Monday, August 31, 2009

Marvel? A Mouseketeer?

I had to catch my breath over the cereal bowl this morning when Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger announced this morning that they had, in fact, purchased Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 Billion, making it the second largest acquisition the Mouse House has purchased since they bought PIXAR for $8 Billion! Just think, in my last post, I mentioned the slow dissolution of the industry. Now, I get to eat some of that posting--- or do I?

Stan 'The Man' Lee reportedly leapt out of his chair, thrilled at the news, stating that "From every conceivable point, this union is a perfect match".

Check out some of the great benefits and minor hurdles this deal will yield:

Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures is developing the next three "Spider-Man" sequels, starting with "Spider-Man 4" set for a May 2011 release. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox has the long-term movie rights to the "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," "Silver Surfer" and "Daredevil" franchises.

Separately, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures has a five-picture distribution deal for Marvel-made movies, the first of which will be "Iron Man 2," set for release next May. Paramount said it expects to continue working with Marvel and Disney.

General Electric Co.'s Universal Studios has an attraction called Marvel Super Hero Island in Orlando, Fla., that will stay in existence as long as Universal wants to keep it there and follows the contract terms, Universal said.

Despite beginning to make its own movies, starting with "Iron Man" last year, licensing remained a key driver of Marvel's $206 million in profit and $676 million in revenue last year. Iger said Disney could give Marvel broader global distribution and better relationships with retailers to sell Marvel products.

Marvel shares shot up $9.72, or 25 percent, to close at $48.37 on Monday.

Marvel plans to release two costly blockbusters, "Thor" and "The First Avenger: Captain America" in 2011. DVD sales of those films likely won't roll in until fiscal 2012.

Marvel's chief executive, Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, will pocket a hefty payday. He snatched Marvel assets out of bankruptcy in 1998, in a deal that valued the company at around $450 million including debt, outmaneuvering investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman. His 37 percent stake in Marvel is now worth about $1.5 billion.

Now, out of all of this, WHERE ARE THE COMICS?! Here's a deal that will change the face of mainstream comics, yes, but with such a monstrous deal designed to elevate the stakes of the playing field, it doesn't change the game... Who will have to up their game--- Them or Us? The Mainstream muscle definitely got a steroidal shot this morning, but the real trick now is whether or not this deal can maintain that muscle. Disney has never made no secrets about its business... Remember MIRAMAX? Remember the PIXAR dispute? These fallouts came only AFTER Disney claims big payoffs from these mergers. Hmmm... Mice don't eat spiders, do they?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

When The Mainstream Gives No Other Alternatives

The Alternative Press Expo, founded by Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics founder DAN VADO (Hi Dan, it's me again!) in 1994 as a showcase for independent and self publishers to display their works and spread the word on works that don't carry a Marvel or DC stamp. In 1995, Comic Con International took over the event. APE started as one day events until 1998, where it gained an extra day and continued the tradition up till now. One question BEGS to be asked here:

What's wrong with this picture?

Comic Con International, to many of us, once represented the mecca of comic conventions in the United States... At least once in your lifetime, you had to make the pilgrimage. Today, it seems like Comic Con is becoming less a comic convention and more like SHOWest, as Hollywood's presence has become the dominant force of the show. Where publisher tables were open and inviting, they seem more like roach motels--- The comic powers-that-be spend more time pandering to the publicity than the public, and the term 'intellectual property' sounds more like an oxymoron than ever before. Even USAToday covered Comic Con as '...the hot spot where you may actually find comics...'

Many of the small press publishers, like Fantagraphics for example, have publicly stated that they're considering moving away from the vibe of Comic Con to shows like APE and SPX in an attempt to bring indy comics (and comics in general) back to the public.

It almost seems systematic, doesn't it? Comic Con, attempting to stave off the implosion of the comic industry, cozies up to the Hollywood machine to bring in new John Q. Public readers who don't normally read comics... John Q. Public, for a larger part, considers the Hollywood presence more viable than the comics that surround them; thinking it's kid stuff... Comic Con buys out shows like APE, so that at least they have somewhere to keep their artist alley, despite the fact that there's no money in it... The face of a dollar bill says more now than an intelligent man with no money, huh? It's almost the Big Boys way of saying, 'you can still have some, just not much of it...'

Truth is, with the business, such as it is, being in such straits, the powers-that-be (all of them!) should know that the industry--- mainstream and indy alike--- should thrive as a whole, not by strangling off its parts. This is why foreign markets that once emulated our industry, now laugh at it. Our market is becoming a VH-1 special, y'all... To all my NEXT 100, I urge you not to lie down on this... Our fight has truly begun.

Support the indy movement and the industry... What's left of it.

Gut Muncher With A Laugh: Zombieland!

