Tuesday, March 30, 2010

THE BIG BUZZ: Retro Machina Comeback

Maaaaaaann... As a child of the 70's, I remember when THE SHOGUN WARRIORS used to be one of the coolest toys around! Thinking back on it now, I STILL say the concept ROCKS! And if the finished product turns out to be half of what the pre-visual effects already suggests, then in late 2011, you will think GAIKING and the SHOGUN WARRIORS FILM TRILOGY rocks too!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Memorium: Dick Giordano 1932-2010

PLANET GRIFFIN, that pirate blogcast you keep firmly on your bookmarks tool, comes to you a little heavy on this not-so-easy-like-Sunday-morning. At 77 years young, legendary comics frontman DICK GIORDANO has passed away... Beginning as a penciller/inker for Charleston Comics back in the early 50's to its Editor-in-Chief in 1965, he would later move over to DC Comics as an inker (but not before opening the industry doors for future legends Jim Aparo and Dennis O'Neil.)

Giordano would be most notable for engineering the original 'crossover blockbusters' like SUPERMAN VS. SPIDER MAN and SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI as well as the GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW with the great NEAL ADAMS. It was Giordano's skill at crossover events led him to usher in a little known DC Event called 'THE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS' ( Quite frankly, the ONLY large scale crossover event with juice that Marvel's been trying to recreate for themselves for 20 years...) , as well as famously using the last of his 'pull' with the closing of Charleston Comics, to purchase a little story involving Charleston characters for DC, firmly entrenching them forever into the first page of comics history...

... The Charleston Comics story was known as WATCHMEN.

A tough and shrewd businessman, Giordano truly set the benchmark in comics. (Look, this guy rejected JIM LEE starting out, yet stuck with him to continue developing a style that would eventually become the most recognized and imitated in the industry--- you gotta hand it to him)

Mr. GIORDANO, PLANET GRIFFIN definitely salutes you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Vintage Classic That Never Existed

Dedicated to my Grindhouse Goodfellas out there, here's a little diddy that's been around awhile and well worth rediscovering again... Quoted as 'GRINDHOUSE meets SPINAL TAP', the good folks over at IDW presents Stephen Romano's SHOCK FESTIVAL, a hardcover 356 page pictorial ode to the grindhouse era and it's alternate B-movie universe of sleazy producers, heinous directors, and 'do-it-all' actors and actresses struggling to make it into the upper echelons of the Hollywood inner circle... The byline on the book's cover guarantees it's readers of 101 exploitation movies that you've NEVER seen. Trust me, you haven't, and I don't care how much of a movie enthusiast you claim to be... And that's part of the beauty of this book... As well as the gag.

The brainchild of TIM BRADSTREET, THOMAS JANE, and STEPHEN ROMANO, the group took 2 years in recreating an era of the 70's and 80's that NEVER EXISTED, yet once you begin reading it (complete with theatrical posters, italian lobby cards, prose novel covers, soundtracks, and pics), you'll actually catch yourself thinking 'these events ACTUALLY took place'! You can almost smell the lurid backalleys, reel in disgust at some of the tactics used to make these films happen, and feel for those people who thrived and suffered for their art.

"We wanted to do a book that was a complete fabrication, but remain completely true to the spirit of these films we love," says creator Stephen Romano. "Basically what you are looking at is a sort of "historical novel" that uses the period and the art styles of movie posters to tell a compelling story. That was the challenge of SHOCK FESTIVAL. It's an epic tale disgusted as a garish, over-the-top work of "psychotronic" film journalism, guaranteed to stun the most jaded people out there."

SHOCK FESTIVAL 'recounts' 20 years of exploitive filmmaking that's as shocking as it is fun (look for THOMAS JANE in the book as the wild, B-movie tough guy, Elliot Swan, as well as art by Bradstreet, Dave Hartman, Michael Broom, and 'surprises' that may catch you offguard as their styles are so radically different here.). The full gamut is run here: The greatness of Blaxploitation sensations SASSY BLACK ( 'the other Pam Grier') and LEON CURVE ('Shaft's other revenge'), the super producer of the era ROC BENSON, psycho slasher flicks, sci-fi obscurities, monster movies, and vintage exploitation classics of all genres, all highlighted with over 600+ posters designed by Romano, Bradstreet, and crew. This book pulls NO punches and is SO worthy on any movie lovers book shelf!

