Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Bizarre Worlds Of A Creator's Creator: Doug Tennapel

DOUG TENNAPEL is, in PLANET GRIFFIN's humble opinion, a Creator's creator... For anyone who seeks to produce their own body of work, this is certainly a guy to talk to!

I've been a fan of the bizarre worlds of Doug since the days of EARTHWORM JIM (remember SEGA, kids?), and later, my kids would become enthralled with CATSCRATCH on TV.

Outside of an already impressive workload, Doug still finds the time to crank out books... Original Graphic Novels, to be exact (y'know, those things that Joe Q. couldn't find any benefit in?). With 9 OGN's under his belt so far, (2 of my favorites I feature here) Doug proclaims his interest to continue doing a graphic novel per year till the end.

My hero.

Anyways, his philosophies and techniques in the craft of what he does is incredibly inspiring and well worth listening to, especially if you wish to learn the old school ways of traditional storytelling.

I'll admit, I was floored when I noticed that this guy inks 4 page blocks at a time! (a technique PAUL POPE talks about, and I utilize) Moreover, the simple explanation of great storytelling over 'perfection' was key in reigniting the fire under my ass to get work done!

Look, don't take my word for it, check out his work for yourself HERE. Tell me what you see. I see a reason to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The New Marvel Motion Deal: Aniboom or Ani-bust?

PLANET GRIFFIN is back at broadcasting depth within the recesses of this popculture matrix to follow up on the recent animation posts from yesterday. Now that you're warmed up, the Planet has followed up on the recent announcement made yesterday from ANIBOOM (currently in a partnership with Marvel Entertainment), proclaimed as 'The world's first virtual animation studio'. After 6 weeks and 10+ hours of sifting through almost 8,000 animators, Marvel judges have narrowed down at least 5 finalists in their 'motion comic competition'. (The finalists receive $2,000 to expand on their submissions into a full length story; eventually competing with a 'Wild Card' finalist for a grand prize of $10,000 and to debut their prize motion comic on the Marvel Digital Network.) The winner will be announced November 16th.

The motion comic project is Marvel's campaign for its newest digital initiative for 2010. Marvel hopes to inject new life into its titles. Of course, motion comics are still in its infancy, so the jury's still out on that one. (Spider Woman was Marvel's first big step into the motion comic arena, selling it's episodes for $1.99 on iTunes. Now, you can watch them for free on HULU... Kinda tells you something, doesn't it?) Now maybe it's me, but you would think with all of the corporation's liquid assets at their fingertips, Marvel could have put out its own 'Ninja Scroll' or 'Ghost in the Shell' classic by now, much less motion comic classic. Their current animation roster alone hasn't generated the kind of buzz they had hoped--- Too many people buzzing about Green Lantern, for instance--- to really get fanboy's attention. You would think that the Mouse House couldn't have turned to powerhouse's like PRODUCTION I.G. or STUDIO GHIBLI (Disney DOES have workable interests in both arthouses). Just ask yourself: Is my money worth what I watch when I make mine Marvel?

The finalists pieces do warrant some merit, and with the finalist money, they should be able to crank out some amazing product. I guess time will tell, huh? To check out the rest of the finalists, go HERE and decide for yourself. This is PLANET GRIFFIN--- keeping your back straight and your knees clean... No bowing down. No bending over.

Watch more cool animation and creative cartoons at Aniboom

Watch more cool animation and creative cartoons at Aniboom

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hello Billy. It's Boogie.

Speaking of old school animation, I miss the depravity of underground great Ralph Bakshi. Alot has changed since the days of COOL WORLD (but we already know that)... Oh, how my head turned when I came across GUSTAVO COVA's latest animated feature, BOOGIE el ACEITOSO, based on the works of famed artist ROBERTO FONTANARROSA.

The movie tells of the misadventures of a hardened hitman surviving in the graphically violent, and comedic, Argentenian underworld. Boogie drinks, smokes, scratches his ball, and shoots alot of people in his mission to prove that he's still on top of his game despite the younger rival who's new to the scene. Originally conceived as an ironic take on Dirty Harry of the 70's, Boogie found a huge fan base in Mexico in 1979 when his adventures began running regularly in PROCESO magazine as a black and white strip.

Using cut-out animation overlapping highly elaborate backgrounds, Cova creates a parody of the various aesthetic styles from the 70's era--- Dark action film context with bursts of color. As the film debuts simultaneously in Mexico and Argentina, America should get its wake up call sometime in early 2010 when it hits DVD here. I can't wait!

