Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: A New DawnStar Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant
Star Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith
Star TrekMass Effect Overdraft Iron Man & more!

Order the Star Trek Prey trilogy here!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering Farrah

Very sorry to see the passing of Farrah Fawcett. She was everywhere in the 1970s — Charlie's Angels, of course, and innumerable T-shirts and posters — and even if you were too young to pay much attention to girls, you knew she was (then) married to the Six Million Dollar Man, so she had to be cool.

But she's also got a pivotal role in the film version of Logan's Run, playing Holly-13, the angelic assistant of Doc, secret assistant to runners. There's always that nice moment, after so many strange episodes in the film, of seeing her familiar face there in the New You Shop. The 23rd Century suddenly seems like an all-right place. She'll be missed...

Edit 5:50 CDT: And now, Michael Jackson. The evening news reminded me of May 1990, when we lost Jim Henson and Sammy Davis, Jr. on the same day. MTV, the network which exists because of Michael, was still playing cartoons while the news was being reported on other stations: about twenty minutes ago they finally went to showing Jackson videos. MTV2, VH1, and VH1 Classic are still all on regular programming (which, as is often the case on these nets, means something other than music).

My son's watching all this on the news — he's the age I was when Elvis died, and wondering who these people were. Elvis was a bit of a different experience in my case, because we were living a few blocks away from Graceland and I knew who he was just from driving past the place. It was Elvis Presley Boulevard even then.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Comics Confessions: My Summer of Batman

Welcome to Fanboy Anonymous. We’ve got someone new with us today. Introduce yourself, please…

“My name is John, and I saw Tim Burton’s Batman movie theatrically 12 times. I know that sounds excessive, but it just sort of happened.”

Happened how?

“It was summer session in a college town -- everyone had left. The trendiest nightspot was the campus commissary where each hour Hair-Net Harriet would loudly announce the alley cat’s latest digestive complaint.”

Ewww.

“Yeah. You can see the need for frequent film-hall forays.”

Very alliterative. So why Batman? Were you drawn by the hype?
“Nope, ignored it on purpose. The last big comics pic had been Howard the Duck, remember. Everyone was skeptical. Low expectations were in order all June, until the 22nd, when I wrapped up at the newspaper and, finding nothing to do, ended up in line at the mall six hours before the sneak preview.”

What was that like?

“I’ve been to movies at lots of conventions, and I’ve yet to see as energetic or as wacky a crowd. I don’t know where they’d all hidden themselves. There were at least a dozen teens in Joker make-up. One black-clad group brought a giant black dropcloth and draped it across their section of seats, cape-style. There was riotous applause for every name on the screen — a little less for Prince, a little more for Bob Kane. Outside of Rocky Horror, I can’t recall a more energetic audience — unless you count that Jedi premiere where the whole audience stood up.”

Stood up?

“Never mind. Different story. Anyway, I had a ball and caught the film again the next day with a different group of friends. And again. And so on, until #12, which was in The Orpheum, the grand old Memphis theatre. That was a good place to stop, I think. It took on a goofy ritual aspect, in keeping with such odd college-student avocations as playing ‘Price the Cheese’ in the all-night grocery or manufacturing and planting evidence of a fake serial killer.”

What on earth?

“Hush. It wasn’t your education. The point is, there was something about being in the thick of the mania. A friend at one theater told how they’d yanked Star Trek V and Ghostbusters II off screens and had run their one Batman print in three rooms simultaneously — either relaying reels from room to room or running the actual filmstrip down the hall, some crazy explanation. I can’t say as if that was legit, but it shows how strange that summer solstice got.”

Well, what about the criticisms of the picture? Some even in the comics community were less than kind…

“They’re right. They’re all right. There's a lot of other movies you'd trade for a chance to see theatrically. Some were even out that summer — it was a big year for movies. But, you know, when you get to the end, and you remember how much ‘pow-biff-thud’ ribbing comics fans have taken since the old Batman TV series, and you see a Batman who’s not a buffoon standing triumphantly as the music climbs, you realize that the character’s just transformed the image of super-hero comics for a lot of mainstream popular perception.”