JOEL SILVER used parts of this book (as well as the thematic of The BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) to co-produce THE HILLS RUN RED, of a film crew in search of film footage that's been missing for over 20 years; supposedly billed as 'the scariest footage anyone could ever see'... SHOCK FESTIVAL, already a hit on the film circuit as a 3 disc DVD compilation, I personally can't wait to see what RAW ENTERTAINMENT and IDW cooks up next in this genre!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Word To The New Creator Pt.1

Back in orbit once again, PLANET GRIFFIN returns to broadcast depth to convert and subvert the underground like Tyler Durden's Project Mayhem! I am your host, the Infamous RodBuddah, sending greetings to the newest additions, NEXT 100 and more, to the ever-increasing traffic of the Planet--- WELCOME ABOARD!

Yes, it's widely known by now that I'm an independent creator, just like many of you who visit the site. Now, while I've ranted on the mainstream zeitgeist, I'm not against it... I merely stress that BOTH mainstream and underground are necessary to continue the various forms of media that exist. What kills me are the corporations that wish to see the underground come to an end, since those very corporations once started just like we did... The starving artist earning a seat at the dinner table, so to speak.

To those of you indies out there looking to find your way, it never hurts to keep certain things in mind. There are many lists and reminders out there right now, so the Planet shall flip a version for the new underground creators coming up. It inspires me to push harder, so lets begin...

To Be, Or Not To Be- Let's be bottom line honest about this up front: As a creator (whether it be artist or writer, for example), know now that if you're expecting to get into this business and start making cash right out the gate: Forget it... The money will come later, but you've got to work to earn the shot first. Business school, nursing school, or even a Nail Academy will give you a better chance at a bigger payday than to run with the Starving Artists... Which brings up something else...

Who's Got Game?- No matter how good you think you are, there will always be someone with better game out there, so keep your ego in check so as not to stand in the way of your own growth. Admit to yourself that you're not perfect, and that you can't fix your flaws without first realizing that they exist. I've seen many artists out there who never grow beyond their own borders simply because they never got out of their own way...

Reverse Engineering- 'Genre is nothing but formula'--- whether it's comics, novels, video games, movies, music, etc.--- break down the elements of what you like, what you don't like, why, and then redesign them. Study the mechanics, aesthetics, and trends--- and then go the other way... Take an idea, simplify it, and then strip it down to it's core element. The stronger the element, the more you can add to it... An essential tool in your arsenal. Seriously.

The Happy Accident- Know now that fear, failure, and fear of failure are common--- which means your studio or 'lab' should be the last place to deal with such common things. True failure is being afraid to even begin. ( For example, in designing a page, I used to layout the page with a blue pencil, then tighten it up with a pencil, then go to the ink phase... By the time I finished, I had drawn the page 3 times! Therefore, I began to rough the page with the blue pencil and tighten it with the inks, skipping the 2nd step!)
I used to be terrified of such things, until a friend said to me "Only bad artists are careful"... And he's absolutely right! Experiment and practice your craft without fear and watch your style progress.

Be Passionate About What You Do- Now, if you can't be excited about what you've done, how can you expect other people to be excited about it? You like to write and draw bad asses? You should sell the project like one... Learn to able to sell yourself as well as what you do, since being an independent hinges on your ability to market your brand. ( Dave Sim wrote and fully illustrated 300 issues of CEREBUS without missing a beat, and successfully marketed it without any corporate backing of any kind--- That's Bad Ass!) Be passionate about what you do, because if you can't, this field is not for you. More importantly, how can have any kind of motivation if you have no love for it? ( Yes, I sound like a broken record, but this one is paramount if you wish to embark upon whatever it is you want to do. Seriously. )

You Can Take It- I remember when I used to go to portfolio reviews and listen to Pro's tear apart my work piece by piece. What got my attention was that they gave me NO useful information as to how to correct the problem. (One professional in particular actually told me that I should spend more time looking over his work and learn how to draw--- the PLANET banner art above is the one that prompted that statement. ) Some artists do that, tell you how bad or lacking your work is and give you no steps on how to fix it; like they're afraid you will one day take their job. ( Believe me, every species can sense their own extinction, and the bad artist is one of them) Again, you can't fix a problem until you can identify what the problem is... Of course, critical feedback, especially when it's right, is a hard pill to swallow, so I suggest you learn how to toughen your throat and cowboy up. Useful and indispensable information, I don't care how harsh the message, is priceless to aid you in your efforts.
When used correctly, you have no idea how much of a confidence booster that can be.