Shaolin Cowboy Shall Ride Again

A mysterious, former monk-with-no-name travels the barren wastelands of the earth with a bounty on his head, accompanied by a talking mule named Lord Evelyn Dunkirk Winniferd Esquire the 3rd. A bizarre cast of characters pervades the weird visual world of THE SHAOLIN COWBOY.

GEOFF DARROW, co-creator of BIG GUY and RUSTY THE BOY ROBOT and HARD BOILED (along with Frank Miller), as well as the conceptual designer of the MATRIX trilogy for the WACHOWSKI BROTHERS, has finally announced that he will co-direct SHAOLIN COWBOY as a traditional animated feature along with a soon-to-be-named Japanese director. While he says the film will remain truthful to his highly detailed style (i.e. trash-strewn, corporate labels everywhere, etc.), the real draw of the announcement lies in his decision to go with traditional, hand-drawn animation versus the current trend of CGI . As a fan of his style, I champion the idea that old school is not dead, and that despite the incredible advances of digital animation, it only works when real talent is the motivation behind the tech.

Of course, realizing how long it takes for Geoff to illustrate a page, one can only hope that it doesn't take twice that to animate.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Next 100 Alum Gets The CNN Spotlight And Black Dynamite

Good morning all! Welcome to another round of PLANET GRIFFIN and THE WEEKEND EDITION! Today, the PLANET spotlights fellow NEXT 100 alum, JAY POTTS, the creator of " The #1 Blaxploitation Webcomic" The WORLD OF HURT, on the CNN interview highlighting the debut of Michael Jai White's BLACK DYNAMITE and the Blaxploitation genre in general. You can check out the interview with Lisa France HERE.

For those of you who may be sleeping on Jay's site, now's the time to wake up and smell the coffee, cuz' this cat's selling Starbucks, if you get my drift.
(Good grief! BLACK CAESAR himself, FRED WILLIAMSON, praises this guy's work! ) Jay's current story arc, THE THRILLSEEKERS, is drawing closer to it's end, soon to make way for an even harder installment to come--- THE BLACK FIST!

PLANET GRIFFIN urges you to check out the incredible art style Jay's grinding out over there in the World of Hurt... After the trade editions start rolling, I wouldn't be surprised if the new 'House of Mouse' starts blowing up his phone! (Something they should've done LOOOOOOOONG time ago!) Oh yeah, while I'm thinking on it, stay tuned to PLANET GRIFFIN for the return of the NEW NEXT 100 for 2010--- which is another way of saying 'Now you'll start paying closer attention, for the future's trying to speak to you right now...'

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Remember When The Devil Came To Olde Victorian Towne...

"It's a bit of a mystery and a mortality play, an action-horror title that lets me go crazy artwise with the designs of the devils and the setting. But above all I hope the story will have readers surprised and entertained along the way."
- Guy Davis

Reaching back into the comic longboxes, PLANET GRIFFIN remembers the classics. One title that had a particular impact on me was GUY DAVIS' graphic novel opus, THE MARQUIS. From Caliber Comics in 1997 to Oni Press to Dark Horse, Guy has kept this character consistently strange for over a decade.

For those unfamiliar, THE MARQUIS tells the twisted tale of Vol De Galle, a former inquisitor of the Tyrant Ministry-turned-Demon hunter, dedicating his life fighting the escaped souls of Hell in a fictional 18th century... Of course, you're never quite sure if the 'demons' Vol encounters are even real--- is the Marquis an avenger blessed by the saints, or a homicidal maniac?

Badass since his introduction in DANSE MACABRE, the Marquis has since returned in a new collection THE MARQUIS: INFERNO, and THE MARQUIS and the Midwife by Dark Horse. If you haven't picked up a copy of this title, you're missing out on a storytelling feast, in suspense and action-horror! While you're at it, check out the hypesite for it here ---Another reason to keep the pencil burning into the night, for sure!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take That NBC: All Hail The Panic Face King!

