Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year's Evolution


1. something accomplished, esp. by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed: his remarkable achievements in art.
2. act of achieving; attainment or accomplishment: the achievement of one's object.
3. Heraldry. the full display of the armorial bearings of an individual or corporation.

1. Achievement, exploit, feat are terms for a noteworthy act. Achievement connotes final accomplishment of something noteworthy, after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements: a scientific achievement. Exploit connotes boldness, bravery, and usually ingenuity: the famous exploit of an aviator. Feat connotes the performance of something difficult, generally demanding skill and strength: a feat of horsemanship. 2. fulfillment, realization.

What have you achieved today?

Take a look at the things you do everyday--- whether it's going to work, paying bills, cleaning house, raising kids, etc.--- events and situations that are almost automatic, depending on how well you stay on top of things. Now, considering that these 'automatic responsibilities' consume a large portion of your day and evening; it's fair to say that all of these things can be labeled as 'sustaining and maintaining', right? So, I ask you again--- What have you achieved today?

The daily grind of the world never ends, and lately, I've taken a close look at just how many people 'sustain and maintain', yet have little time, if any, to achieve. There's nothing worse than seeing someone with a skill or talent that goes to rot... Even worse still when they write off an exceptional skill or talent as nothing, do nothing, and THEN complain that nothing in life works for them... To those folks, I offer these words: Talent is doing easily what other people find difficult. Genius is doing easily what talent finds difficult. Idiocy exists when either side does nothing while seeking everything. Nothing of worth comes easy, nor is it achieved without sacrifice... Nonetheless, I listen to folks around me talking about what they do, or hope to do, or wish they could do if they had money or time, etc.--- this is a scenario we've ALL fallen prey to at some point or another.

Achievement, for the most part, can happen when you can begin AND complete something WITHIN the everyday chaos that is 'sustaining and maintaining'. Most people think when achievement is mentioned, it means obscene amounts of cash, and while it's nice to consider, the true objective should be fulfillment first and foremost. Obstacles will ALWAYS be there in some way, shape, or form... Again, I ask you: What have you achieved today?

As we prepare to leave this year behind and enter a new decade, I urge you to take this question with you. Add it to your New Year's Resolutions--- you know, those things you TALK about doing that you rarely fulfill?

What have you achieved today once you realize that tomorrow's NOT promised?


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking It Back The Hard Way...

Okay... Say you need a transplant---quickly--- and shortly after receiving such a lifesaver, you discover that you can't make the payment on it? Now, when the man comes around to collect on the debt, how would you react if you knew that he was coming NOT for the cash payment, but the transplant retrieval?! Better yet, what if you're the repo agent and you discover that it's time for YOUR debt to be settled?!
Yeah, that's what I thought.

JUDE LAW, FOREST WHITAKER, LIEV SCHREIBER, and THE RZA star in the upcoming sci-fi flick, REPO MEN... Out in April, but just the wake up call you need after the holidays, right?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


PLANET GRIFFIN would like to wish ALL of my NEXT 100 folks out there a truly Blessed Christmas! ( The NOCTURNALS piece is up because I felt like looking at some Nocturnals before the holidays! Besides, I asked Santa for the deluxe hardcover... Lol) Be happy and thank GOD for getting you through a year that could've killed us at any time... I love you all... Haters, you too.

PLANET GRIFFIN shall return after this commercial break....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sam Keeps It Poppin', Liam Gets It Kraken: Clash Of The Titans 2010

I was 10 years old when the original 1981 feature starring Harry Hamlin came out. As a kid, I knew it couldn't get any better. Well, naturally, I was 10 years old, so who knew? Even I can't deny that this version looks like a winner, and the excitement is STILL there after almost 30 years! PLANET GRIFFIN will definitely be somewhere in the front row! You should be too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Battle Chasing At The End Of The World (Sort Of...)