Director RUBEN FLEISHER is a relative unknown to Hollywood, but come this October, the world will soon see the horror/comedy he created known as ZOMBIELAND. I don't know about you, but PLANET GRIFFIN can definitely give the trailer alone a big thumbs up as one of the funniest gut-munchers I've seen yet--- and I'm an undead burnout right now! Check out the Red Band Trailer and see for yourself!

Sena, Rucka Resurrects Carpenter With Whiteout

"I remember saying, 'This is an interesting idea for a movie. Imagine if you took a bunch of people, put them in some horribly cold environment a long way from anywhere, mostly in darkness [and] cold, frigid temperatures, and put them there for weeks or months or years,'" he says. "And then a couple of years later Whiteout came out. And I read it and I was like, 'This is the idea.' It's just like another world." -DOMINIC SENA

PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION continues at broadcast depth to bring you another coming-sooner-than-you-think to multiplexes nationwide... The below freezing conditions of Manitoba, Canada (doubling for the icy wasteland that is Antarctica for the bulk of the shoot) is the epicenter for the Oni Press comic adaptation of GREG RUCKA'S WHITEOUT, starring KATE BECKINSALE, GABRIEL MACHT, and TOM SKERRITT.

As the sole law enforcement officer stationed at a research station in Antarctica, Carrie Stetko uncovers a dead body, prompting a race against time to solve the crime as the base is preparing to shut down for the winter... And the killer is closer than she thinks.

DOMINIC SENA, the director of SWORDFISH and the remake of GONE IN 60 SECONDS, jumps back into the lensed saddle again to helm the project, already a smashgenre of JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING and OUTLAND, Sena even admits that he looked to those films as inspiration for the shoot.
"All these people caught up in this claustrophobic, frigid environment where you can't go outside... Two minutes outside and you're dead," he says. "And there's nothing to do down there [in Antarctica]; you're bored silly. And all of a sudden there's a killer amongst you. And you go, 'Sh*t, that's pretty good.' ...The cold and the whiteouts and the 120-mile an hour winds and all of that seem so alien and foreign that I thought, 'I love the idea to do it.' I mean, I didn't stop to think about how hard it would be to do!" - DOMINIC SENA

The Inglourious Return Of The Smashgenre King

PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION returns once again with a little something different... Y'know, we as a society are an amazing piece of work--- we are the only social order that cheers our pop culture icons when they're on top, spite them when they fall, just to cheer for them again when they claw their way back to the top... Take writer/director QUENTIN TARANTINO for example--- film upstart with RESERVOIR DOGS, smashgenre phenom with PULP FICTION, topping himself with the essential payback flick in two parts, KILL BILL 1 & 2--- here's a critical darling who can do NO wrong... Until the loopsided backfire of GRINDHOUSE, where the critics panned it and audiences largely avoided it, citing online chatter of whether or not the director's still got it. Now, with the post-release hype of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, it would seem that even the hardened doubters got their answer--- and, of course, he's loved all over again!
Listen to the re-emergence of the film wunderkind in a recent interview with NPR radio. Oh, and go see this movie--- it definitely warrants the PLANET GRIFFIN CERTIFICATION OF BADASS MOVIE GOODNESS!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

John Carter Of Mars: The Cliffhanger Continues?

In tonight's Triple Feature Friday here at PLANET GRIFFIN, we bring you a true classic... Published back in 1917, EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS warmed up his future Tarzan muscles with a rip roaring sci-fi adventure that's still as inspirational now as it was then! JOHN CARTER OF MARS centers around John Carter, a Civil War soldier mysteriously transported to Mars where he finds high adventure and intrigue protecting a princess from the world's inhabitants who give true meaning to the term 'impossible odds'... Past forward to now. ANDREW STANTON of PIXAR STUDIOS has scoured through several rewrites ( even getting assists from MICHAEL CHABON), in an attempt to produce what they're now calling '... A perfect hybrid of CGI and live action...'
The MARS project has now gone into Pre-production after solving the ever-twisted script problem (Which I can believe... How can you adapt 6 separate installments of an adventure serial into 1 solid tale?), but now instead of being a Pixar project, it's now a DISNEY project on the fast track (obviously, the Mouse House smells big franchise bank a la' Pirates Of The Caribbean). The Dramatis Personae is still evolving, but currently locked in is TAYLOR KITSCH (Gambit of Wolverine) in the title role, LYNN COLLINS as Dejah Thoris, WILLEM DAFOE as Tars Tarkas, SAMANTHA MORTON as Sola, and DOMINIC WEST as Sab Than... And steadily growing...

Of course, like the original story almost 92 years ago, all of this is to be continued...

