Friday, June 21, 2024

Film Friday: What is Up with the, "Blade," Movie and Its Development Hell?

The new iteration of, "Blade," was announced back in 2019. Mahershala Ali is to play the titular vampire-hunter, but everything else has been in flux since then. As William Hughes of the AV Club notes, "It's been a very messy 5 years." By all accounts, there have been a bunch of scripts with rewrite after rewrite, and a couple directors. We are now waiting to hear who the third supposed option for a director will be and if a script will be completed anytime soon. 5 years later and we've got almost nothing to show? The original Blade, Wesley Snipes, even cracked some jokes recently about all this.

I'm not a professional filmmaker, but I would think if you have Ali looking like a badass slicing up and shooting a bunch of vampires in some cool action scenes you're about halfway there. The, "Werewolf by Night," special already showed that Marvel can support horror-styled creatures in the MCU, so let's get to it and make a cool, "Blade," movie, please, sometime this decade!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"White Boat," #1 is Creepy and Gorgeous

"White Boat," #1 is a new series from the publisher DSTLRY, who make treasury-sized comics in various genres. A short promotion for the story was in the debut book from the publisher, "The Devil's Cut," #1, along with other titles and it was the most intriguing yarn to me. The first full issue is a treat, with writer Scott Snyder and artist Francesco Francavilla following a character named Lee who writes about yachts for a living while trying to function with the horrible trauma of having lost his brother in a freak boating accident when they were young. Lee finds himself invited to tour the mysterious mega-yacht known as the White Boat, and from there, things only get weirder.

Both Snyder and Francavilla have been making comics long enough I expected them to knock it out of the park with this first issue of, "White Boat." They surpassed my already lofty expectations, as this initial issue was amazing. Full of moody imagery, things really get scary when Lee finds himself trapped deep within the boat and it morphs and shifts in ways that seem impossible. If the whole series had Lee stuck in a boat that might get old, but by the issue's end it seems the White Boat is only the start of a wild and twisty journey. I eagerly await the next issue!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DC to Publish a Mature Readers Plastic Man Story With Ample Body Horror? Yes, Please!

"Plastic Man No More!" is a new DC mini-series that will be a part of their Black Label (kind of like a new Vertigo). It, "...mixes hard-boiled noir with intense body horror," as over four issues Plastic Man finds himself, "Dying," in the sense his plastic form begins degrading. The talented Christopher Cantwell is writing it with Alex Lins and Jacob Edgar providing artwork. Plastic Man tends to be a bit of a humorous character who has a weird edge to him, so leaning into the stranger stuff should be really fun with a great creative team involved. Plus, as this is the Black Label no punches will need to be pulled with how gruesome Plastic Man's depolymerization could get! The first issue hits stands this early September and should be quite a wild read.

"Where Monsters Lie: Cull-De-Sac," Should be an Exciting Sequel!

Some time ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed the debut issue of, "Where Monsters Lie," and the whole mini-series ended up being quite a treat. Focused on a secret gated community where slasher-type folks lived when not out doing crimes, it was a hilarious dark comedy. The series ended with the community found by the authorities and destroyed, but a cliffhanger revealed there was another subdivision called, "Site B." Now, it has been announced that, "Where Monster's Lie: Cull-De-Sac," is coming around this Halloween! The extra, "L," makes for a nice pun.

The latest mini-series will be four issues in the same manner as the debut run. I'm pleased this features the original creative team of writer Kyle Starks and the stellar artist Piotr Kowalski as both are fantastic. I can't wait to see what the new horror-inspired location will have in store for us readers and I eagerly look forward to the first issue this October!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

More AI News: A Real Photo Won in an AI Art Contest

I go from writing about an artist accused of using AI to discussing a photographer who passed a real picture off as AI. That's right, a real picture won awards in an AI Art contest. Such a sentence is both hilarious to read and exemplifies how pointless so-called AI, "Art," even is. A real image went on to earn plaudits, showing how having a human involved in the creation of art is key to making something people might actually want to view/read/watch/otherwise enjoy. 

The piece in question is a real picture of a flamingo that looks, "Wrong," and made it able to fool people until the photographer, Miles Astray, made his clever subterfuge clear to everyone. The art was disqualified but nobody was mad, instead seeing his point of how this should foster communication. All it took was a flamingo bending over just right to scratch itself with its beak to look like AI. It took a real human to capture this funny image and it goes to show even when the whole point of a category is AI, "Art," that real art is best.

Francesco Mattina Accused of Using AI for his Comic Covers

Mattina's latest work is being accused of mostly being AI.

I've seen a lot of rumors about Francesco Mattina in comics and just how much of his art he does versus ripping off from others and using Photoshop trickery to get away with the theft of fellow creators. Now, another comic artist is calling out Mattina. Adi Granov has been making posts online making it clear a new variant cover by Mattina is clearly produced by AI with some tweaks done by Mattina to attempt to hide the machine influence, but the nasty, "Fingerprints," of AI manifesting the work are there. The comic cover can be seen above with Superman.