PLANET GRIFFIN returns to broadcasting depth in the days before Christmas to bring you the last days of the world as the question of "Whatever happened to Joe Maduriera?" is finally answered (at least to the gaming community) with the emergence of DARKSIDERS, a destructive platformer from THQ that takes NO prisoners! Now, the comic world is very familiar with the young upstart who was once hailed as '... single-handedly ushering japanese anime into the mainstream conscience' during his brief stint in the Marvel bullpen; crafting the AGE OF APOCALYPSE multi-string storyline (and that was only AFTER he found his niche during his ghost pencilling for Jim Lee and X-MEN). Every young comic head, at that time, remembers the moment when 'Joe Mad' left Marvel for Image, and the creation of his blowout fantasy, BATTLE CHASERS... And then, at the top of his game (a multi-millionaire by the age of 22), Joe walked away from it all, turning to his first love- Video Games!

Well, fast forward... Joe DID return to Marvel to do a short run on THE ULTIMATES before disappearing again, busy working on a secret project under the watchful eye of game developer, THQ... Now, the secret's out--- and I'll be the first to admit, it's amazing what a little redemption can do. Here's the story so far:

The timeline is Apocalypse Now. Right now. Boiling seas, massive upheaval, and the demons and the angels slay. The Day of the Horsemen are due, and it seems that only WAR has arrived ahead of all the others. It quickly becomes apparent that the Horseman has been set up as the one who prematurely triggered The Biblical End and is now hunted by the titans of Heaven and Hell both. So runs the world away.

Viewing the in-play designs myself, the game looks incredible, with monstrous bosses so big, you may have to upgrade the size of your flatscreen just to take them all in! The raw brutality of the game is just that--- imagine catching a flying demon's head in your gauntlet-clad hand and simply squeezing, or pulling out a massive sword and hacking your foes into a sinewy paste--- let's just say that it never gets old! The overall visual of the game remain highly faithful to Joe Mad's storyboards and sketchwork; easily drawing comparisons to Joe's Battle Chasers series. Come January 5, the public at large will get a front row seat to the end of the world in style!

Remembering Randy And The Infamous No-Prize

Heh. Here's a little story that must be told. In light of Marvel's merger with Disney becoming official on the first of the year, as well as Marvel's legal woes in the field of 'who owns what'; the companies latest strategy involves having the artists in the bullpen complete a list of what characters they have created during their employ with Marvel... To make matters even stranger, an old case has resurfaced to haunt them yet again. The case of Randy Schueller. If the name doesn't ring any bells, then his contribution would. You see, this guy is the original creator of the Black Spider-Man (which would later evolve into Venom).

What follows is Randy's statement, in his own words, taken from 2 years ago. PLANET GRIFFIN even found the original letter sent from Jim Shooter himself. Upon reading this, I found it to be funny as well as sad... It's funny because, despite how it sounds, Marvel can't necessarily be blamed for this now (Shooter would be fired years later, and even though he was gone, some of his 'practices' continued...), and sad that even today, Randy has no gripes, yet he continues to gripe about it. To those of you aspiring fans out there, let this serve as a gentle reminder to what many of my NEXT 100 Creators already know... Deals are made by handshake over lunch everyday, but they're enforced by iron-clad contracts... And despite the fact that this post is merely a small piece of history retold, the very fact that history repeats itself should never be underestimated. Ever.

Back in the early 80s, Marvel ran a competition for aspiring writers and artists. Being a life long Spidey fan with delusions of comic grandeur, I took a stab at a story idea. (You can almost feel the band-aids coming...)

I thought it would be cool if Spidey needed to upgrade his powers and his look, so I came up with this idea that Reed Richards had made a new costume for Spidey using the same unstable molecules that the FF costumes are made of. The unstable molecules would flow into Peter's pores and allow him to cling to walls better. I think my original idea was to increase his sticking power by 25% or something like that. (To give such a precise percentage like this, it translates to '5 hit points in damage to your Wizard of Moordoor'...)

For some lame reason, I had the Wasp involved since she was the resident fashion plate of the Marvel universe at the time. Remember when Jan would show up in every other issue of the Avengers sporting a cool new costume? (Who could forget? Perez was nice like that.) I loved when they did that! So to me it made sense to have her design the new spider suit when she was over at the Baxter Building for cocktails or something. (ooookaaaay...) Anyway, I saw the new suit as a stealth version of the original costume - jet black so he could blend in with the shadows. At best, all you could see of him was the blood red spider emblem, emblazoned on his chest. (Yeah, in my design the spider was red, not white. I also gave him underarm webbing like in the original Ditko design.)