BOOM! Is Bringing The Rage To The Page

PLANET GRIFFIN continues at broadcast depth with the arrival of the partnership between BOOM! Studios and FOX ATOMIC at unveiling the 28 DAYS LATER comic series by Michael Alan Nelson and newcomer Declan Shalvey. The series follows Selena, the movie protagonist from the original film, living in a Northern European refugee camp, trying to figure out how she's getting sucked back into the horrific struggle against the infected. The series will bridge the gap between the original film and it's sequel, 28 WEEKS LATER.

I'm still geeking on the TIM BRADSTREET cover alone! Seeing as how this film series turned the entire 'zombie' premise on its ear, judge the series for yourself by checking out the preview HERE.

Brothers Gonna Work It Out

PLANET GRIFFIN takes another trip into comic wayback nostaglia with this little diddy. I remember picking up my first copy of BROTHERMAN back in Mid-90, only to be saddened by such an incredibly short run ( The series only lasted 6-7 issues). I was pleased to learn that the Brother's coming back with a brand new attitude! I came across a short interview feed done specifically for the Atlanta Art Expo a few weeks ago. I thought it was cool, so I thought I would share. What was old shall be new again--- Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

THE BIG BUZZ: The Vertigo Crime Renaissance

When DC's premiere crime series, 100 BULLETS, drew the curtain with it's 100 issue run, many people figured that either it was just the beginning or the end of what has now come to be known as the VERTIGO CRIME RENAISSANCE--- With the emergence of DC's new 'Graphic Mystery Series', WILL DENNIS is about to further that debate... Welcome to PLANET GRIFFIN and THE BIG BUZZ!
In a calculated move to meld the graphic novel format to the traditional pulp novel, Will Dennis is steering the new line towards the book market; wedging them firmly between BORIS STARLING suspense and the latest HARD CASE CRIME paperback--- a subtle message to book readers that they're the 'real deal' and not just 'manga-sized comics'... But the real question here is: Will it be enough?

Take the IAN RANKIN penned 'DARK ENTRIES', for example... It's a John Constantine story--- and while it's considered as 'a great read', even I would be hard pressed to understand why a series that markets itself as '...completely outside the direct market...' would do yet another take on a HELLBLAZER story rather than give us something completely different?
Ian Rankin tells a fast-paced, black comedy tale about a reality show for the damned. That's it.
As I said, it's a great read
, just not on the level as a DARWYN COOKE adaptation... Dark Entries does nothing to distinguish VERTIGO CRIME from the same ol' DC material... ESPECIALLY SINCE IT'S NOT EVEN A CRIME NOVEL!

Of course, all is not lost.

The BRIAN AZZARELLO/VICTOR SANTOS tale 'FILTHY RICH', on the other hand, is more in tune to what crime noir is supposed to be! (Considering the twisted web that was 100 Bullets, you know Azzarello is a go-to-guy for the genre) Santos' visual style complements the storyline well here, as Azzarello weaves a tale that owes more to RAYMOND CHANDLER than anything else: Rich Junkin, a former football player turn car salesman barely scraping by. Between delivering cars and married dames, Rich is nothing more than a spider slowly entangled in a bigger spider's web... Sex, violence, the double-crossings amid seedy and lurid characters... Pure pulp gumbo!

Now, seeing as how both of these titles were released together, the jury is still out on whether or not the 'graphic mystery' experience will suite everyones taste. Vertigo's already got a pedigree for cutting edge material, but with upstarts like IDW, and with the current craze being centered around 'retreading/readapting' old crime novels, Dennis will have his work cut out for him...

Either way, it benefits all readers involved

Preview the latest Vertigo Crime titles here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At The Sound Of The Beep, Turn The Page...

Talk about old school! Remember when POWER RECORDS and K-TEL ruled the 70's and 80's? Remember the classic audiotracks that used to accompany the illustrated comics? I remember PLASTICMAN and METAMORPHO in double features, or MAN-THING: Night Of The Laughing Dead, or SPIDERMAN'S The Bells Of Doom (anyone who listens to MF DOOM knows where some of his sound bites come from!)

When I came across this stuff, I had to put it up! I HAD TO! Click on POWER RECORDS and relive this piece of classic history for yourself!

Watch Out, Mister! Here Comes The Twister!