My feelings on AI and how it isn't even really, "Art," are clear if you've read my blog. If the rumblings about Mattina are true (and things look damning) then why he would be getting work at a major publisher for doing little more than some typed prompts and hasty Photoshop alterations would be something DC should ask itself.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Dirty 20 Bar is a Great Place to Hang-Out

The Dirty 20 Bar just opened in Manchester, Missouri.  The idea behind the business is that there are sports bars in Saint Louis, but not a bar for playing board games, Dungeons and Dragons, and the like. Hence, it's a restaurant and bar with ample space for fun activities. It opens midday for lunch and is relatively quiet then before getting busy for the evening and late-night crowd. I went during the less-populated time and got permission to snap some pictures. I was with a friend of mine and enjoyed food. I didn't have any drinks but was impressed with the big variety on offer too.

Dirty 20's menu focuses a lot on Mac and Cheese. There are all kinds of cool variations and you can build your own. I had the pretzel bites as well as an order of the flaming hot bites and loved them. There were three but I forgot to snap a picture until l had already eaten one:

My friend loved his spicy Mac and Cheese as well. We both thought the decor was fun--especially with the walls nd tables featuring the artwork of everything from, "Magic: The Gathering," to maps and character info from D&D. The employees were all incredibly nice as well, creating a friendly vibe where you were welcome to hang-out and play all the provided games (or bring your own)!

Between the good grub, ample space for people to play tabletop/card games, and chill atmosphere I was impressed with Dirty 20 and hope they have lots of success in these opening months and into the future!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Happy Father's Day 2024!

Please excuse Gibson's lack of his usual smile, he had just woken up.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads and father figures out there! This is my first Father's Day with Gibson as a member of the family and I am so thankful for Clarkson and Gibby! I love my boys a lot and we enjoyed going and riding the local carousel earlier today, as the above picture shows. I want to thank my wife, Samii, for our wonderful family and I hope everyone else has a fantastic day too!

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Upper Deck Partners with DC to Produce Trading Cards

Upper Deck is a big name in trading cards. They own the sole rights to the NHL, so anytime I buy, "Official," hockey cards they bear the Upper Deck name. They also work extensively with Marvel to make trading cards that draw from the comics as well as the movies/shows. Just this week, Upper Deck announced they have partnered with DC. There are already plans to do card sets similar to the Marvel ones such as the, "Annual," and, "Masterpieces," plus boxes focused on key characters like Batman and Superman. It has been decades since there have been official DC trading cards so this is pretty cool. 

The first sets seem focused on the comics but as the new Gunn/Safran Universe of movies and shows gets into gear that'll probably result in some tie-in cards too. You can already buy a, "Preview," card on the Upper Deck's ePack site. Those are cards that you buy and open virtually but the can be shipped to you as soon as you've opened them or once the physical copies are produced if they aren't yet manufactured (so thank God they are not like NFTs in that there is an actual item). The debut Preview card is Superman and can be purchased for just a week before--one assumes--a new preview card will occur to make a little set. Observe:

Readers of the blog are aware that in late 2023 I got into hockey cards as well as some of the Marvel lines. I enjoy DC too so this is snazzy news and I look forward to whatever cool stuff Upper Deck and DC put out via this new partnership!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Sony Has Bought the Alamo Drafthouse and It Makes Me Nervous

Once upon a time, we had the Paramount Decree. That made it illegal for film production companies/studios to own movie theaters because then they'd be controlling the production, distribution, and exhibition of movies. It was an antitrust measure put in place in 1948 by the Supreme Court. It was weakened during the Reagan era (he truly was one of the worst Presidents ever) and in 2020 was completely struck down. Now, Sony has bought out the Alamo Drafthouse chain of movie theaters.

The idea of Sony buying this chain of movie theaters is that it can allow them to emphasize their catalog of properties they own, such as promoting a lot more anime in theaters thanks to their acquisition of Crunchyroll (America's largest legal way to stream anime) in 2021. Even with promises made this will add to the moviegoing experience it still makes me nervous. What's to stop Sony from prioritizing one of their flicks by offering it at a discounted price exclusively at the theaters they own? What if they chose to do something like only releasing certain limited-run flicks they've created at Alamo Drafthouse to optimize profit on an otherwise potentially less-popular movie? Sony, obviously, doesn't own a huge number of movie theaters so this isn't some kind of theater monopoly, but they carved out a little chunk for themselves that can be used to test various ideas, some better and more ethical than others. I worries me a bit, and I think it should concern you at least somewhat too. 

Whenever a smaller entity gets bought out by a bigger one there are always promises of how very little will change and things will mostly stay the same. That's what Funko said when they bought out Mondo before butchering it. That's what Amazon said before dismantling Comixology. Those are just two recent examples and the list obviously goes on. I feel a bit ill at ease with Sony buying the Alamo Drafthouse brand of theaters. I'm not freaking out, but I'm cautious. I guess we'll see what happens.