AMAZON PRIME, I cancelled my membership at the end of 2017. The last straw being the overhyped and ultimately lackluster PUNISHER series, as well as news of the studios pulling their content from Netflix.

In 2018 the TV shows that I am or will be watching are:

CASTLE ROCK

GRAND TOUR

TAKEN (I think the new showrunner made a mistake getting rid of most of the cast from season 1, but hopefully he can course correct and fix it)

STRIKE BACK and ELEMENTARY return after long hiatuses

LONGMEYER went out with a bit of a whimper, so looking forward to YELLOWSTONE

JACK RYAN

LETHAL WEAPON

CHOPPED

IZOMBIE

BLACK LIGHTNING

AMERICANS

And lastly looking forward to Season 2 of what, without question, was the best, most inventive TV show of 2017, Noah Hawley’s LEGION.

And for those keeping score… LUKE CAGE tied with FARGO Season 2 (Also by Noah Hawley) were the best TV shows of 2015, and DAREDEVIL Season 1 was the best TV show of 2014.

 

BEST MUSIC OF 2017

I loved everything binaural in 2017, adding many great CDs to my collection. THE HEAVY and GREGORY PORTER remained in heavy rotation. Gregory Porter being my favorite live performance of 2017. And I added new interests RAG N BONE MAN, Andra day and Brian Ferneyhough. With Spotify to allow me to try before I buy, I’m looking forward in 2018 to discovering more great music, both old and new.

BEST READS OF 2017

I didn’t read as many novels, or listen to as many audio books in 2017 as I did in previous years, so I definitely hope to turn that around in 2018.

I did do substantially better with Art Books, Graphic Novels, Reference Books, and comics in 2017. Some of the standouts:

 

MATT BAKER THE ART OF GLAMOUR

CREEPING DEATH FROM NEPTUNE

THE WOLVERTON BIBLE

ARTIST EDITION BASIL WOLVERTON (This and the other two previous books having to do with Basil Wolverton, I went all in on him in 2017. Still absorbing these three books here in 2018)

JACKIE ORMES

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIANSTELFREEZE

SEX AND HORROR THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI

In 2018 writers I intend to go all in on are Percival Everett, Victor Lavalle, Colin Whitehead and Walter Mosley, as well as revisiting work by Ligotti, Lebbon, Ellison, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Bennett.

 

In 2017 Marvel had a great POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series I was reading, the only thing I was buying monthly from Marvel Comics. And Marvel letting greed get in the way of common sense, killed a series everyone was loving, with a creative team everyone was loving, David Walker and Brian Stelfreeze, to instead both dilute audience attention and oversaturate the market with multiple books, almost all of which are ready to be canceled. So going into 2018, with Marvel sticking to their insane $3.99 price point per book, there are no titles I pick up from Marvel Comics.

 

In 2017 DEATHSTROKE by Christopher Priest was the only DC Comic I was getting on a monthly base. It’s arguably the one series that you can just pick up and enjoy without having to read any other title, or care about any other title. Priest has been able to just do… what he does best, create a fantastic read; month in and month out. So it is the only DC book I’m reading in 2018. However, greed rears its ugly heads and the idiots who get paid to make stupid decisions have decided to add DEATHSTROKE to their floundering team book… JLA,  basically gutting the standalone nature of the comic that allows Priest, to do his magic. Basically the same poor decision making that happened last year with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

 

I figure the conversation went like this… ‘man everyone is talking about this book, let’s put the characters in multiple other books, and then they will be talking about all those other books too.’ No, you EFFING morons! The reason people are enjoying POWER MAN AND INRON FIST or DEATHSTROKE is because it is well drawn and well written and not part of your insipid crossover infested universe. Your very attempts to duplicate that success, without understanding it, will kill the character in the new book, and kill interest in the character in the original book.

So yeah here’s hoping someone with brains over at DC, vetoes the horrible idea to put DEATHSTROKE in the JLA, because I’m not going to read the JLA, and you’re editorial interference will create a character that no longer works in his solo book. You have therefore killed the golden goose and have nothing to show for it.

 

The good news is when you get sick of the stupid decisions and overpriced ad laden product at DC and MARVEL, you have great content from other publishers to enjoy. Publishers that give you more for your money. Publishers such as IMAGE, AFTERSHOCK, DARK HORSE and many more.

As far as where to buy new comics from, a lot of people will steer you to DCBS. I personally in terms of pure customer service and ease or ordering prefer LONE STAR COMICS. You can order comics in advance from the at http://www.mycomicshop.com at a discount.

 

They are highly recommended, and I use them myself, and this is an unpaid recommendation. Tell them Heroic Times sent you.

 

And wrapping this up, favorite podcasts of 2017:

 

11OCLOCK COMICS

COMIC GEEK SPEAK

WTF with Marc Maron

BLACK TAPES

GEEK SYNDICATE

 

To name a few. Okay that is it for my 2017 Pop Culture overview. Thanks for bearing with it and if you enjoy, spread the word. Enjoy WEEK #6 of 2018!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast of the Day : The Best Doug Moench Interview!