Ah yes, Japan... A country where the phrase 'cutting edge' is part of the cultural zeitgeist instilled at birth. I mean, any country where you can purchase teen panties from the local vending machine, fish-flavored soda, and custom-made-to-order kink fetishes to accompany your order of Soba noodles, then you must agree that you're now looking at a place that's free in all the ways that we are not! Take television, for example... Japanese TV programming is considered the most violent programming in the world (Kids! Now you can get samurai decapitations during primetime!), and when it comes to their 'Must See TV' list, no other show is getting more play than THE PANIC FACE KING, a Candid Camera type show that goes to unusual extremes to scare the wits out of there unwitting participants... It's something you have to see to believe!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

THE BIG BUZZ: A Reason To Keep The Lights On

Once again, PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION returns with THE BIG BUZZ, those juicy tidbits that's currently making the rounds among many a gossip circle! Today's feature focuses on the cinema phenomenon surrounding filmmaker OREN PELI and his $11,000 freak-out, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

For those of you who have living under a rock for the last couple of months or so, this 'video documentary' of a recording haunting has gained one of the strongest buzzes in the entertainment industry, so much so that Paramount Pictures released the film to a nationwide audience yesterday after the film's website demand peaked at 1 million hits; proving that you don't need buckets of blood and gore to scare the hell outta someone.

Poor Katie and Micah, a young suburban couple who's strange encounters with 'something' lurking about their home may be more than leaking pipes and the settling of their foundation! Micah, daytrader by day, ghost hunter by night, sets up a video camera to record proof that the weird hauntings surrounding his fiance Katie may be a figment of her imagination...

... This film is a record of the frightening events that took place during the 21 days they lived in the house.

Now, as a seasoned burnout of horror flicks, I was quite surprised with this one. The genius of this film is in it's execution--- believe me, the effects alone used in the film are simple, yet terribly effective--- drawing the audience in from the first night (you can literally feel the air sucked out of the room by the audience). By the time you get to Night 21, your sphincter runs the risk of taking part of the theater chair with it. The claustrophobia that's generated by the very fact that you never leave the confines of the haunted home, Peli has already forced the audience to bond with the characters without realizing it.

What's even cooler is the fact that this flick will linger with you long after the final frame--- unlike the blood and gore elements of the horror genre, Peli believes that the feeling of dread is far more common and easy-to-relate than the sadism of a hockey masked maniac... A simplistic formula that pays off handsomely!

Amazingly, this flick has already become an industry legend... Shot in a week in 2007, the film played in various fright film festivals until a copy of the film wound up in STEVEN SPIELBERG'S hands--- it was when Spielberg found himself inexplicably locked in his bathroom after viewing it that the concept idea took on another form entirely. Paramount picked up the film to run midnight showings in 16 college towns (the sold-out, limited engagements grossed $1.2 million alone), egged on by the website's demand for wider release.

All jabbering aside, allow PLANET GRIFFIN to sum it up for you this way... PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is the kind of scary that someone can come up behind you unawares and scream "BOO!"--- the only difference is, the BOO behind you is coming from someone you don't know in your own home... With that said, start looking at your local showtimes, and then after, think twice about turning off all your lights. I do.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday's Revisited: Hardback Headache?

Back in July, PLANET GRIFFIN started THE BIG BUZZ, with it's first topic being the creation of WEDNESDAY COMICS by DC. The commentary from THE NEXT 100 community was pretty informative and reactionary in the way that people with strong common sense would behave. Well, recently at the BALTIMORE RETAILERS SUMMIT, DC announced that it's 12 week newspaper experiment will be released in a hardcover collection. The hardcover collection of the series, which will retail at $49.99, will clock in at 11 x 17 inches, which will present the series in a deluxe, big-screen format. Release date to be announced soon...

Now, DC Online defines the series as 'groundbreaking' as well as '... A critical and commercial success...', yet in the weeks since the 'books' inception, I've seen various comic racks overflowing with groundbreaking backstock. It seems that the one thing this series heralded was the increase in cover prices on books that fewer people can afford. Granted, a hardcover is far from disposable entertainment, yet at $50 bucks, the companies expecting us to come up with disposable income for an oversize collection (c'mon--- 11x17?!) that doesn't need to be.

In a word, Ridiculous. DC could've reduced the size, thereby cutting the price, in half. Cut it down, and you'll have a winner... After word of my July post got around to the local comic shops, I was looked at like I was crazy... After seeing the massive backstock of newsprint that wasn't sold, well--- it's fall of the year and I've got a fireplace.

I still think the Wednesday Comic thing was cool, but even my pocket knows when to call reality out for what it is. I recall when DC did an oversize JLA with BRIAN HITCH that didn't sell as hot; with fans saying that the format was nothing more than a gimmick. Now we're gonna get it again in a hardback... Which may, or may not, be worth the greenbacks... What do you think?