So far, so good... Stay tuned to PLANET GRIFFIN for more on this... I've gotta get back to the pages, man!

Special thanks to Myron Macklin, Edmund McMillen, and Dave Sim for their fantastic insights which inspired me greatly!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This is the PLANET GRIFFIN WEEKEND EDITION of THE BIG BUZZ, that moment in time where the pirate blogcast focuses on what's soon-to-be-new-to-the-block and whether or not it'll blow you out of shoes and socks! From the demented minds of SPLASH DAMAGE in conjunction with BETHESDA SOFTWORKS comes BRINK, a maddening class based, first person shooter that's quickly being touted as the 'genre-breaker and game changer of the industry'... A title utilizing the latest version of the SMART program (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain--- the first version appeared in a PS2 series known as Syphon Filter), the London based Splash Damage crew boldly claims to deliver a 'run & gun' that flows as smoothly as the trailer displayed above... Now you can understand why the buzz on this is so HUGE!

BRINK opens with the Ark, a self sustaining habitat designed to comfortably house 5,000, now forced to sustain 50,000 in light of a massive ecological collapse... After two decades of social unrest, Ark society now stands on the brink of all out civil war... That's where you come in.

The heavy influences involved, from the modern art style known as Hyperrealism to Parkour to the overall theme of 'arcology' ( a term coined by H.G. Wells used to describe self sufficient mega structures used to house people in the future), are hyped to full effect as Splash Damage readies BRINK for its grand unveiling this fall. If this title can truly capture the badassery of the trailer, then we could very well be witnessing the brink of greatness. This is THE BIG BUZZ.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time's Up?

In my humble opinion, 24 was one of those shows that just clicked with me. The first TV series of it's kind to successfully recreate the 'real time' format first pioneered by Alfred Hitchcock (ROPE), and though several attempts have been made over the years (the last was Johnny Depp's NICK OF TIME), none has ever captured the raw suspense that 24 achieved...

... And now, it may well be over, as FOX execs announce that Jack Bauer may be facing his last day with Season 8. Judging from the spiraling plotline as of late, I have to agree. As a 24 enthusiast (I have the entire run of the show in a collection I refer to as 'The Seven Bad Days Of Jack Bauer'), even I realize that the shows time has come... Which says alot about most media that keeps hanging on in the face of doom (i.e., Idol). FOX does mention a feature film and IDW is prepping a possible comic series.

Not to worry, Jack. You're not forgotten.

Time's up, that's all.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Memoriam: Another Lost Boy

From the L.A. News wire, It's reported that COREY HAIM, once 80's heartthrob from such films as LUCAS, CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE (the mulleted sleazoid wearing the 'Nice Juggs' T-Shirt), and best known as the young vampire slayer in THE LOST BOYS, died at 2:15 this morning from apparent drug overdose. He was 38.

Friday, March 5, 2010

THE BIG BUZZ WEEKEND EDITION: The Bloody, Beautiful Return Of The North Star

Another round of THE BIG BUZZ WEEKEND EDITION continues! KOEI TECMO (Man, I still remember the days of electronic handheld football from them... Don't you?) released a statement today confirming the soon-to-be-released FIST OF THE NORTHSTAR to European X-Box and PS3 consoles, with an as-yet-to-be-announced release date here in the states. The Dynasty Warrior's meets Streets of Rage format style game from OMEGA FORCE is quickly shaping up to be the hottest game since the GOD OF WAR trilogy! The sheer violence of this classic one superhuman versus one hundred tale is excitement enough if Koei games gets it right.

Of course, to the uninitiated, this game is the most recent addition to a manga franchise born way back in 1983 by BURONSON and TETSUO HARA--- and after 2 animated TV series, 4 feature films (including the 1995 American B-movie adaptation starring GARY DANIELS), and a revamped Japanese OVA, it's safe to say that the series will be around long enough to assure that you'll have time to get acquainted... The story goes a little something like this:

It happened in 199x (don't you love those ambiguous dates?)... The Post Apocalyptic Earth to come became overrun by psychopathic gangs and utter misery (The Road Warrior playing the backdrop here). Out of the wasteland comes KENSHIRO, a stranger bearing seven scars and master of an assassins' art known as Hokuto Shinken, or 'Divine Fist of the North Star', in which a single blow can make a man explode. His quest to confront RAOH, the master of Nanto Seiken, or 'Sacred Fist of the South Star', whose brutal iron fist reign over the gangs becomes complicated when former students of both schools get in the way of his journey, as well as the innocent lives he's sworn to protect caught in between.

