I found God on the back of a dollar bill. He spoke with few words— Some might say only in sign language, but I could hear the shouts. The eternal struggles of a people. Not those who fled across a desert, but those that live in paper temples— Traded in their glass houses for something more-flammable. Whoosh.
Our people washed ashore. Broken…forgotten, but determined. We slaughtered our way to the Golden Arches in a mere two-and-a-half centuries, and while the world laughed we kept quite till the bombs fell.
We stayed silent.
We bided our time. The world came crawling…begging for our help. Before we walked on the moon, we ended a Great War. Now who was laughing? Definitely not the sleeping giant— We were proud. We built great things, we defined generations with our ingenuity, we carved the face of the world in our nuclear image, but we stumbled…we bloated.
And, then the flies came.
They picked at our flesh and laid their eggs in the crevasses of our economy, education, and the very hearts and minds of our people. We call ourselves progressives as hate runs rampant. The peaceful have become weak. There was once a time when the peaceful picked up muskets to fight a world power, and now Guerrillas do the same.
The giant is down— Pinned by sticks and rope. We traveled to lands with little people, but we were never meant to stand in quicksand…we were meant to stand tall. Lady Liberty please light the way, again. Please Lady Liberty…please.
Right off the bat (no pun intended), I will fully admit that I am not the biggest Batman fan. He isn’t my favorite for a variety of reasons. However, I don’t detest him and I have read quite a bit of the lore due the sterling influence of my wife (although Cap is slowly digging his shield in further…yay!). I think that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is superb filmmaking and perhaps the best rendition of the Caped Crusader to date, and if the UK’s Rocksteady has any say in my video game habits I will (once again) be purchasing the CE of next June’s Batman Arkham Knight and blitzing through a spectacular campaign and all-around awesome game.
Nevertheless…I digress, my hate/love relationship with Batman is rather moot, considering that Fox’s Gotham is the Bat media in relative question. I was trepidatious about the whole affair. I felt that the media gurus at DC and Fox were pushing for something that couldn’t be successful. It was announced early on that none of the DC properties would relate, so there was no hope for an Arrow crossover or any bleed through to the films, and the castings are mostly unknowns…and comparatively young— Taking a page from the casting news of Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, releasing 2015.
If I was going to watch Gotham I wanted Batman, not boy Wayne and the teen villain brigade. However, what I did not expect…happened. Instead of focusing on Bruce Wayne and the Batman, Gotham focuses on a young (not yet, Commissioner) Gordon and the exploits of the Gotham Police Department. Throughout the GCDP’s ongoings and happenings audiences are privy to a plethora of Gotham City easter eggs. This was a pleasant surprise because it takes a well-worn and critically acclaimed page from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One (1987).
We get to see Poison Ivy as a girl, Catwoman as a thieving teenager, the Penguin as a conniving subordinate, a young comedian yet touched by chemicals, and a host of other side characters in the Gotham universe. It is quite interesting, and I found myself giddy guessing who was whom and how their futures would eventually intertwine within Gotham.
Ben McKenzie plays a fantastic young, Detective Gordon. His voice is just gravely enough, and he plays the part of the outsider trying to do good in a corrupt city. The show primarily follows Gordon and his partner, Harvey Bullock (played by the talented Donal Logue). The pilot starts out strong and in manner that I did not expect— It was almost surprising. Throughout the pilot’s plot (a murder investigation), Gotham sets the tone, mannerisms, and host of characters to be fleshed out in future episodes and seasons.
The only downfall to Gotham is that it seems geared to fans who know a little bit more about the comic book lore and healthy does of knowledge concerning all of the nuanced characters of Gotham and how they relate. This is great for an old school comic book fan like myself, but in inquiry I found that quite a few people found the show corny at moments and not as cohesive as Arrow, or its older, quality counterpart, Smallville. More often than not, these individuals are willing to give the show a couple more episodes to see if they’ll warm up to it, but the general consensus is that was good but not great like comic book fans are making it out to be.