Oh yeah, and I stole an idea from Iron Man and made his web shooters work using the same cybernetic technology that Tony Stark used to control his armor. (So basically, Marvel merely took it back for pennies) Peter just had to mentally imagine the kind of web line he wanted to shoot and the suit would do it for him. (Keep in mind, this was 25 years before Civil War and "Iron Spidey"!)( 25 years later, and most of us still don't care)

A few months after submitting the story I received a letter from Jim Shooter saying he liked the idea and wanted to buy it for $220. I was thrilled! But the best part - they offered me a chance to write the story. How cool is that?

I ended up submitting a second version and even had a follow-up phone call or two with Tom DeFalco to discuss the script. Wow! Me, on the phone with a real live Marvel editor. I still can't believe this happened!

In the end, the whole scripting thing just didn't work out for me - I don't remember the exact reasons. I submitted another version of the story, they didn't like it, I stopped sending in letters. The whole thing just kind of fell apart. Regardless, I had no regrets. (Keep reading...) As a true blue Spidey fan, this was a very cool moment in my life.

A year or so later, when Secret Wars came out and I saw my costume idea executed in a completely different way than I had envisioned it, I was simultaneously thrilled and saddened. (You got what they paid for.) And when the idea of the black costume caught on, I was even more thrilled. And then when VENOM was created I was...disturbed. (An analogy of a simple idea in corporate hands, but I digress...) I was never a fan of the costume-turned-villain idea. Give me the classic Ditko villains any day! Venom just never really seemed to work for me. But I digress...

Now, fast-forward to 2007. I see that the black costume (MY black costume, sort of) is making it's way to Spider-Man 3. Wow! I couldn't stand it anymore - I had to come out of the closet and tell my friends and coworkers about my contribution to this year's BIGGEST blockbuster. And I had all the documents to prove it even if Marvel never mentioned my name.

Since Marvel paid me for the story, I have no real gripe, but I do feel bad that they didn't give me any kind of acknowledgment in the comics. ( If you said it like this, you actually do.) You know, something like, "costume concept by Randy Schueller" or "Thanks to Randy Schueller for inspiration," or "Randy Schueller, you Spidey fan-boy stud, you rock!" But no, I got nothin'! (Imagine if you worked in the bullpen now...) That's my one disappointment in this whole story. (Honestly, there shouldn't be any disappointment at all... Randy got paid AND recieved the infamous Marvel No-Prize!)

I've written to Tom Defalco before, but I've gotten no response. (You were paid back in 1982 on a 'work-for-hire' issued by a man who would later get screwed over himself.) Maybe Marvel is afraid I'll sue them or something, (hmmm...) but that's not the case at all! (So why make one now, eh?) I don't want any money, (We're talking upwards of $750 million today) I don't want any legal rights to the Venom character. All I want is this: a mention in the letters column of Amazing Spider-Man recognizing me as the nameless fan who (WHO shall remain nameless) sparked the idea for the black suit which eventually led to the idea for Venom which eventually became the basis for this freakin' monster movie we call Spider-Man 3. That's all I want. (Good luck in your future litigation)

Thanks for letting me vent!
Randy Schueller

Sunday, December 20, 2009

THE BIG BUZZ: The Seedy Side Of The Brush: SHINJUKU

DARK HORSE plans to shake up the new year with the upcoming OGN, SHINJUKU, crafted by writer Christopher 'Mink' Morrison (from Tarantino's A BAND APART crew) and artist Yoshitaka Amano (isn't he a famous artist?)! Set for release in March 2010, the story takes place 10 years into the future as bounty hunter Daniel Legend tracks down his sister in the heart of the seedy neon underworld of Tokyo; falling headlong into the center of two underworlds at war--- one criminal, and one infernal. Hard Boiled Crime, Sorcery, and something completely different, SHINJUKU HC is definitely a title that'll stand tall upon my bookshelf! I mean, the work pretty much speaks for itself...
This title is the first in a series of original OGN's planned by Dark Horse Comics throughout 2010. The early buzz of the creative team's output for this title is extremely good; something Dark Horse promises as 'the beginning of visual and literary genius'... I can't wait to see if they're right! As far as the OGN aspect is concerned, I think Dark Horse is going for something more than mere serialization... But I'll let you be the judge...This is PLANET GRIFFIN and THE BIG BUZZ.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trading Up: The Evolution Of A Brochure Pt. 2