OCTOBER 16th, 2009

"A Blast From The Past Ready To Break A Foot Off In Yo' Ass!" The Wait Is Almost Over!
SONY Worldwide

Monday, August 24, 2009

The BIG BUZZ: Comics Destroyer Unveils New Clothing Line

PLANET GRIFFIN returns to broadcasting depth to share a little something my work partner, MDouble, put me onto--- And this is what makes up today's BIG BUZZ! That enigmatic man of mystery and self-proclaimed 'Comics Destroyer' known as PAUL POPE has been steadily grinding away in his NYC lab, cranking out everything from his stint with WEDNESDAY COMICS 'STRANGE ADVENTURES' to independent adwork to his latest creation in conjunction with DKNY. The POPE COLLECTION has quickly begun circulating it's way through the underground art circles, breaking out into the widespread ether for the world to see. Paul has even set up a subsite for the clothing event, DKNY 2089 , displaying that PULPHOPE goodness! To even further fan the flames, Paul recently finished an interview to coincide with his recent accomplishments as well as a deeper look into his 'artmechanikal' thinking.

The BIG BUZZ definitely gives the DKNY POPE COLLECTION a big thumbs up!

On the Fringe with Paul Pope from Carlos Molina on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The BIG BUZZ: Look! Up In The Sky! It's Death!

Just in time for the holidays, UBISOFT will be at it again with ASSASSINS' CREED 2, and this go round, the game looks to outdo them all! This time, the game will be set in the Venice Renaissance as the new killer on the block, the dashing EZIO AUDITORE Di FIRENZE, uncovers a mass conspiracy involving the corrupt heads of the Italian state, utilizing the secrets of an anciet codex written by ALTAIR (the lead killer in the original game). Parkour, contract killings, a brand new control setup (the one that eliminates the frustrating multitask controls of the first), and old school adventure with new school twists--- what's not to love about this game!

This Christmas, I'll be anxiously awaiting to see if this new title will be BUZZ or STING, but for now, enjoy the incredible graphics of the intro trailer... Stay tuned!

Don't Hate The Playa...

Good Grief!! What is it about this game that geeks me so?!

Pure, unadulterated grindhouse, that's what!!

Bethesda Softworks is sparing NO expense at delivering the goods with the soon-to-be classic heroine known as RUBI in WET! I've posted on this before, so this game is no secret--- now with a soundtrack release to accompany the game, WET has a release date of SEPTEMBER 15, just in time as the PS3 prepares for its $100 price drop ( to compete with XBox, naturally), so I really don't expect this title to stay on the shelves! Again, this is dedicated to my GRINDHOUSE GOODFELLAS out there who game as hard as they grind!

I know, I know... Don't hate the playa... Hate the Game... Good luck with this one.

The Iconic Indy 80's

I remember when JORDI BENET gave us hardboiled strathmore with TORPEDO... 100 Bullets before it's time...
( Cheers again to IDW bringing it back to us!)

I remember when Pacific Comics beat Dark Horse to the punch with ALIEN WORLDS... (Ask FRANK MILLER--- he reminds you every chance he gets!)
My God... How much money DID we spend on the countless hours of DON BLUTH'S SPACE ACE, just to get every move just right? (Probably twice what we dropped in its predecessor, DRAGON'S LAIR...) You can't tell me Don didn't work out the art to a science...
I remember when AMERICAN FLAGG dropped, HOWARD CHAYKIN was noted as 'Comic's Angriest Jew'... A self referential title that BRIAN BENDIS now defines himself by at MARVEL...
I remember when THE ROCKETEER was the premiere indie of its time. DAVE STEVENS was (and STILL IS) an illustration genius! All that's left are memories and a Disney film begging to be remade... Which brings us to, arguably, the mother of them all...
... That's right... All the HERNANDEZ BROS. needed was theme music... PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION remembers the iconic indies of the 80's. Mainly a great excuse to see some cool artwork and a reminder that there isn't a single title within the last 20 years that DOESN'T owe a debt to these classic moments of inspiration!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And Now, An Important Public Announcement

Tonight's PLANET GRIFFIN is dedicated to my daughter, McKAYLA. Today is her 7th birthday, so I would be remiss if I didn't do this! Daddy loves you so much, his heart is bursting!

Old Boy Is Back With A Vengeance!

Gotta get it, gotta get it, gotta get it... Did PLANET GRIFFIN mention that you've gotta get it?

Nominated for the PALME d'OR at this years Cannes Film Festival, Director JOHNNIE TO comes back with a, well, VENGEANCE! Originally slated to star legendary french actor ALAIN DELON (LeSAMOURAI), the role went to legendary french rocknrolla JOHNNY HALLYDAY (rocking the best Payback Pokerface I've seen in a minute!) With Hong Kong film legends ANTHONY WONG and SIMON YAM, you are definitely looking at the future of the revenge/payback genre!

The film setup is fairly simple: 20 years ago, a french assassin hung up his guns and became a chef and family man. Fast forward. After the particularly vicious murder of his entire family in Macau, the old frenchman comes back to town, bringing the old bad habits with him. Revenge as his sole existence, he bands with a crew of local gunmen to finish what he's about to start... Getting back... In the saddle... Again.

