Category Archives: comics

Talking Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on All Things Considered

We didn’t think I’d actually get to interview everyone I had on my to-interview wish list. That never happens. Only this time it did, which is how I came to have five different voices in my four-and-a-half-minute All Things Considered piece on the animation in Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, a movie I cannot wait to see again.

All of them—producer Chris Miller, producer/co-screenwriter Phil Lord, co-screenwriter/co-director Rodney Rothman, co-director Peter Ramsey, and finally, Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who (with artist Sara Pichelli), created Miles Morales, the primary hero of Spider-Verse—had smart, illuminating things to say. I spoke to Bendis solo and Lord & Miller and Rothman & Ramsey in pairs, and pretty soon I had something like 75 minutes of good tape for a story that could accommodate mmmmaybe two-and-a-half minutes of that.

It was an epic job of cutting, followed by more frantic cutting, and then more surgical cutting. My editor, Nina Gregory, and news assistant Milton Guevara, showed me how radio pros get things done on deadline. Bob Mondello, who’d suggested the piece in the first place, gave me some vocal coaching in the booth.

I wish we could’ve used more of what all those smart, imaginative people had to say. I wish we could’ve made the segment 15 minutes long. But I’m very happy with what we managed to pack into about 240 seconds.

You can listen to the piece here.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, reviewed.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

There’s lots of stuff I didn’t have room for in my NPR review of this enervating zeppelin-crash of a superhero flick, but first things first: Gotham City and Metropolis are just across the bay from one another? So close that a person who doesn’t have Super-eyesight can see the Bat-signal lighting up the sky over Gotham… from Metropolis? Continue reading

It’s Clobberin’ Time: Fantastic Four (2015), reviewed.

The Fantastic Four No. 1, 1961. Cover by Jack Kirby.Because it comes from a promising young filmmaker and features a strong cast, the third attempt to turn Marvel’s proto-super-team The Fantastic Four into a hit movie franchise turns out to be the most disappointing yet.  My NPR review is here.

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Julie Taymor Probably Hates Pink Even More Now

Panel from The Amazing Spider-Man #21, by Stan Lee 7 Steve Ditko.“Julie hated pink. It also seemed as if she could discern gradations of red on the electromagnetic spectrum that no one else could. Humans are ‘trichromats,’ meaning we have three different types of cone cells in our eyes. However, it has been surmised that because of the XX chromosome, some women may possess a fourth variant cone cell, situated between the standard red and green cones. This would make them — like birds — ‘tetrachromats.’ These hypothetical tetrachromats would have the ability to distinguish between two colors a trichchromat would call identical. Continue reading

Nostalgia Trip: G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO! #49

It's the Rosetta Stone of my wordview, really. 1986.

It’s the Rosetta Stone of my wordview, really. 1986.

This is the first comic book I ever bought, from one of those HEY KIDS! COMICS! spinner racks in a 7-Eleven somewhere on the south side of Chicago. I think I had stepped out from some kind of an event for a distant relative. I was very young.

Anyway, I found it again in a Midtown Manhattan comics shop this weekend. When I pointed it out to my girlfriend, she said she wanted to buy it for me. A sweet gesture, especially considering the price tag of $6 — 800 percent what I paid for my long-lost copy in what the indicia at the bottom of page one tells me was 1986. Some of the best comics ever published came out that year: Watchmen, MAUS, The Dark Knight Returns, Love & Rockets, etc., etc. I wouldn’t find out about those until later. They didn’t sell those comics in 7-Elevens. Continue reading

Art Spiegelman: Deleted Scenes

spiegelman-illus-web-layers

What a thrill it was for me to talk last week with comics master Art Spiegelman, who’ll give his Comix 101 lecture tonight at the Corcoran. If you’re still curious after reading my preview (it’s a PDF) in today’s Examiner (aimed, like Spiegelman’s talk, at comic book civilians, after all), here’s a little more Spiegelmania, in the from of excerpts from our conversation last Thursday.
Continue reading

So, was Watchmen awesome?

watchmen

Word. As an experience, meeting some friends at the Uptown last night to see Watchmen at midnight-plus-one (though it was more like midnight-thirty-five by the time all those sweetass trailers for Public Enemies and Star Trek and Wolverine and Terminator: Salvation, plus some trailers for other, seemingly less sweetass movies, were done) was, as you say, awesome.

But the movie? Also largely awesome. I think. Certainly I’m looking forward to seeing it again and reveling in all the minute, Blade Runner-level visual detail in which Zack Snyder and his people have rendered this world. And I’ll watch the aleady announced DVD cut of the picture, which reportedly expands the theatrical release’s two-forty run time by another half-hour or so. I do have the feeling this thing might play awfully slowly when I see it again, even though the film’s biggest problem is that its final third just hurtles along too damn fast. Maybe Watchmen would have been better brought to the screen as an HBO miniseries.

Alexandria DuPont diagnosed the movie’s pacing issues with her typical rapier wit and lacerating insight. (She also says that Matthew Goode — who plays Ozymandias as Ziggy Starust-era David Bowie — “dropped a charima bomb” in another movie. Wow.) The other reviews I’ve found insightful today are Roger Ebert‘s and Andrew O’Heir‘s (both strongly favorable), and Philip Kennicott’s (thumbs-down).

io9, Gawker’s sci-fi and comics blog, has a ton of revelatory Watchmen-related posts. In this one, screenwriter David Hayter reveals some of the inane studio-suggested changes he managed, heroically, to prevent.

This one discusses one change Hayter was inclined to make, without even being asked: Going with a much more restrained, less bloody climax than the comic’s. I don’t mean that the specifics, though not the tone, of the ending have been changed — we all know that by now. I mean that the film spares us the book’s long, lingering shots of the apocalypse that befalls New York City. Wanna guess why? 9/11 sapped the will of anybody, even those fully invested in being faithful to Moore and Gibbons’ vision, to put that onscreen. This is one of Ms. DuPont’s big problems with the movie — that “the part where we see and feel the consequences of Veidt’s actions” has been neutered — and you can see her point. But Hayter’s wins, at least for me. If you really want to see these Dave Gibbons drawings rendered in the same kind of photographic fidelity with which Snyder has reproduced so many other panels from the comic, well, you’ve got a stronger stomach than I do.

io9 also gives us a roundup of what elements from the comic have been eighty-sixed entirely. The dumbest one? Laurie’s smoking, one of the behaviors that humanized her in the book. She never lights up in the movie because — says Snyder — Warner Bros. muckety-muck Alan Horn dislikes smoking. Hey, so do I, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna sit still if somebody tries digitally to pull the butt out of Bogey’s mouth in The Maltese Falcon. After all the battles Hayter and Snyder won — the length, the complexity, the R-rating — smoking is the thing he can’t get through? Alan Horn deserves lung cancer. What an asshole.