PLANET GRIFFIN returns to broadcast depth to take yet another look at the industry that is... Checking out the news with coffee in hand, I came across DC's recent announcement of releasing a series of Superhero OGN's in 2010--- what makes the announcement so special is Joe Quesada's reaction to it! Now, the PLANET has already spoken on this subject before, and let it be known now: I've got incredible respect for Joe, so I can see where he's coming from in terms of MARVEL business, (you'll see what I mean in a moment)... The following is Joe Q's recent interview over at CBR...

"People take the things I say and misread them and put words in my mouth. What I've said is that the graphic novel is not the best financial model with which to sell comic books. (Of course, this is true--- if your only strength is comics) I don't know if they've announced page counts on these OGNs or not, but let's say for the sake of argument that the page counts is the equivalent of five comic books. If they were to take Geoff Johns' five issues of "Batman" and sell them monthly, they would probably end up making a lot more money than putting it out as a hardcover. (Start doing better quality softcovers for cheaper, rather than cheaper quality hardcovers that charge exorbitant prices. Two words: Marvel Essentials) Personally, we've never seen that model work for us financially. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying people shouldn't do OGNs. I'm just saying for us, at Marvel, (which is why DC will pull ahead in the near future--- remember that you heard that here--- here's a hint : A cartoon corporation versus A book/movie/music amalgamation) the math has never worked. If some people feel it works for them, then go with God."

"I'm just saying, I was asked a question about OGNs, and even from the financial standpoint of a commercial artist, if I'm looking for a way to maximize my time versus how much money I make versus how much exposure I get – an OGN doesn't make sense. (You can practically hear Doug Tenapel and Kyle Baker laughing out of their chairs--- as well as Japan, France, Spain, and the underground lair of Alan Moore---) Artistically, I may decide it's what I want to do in my heart of hearts. And that's okay. Go do an OGN. But if I'm looking at it from a pragmatic standpoint and from a career management standpoint – let's say it'll take me a year to do about six issues. I could do a year's worth of work and put it out as one graphic novel, and I'll be on the stands in perpetuity (if it's good), but promoted for really only one month. So my year's worth of work will give me one month of marketing around my name. And that'll boost my career for that month. The book will come out and sell to fewer people because I've had to put something like a $40 price point on it. (Note that the price point mentioned is almost becoming standard with most mainstream hardcovers right now) I can't put it out as serialized issues because nobody's going to care at that point. (We don't now, because most of us ARE waiting for the trade) Maybe after hardcover, I can put out a softcover for a little less money and make it affordable, but I'm still not capitalizing on it as I should. (That comment will come back to haunt him) But to me that's working backwards from a career management standpoint. I could take that year of my life and be on the stands for six months, being marketed for six months. Then I put out my trade paperback and get

marketed again. And then I can put out a deluxe hardcover to repurpose it again and so on and so forth. (One word: Watchmen) I think there's more bang for your buck if you go monthly at this point. (Tell that to Diamond's benchmark policy) And that's it. It doesn't mean people shouldn't do it. It just means that pragmatically, that's what makes more sense to me.

Pragmatic (adj): 1. of or relating to practical affairs 2. : concerned with the practical consequences of actions or beliefs.

And let's not forget, what if the OGN isn't all that good? Now you've spent a year of your life for even less bang as your book will come and go and be lost amongst the plethora of mediocre-to-horrible OGNs that have faded into the ether. We always look at the best case scenario, the occasional OGN written by someone like Neil Gaiman that sold boatloads, but we seem to overlook how he is the exception and by far not the rule. (Budding writers/creators, take strong note of that. Besides, didn't I say 'if your only strength is comics...?' ) If we could all sell books like Neil, the comics industry would be in a much different place."

Like I said, from that perspective, I can see where he's coming from... Which is not where WE are... That different place to come. Back to work.