Now, for the twist: The Adler frenchman suffers from a bullet which is lodged in his head near his brain. As a result, his bouts of memory loss can, at times, be significant to the point where, like Christopher Nolan's MEMENTO, he must rely on labeled photos to tell friend from foe and recall his motivations. It begs the question: What does vengeance truly mean when you've lost all memory? Here is where the blood soaked world of Johnnie To begins...

Playing out as a smashgenre mix of MEMENTO, OLDBOY (even the one sheet of the movie pays homage to the Park-Chan Woo classic), and TAKEN with a french Charles Bronson in the lead; VENGEANCE delivers on all points! Johnny Halladay is surprising in this flick, especially once you discover that the rock star is 66 years old doing an action version of Lee Marvin's role from POINT BLANK and taking no prisoners should tell you something! Johnnie To's trademarks are in full effect here (i.e., deep neon colors steeped against a bleak, rainy background sapped of color, smoky atmosphere, stylized bloodspray, slow-mo), where the violence is sudden and brutal... In other words, try this movie with a group of friends on a friday night and see if the room stays quiet...

For those who don't know Johnnie To should do your homework... Viewed as a cross between WONG KAR WAI and JOHN WOO, He has jumpstarted the action crime genre in his backyard of Hong Kong with such hits as ELECTION, ELECTION 2, EXILED, and THE SPARROW
( for the record, all of them are off the hook!)
, and is currently pushing development on a remake of the 1970 French crime thriller THE RED CIRCLE. After VENGEANCE, I know I can't wait to see what's next! PLANET GRIFFIN puts the high recommendation on this flick when it hits DVD on these shores!

Gotta get it, Gotta get it, Gotta get it...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This Is How The World Ends...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the new voice of underground unrest known as PLANET GRIFFIN returns with a little something flying under the radar. In January of 2010, we'll find out just how high this'll fly...


PAUL BETTANY fronts the film as the Archangel Michael, fallen to earth to protect a waitress who carries the 2nd coming of the Messiah within her womb... Of course, none of the diners are aware that the Apocalypse is now unfolding outside. DENNIS QUAID, LUCAS BLACK, KATE WALSH, DOUG JONES, CHARLES S. DUTTON, and TYRESE GIBSON also star... First-time director/writer SCOTT STEWART is currently finishing the film in Mexico. Looking at the trailer (hopefully, the best parts of the film isn't all in the trailer!), it comes off as a smashgenre mix of PROPHECY meets THE STAND in a film narrated by The TERMINATOR! You be the judge as the time draws nigh!

Oh, and be warned that the trailer is not watered down--- and why should it be?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grimm Fallout Upon MAYHEM Release

Drama, drama, and more drama... For those of you who keep up with the news over at Comic Book Resources, chances are you've heard about the recent fallout involving Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM... This past friday, Percy Carey a.k.a. MF GRIMM, announced that he was stepping down as Marketing Director of the Tyrese Gibson title... The following is the letter MF GRIMM released to the industry...

To my dear friends and colleagues:

I would like to take this time to inform you all that I have officially stepped down as marketing director of Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM!

Although I handled the marketing up until San Diego Comic Con 2009, I did not agree with the direction the owner(s) and the creators were headed. Therefore, I submitted my resignation shortly after our return.

On several occasions over the past few months, the creators decided to forget about their responsibilities (writing a good comic book) and on a whim, turned their focus to the marketing of Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM!; it was during these times they found mutiple ways to insult well-respected people within the comic book industry.

The Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM! team has been considered outsiders by a comic book industry that's cautious of celebrities intent on selling comic books because of so called "star power", an industry weary of creators from different mediums who seemingly lack respect for the comic book community. This being said, you would expect these parties to act upon their self-proclaimed sincerity whether or not their name is above title (unfortunately the world is filled with bad actors.)

It's easy for people to take credit for things (like strategic marketing) when they are going well, but no one will step forward when unethical methods are implemented, methods that are clearly not "strategic". Because I am credited in Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM! as Marketing Director, I'm obligated to come forward and absorb the blame for these (unauthorized) snake oil selling marketing tactics which I found to be unnecessary and insensitive to comic book retailers. (I do not want to be associated with the comic book retail problem that has arisien because of this project , especially in this frail economy.

At one point, I put in a personal request to Arch-Enemy Entertainment (the parent company of Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM!) To have the members of Team MAYHEM! Who insulted Mr. Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience (and several other comic book retailers, many of whom are close friends of mine) by using snake oil selling marketing tactics to send a apology in the same forum(s) where the insult(s) took place; my request for the apology went ignored by the creators. I must therefore take it upon myself to do what should have been done quite some time ago.