THE BEST DOUG MOENCH INTERVIEW!

I just discovered this COMIC SHENANIGANS interview with Doug Moench.

From April 2017 this interview is FANTASTIC! Doug Moench (pronounced mensh) is a legendary comic writer, but arguably not as legendary as he should be. While names like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont and John Byrne are known to even peripheral fans of comics, the name Doug Moench  arguably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

His work in the 70s and 80s brought a sophistication to comics, that tends to get attributed to the year 1986 and the one two punch of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT and Alan Moore’ s WATCHMEN, but those iconic books didn’t get born in a vacuum.  It came in stages through creators, by fits and starts, progressing the medium.  Creators such as…

The phenomenal work of Stan Lee in the 1960s creating stories that talked to the audience, rather than at the audience. His stories, his dialog, was snappy and fun patter which sung for the first time to a college audience, rather than strictly to the kid audience, and really separated Marvel from everyone else.

Stan Lee gets credit, but I think too many people in a rush to praise the artists, and address any slights,  such as Jack Kirby and Ditko and Romita etc (men deserving of praise) , they stumble into a very trumpian conceit of feeling that in order to praise the artists they have to tear down the writer, namely Stan Lee.  And quite frankly that is just insipid. You can praise them both, and should praise them both.

Beacause all that beautiful FF art, if married to insipid dialog/writing you have underwhelming stories. Or if you have stories that don’t hype/excite the audience, all the art is not going to save it. The silver age series SHIELD (pre and even some of the early Steranko) is an example of this.  Interesting Kirby art, but pretty boring , uninteresting writing.

Stan was writing the whole Marvel Universe at the time, and I don’t think war and spy books was his strength, so this series is pretty poorly written/dialoged, and all Kirby’s art couldn’t save it. The same thing could have happened to FF, but for Stan’s love for those characters and stories. The FF stories are great because Stan is at the top of his game as ideaman/writer, and Kirby is at the top of his game as storyteller/artist.  It is the collaboration of words and images that make those early FF stories work.

Stan Lee as ideaman, as writer, as editor, as cheerleader, as salesman, as enthusiastic fount of energy is unequaled. He put Marvel Comics  on his back and he carried it with a smile, onto the road that it is on now. With his passion to identify his creators and sell them to his audience, something no other publisher was doing, he gave birth to a generation of future writers and artists. As well as his more experimental work, allowing the competition (DC) to likewise let their writers off the leash. You get some of the best late 60s /early 70s Kanigher, Giordano, ONeil, Haney stories as a reaction to Marvel’s inroads to the college audience.

So you get a bunch of writers in the wake of Stan, growing the medium.

Among them being Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steranko, David Kraft, Keith Giffen, ONeil, Claremont, and arguably one of the most innovative of them… Doug Moench.

Doug Moench is known to a younger generation mostly for his later Batman work, however thanks to a new bunch of collections coming out from Marvel; the work that put him on the map (to even other comicbook creators) THE MASTER OF KUNG FU and MOON KNIGHT is finally readily available. Its availability allowing old and new to revisit these groundbreaking works, and put in clearer perspective this pivotal creator.

His MOKF, while of its age was more sophisticated than anything else coming out in comics, and looking back on it, now nearly 4 decades later, those stories are still incredibly entertaining. Particularly the issues with his long time collaborator, Paul Gulacy, are a phenomenal marriage of words and pictures.

Arguably 4 decades later, their ‘CAT’ story from issue #38 of the MASTER OF KUNG FU SERIES (and now available in Volume II of the MASTER OF KUNG FU Omnibus) is one of the greatest single issues of a comic. And fellow collaborators Mike Zeck, and the late great Gene Day also brought wonderful life to the words of Moench.

Likewise his MOON KNIGHT series with Bill Sienkiewicz was month in and month out one of the most sophisticated and daring and heartfelt books being put out; and opened the door for the success of the comic shop, and the rise of the Independent publishers. It gave a generation of writers a broader perspective on what can be done in a comic book. Many talented writers and artists have tried their hands at the character of Moon Knight since Moench’s departure, a few have been good, Warren Ellis and Jeff Lemire come to mind, most have been awful, and none have been the equal of Moench and Sienkiewicz’s run. That is something, when 4 decades of writers, cannot equal or surpass what you did.

Add to that three of the most haunting Batman stories, a trilogy of one shot issues done with Pat Broderick, and phenomenal creator owned work SIX FROM SIRIUS with Paul Gulacy, as well as his work in the Black and White mags,  and you have some of what makes Doug Moench one of the best writers in the history of comics.

Now with my 2 cents out of the way, go listen to the interview from the man himself:

https://comicshenanigans.podbean.com/category/doug-moench/