Remembering The Classics: The HIRE

I dig through my backcrates of movies like a DJ digs for a record of choice, and in my search, I came across a classic collection that you can't find at the local Redbox... BMW Presents THE HIRE, an incredibly cool web series originally conceived not only as a marketing pitch to promote BMW's new line of cars, but to hype the powerhouse filmmaking collective, PROPAGANDA FILMS. ( Remember when IMAGE formed back in the early 90's? Same thing)

The web film series also increased the visibility level of CLIVE OWEN to superstar status (Until he pulled that SHOOT'EM UP stunt)... Anyways, the series was narratively brilliant (telling a complete tale within 10 minutes better than most flicks running at 90 minutes), visually exciting (JOHN WOO, JOHN CARNAHAN, TONY SCOTT, WONG KAR WAI... End of discussion.), and perhaps one of the best uses of multimedia marketing I've seen in a minute... The success of the series spawned 2 comic series (DARK HORSE and DC), as well as it's full length counterpart, THE TRANSPORTER (Clive declined on the role that JASON STRATHAM was only too happy to accept). Ah yes, PLANET GRIFFIN remembers the classics. You should too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

THE BIG BUZZ: SLINGERS-Selling Sci-Fi Sizzle

Okay folks, a few days ago during the PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDTION, I posted a Vimeo clip for a sci-fi show called SLINGERS, coming from a small UK production house known as Sleepy Dog. Slingers is a smashgenre of OCEAN'S 11, COWBOY BEBOP, FIREFLY, and M*A*S*H; making the buzz on this sci-fi property '... one of the hottest tickets since the arrival of Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams!'

This show does not exist. Yet.

The video clip is actually a Sizzle Reel (A two minute pitch to network investors to build show potential. If successful, it moves into production) the production house scraped together using independent investments in hopes of taking it to the next level. So far, the interest has been well received in the U.K., but upon releasing the clip online, the America response is taking off faster than a runaway freight train! Writer/Creator Mike Sizemore explains the Slingers plot like this:

2263 A.D. After surviving mankind's first interplanetary war, humanity is now confined into an area of the universe known as Enclosed Space, seeing as how the way back to Earth is blocked off by an impassable barrier--- inadvertently created by mankind's efforts to defeat it's alien enemy. The title of the show derives from the ragtag crew of thieves flying an experimental spacecraft capable of 'slinging' itself to any point in space, making it (theoretically) the only craft able to return home. In reality, the crew utilizes the ship to pull off a series of high tech, high risk heists in an attempt to get payback on members within the post war hierarchy.
The De Facto leader of this group, former Spec Ops soldier DOMINIC 'DM' MONROE (played by the stoic SEAN PERTWEE), is determined to get home regardless of the outcome!

Enemies to make and Laws to break... So be it if it means saying goodbye to Enclosed Space!

Sizemore further emphasizes that the sci-fi elements are merely the trappings of the genre. The real story has more in common with the style and feel of classic heist movies and the heyday of Sinatra's Rat Pack, making for an exciting and visually stunning cocktail that easily puts this conceptual show above most of the 'pap' that passes for sci-fi! He's already written an overall story arc that, if successful, would run well into 3 seasons, allowing for full development of the characters, much like the already classic BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

So far, the Sizzle Reel has won over critics and investors during the recent MIPCOM distributors show (the Comic Con for new show pitches to the networks), allowing enough buzz to move into Pre-production and filming of the Pilot. Depending on who picks up the show, the first season of Slingers may hit boob tube screens by Fall 2010 or Spring 2011. With the blogosphere already hailing it as 'the Next Big Thing', it now falls to the studios who may or may not give this show the shot it deserves... Which would suck, cuz' I personally think this project ROCKS!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Death From The Rooftops: Assassins' Creed Part 2

PLANET GRIFFIN Presents the continuing tale of Assassins' Creed. Wow! You cannot miss this one!

The Dangerous Postman: Assassins' Creed Pt. 3

Sometimes, in an effort to deliver a letter, you've gotta kill a whole lotta people! The plot DEFINITELY thickens here!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thieves In Space And The Swinging 60's


If COWBOY BEBOP and OCEAN'S ELEVEN were to cross paths, what would it look like? Not since FIREFLY has space ever looked this cool!