Nevertheless, I am willing to give it more time to come into its own. It hooked this anti-Batman fan, and I am curious to see if Gotham can be groundbreaking or not— Time will tell. Check back here next week for a recap of the second episode of Gotham airing on Fox on Mondays at 8/7c.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Adaptations hardly ever do the source material justice. In fact, they often do just the opposite. They bomb. They are truly awful. Video game adaptations of film and televisions suck. Film adaptations of video usually bomb as well— Truly bad.
Books are not exempt from this unwritten rule, either. More often than not, novelizations of films and televisions are usually half-assed…they’re easy ways for publishers and TV shows to make a quick buck. Hardcore fans love ‘em, because they fill in on the lore of their favorite media properties but they lack in the quality department. Ultimately, they usually end up in a bargain bin somewhere dusting away.
“Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution” by Keith R.A. DeCandido is one of the few exceptions and counter-examples to the aforementioned rule. It reads well. From a technical standpoint it reads akin to that of a script from the television show. Most of the scenes are expressed in third-person via Ichabod Crane, and the plot line closely follows Crane and his partner Abbie’s exploits in modern day Sleepy Hollow.
One of the largest complaints that I usually have with book adaptations is their bare bones quality. They’re oft difficult to read. The writing is either done poorly because of time constraints (or a less-than experienced author), and the meat-and-potatoes of the novel suffers making it almost unreadable. DeCandidio has knowledge of the craft. Whether he was in a time crunch (or not) he pulls it off, and if you’ve ever read any decent third-person, supernatural themed novel then you’ll enjoy “Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution.” Its construction is solid.
Plot-wise it places in the midst of the first season— Right between the episodes, The Golem and The Vessel. The catalyst of the novel stems from a vision that Crane receives from his wife, Katrina, concerning medals bestowed by George Washington during the Revolutionary days. Moloch and his minions want the powerful relics for evil, thus the witnesses (Crane and Abbie) need to thwart them to further their objective of saving humanity. It follows the rough formula of each episode of the series, but it cuts nicely between two episodes to bring readers a little more information and insight into the characters and overall arc of the series.
All-in-all, “Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution” is a good read. It is solid in its own right as a supernatural thriller, and it pays fan service nicely to the acclaimed television series. It is definitely worth the gander.
For more information regarding the Sleepy Hollow television show and related media check out ARSchultz’s website (ARSchultz.com) and Facebook page. And, don’t forget to check out the sure-to-be amazing premiere of Sleepy Hollow season 2 tonight on FOX.
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Last week, during Salt Lake City’s 2nd annual comicon, one of the last panels of the show premiered SyFy’s newest television show, “Z Nation.” One of the presenter’s had been featured in numerous SyFy feature length films and as she put it, “I’ve been killed, and often.” The second presenter, Michael Welch, is actually apart of the ensemble cast and hosted the ‘Q&A’ format after the credits had rolled on the pilot episode of “Z Nation.”
For those of you that don’t know “Z Nation” is set in upstate New York (at least on the onset of the pilot), but was primarily shot right here in good ol’ Spokane, WA. Even though, they never call attention to the fact that it isn’t Spokane, native Spokanites can spot the thicket of pines, sleepy city locales, and myriad of lakes that make this region famous and unique to the rest of the country.
“Z Nation” is an interesting beast though. It harkens back to old school zombies flicks like any of Romera’s cannon and it does so with gusto. It doesn’t pull the punches in that quirky, dark sense of humor kind of a way. It shouts “campy” at you, but for an old school zombie lover like myself…I loved it. It was catchy and effectively paid homage to the genre. Not every moment has to be gritty and realistic, sometimes you can let go and have fun with it like filmmakers used to, back in the day.
In particular, there is a great scene involving the group cast, the discovery of an alive, intact baby, and the decision making and consequences that ensue. To be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.
END OF SPOILER
However, like a well-worn and bloodied coin, “Z Nation” does a hold a flame to AMC’s famed “The Walking Dead”— And, it does so quite cleverly. It takes the situations that the characters are dealt and the consequences of a zombie invasion and pits them in a real world context, much like “The Walking Dead.” How the characters’ behave, proceed, and deal with one another is fairly realistic considering the circumstances.
