Posted by Adam Wills
Harvey Pekar, writer of the alternative comics series “American Splendor,” which was adapted for a 2003 film, has died. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pekar, a cancer survivor, was found by his wife, Joyce Brabner, early Monday morning at their Cleveland area home; he was 70 years old.
Pekar wrote his first comic strip in 1972; it was illustrated by his friend, R. Crumb. He began publishing regularly, or semi-regularly, a few years later. “American Splendor” was illustrated by a variety of artists and focused on the minutiae of Pekar’s life as a file clerk.
Pekar was born to Polish immigrant parents in Cleveland; he was raised there and tried one year of college at Case Western Reserve before joining the Navy. After returning, he eventually found work as a file clerk at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, where he stayed for 37 years, retiring in 2001.
In the evolving world of graphic novels, Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor” was a regular reminder that comics could be adult. Pekar’s world — working class, day-to-day — was almost the antithesis of superhero comics. Unlike other adult comics that were written and illustrated by the same team, like the Hernandez brothers’ “Love and Rockets,” Pekar’s series didn’t have a visual identity. His use of different artists from issue to issue meant that the only through-line was his story, and that always hinged on Pekar’s character: obsessive-compulsive, jazz-loving, curmudgeonly. [LA Times]
Pekar’s 2005 graphic novel, “The Quitter” (art by Dean Haspiel), documented his upbringing as the son of Jewish immigrants. Another of Pekar’s graphic novels, 1994’s “Our Cancer Year,” co-written with his wife, documented the writer’s fight against lymphoma.
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July 2, 2010 | 11:59 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Marvel Studios and Columbia/Sony announced that British Jewish actor Andrew Garfield, 26, has been cast as the new lead in the “Spider-Man” reboot, which is expected to feature a younger Peter Parker.
Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) is directing the 3D film, slated for a 2012 release. The reboot emerged from the ashes of “Spider-Man 4,” and comes only five years after the release of the dreadful “Spider-Man 3,” which featured an embarrassingly emo Toby Maguire.
On selecting Garfield, Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”
Born in Los Angeles, Garfield moved to England with his British mother and American father when he was 3. In an interview with indieLONDON, he says he grew up in a middle-class Jewish home and attended private school.
A stage actor by training, Garfield has a short but impressive film and television resume, including a striking performance as the youthful sleight-of-hand expert Anton in Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Heath Ledger’s last film) and starring opposite Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep in his first big-screen film, “Lions for Lambs.”
The fannish crowd might recognize Garfield as Frank, the young Hooverville resident in the series three “Doctor Who” episodes “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks.” Later this year you’ll see him in David Fincher’s Facebook film “Social Network.”
Garfield beat out other stars like Anton Yelchin (“Terminator Salvation,” “Star Trek”), Aaron Johnson (“Kick-Ass”) and Logan Lerman (“Percy Jackson”) for the “Spider-Man” role.
July 1, 2010 | 7:13 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Get ready for Nazis in Space! And no, this is not a Mel Brooks parody.
“Iron Sky,” an indie film set for a 2011 release, has Nazis escaping to the dark side of the moon during the final days of World War II, only to return in flying saucers as the Fourth Reich to claim the Earth in 2018.
The Finnish-German co-production has raised 90 percent of its $8.5 million budget, according to the Underwire blog, and filming is set to begin in Australia and Germany this fall.
In addition to money from 12 traditional financiers (including Disney’s Finland division), the filmmakers also received 52 micro-donations through its Web site. The first teaser for the film pulled in 1.3 million views over the past two years on YouTube, and a new trailer released this month, featuring special effects footage from the film, continues the request for funds.
CGI maestro Samuli Torssonen supervised Iron Sky’s visual effects after spending seven years working on zero-budget feature Star Wreck. For the Iron Sky trailers, “everything was either shot by ourselves or created by our VFX team at Energia Productions,” Torssonen told Wired.com in an e-mail. “I think for indie productions it is very important to have in-house creative which can archive visually impressive shots with a decent budget.”
As a hybrid model blending conventional business cash with microdonations from sci-fi zealots, Iron Sky is emerging as the most expensive fan-curated movie to date. As such, it points the way toward a future in which audience and investor become one and the same.
“I think it’s great that the audience can, in some terms, ‘order’ a film that they find cool by investing, participating in the production or donating money,” Torssonen said. “They can give ideas and feedback, become part of the whole process, and finally see a film in theaters that has been tailored for their needs.”
June 30, 2010 | 4:53 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Covered arms, shoulders and legs? Say hello to the new modest Wonder Woman. The busty Amazon beauty has ditched her barely there singlet for a body suit and jacket. (Yes, she still sports her iconic tiara, bracelets and lasso.) The new look—courtesy of Jim Lee—is the first significant change to the character’s appearance since her debut in 1941 (not counting the 1960s mod look—less said the better).
The tough-but-elegant outfit is generating mixed reactions, drawing opinions from Hollywood writer Nikki Finke and Linda Carter.
From DC’s The Source blog:
Starting today, Wonder Woman will appear like you’ve never seen her before. ... bestselling artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee has redesigned her costume for the modern era, just in time for BABYLON 5 creator and critically acclaimed writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Don Kramer and Michael Babinski to launch the Amazon Princess into an exciting and epic new era of adventure.
It’s a look designed to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who’ve asked, “how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?”) She can close it up to pass unnoticed…open it for the freedom to fight…lose the jacket or keep it on…it has pockets (the other fan question, “where does she carry anything in that outfit?”, it can be accessorized…it’s a Wonder Woman look designed for the 21st century. The bracelets are still there, but made more colorful, tied on the inside and over the hand, with a script W on each of them that form WW when she holds them side by side…and if you get hit by one of them, it leaves a W mark. This is a Wonder Woman who signs her work…letting her enemies know that she’s getting closer.