Back In The Badlands: Banlieue 13-Ultimatum

PLANET GRIFFIN, the badass pirate blogcast, returns with a sequel to smile about! Back in 2004, Luc Besson capitalized on the french parkour craze with BANLIEUE 13 (Banlieue being french for 'neighborhood'- retitled DISTRICT 13 for American audiences), and created a cult sensation for the straight-to-DVD market. Watching the likes of DAVID BELLE (one of the founders of the parkour sport) and CYRIL RAFFAELLI (a poor man's version of Jason Statham) jump cars, scale walls, and whip ass a la' Jackie Chan was a great change of pace to a genre beginning to run out of steam.

BANLIEUE 13: ULTIMATUM picks up 2 years after the events of the first film, the walled district (think ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Period) is still rife with violent drug cartels and killers. The local government, still looking for an excuse, is secretly instigating civil unrest behind the walls; looking to eradicate the notorious banlieue's once and for all... Which brings back elite police agent Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) and reformed vigilante Leito (David Belle) to save the 2 million denizens contained within.

Recently released theatrically to French screens, it will see American shores (VOD in January/Theaters in Feburary) in 2010 through MAGNET and the 6 Shooter Film Series.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The InHuman Distance

As we approach the end of 2009, no other news story can even come close to the events that took place here in North Carolina less than a month ago...

... It revolved around 5 year old SHANIYA DAVIS.

The autopsy report stated the cause of death was asphyxiation--- it also states that the child was raped. Some reports state that the mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis (currently charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution), gave the child to Mario Andrette McNeill (first degree rape/murder/kidnapping) to settle up drug debts. This local story captured world attention (SHAQUILLE O'NEAL himself paid the bill for the funeral cost), and left no heart untouched... I assumed the worst was over.

I was wrong.

International News wire confirmed 3 days ago that a mother in Tokyo was arrested for selling her ONE YEAR OLD daughter to an unemployed 46yr. old man for sexual acts... Acts that she was present for, citing that "...the child was too small to be left alone..." The mother also claimed that she needed money--- "I was having difficulty with living costs". Police also discovered evidence of other pornographic images in the man's home, suggesting that the infant may not have been the first...

I cannot, and I mean CANNOT, fathom what motivates people to sink to such levels of depravity. As a parent, I'm terrifyingly aware that my children must face far more horrors, both subtle AND straightforward, than I did in my time. You know what's scarier than being afraid for the babies...?

...Being more afraid of what you're capable of when faced with such a situation... And while this may sound like some sociopathic rant, I'm absolutely convinced that there is not ONE parent out there who wouldn't agree. The days grow shorter, the times get harder, and the inhuman distance between sanity and madness is dangerously closer than you think... In this case, it's as simple a difference as looking into a child's eyes and seeing the potential of what could be, versus looking into the lifeless eyes of what could've been--- cut short by someone who couldn't realize their own.

So, to all you parents out there, I say knuckle yourselves up and stand strong as stone for your children, even as the world continues to chisel and chip away at you. Remember that the strength of the inhuman distance lies in our indifference and inaction. Lets teach our little ones how to widen the gap. Shaniya and the others would thank us for it.

Ten Minutes Into The Future

PLANET GRIFFIN, the pirate blogsite where underground designs dwell, returns to broadcast depth as we enter that special time of the year where the holiday hits just keep on coming! While many dreamed gastric dreams of turkey and dismal retail sales, I spent my holiday caught between punching a timeclock and fulfilling dreams of another sort--- and the current results are fantastic! In an impromptu photo shoot, I couldn't help but offer up a peek into what PLANET GRIFFIN has planned for the new year... FIERCEWEAR (in it's prototype phase), for example, is a little something in anticipation of the release of the upcoming FIERCE CREATURES OGN... I swear, between the ART NINJA STUDIO and myself, the future is so bright, I'll wear my sunglasses at night! Nuff said for now... Gotta get back to work!
Special thanks to The Boriqua for the pics and convincing me that I shouldn't freeze up in front of the camera.