As the former head of Marketing for Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM!, I would personally like to take a moment and send my deepest apologies to Mr. Brian Hibbs and his family for the unnecessary attacks in public forums employed by my former camp. Mr. Hibbs became the focus of the unauthorized marketing ploys that followed. At no time was I a part of such antics nor would I have approved anything that would ruin the credibility of Mr. Hibbs or any other retailer.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Hibbs and consider him one of the few who speak genuinely, from the heart and mind equally.

I have been in the music retail business as a distributor for the past 10 years and I understand what it's like to have to roll up your sleeves and sell units. Comic books are even harder to move because of the absence of returns.

To all other comic book retailers who were insulted by these unauthorized marketing tactics: I'm terribly sorry as well. The only issue that should have the words Percy Carey, Master Of The Widget, LLC is the first print of issue #1 (and yes ladies and gentlemen of the press, the 10,000+ sales in one store is the real deal, something I will always be proud of).

Please note: In no way should any of the aforementioned be seen as a reflection of Image Comics or their wonderful staff. I thank Mr. Robert Kirkman and Mr. Eric Stevenson for the opportunity I hope to be able to work with them again in the future.

Furthermore, I would like to inform the public that I have also stepped down as Sr. Vice President of Arch-Enemy Entertainment, (The parent company of Tyrese Gibson's MAYHEM!).

I will now focus on my own endeavors; one being my strategic innovations consulting company Master Of The Widget, LLC. The other being the relaunch of my record company Day By Day Entertainment. I will also continue my passions as a writer in film (especially animation-PIXAR here I come!), television and music.

Considering the amount of hype surrounding the MAYHEM project (it apparently pre-sold 20,000 units prior to its release, so the campaign was successful---), it seems that backlash of some kind was inevitable... Click the link to see 'Mr. Brian Hibbs' response to this subject to see how it all got started!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Basterd's Work Is Never Done? Let's Hope So...

PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION takes a moment for the upcoming movie from QUENTIN TARANTINO --- that Nazi-bashing, bat weilding, Jewish revenge fantasy known as INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS! It almost seems like tradition to watch a Tarantino flick on its opening weekend... I've been holding that ticket since RESERVOIR DOGS first appeared at the local Janus house.
( Yes, I was among the handful who saw GRINDHOUSE, and manned up enough to say it!)

I read the first draft script and, I admit, debated whether or not to go see this thing. ( I am a big fan of the ENZO CASTERELLI classic starring FRED WILLIAMSON, BO HOPKINS, and that damn train!) I mean, the opening ONCE UPON A TIME IN NAZI-OCCUPIED FRANCE was waaaaaaaaay too long ( try to imagine the girltalk pow wow in the diner in DEATH PROOF... Now add an additional 10 minutes to that talk... Now you get the idea.), the action that you see within the trailer was pretty much THE ONLY action in the film damn near ( all other action is IMPLIED, not detailed, within the script), there was NO TRAIN like the original (until I learned that Tarantino only wanted the title and not doing remake), the fantasy element of Hitler dying inside the burning theater near the end of the script fell short, and lastly, the premiere first screening of the film at the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL where audience members began walking out--- NOT because of any wrenching violence, but because the movie was BORING--- a term I never thought I would apply to a Tarantino flick!

That was late spring. Fast forward.

Since all this, the third act of the script was completely changed (though I will say, expect the chapter, REVENGE OF THE FACE, to remain intact... And that's NOT a spoiler!), the action was beefed up to expected visceral goodness, the humor is disturbingly pitch black at times, and the flashback sequence to how THE BEAR JEW (Eli Roth)came to be was added back in (hopefully).

Whatever the case may be, PLANET GRIFFIN will definitely ride the high country on this one, with ticket firmly in one hand, and a baseball bat in the other!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PLANET GRIFFIN'S Next Top Ten Movies That Move On Paper: Comics Undreamed Of! Pt. 20

PLANET GRIFFIN concludes its Next Top Ten with a bang! As far as the 'Cops and Robbers' genre is concerned, this MICHAEL MANN classic tops it with ease! Without further adieu---



In 1995, AL PACINO, ROBERT DENIRO, VAL KILMER, and one of the best supporting casts onscreen gave us 'The Los Angeles Crime Saga' that's actually a REMAKE of a TV Movie known as L.A. HEAT (which writer/director Michael Mann crafted back in 1989)... After hits like THIEF, MIAMI VICE, and CRIME STORY, Mann topped himself with a movie that has so far gone unrivaled in almost 20 years!

Neil McCauley (DeNiro) is a professional thief who, like his high stakes team, lives by the credo 'Never have anything in your life that you can't walk out on in 30 seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner'... The only man capable of stopping him is Lt. Vincent Hanna (Pacino) of the Major Crimes Unit. Obsessive and driven to the point of ruin, both men are in for the score of a lifetime: McCauley with retirement, Hanna with 'retiring' McCauley permanently.