At least, until they undid all of that three movies later.

“Thanks for reminding me — now I'll have to watch Dark Knight again to forget. But, for a while there, things did change. Darkman, the Flash TV show, The Rocketeer, The Crow — heck, even Dick Tracy went with a mysterious logo for its teaser posters.

"And within the series itself, there's a certain progression that reflects the comics — as Michael Uslan, one of the producers, pointed out to me some years later at San Diego. The first film's the Batman-with-a-Gun 1930s; the second is the 1940s, also dark but with a larger rogue's gallery. Then you get the Robin-centric 1950s in the third film and the campy 1960s in the fourth. At the time, before Batman Begins had come out, he speculated that a fifth movie should be the detective Batman of the 1970s, followed by the Dark Knight version of the 1980s. I guess it did kind of follow that track, after all."

Do you think anyone else will notice the 20th anniversary?

“I don't know. But it was nice to talk about something other than Star Wars for a change. Hey, is there a refreshment cart here?”

[An earlier version of this appeared in Comics Buyer's Guide #1334, the June 11, 1999 edition. Thank goodness they made the last few Batman movies...!]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Knights of the Old Republic #42: Taking up the mask!

OK, folks, the frequency of posts here is exactly reflective of how busy I have been... but I'm not too busy to alert you to the arrival in better comics establishments tomorrow of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #42, also known as "Masks."

There has been a lot of speculation about this one, as it sheds light on unseen moments of the Mandalorian Wars and the lives of Revan and Malak. I won't promise that it answers all questions, of course — but I can promise some surprises.

Should be a fairly healthy trivia section on this one once I have time, although you can find out an interesting fact about one of the supporting players in this story by checking out the latest edition of Star Wars Insider. In the meantime, enjoy, and be sure to drop me a line.

Update 6/21: And some thoughts are now online. Huzzah...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lost Tribe notes

And now that a few days have passed since its release, I've found time to post some thoughts on the writing of the first Lost Tribe of the Sith story. I'm particularly eager to avoid giving away anything about what's coming up, so it's pretty close to the vest as details go — but it does get into some of my own history with Star Wars and prose.

It's a bit different writing about comics, where sometimes the art leads to questions about what elements off in a corner of the panel somewhere are. In prose, if you didn't read it, we didn't mean to say it!

Be sure to read the story if you haven't yet... and stay tuned for news about what's coming up!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chris Hardwick's new show

Years ago, I went to high school with comedian and tech-blogger Chris Hardwick. Chris was assigned as my freshman to torture during Freshman Initiation — an institution I was not fond of, based on my own experience — but Chris turned out to have such a great sense of humor that he took what few hazing indignities there were in stride. (But it did allow me, when he was co-host of MTV's Singled Out in the 1990s, to point at the screen and tell bystanders that, yes, I made that guy on TV wear a dress. In the name of school spirit, of course...)

I graduated that year and didn't know him for very long — although my crew often frequented the bowling lanes run by his PBA star father, Billy Hardwick — but recently got back in touch after reading one of his articles in Wired. As you may have heard on this morning's Bob & Tom Show, he's got a new show on the G4 network this weekend, Web Soup — an internet-focused version of the E! Network's Talk Soup, premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT. Be sure to tune in!

Update: Well, that's surreal — the first time I ever mention the Hardwick bowling lanes online, I get word that part of the plaza it's in burned down last night! Sounds like the Hardwick place was untouched, and nobody was hurt.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lost Tribe weekend

I really had no idea how quickly these electronic books got circulated, but from the folks I've heard from it seems to have gotten around pretty quickly. It's been the #2 download on Amazon for a couple of days, and that's just for the Kindle users — otherwise, you can get it directly here.

While I do plan to share some thoughts on the release here on the site, I'm dueling with deadlines at the moment — so please check back again.
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