Under the headline “DC Comics Has Ruined Wonder Woman,” Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke wrote:
Of course, it took a bunch of men to ruin her. ... she looks ready for Goth Day at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. (Shame on Diane Nelson, the head of DC Entertainment, for allowing this to happen. And for not finding a talented woman writer to update the icon’s saga.)
But Linda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television in the 1970s, told ABC News she likes the new look:
“I think it will take time for people to get over not seeing a lot of leg ... [But] I think it’s going to be very sexy and it’s new and I love the little cap sleeve. You know, she’s a hip girl.
“I think Wonder Woman has a mind of her own. And I think she was just kind of ready for something new. She’s got an attitude and if this is the new thing that she wants to wear, well, by God, she’s going to wear it. And I like that. And I hope that in the story someone mentions, where’s the old one? And she says, get over it!”
And Willa Paskin at New York magazine’s Vulture blog—excited that Wonder Woman gets to wear pants—describes the “overall effect to be fairly badass, and nicely common sense: It really is much easier to focus on fighting crime when one isn’t worrying about accidentally flashing lady parts. And, for those fanboys worried too much has been covered up, don’t worry: These pants are way too tight for pockets.”
Bottom line: observant fangirls just got a new outfit choice for Purim/comic-cons/cosplay.
June 30, 2010 | 3:48 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Israeli American director Oren Peli helped Paramount scare up almost $200 million with the Halloween 2009 release “Paranormal Activity,” a “found footage” film about the haunting of a suburban family, which he shot for $15,000 in his San Diego tract home. The Halloween 2010 sequel, which features Peli as producer, has Tod “Kip” Williams directing a script by Michael R. Perry. The trailer, playing before “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Hello, female demographic!), went online today.
Spoiler: The footage doesn’t show much, but when Katie appears in the bathroom doorway be sure to look at the crib and then look at the crib’s reflection in the mirror. Freaky! Most likely the baby’s name is Hunter, which a demon voice says at the end. Is Micah the baby-daddy? We’ll have to wait until October to find out.
June 29, 2010 | 12:02 pm
Posted by Wendy J. Madnick
For breast cancer survivors tired of pink ribbons and “forced cheerful” cancer wear, Mindy Sterling has a more realistic — even cynical — take on cancer survival. The character actress best known as Frau Farbissina in the “Austin Powers” series is bringing an edge to survivor schmatta with Attitude Tee.
T-shirt slogans include: “Cancer Rack” and “In Remission — Been There, Done That.” For oft-forgotten men who schlep their wives and partners to doctor visits and chemo: “Looks Like She’s Gunna Live… So Much For That Life Insurance.”
“Cancer creates an instant bond, something that ignites sharing. When people read these sayings on a T-shirt, they smile,” said Sterling, who will greet fans at the Attitude Tee booth on July 22 during Comic-Con in San Diego.
After receiving a cancer diagnosis in 1998, Sterling spent much of the following year undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Her friend and Attitude Tee partner Renae Mahar finished the last of her surgeries this past May. The two friends launched the apparel line — which includes shirts, tank tops and hats — as a fundraiser, a coping mechanism and as a way of opening the lines of communication between survivors.
“We were both sick of people asking if we were OK, or looking at us with pity in their eyes,” Sterling told GeekHeeb. “We wanted to make it OK for people to talk about.”
In addition to her fashion line, Sterling has remained active in other fundraising for cancer research. Earlier this week, she announced plans to host and star in a performance of Alex Scolari’s “The Girly Show” to benefit the UCLA Breast Center for Breast Cancer Research. The all-female song and dance revue will take place Sept. 10 at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood.
As far as a fourth “Austin Powers” film, Sterling says she would reprise her role as Frau Farbissina “in a heartbeat.”
June 25, 2010 | 11:13 am
Posted by Adam Wills
After a seven-year hiatus, “Futurama” returned to television on Thursday night. Comedy Central picked up the show for 26 new half-hour episodes.
The cult animated series by “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and David X Cohen revolves around Philip J Fry, a cryogenically frozen 20th century pizza delivery boy who awakens in the 31st century and goes to work for his distant nephew—mad scientist Hubert J. Farnsworth and his Planet Express delivery company.
Among Fry’s Planet Express colleagues is Dr. Zoidberg, a Jewish-sounding lobster-esque alien from Decapod 10. Billy West (“Ren and Stimpy”) voices Zoidberg, along with Fry, Farnsworth and clueless military commander Zapp Brannigan.
During his April appearance at Wizard-Con in Anaheim, West said the Jewish delivery for Zoidberg is no accident.
After looking at a character sketch for Zoidberg, West said he drew inspiration from two Jewish actors—vaudeville veteran George Jessel and Canadian character actor Lou Jacobi. “All these guys sounded like they had marbles in their mouths,” he said. Zoidberg “had all this cool meat hanging off his face, so it only made sense to imitate [Jessel and Jacobi].”
In past episodes writers have played with Dr. Zoidberg’s implied Jewish background. In “Future Stock,” the Planet Express crew attends a “bot” mitzvah for the free food, but a Chasidic robot blocks Zoidberg’s path: “No shellfish!”
June 22, 2010 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
The “Green Hornet” trailer is up today and, despite my initial reservations with Seth Rogan in the title role, the film looks fun—but more along Judd Apatow lines. Michel Gondry will have to work hard to differentiate “Green Hornet” from “Batman”—having pulled out the old Millionaire-playboy-turned-crimefighter saw (with a dead parent to boot)—or the humor-laced “Iron Man,” but as long as the film can deliver on both action and comedy, it’ll give fanboys something to watch between “Tron Legacy” and “Thor”/“Green Lantern.”