The pilot does an excellent job introducing the main cast, the time frame, setting, and overall goal. As an audience member, you could see the logical line of progression and how several seasons worth of episodes could be produced without breaking away from the plot line (e.g. think Star Trek’s “The Voyager”).
Ultimately, I think “Z Nation” has good odds of striking a dent in “The Walking Dead” market share. “Z Nation” does a little bit of both— It’s campy like the old shuffle and blood zombie flicks and it tackles supernatural problems with real world engagement.
I recommend at least checking out the pilot for the deciding vote. At the very least, I see a strong cult following for this television show, and as for me I’ll be buckled in for the native Spokane scenery and strong allure of the zombie.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Words for Pictures” is an interesting text— More-so because it is exactly that: A textbook. The author, Brian Michael Bendis, is a writer that I have read for years; he has written some of my favorite superhero tales from the modernization of the New Avengers to his current X-Men runs to the stellar Secret Invasion and Age of Ultron Marvel events. He is the quintessential rockstar of the comic book world, or as he would put it: Comic book famous.
Rarely do audiences get to see the man behind the curtain. We get see their art, but we are removed from their perspective and upbringing. How did they get into the comic book industry? What drives them to write or draw? Where did they go for schooling? How does the editorial process work? How do I become published in the comic book industry?
There are a myriad of questions that get lost in the shuffle of the work, which is not necessarily a bad thing but sometimes there are people who want to know more. The final product, whether it be a piece of writing and/or art or an amalgamation of the two such as comic or graphic novel, should be viewed in the most holistic light as possible, but there are some of us who want to peel back the layers and learn more about the industry and the process to better understand the human experience.
Luckily for us, Brian Michael Bendis followed in the footsteps of the greats before him and created “Words for Pictures,” which is along the same lines as Dennis O’Neil’s “The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics,” Alan Moore’s “Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics,” and Will Eisner’s “Comics and Sequential Art.” It is a modern guide for the aforementioned who want to learn more about the industry. Whether you are curious about breaking into the business or are merely a perspective reader, “Words for Pictures” strikes a chord.
The book covers all aspects of the industry. It begins with a thoughtful introduction by Joe Quesada praising Bendis for his work and ability to create such a guide whilst anecdotally speaking of his own career. The book then segue-ways into the basics and career of Brian Michael Bendis as a writer and educator, as described by him. As he starts to get into the nitty-gritty of script writing he begins to have fellow writers interject and describe their own writing processes and collaborative efforts with fellow artists. This is a unique and clever structure, because it allows the reader to see Bendis’ methodology as well as several others which begins to coalesce into working idea of the readers’ own take on the writing process.
The middle of the text unfortunately becomes a little dry. The narrative shifts abruptly to focus on the artists. This normally wouldn’t be a negative, but the information is conveyed poorly. Essentially a large group of artists were gathered (or at least their responses were) and given a series of questions. This style was executed poorly because as a reader you are subjected to a main question and then the artists’ dozen or so follow-up answers that were merely the same ones reiterated over-and-over again. After the first ten-pages or so of the interview responses they began to blur with another and I was loosing sight of the information being presented. I ended up taking a breather and coming back to it, to finish that particular section.
However, the final portion of the book closes out with a bang and ticks up wonderfully. It is chalked full of helpful inspiration for writers at all stages in their career. There is an entire section devoted strictly to the editorial and submission process, another focusing on the business aspect of writing as told by Bendis’ wife and business partner, a FAQ, and finally tips and tricks of the trade which includes what it truly means to be ‘a writer’ as described by Brian Michael Bendis.
All-in-all, “Words for Pictures” is a fantastic text. It comes from the heart of an educator, but more importantly, the mind of a writer. It touches base on all the important facets of the comic book industry and creative process. Save for a brief dry spell in the middle, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of the craft and business of making comics.