As well known as this movie is, there's not too much to add to this post that'll be any different from anything else you know--- The central performances of DeNiro and Pacino happen to be their absolute best (individually as well as together) work that has yet to be matched--- as well as anyone else's for that matter--- (Righteous Kill? Don't get me started... Val Kilmer? Low budget flicks perfect for Redbox... Ashley Judd? dropped out of hollywood for a minute... ) Michael Mann has since tried to duplicate this same magic in his other films ( Collateral, Miami Vice, Public Enemies...) ever since, with hit or miss results.

The setpieces of this movie are like rock and roll vignettes without the usual music video feel, the action moments are graceful, yet savage, displays that still inspires to this day ( LA Shootout, anyone?)--- especially the downtown shootout that played up the realism to such a degree, many bystanders around the shootout sequence that day thought the violence was real!

PLANET GRIFFIN definitely considers this flick a PERFECT adaptation for the comic field! Between the gritty, almost caustic, dialogue, to the rich visuals, you've got a complete package from start to finish! With that, this Next Top Ten is a wrap!

Alright--- fun parts done--- back to work.

Monday, August 10, 2009

THE BIG BUZZ: The Return Of Heist Society

In 1962, the world was introduced to RICHARD STARK (pseudonym for the legendary DONALD WESTLAKE), and a powerful crime novel that would later be realized as THE PARKER SERIES. The first title was THE HUNTER, and crime noir entered a whole new era.

PLANET GRIFFIN returns with another episode of THE BIG BUZZ! Tonight's buzz is BUZZ really worth hyping about: The long awaited release of DARWYN COOKE'S IDW release of RICHARD STARK'S THE HUNTER!

Welcome to the world of Heist Society. Parker is by far the best of them. A 'heister's heister', Parker is relentlessly focused on his trade, making him someone you don't want to cross under any circumstances... The woman that betrayed him, the man who took his money, and the Outfit are three in an unholy trinity who are about to discover Parker's paybacks are as vicious as his trade!

In the world of hardboiled noir, Stark's Parker is definitely one of the most unforgettable characters in print today. THE HUNTER has been adapted countless times--- the most notable being LEE MARVIN in 1967's POINT BLANK and MEL GIBSON in 1999's PAYBACK (which kills the chance of including one of these in The Next Top Ten lists )-- Darwyn's adaptation in 2009 can only be summed up as WOW!

Patterned after the old pulp novels and designed to read in one sitting, Westlake's writing alter ego dishes out razor-sharp prose like nobodies business, influencing the likes of Elmore Leonard to break from westerns and get into the crime game... Cooke's adaptation of Stark's finest creation is the truest extension of that work that PLANET GRIFFIN has ever seen! The visuals are striped to almost a bare minimum, yet powerfully designed with each panel--- This is the type of comic work that IDW has touted over the last year as being '... the saving grace of the medium...'
This book is guaranteed to restore faith to even the most jaded of comic readers out there ( it's DEFINITELY just the kind of work to get me fired up to continue putting ink-to-page!)!

Recently, the University of Chicago Press has gotten the go ahead to re-release the entire PARKER Crime Series by Richard Stark, so PLANET GRIFFIN strongly suggests you start ordering them now, and see what the hardboiled hype is REALLY about!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The BIG BUZZ: Marvel Moves To Wednesday?

PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION returns with THE BIG BUZZ, the latest news on the hottest word in pop culture! Today, the Buzz focuses on the long-whispered STRANGE TALES MAX unveiling next month from MARVEL COMICS... This go round, Marvel opens its doors to 'the indie cartoonist' to gain 'wider interpretations' of their universe. STRANGE TALES MAX will be released as three 48 page comics, featuring work by JUNKO MIZUNO, NICK BERTOZZI, PAUL POPE, DASH SHAW, and MOLLY CRABAPPLE, as well as a host of others, in what Editor John Barber calls, "... The apex of human artistic achievement..."

Barber continues, "The philosophy of the book was to have these creators from 'Indy' or 'Alternative' or 'Literary' or 'Art' comics come in and do what they do best. I think Marvel readers will really dig seeing radically different versions of their favorite characters, and fans of these cartoonists will get to see the creators work in a milieu they never thought they'd get to see. It's win-win. It's really the best of both worlds."

Editor Jody LeHeup chimes in saying, "This book is a metric ton of solid gold awesome. The talent we've got lined up are without hyperbole some of the greatest creative minds working in comics today. I mean, who wouldn't want to read a Spider-Man story by Jason? Or an Iron Man
story by Tony Millionaire? Or anything by any of the contributors we've got attached to the project? I've been reading independent comics my whole life and I've always wanted to see what those creators could do with Marvel characters if they were given free reign to tell their stories. Well, now that vision's becoming a reality and I can't tell you what an incredibly special thing it is to see the final result. If you're a fan of comics of any school, do yourself a favor and pick this up."

