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When rancher Tom Forrester tells his foreman Shad Marone to pay a fellow rancher a visit for cutting off access to the Pecos River violence quickly escalates. Marone soon finds himself a fugitive from the law and a pursuing posse. Half Mexican-half Apache Jesus Lopez leads the chase across the Jornada del Muerto desert landscape as he pursues Marone on his own personal quest.
Beau L’Amour and Kathy Nolan’s story is loosely based on the Louis L’Amour original 1945 story and adapted for graphic novel format by Charles Santino. The accomplished black-and-white half-tone artwork by Thomas Yeates effectively captures the mood of the story. Yeates is known for his work on Prince Valiant and the excellent figure work and layout demonstrates his mastery of the form.
Beau L’Amour has done an effective job in helping transfer his father’s story to the graphic novel format but acknowledges the task hasn’t been an easy one and credits fellow writer Katherine Nolan’s creative energy and dogged determination for making “all this possible.” Reflecting on his father Louis L’Amour, Beau states, “His life inspired the entire approach to the retelling of this story because he taught me much of what I know and influenced my vision of western characters and history.”
Published by Bantam (October 8, 2013), 160 pages; hardcover.
Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2013.
Anomaly is a major step forward for the graphic novel. The 370-page hardcover science-fiction adventure is the longest full-color, original graphic novel ever published and the heaviest at 6.4 pounds. When I received my review copy I was simply amazed at the quality of the large format 15 x 10 inch book. The hardcover book has been printed using a groundbreaking wide-gamut process that allows for more range of color and detail than is available in conventional printing. You will be impressed before you actually read the graphic novel. But this concept doesn’t stop at the book. It is also available as a stand-alone tablet app narrated by some of the best-known actors in science fiction and video games. In addition to the stand-alone tablet app. Anomaly introduces Ultimate Augmented Reality™. Readers can download a free Anomaly app for iOS and Android equipped with Ultimate Augmented Reality™ technology featuring more than 50 fully 3D models. Just point your iOS or Android device at the page of the hardcover book and the illustrations spring to life in 3D animation and interactivity. A cast of 15 actors lend their voice talents to bring over 90 speaking roles to life.
The story takes place in 2717 on a dying Earth. With resources depleted humans now live in “Terrarium Cities”, off world colonies or orbiting space stations. Earth is ruled by THE CONGLOMERATE, a ruthless merging of corporations, nations and technologies whose Enforcer Battalions now conquer planets.
Dishonorably discharged from the Conglomerate’s elite Enforcer Corps, Jon leaps at the chance to go on a peaceful, first contact mission to an untainted world. Playing armed babysitter to Samantha, the daughter of a powerful Conglomerate executive shouldn’t be too hard. What could go wrong?
For Jon, it’s a relief to get away – on an easy assignment protecting a couple of do-gooders visiting a peaceful new planet. For Samantha, it’s a mission to change the world. For Jasson, it’s a chance to put his theories to the test.Being marooned on Anomaly where technology doesn’t work, the terrain is lethal and the creatures even more so, Jon quickly learns he’s not the man he once was. Dark secrets surround the various species that call this world home. Jon’s actions here have the potential to ripple across the void of space, and touch everything in it… Maybe even the Conglomerate…
The artwork by Brian Haberlin (Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Spawn and Image Comics) is stunning in places, specifically the depiction of aliens and the landscape of Anomaly. The story by fantasy author, Skip Brittenham offers comparisons to tales of the Old West frontier and encountering hostile natives in a new land. Highly recommended and worth the price.
According to author-editor Tim Grierson in his latest FilmCraft book on Screenwriting screenwriters suffer from an image problem. They provide the blueprint for a movie only to see the director take the public acclaim. Actors are only as good as the words they are given to speak and directors can only make a good movie from a quality script. FilmCraft: Screenwriting honors 15 screenwriters from around the world, including Stephen Gaghan, Guillermo Arriaga, Caroline Thompson, Hossein Amini, and Jean-Claude Carrière, who have decided to make a living in a medium that generally undervalues their talent. Screenwriters talk about their individual approaches to writing for film.
When asked to rewrite the screenplay for Rise of the Planet of the Apes Mark Bomback notes the importance of the “character’s journey” and warns against the tendency of big budget productions to lose the story of that journey. Billy Ray - The Hunger Games (2012) also talks of “the simple emotional journey” but sees writing as “just problem solving…I don’t sit at my computer and think of artistry.”
David Hare states movie dialogue is “a form of stylization. If you actually analyze the lines of The Godfather, the level of literacy is way beyond anything you’ll hear from a mafia hood.” But stylistic consistency leads to audience acceptance despite the contradictions in logic. That stylistic consistency can also be utilized on character to convince an audience they could exist despite their weird other-worldliness. Caroline Thompson, best known for her work with director Tim Burton, acknowledges, “The character of Edward Scissorhands was based on the best dog I had… That movie would never be made today. It’s too odd.”
David Webb Peoples’ script “The Cut-Whore Killings” became one of Clint Eastwood’s most acclaimed westerns The Unforgiven (1992). He admits, “Nowadays when you write for the studios, you’re writing for a committee.” David Grierson’s book offers fascinating and instructive insights into the screenwriting process, including rewrites and adaptations. Hossein Amini explains the process he used when adapting Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure for Jude (1996) starring Kate Winslet and Christopher Ecclestone. First he broke down Hardy’s novel into numerous scenes - then he listed each individual scene on cards - and finally he filled in scenes where he felt something was missing. A mixture of using the source material and adding his own distinctive mark on the script.
