Archive for the ‘Comics go to the movies’ Category

Comics go to the movies…kind of

January 22, 2012

 I do have a weakness for odd movies about people trying to be superheroes. While I was picking at the carcass of an almost-closed Blockbuster I luckily found these.

I had seen Defendor (yep, that is the spelling) on the shelves before and was curious because of Woody Harrelson. Super was on my radar because it was written and directed by James Gunn who made great funny horror movie Slither (think Tremors). Unfortunatley, neither was showing up on Netflix streaming. (With a toddler, our primary way of watching movies is in bed on our iPhones.)

I don’t want to give too much away, so let be just say this: I would  recommend both but Super is certainly more challenging, so it’s not for all tastes.


January 15, 2012


I bought this DVD for $3.

If it was about WonderMAN it would probably be $5.

Comics go to the movies – TV specials

January 11, 2012

The AV Club has a nice write-up on comic strips that were turned into obscure TV specials.

Certainly the most interesting, yet not very succesful, is the pilot for a Wizard of Id series done not in animation, not with human actors, but with Muppets. I got to see this over a decade ago at a Johnny Hart exhibit in Binghamton NY. Johnny himself was our guide and said the coming of Sesame Street stopped the process from going further.

The one that you’d think would be the hardest to adapt – The Far Side – because of its lack of characters and plot, is the best of the ones I’ve seen. Surreally fun. (I still have it on ye ol’ video tape from when it first appeared on TV.)

They don’t give  much love to the Cathy special. But take a look at the clip there. I happen to think it’s well written and acted. Take that, h8trs.

I wouldn’t normally suggest that anyone read the comments on the AV Club – they often have little to do with the subject and are just people wanting to hear themselves talk (or, type). This time there are some interesting tidbits in the discussions as well as links to other clips. I think one of them was a Slovenia-produced Hagar the Horrible.

Comics go to the movies – Kick-ass

January 9, 2012

I was surprised that I hadn’t written anything about the movie Kick-ass when it came out in theaters. And I’m not going to write much now either. I was expecting “more” when I saw it at the multiplex especially after all the hype and the awesome trailers. Although it was trying to shake up the superhero mythos with violence, it didn’t seem it go far enough in terms of depth of characters. Watching it again on DVD, and with lowered expectations, it’s more entertaining as a parody of the genre. (But in both viewings Nicholas Cage is scenery-chewingly awful.)

Th real reason I’m writing this now is to point out something completely inconsequential I noticed. Early in the film the main character and his friends are shown coming out of a movie theater and seen on the marquee very briefly is “The Spirit 3.”

At first I thought it was wishful thinking on the part of the movie studio for both films, Lionsgate. But then I realized that Kick-ass was produced independently with Lionsgate just picking up the distribution afterwards In other words, I think Kick-ass was taking a shot at cartoonist/director Frank “Sin City” Miller’s spectacularly gonzo misfire adaptation of Will Eisner’s classic 1940s crime fighter.

Happy post-holidays

January 8, 2012


So it’s been a week since New Year’s Day – I guess we could agree that the holidays are now officially over. (Our Christmas lights still being up is not a reliable indicator because, y’know, it’s not April yet.)

My holidays included the following:
Multiple trips to Target
Fever and vomiting
Meatless duck
Pez in stockings
Meeting some in-laws for the first time (after 12 years with my wife)
A facefull of wet sand
Russian tea cakes
And a teleporting dog

Cartoon-wise, my sister-in-law gave me Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel Habibi, my toddler gave me a DVD of Kick-Ass and I gave myself a Captain America lunchbox. (Almost-superhero-but-not-comics gift: the sequel to the pakour action movie District B-13 (also known as “the French jumping movie”) from my father-in-law. Humor-but-not-comics gift: John Hodgman’s new book That Is All from my wife.)

On New Year’s Day I went to my fav comic book store, Comix Connections for their “progressive sale” where every day selected items are discounted more and more. I went there the last day when it was 90% off. I usually don’t wait this long for fear of it being picked over. But I did pretty good.

On my way home that night I stopped at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and found the above high-end Al Jaffee book for just $2.99. A bargain indeed, so if you’re in the east stop into one of the stores. It’s a new year and you might have some good luck.

Comics go to the movies – Bordello of Blood

October 31, 2011

For Halloween, how about a horror movie based on a comic? OK, so it’s not actually based on one of the actual stories from the comic. It’s based on the TV show that was actually based on the actual stories from the comic.

Perhaps this will be a little less confusing. First there was the infamous EC horror comics of the 1950s (published by MAD’s William Gaines) of which Tales from the Crypt was one of the titles. Then there was the HBO series of the same name that ran from 1989 to 1996. (Each episode was based on one of the original stories.) Then there were a few movie spin-offs that were not based on any of the original stories. Bordello of Blood was the second.