As a gamer, I can't wait to experience the possibility of watching Ken engulf his combatants with a hundred punches and calmly walking away, saying 'You're already dead.', just before the entire gang explodes in individual gouts of blood--- I know, I know... It sounds far more bloodthirsty than it needs to be, right? Kratos settled that argument years ago on the PS2, so with the high profile release of this title, it should leave no room for question on what violence and old school justice is really about! This is PLANET GRIFFIN and THE BIG BUZZ WEEKEND EDITION.

THE BIG BUZZ WEEKEND EDITION: Emancipation Assassination

PLANET GRIFFIN returns in time for THE BIG BUZZ: WEEKEND EDITION! It seems a little weird to come across this item after a NEXT 100 entry featuring the Great Emancipator as a hater of werewolves, because apparently, he detests bloodsuckers as well!

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is the latest book published tuesday under Grand Central Publishing, by Revisionist writer SETH GRAHAME-SMITH, who introduced the world to the best selling (and highly unexpected) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES! (A title, by the way, which has LIONSGATE and NATALIE PORTMAN'S name all over it in Hollywood)
The new book 'reimagines' the former U.S. President as an axe-welding vampire assassin whose ascension to the oval office has not slacked his vow of revenge against the undead legions after witnessing his mother's murder as a young boy. The mix of horror-adventure dropped within the context of real history made for an irresistible combination to the writer and publisher, so much so that they produced an in-house trailer to promote the upcoming release.

Needless to say, the results were sensational... Especially to the likes of Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Nightwatch), who are collaborating again to bring Historical horror to the big screen. If it turns out half as badass as the in-house trailer, I'll definitely be there to buy the ticket and take the ride! This is PLANET GRIFFIN and THE BIG BUZZ WEEKEND EDITION!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NEXT 100: Keeping The Undead Faith, The Wild World of Stephen Lindsay

PLANET GRIFFIN continues it's orbit through Pop Culture time and space--- and much like a blue police box, you never know where we'll turn up. Today, we materialize with new NEXT 100--- that listing of next level indie talent who's work will define future pop culture--- and introduce the smashgenre adventures of STEPHEN LINDSAY.

Since first appearing on the comics scene back in 2007, Writer-creator Stephen Lindsay dreamed of a zombie-plague ravaged world where the Son of Man would one day return to that world and level it! Armed with a big stick (or whatever happened to be lying around), a bizarre menagerie of characters, and Stephen's off-kilter sense of comic writing, the horror-action-smashmouth comedy formula would go on to prove that indie comic readers loved the fact that JESUS HATES ZOMBIES--- in a BIG way!

Publishing his first project under the ALTERNA COMICS banner, Stephen has succeeded in his indie venture IN SPITE OF the industry downturn--- "The industry seems to always be in a state of panic..." Stephen says. "Panic over sales. Panic over the internet. Panic over digital vs. print comics, and Panic over increasing prices. But what most people fail to see is that comic readers love comics! And with Hollywood snapping up property after property, exposure to comics has never been higher! So for all of the panicking, things are looking pretty good..."

Stephan also adds, "Independents have also never been stronger, and that owes all of its thanks to the internet. Anyone can now create a comic and put it out there for the world to see! Granted, not all of them are good. In fact, the vast majority are pretty bad... but that's not the point! The point is that Indies, if they're willing to do the leg work of constant promotions, really have a vehicle with which to showcase their work!"

Volumes 1 and 2 of his apocryphal comedy has already sold out, with Volume 3 already quickly following suite (and that's even before the soon-to-be-released Volume 4 OGN in a few months). JHZ has also spawned a spin-off within its pages, the runaway hit LINCOLN HATES WEREWOLVES ( from the 3 part mini-series, YEA, THOU I WALK, featuring Lincoln and Jesus saddled up on a rather familiar Dodge Charger--- and perhaps my personal favorite). One secret to Stephens' success lies in his tireless promotion of the brand, exporting the 'Holy Roller Zombie Killer' into the French and Euro-markets, where the books are selling into reprints, making the title more in demand now than ever! Such marketing savvy makes JHZ one of the most successful underground titles that you may not have heard of--- yet.