This book is yet another interesting addition to the FilmCraft series which continues to excel in conveying the complexities of the filmmaking process.
Nicky Wright’s The Classic Era Of American Comics is a journey into nostalgia. A reminder of rainy days spent alone in your room reading the latest comic book, transporting you to a brighter four-color world. The world of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, Captain Marvel, Archie, Sheena, All-Star Western, Crypt of Terror, Two-Fisted Tales, Blackhawk, Plastic Man and Doll Man among others.
The late Nicky Wright has contributed numerous comic book covers and samples of strip artwork from his personal collection, all reproduced in full color throughout every page of the book. The art complements the informative text detailing the history of the American comic book industry from the 1930s to the barren period of the late 1950s when censorship had decimated the industry. Publishers include National -DC, Timely-Atlas-Marvel, Fawcett, Quality, Lev Gleason, Fiction House, Magazine Enterprises, Harvey, E.C., Gilberton and Avon.
Alongside familiar names we have lesser known titles such as Dead-Eye Western, Hangman, Rulah Jungle Goddess, Lorna the Jungle Girl, Slave Girl Comics, Silver Streak Comics, The Flame and Geronimo. Chapters highlight various genres including superheroes, war, horror and crime, westerns, romance and humor. Highly recommended for the artwork alone, this book is a perfect introduction to the Golden Age of the American comic book when sales were a massive 60 million copies per month – and a perfect refresher course for those who haven’t visited this part of their past for many years
Nicky Wright collected comics all his life and wrote for American Comic magazine. He was principally known as an award-winning writer and photographer of books on American cars. He lived for most of the last 15 years of his life in Michigan, but died in 2000 in England, the home of his birth.
Joe Kubert, who has written the foreword, started working in the comics business at age 11 and for the next 60 years produced stories about Hawkman, Tarzan, and Batman, as well as many other great comics. He was an editor for DC Comics for 25 years and founded the only school for comic artists. He received many honors including the 1998 Will Eisner Hall of Fame award. He died in August 2012.
Publication date: October 2013, 240 pgs, 400 color illustrations, $24.95, Carlton Books-Sterling Publishing.
Review copyright Weird Westerns (Paul Green) 2013.
Head Smash is a gritty, urban thriller centered around an orphan raised by a sinister syndicate called The Horde, following the death of his parents in a car crash. When that same syndicate turns against him and leaves him for dead Smash is returned to health and peak fitness by Mako who introduces him to a mysterious blue serum. Smash returns to the city of Ares to rescue his pregnant wife Leyla who has been taken prisoner by The Horde. Talk of a Thousand Year War and the ‘Ultimate Warrior’ gives added meaning to the importance of his child. With the aid of the mysterious blue serum that gives him superhuman strength Smash plans on getting revenge on The Horde and his mentor Maurice who betrayed him.
Erik Hendrix’s story is well paced and maintains the interest as Smash embarks on his journey of revenge and justice. The artwork by Dwayne Harris (John Henry: The Steam Age) reinforces the dark, noir atmosphere of the text with detailed urban landscapes and action scenes suitably rendered to emphasize the violence of Smash in his dealings with The Horde.
Creator Vlad Yudin states, “Smash seemed to fit his time perfectly. He stood up for his beliefs in the face of a brutal totalitarian regime. I saw a parallel in his story with the people fighting for freedom around the world.”
Writer, director and producer Yudin and Edwin Mejia, his producing partner, are producing and adapting the screenplay, which is currently in pre-production with producers Mark Morgan and Michael Beckor (The Twilight Saga).
Head Smash is due for publication by Arcana in association with the Vladar Company on July 31, 2013. With thanks to Lauren at Anderson Group PR.
Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2013.
“Drawn from the popular stage show and podcast, The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a collection of original tales that harkens back to the heyday of genre entertainment. Written by TAH creators Ben Acker and Ben Acker, this 136–page hardcover anthology features ten new stories from the worlds of the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Brought to life by top artists from the comics community, each stand–alone tale celebrates and reinvigorates a different classic genre, including science fiction, fantasy, westerns, superheroes, horror, war dramas, and many more.”
This light-hearted and entertaining comic strip anthology includes two Weird Western strips – Sparks Nevada, Marshal On Mars and Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier. Both take place on Mars with an emphasis on humor. Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (Supernatural) provide the stories with artwork by Randy Bishop and Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner.
Sparks Nevada – a marshal from Earth – with the help of ‘Croach the Tracker’ and the The Red Plains Rider pursue and confront Wired Bill, John Steelhands and their robotic gangs. Elsewhere on Mars, Cactoid Jim is involved in a case involving “The Murder Men” with such classic lines as, “Would somebody please manmurder that man murderman murderer!”
Other strips in this colorful collection from Archaia Entertainment include Phillip Fathom, Colonel Tick-Tock, Captain Laserbeam, Jefferson Reid -Ace American, Moonshine Holler and Amelia Earheart – Fearless Flyer.
Written by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker Illustrated by Randy Bishop, Lar deSouza, Joanna Estep, Billy Fowler, Tom Fowler, Evan Larson, Chris Moreno, Natalie Nourigat, Joel Priddy, Evan “Doc” Shaner, and Jeff Stokely. Colors by Heidi Arnhold, Jordie Bellaire, Casey Crowe, and Andre May. Edited by Joe LeFavi. Forewords by Patton Oswalt and Ed Brubaker.
136 pages, paperback, color. Published by Archaia Entertainment: August 20, 2013. Thanks to Archaia for providing the graphic novel for preview.