Friday, October 9, 2009

An 800 Lb. Gorilla, Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

KODANSHA, that 800 lb. Gorilla in the world of manga publishing, has now established its office in NYC; publishing and selling it's manga directly into the US market under the title of KODANSHA COMICS. The re-release of the KATSUHIRO OTOMO epic AKIRA and MASAMUNE SHIROW'S cyber sci-fi masterpiece GHOST IN THE SHELL (including GITS: STAND ALONE COMPLEX) makes for a rather powerful statement... Furthermore, the fact that its office is rooted on Park Avenue South in Manhattan, mid-way between MARVEL & DC, can turn that statement into a declaration of war.

Kodansha's arrival in the US coincides with the companies 100 year anniversary celebration (Kodansha was founded in 1909), and their co-publishing arrangements with Random House and Del Rey Manga, who have been significant licensing partners since 2003. Kodansha admits that one of its motives for its US presence is the lucrative film licensing and market tie-ins that America leans rather heavily towards... In essence, Kodansha seeks to promote market growth in the long view scheme of things. They also seek to develop and change its format/pricings to accomodate the changing marketplace, which also includes digital publishing and their long term goals of bringing in original content from US creators here (therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if comic vets like PAUL POPE or JOE MADURIERA walk into their offices... Watch what I tell you.)

Considering the risks involved to launch a company amid a distressed U.S. economy and a manga market thats recently crested within the last years, Kodansha remains supremely confident in the long view of the market... And now that Kodansha Comics is 'on the air', the company seems to have no problem in taking possession of the OGN market--- a move that may change the marketplace in the 'brochure department'--- especially when you can, for example, purchase a 600+ page manga for the same price as four 24 page brochures whose cover prices are now reaching into the $4.99 range (Sorry, Joe... I DID say there was gonna be a quiz on this one later...)

"...I’ve stated publicly on many occasions that I’ve never seen the benefits of original graphic novels. The economics just don’t work and are poor for both the publisher, retailer and the creator, especially during this Marvel regime when so much of what we do gets compiled into a collected edition anyway. While I would never discount doing one, I don’t see the outward benefits nor does the model work..."
Now that the largest publisher in Japan has entered the American Comic Industry, it's time to put Quesada's words to the test and watch the sparks fly... And we get front row seating to the event!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can You Put A Price On Your Dreams?

THE IMAGINARIUM... A traveling fantasy show that offers its audience a glimpse into the light and darkness of the human imagination. It's impresario, DR. PARNASSUS (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER), utilizes his extraordinary gifts while dealing with his own dark curse--- you see, Dr. Parnassus struck a bet with the devil, MR. NICK (TOM WAITS), in which he won immortality... Centuries later, Dr. Parnassus would return to Mr. Nick, offering to exchange his immortality for youth. The condition for such an offer would be giving up his first-born daughter, Valentina (LILY COLE), to Mr. Nick upon her 16th birthday.

Fast forward.

Dr. Parnassus awaits the coming of Mr. Nick, desperate to protect Valentina from her fate. Mr. Nick, always game for a deal, renegotiates the wager. The winner for Valentina will now be determined by the one who can seduce the first five souls. Furthermore, Dr. Parnassus offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win... A wager that introduces the mysterious Anthony (HEATH LEDGER) into what will become a wildly surreal adventure in surviving the imaginarium and a race against time to undo the mistakes of the past once and for all.

Upon the death of Heath Ledger, it seemed that the curse of failed productions would yet again loom over the head of writer/director TERRY GILLIAM, who suffered numerous setbacks with other shows (the most infamous of which being the legendary Depp vehicle DON QUIXOTE). Unwilling to give up on the film, Gilliam rewrote the script structure and enlisted the help of Heath's friends, JOHNNY DEPP, JUDE LAW, and COLIN FERRELL, to help him realize the last onscreen performance of Ledger. As the character of Anthony enters the Imaginarium, he would take on a different visual appearance of himself with each world he passes through. In a word: Genius.
With the completion of the film, Terry Gilliam would at long last have his vindication as a director who never compromised his artistic visions (his battles with Hollywood have been long suffering, yet artistically brilliant)--- from BRAZIL and THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUCHAUSEN, to THE FISHER KING and 12 MONKEYS--- and a creator who may have the last laugh after all, as Hollywood has given Gilliam the green light to return to La Mancha and complete DON QUIXOTE.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Looking Forward To A Criminal Christmas