So let me say this – I do recommend this movie, but it is a really bad movie. And not in the “it’s so bad it’s good” way, it’s just bad. But the saving grace in this excuse to add boobs to the franchise is Dennis Miller.

I’ve always loved (the non-political) Dennis Miller. And it appears that he rewrote his lines for this movie. So what you have is snappy comebacks in a sea of bad dialog. It’s unintentionally meta. It’s as if Dennis Miller was dropped into the alternate reality that is this movie and is riffing on it.

I saw Dennis Miller at the Disney MGM Studios theme park in 2000. The appearance was to promote him starting as a commentator on Monday Night Football. He put his hand prints in cement in from of the pseudo Mann’s Chinese Theater and then, of his own accord, happily signed autographs for the on-lookers. It really looked like he was going to do so for the whole crowd – and I was just a few people away from him – when the handlers intercepted. Dang. Then there was a Q&A in the Beauty and the Beast theater (I think). I wanted to ask about Bordello of Blood but I didn’t think the Disney people would appreciate me saying the word “bordello” into the PA system.

Comics go to the movies – MAD Magazine presents Up the Academy

April 21, 2011

So, I was picking around Netflix’s streaming movies and I looked up “Up the Academy.” This is an infamous flick with a tenuous cartooning connection. In the days after National Lampoon hit it big with their name in front of Animal House, William Gaines, the publisher of MAD Magazine, decided to get in on this action. The result was Up the Academy, a movie so bad that Gaines paid to have all mentions of MAD taken out of the movie, including the statue below that now resides in the MAD offices.

Fellow MADman Anton Emdin and I snap to attention last May

So I found Up the Academy figuring that I’d watch it and take bullet for you, dear reader, and report on it.

I must shamefully admit that I ducked when that shot was fired.

I couldn’t make it more than 20 minutes, it was so bad. It stars a pre-Karate Kid Ralph Macchio in the story of four misfit high school students sent to a military academy. Gay stereotypes. Abortion humor. And not just tasteless, but boring. Directed by Robert Downey Sr. (yep, Iron Man’s dad) in a way that reminded me of a quote from Paul Reiser’s character on the TV show Mad About You. He was a TV director and, while showing his fake wife a tape of something he wasn’t particularly proud of, he (more-or-less) said, “You know how I directed this? I turned on the camera and went and made a sandwich.” The only part that was at all interesting (and probably directed by someone else) was the credit sequence featuring a bunch of tin soldiers falling down like dominos while Alfred E.Neuman, dressed as a general, looks on.

Wait a sec… I’d thought that all references of MAD had been scrubbed from this bomb.

A trip to Wikipedia turned up that the film had been produced by Warner Brothers and when they bought MAD (after Gaines’s death) they reinstated all the MAD stuff.

That’s some fine cross-marketing, there.

Comics go to the movies – Red

April 1, 2011


Not as bad as you think it might be. Sure, that’s faint praise, but, c’mon, it’s a standard movie – you can figure everything out from any trailer. (SPOILER ALERT: the good guys win.) But it’s done really well, with enough twists and charm to make it quite enjoyable instead of an ordeal.

Comics go to the movies – Flesh Gordon

February 17, 2011

That is not a typo. This is indeed the title of the infamous 1974 soft-core porn parody of the comic strip Flash Gordon. It was a film I’ve wanted to see since I was a teenager…and not for the reasons you think.

Flesh Gordon would show up in sci-fi  fanboy nerdlinger magazines in the 70s as a result of so many special effects people worked on it because, in the days just before Star Wars, there wasn’t enough work to go around. And many of these effects people went on to high-end careers, including winning Oscars.

I was warned by a friend (who lived in Canada, where broadcast TV standards are a wee bit looser and Flesh would be shown too often) that this is a really bad film.

And it is.

I actually watched it about a year ago and can remember very little for my usual highly-detailed review. What was most fascinating was director Howard Ziehm’s commentary. Not really the usual “this shot, that shot” commentary, but more of a lecture about the early days of porn and all the craziness related to producing this film.

Another odd note: Howard Ziehm showed up a couple of times to Ohio State University’s triennial Festival of Cartoon Art. I figured out who he was when he mentioned making a comic parody film when asking a question during a Q&A.

Comics go to the movies (sort of) – Confessions of a Superhero

February 9, 2011


This is not an adaptation of any comics material, but a documentary about struggling actors who dress up as superheroes and work for tips posing with tourists on Hollywood Boulevard. “Superman” has an obsession with a certain Man of Steel and says he’s the son of the late actress Sandy Dennis (although this seems unlikely). “Batman” has serious anger issues and has a sordid mob-related past (his wife suggests believing about 50% of what he says). Yep, it’s all pretty sad, but a very good documentary.