The series is being hyped right now as "...A chance to experience the Marvel U. through the eyes of the best and the brightest indie talents!" At a glance, it does seem similar to what DC did with Bizarro Comics/ Bizarro World... It also looks like Marvel is doing Wednesdays without the newsprint and USAToday hype. All truth told, when I wanted 'Best and Brightest', I would pick up a copy of MEATHAUS (one of the best indie pubs for the up-and-coming indie creator, hands down!!) and absorb the goodness!

Now, PLANET GRIFFIN is not immune to criticism (I welcome the viewpoints, actually), and I do recall the laughter when the comment was made about 'The Big Boys don't care to notice us independents unless they're making a profit off our pockets...' Couple that with the Wednesday comment, and it's like they said--- the best of both worlds. It IS funny now, right?

I know... I should stop. Paul Pope even took time from the Wednesday schedule to do covers for Strange Tales. Maybe it's too early to say, but out of the endless numbers of 'indie' artists out there, Marvel focuses on 'certain indie talents' as opposed to others (Jim Rugg, for example, would've knocked it out of the park! Lol)... But, I digress. The jury is still out on this one, but for now, PLANET GRIFFIN says that the BUZZ stands... What do you think?

Friday, August 7, 2009

PLANET GRIFFIN'S Next Top Ten Movies That Move On Paper: Comics Undreamed Of! Pt. 19

Reaching the end of the Next Top Ten, PLANET GRIFFIN takes it back to 1997 with a french twist--- Over-the-top violence, sadistic pulp storytelling, and the thrills of sheer rampage... PERFECT COMIC FODDER!!! Ladies and Gentlemen...



Little over a decade old and it still retains that new car smell! JAN KOUNEN'S French grindhouse actioner caught the public imagination like a shotgun blast; wildly hailed at the time as '... A Sex Pistols version of Bonnie and Clyde meets Mad Max...'---starring VINCENT CASSELL, MONICA BELLUCI, and an extreme performance by TCHEKY KARYO.

The movie is based on a highly successful string of French pulp novels written by Joel Houssin (who also wrote the screenplay and is considered the trashier french version of Chuck 'Fight Club' Palaniuk). Everything in this film is morally deplorable, the violence is explicit and highly stylized, but never to the effect of being hokey--- Kounen and Houssin take their grindhouse thrills serious, seeing as how not one character in this film is a sympathetic one! This is definitely for a hard boiled audience, making for the PERFECT midnight movie and comic series!

Yann Le Pentrec is Le Dobermann (Cassell), a bankrobbing legend who only cares about the bigger score. Along for the ride is his lustfully mute girlfriend, Nat the Gypsy (Belluci), who's specialty is making things blow up big! In the insane attempt of pulling several bank heists at once, the Dobermann gang become the target of the sadistic Inspector Sauveur Christini (Karyo), a man who will break any and every rule, legal or moral, in his efforts to destroy them!
The stylized approach to this movie is just as manic as the books themselves--- the opening of an animated dog wearing leather, sporting a customized magnum, pissing on the opening credits and then morphing into the actual film is the surest sign that if you need a seatbelt to watch this flick, you don't need to see it!

The characters in the movie come straight out of a comic book--- with nicknames like 'The Abbott', 'Panther Lady', The Mosquito', and 'The Torpedo brothers'--- the morality in this flick is almost non-existent (one scene features Christini 'interrogating' a family, giving a live grenade to an infant to play with as a means of 'incentive'.), making the villains seem like heroes ( Rob Zombie tried this same method with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS with amazing results). The final reel of the film culminates with Christini's SWAT team versus the Dobermann gang in a wild shootout (akin to the True Romance hotel sequence) that takes place in a club known as JOE HELL ( the entranceway is a huge skull overlooking the french canal)--- giving the bloodbath to follow a supreme irony.

As a writer/creator myself, I'll say this for the record: DOBERMANN is just the kind of crazed delirium that the American mainstream comic medium desperately craves, but are afraid to reach for... And yet, it has no problem trying to crush the independent that actually attains it. I know this post is about movies-to-comics-in-theory, but this flick overall serves as a fantastic example of throwing caution to the wind in your creativity and not apologizing for it!

PLANET GRIFFIN serves this entry up with a high recommendation to all of my Grindhouse Goodfellas out there! Keeping the knees clean and the backs straight, stay tuned to PLANET GRIFFIN for the conclusion to The Next Top Ten!

Dobermann Movie Intro - Click here for more blooper videos