Stephan has other projects currently in progress, and believe me, the future of indie comics will be a bright, completely outrageous, and one well worth supporting! Next time you're on Facebook, look him up for new product and tell'em PLANET GRIFFIN sent ya!

PLANET GRIFFIN is proud to welcome STEPHAN LINDSAY as a member of THE NEXT 100!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Big Black Eye Pt. 2

Yes, PLANET GRIFFIN boldly goes where some blogs won't... dares to claim certain things that certain creators don't... PLANET GRIFFINPLANET GRIFFIN believes in giving something back to the innovators that gave birth to the PLANET in the FIRST place, so therefore I must be responsible in producing NEXT LEVEL INNOVATION and not rub shit back in their face. Welcome to another special edition of The BIG BUZZ, today known as THE BIG BLACK EYE.

Now, everybody and their grandmother's know of the scandal surrounding NICK SIMMONS and INCARNATE... (The evidence and extent of his scavenging from well known manga titles can be seen here) The firestorm blazing through the Radical Publishing Offices right now is pretty harsh, as Manga fans across the country scream bloody foul against the son of former KISS frontman, GENE SIMMONS. Today, through a representative, Nick released a statement in response to the allegations:

“Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went too far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium.

“I am a big fan of Bleach, as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.”

Meanwhile, upon learning of this, Bleach creator TITE KUBO responded, "I'm more interested in the fact that Gene Simmons' son is a mangaka than whether he's plagiarizing me or not." (Not surprising in the least bit considering that Kubo has sold upwards of 50 million copies of his creation. His comment displays real class and humility in light of all this. Well, that and he can AFFORD to be amused at all this.) Of course, despite this, the Facebook manga fans that feel betrayed amid all this, are demanding a la massive petition a class action suite against Nick for what he's done. From the NY TIMES to CNNGo.com, I almost feel bad for the kid in all this, as his efforts to be recognized has practically turned him into a divine object of hatred overnight... Notice that I said 'almost'. Wait, let's try this again...

“Like most artists (CON artist), I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities (yeah, in science, we call it 'mitosis') between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists (tell that to some of the kids who's work you ripped from Deviant Art) who feel I went too far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery (dangerous choice of words here. You've got to learn how to construct an image first) is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium.

“I am a big fan of Bleach (We can tell in your overlays), as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive (it's here that he deflects blame and sets himself up as a victim... Remember kids, you've only made him out to be bad) to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.” (Be glad, Nick, that rabid fans didn't kill the messenger)

Honestly, INCARNATE proves far too blatant on too many levels to be genuinely considered original. In his claims, it's bad enough as the artist to scavenge and overlay (or trace) with no sense of composition or layout and claim yourself as 'bad ass' ( as Nick claimed in his first Deviant Art Journal "If you steal any of my artwork, you will pay. In cash.")... It's even worse as the writer to lift entire segments of the dialogue to justify a story you hockneyed together after using daddy's name to get yourself an on-the-spot meeting with a publisher...

Radical Publishing, you're not off the hook in this, either. For a company boasting such a rich lineage within it's ranks, you definitely lost sight of editorial control, which means you took this kid at face value in light of his heavyweight father's 'business moxie', or you were too blinded by the possible Hollywood potential that the 'family name' brings with such a venture. ( Which is dangerous, because that could easily mislead people people into thinking that comics and hollywood are NOT mutually exclusive as some companies are anxious to tell you, as well as display a form of desperation on Radical's part to gain notoriety) Oh yeah, lets not forget another fact in this--- I've never heard of a comic company that has NO sense of comics history to the point where your FANS recognize the blatant rips almost faster than a company who has spent time with the material in it's production, not to... Sorry fellas, your quality control takes a shot in the Family Jewels on this one.

In light of this situation, the upshot of this is that companies will take more responsibility in the material they attach their studio name to... Unfortunately, this may also prove to be a setback to many unknowns who are trying to break in due to industry paranoia over '...possible derivative product...'

And we ALL know the industry doesn't want what it already produces, right?