PLANET GRIFFIN remains at broadcast depth to look at the latest genre opus from RADICAL PUBLISHING coming this december... THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME

Coming hot off of series fare like Punisher and Fear Agent, Rick Remender has crafted a pretty cool concept:
In the near future, the U.S. government plans to secretly broadcast a signal that makes it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit an unlawful act (this comes as a final solution to terrorism and rampant crime). As a distraction for the American public, the government creates a new currency system using digital charge cards... Now, enter Graham Brick, a career criminal who plots to steal a charging station, flee the country, and live off the unlimited funds the charging station can provide. When the media leaks the secret anti-crime signal news a week before it actually begins, Graham and his crew have only a few days to pull off the last crime in American history... That is, if they can survive the civil unrest around them...

The artwork is a real winner here, as artist Greg Tocchini not so much illustrates as he designs each page layout; creating a cool digital watercolor scheme that really pops! Another interesting note is the classic euro-feel of the work... Don't be surprised if you begin to notice more Euro/Italo/Spanish influenced works in 2010 (that's no surprise, seeing as how Marvel has already signed almost half of the European Union). This comic show looks to shine pretty bright this christmas season, so don't sleep! Go check out the preview here and see for yourself!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beating People In New And Exciting Ways: The Ong Bak Trilogy

When TONY JAA first appeared in 2003, nobody had any idea of what to expect from this guy. Once the press releases stating that he was '... the strongest successor to Jackie Chan than anyone in the world...' and '... Performs all his own stunts...' began to appear, folks began to take notice. Despite this, the chuckles and giggles from the international film community continued. After ONG BAK finally hit the scene, Sahamongkol Film finally began to catch the world's attention, and all the laughter stopped.

Fast forward.

During the filming of ONG BAK 2, the press had a field day when massive production problems plagued the set (Tony Jaa lost control and retreated into the mountains; some say he was practicing black magic--- Production costs spiralled out of control--- A sobbing Jaa appeared on national television confessing that he was in over his head as a director--- and so on.). The production passed into the hands of up and coming action director Panna Rittikrai (BORN TO FIGHT) and the production was finally completed. In December 2008, ONG BAK 2 was released to Thailand theaters.

What a difference a year can make.

MAGNOLIA PICTURES, who released the original film as well as the martial-autistic actioner CHOCOLATE (thru their Magnet genre label), will be releasing the long awaited Jaa fight flick here in America... At the same time we're getting the U.S. version of 2, Sahamongkol Film is preparing ONG BAK 3 for theater release this December in Thailand. Of course, talking about the strange paths of Tony Jaa's filmography means nothing in comparison to watching him kick the living crap out of people onscreen in new and exciting ways, right?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

El SuperBeasto: Lurid Laughs, Zombie-Style!

Maaaaan, I watched this flick last night, and I'm here to tell you, THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO is completely unexpected--- I love it! If REN & STIMPY creator JOHN KRICFALUCI were to resurrect the old 70's classics like RAPLH BAKSHI's FRITZ THE CAT, HEAVY TRAFFIC, and COOL WORLD while on an ether binge, this would be it...

...Only this is coming from the demented genuis that is ROB ZOMBIE.

EL SUPERBEASTO is the animated adaptation of Rob's earlier OGN of the same name, telling the tale of the masked luchador and his secret agent sister SUZI X, battling the machinations of would-be nemesis, DR. SATAN (as deliriously voiced by PAUL GIAMATTI). In Dr. Satan's latest scheme, it appears that in order to obtain 'ultimate power', he would need to take a bride before the stroke of midnight... Satan's choice? VELVET VON BLACK ( A ROSARIO DAWSON you have to hear to believe), an unashamedly golddigging stripper whose attributes include more than her mouth! Other voice talents include comedian BRIAN POSEHN and DANNY TREJO.
Rob goes for broke in this one, creating an obscenely vulgar piece of grindhouse pulp that's crammed with more classic horror references that'll take more than one viewing to catch them all... From the obvious (El SuperBeasto racing through town in a tricked out Dragula, hitting a very familiar pedestrian wearing a Michael Myers mask/Captain Spaulding and other Devil's Rejects) to the obscure (try to catch Zombie's swipe at his detractors). Believe me, I bought the DVD and have not stopped laughing yet!
The T&A, outrageous violence, and the gross out factor can be distracting at times, but that's what makes this disc so damned entertaining! Besides, any masked man that can keep a wildcat in his pants (literally) is a REAL man indeed!