The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
The love of many, the work of a few....

July 2004  #66

4400 SITE 

July 30-August 1: Otakon 2004, 
July 31 –August 1: Super Megafest-BATFEST 
August 13-15: Horrorfind, 
September 2-6: The Worldcon - Noreascon 4. 
October 15-17: Capclave 2004 
October 29-31: Chiller Theatre



July 16  I ROBOT 
July 23  CATWOMAN 

Anime Summertime News!

MARLON BRANDO, Edmund DiGiulio, 
Hugh Barnet Cave, Donald Edmund Trumbull, Lu Leonard, Max Rosenberg

Review and/or Post it on the fridge.
Review the dates and month mentioned.

Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, Andrew Kent John Ward
Dava Sentz, Mike Laird, Joe Plempel, Gary Roberson, Charles Wittig
Taylor Sherblom Woodward, Jim Childs, Jeanne Matcovich, Mike Schilling

ICSClubnewsClubnews All About Us ClubnewsClubnewsICS

Local film-maker Mark Redfield graced the ICS podium and gave a presentation on his background in film as an actor and director and of the state of cinema today.  He is a real fan of Imaginative Cinema and even bought some of Gary’s James Bond memorabilia.  
Mark Redfield shared with us some wonderful clips from his early days of film-making to his years of Baltimore commercials (Mr. Randolph) and got us involved in some lively discussion about film history here in our neighborhood.  He even talked about some of his new movies and showed some trailers for those.
To quote ICS member Gary Roberson, “Funny to see this guy who did a literal interpretation of DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE and who has an interest in revisiting some old classic characters (Captain Nemo, Harry Houdini, Jonathen Harker, etc...)  come out with a video called CHAINSAW SALLY.”
Thanks to the board for convincing Mr. Redfield to visit and thanks to Mr. Redfield for providing insight into the art of film-making!
Due to lack of dealers, the Cinemedia convention schedule for September 17 to 19 is cancelled.  Thanks to all ICS members who volunteered their time – we appreciate your willingness to help out.
The Pennsylvania contingent is growing.  Our newest member, Kim Baretnslager, hails from Stewartstown PA.  Welcome to the club, Kim!  It’s worth the travel!
Beyond the East Coast, that is.  Tim Fleming was in Baltimore for the week to attend a physicists convention at the Inner Harbor.  And of course, he stopped by to see his friends at ICS with pictures of Heather and new baby Kyra Amara.
 It was great to see you Tim – come back any time!
Why Mike Schilling does.  Seriously, Mike had been suffering from back problems for at least 12 months and was finally able to schedule time to get it corrected.  In the mean time, Mike is homebound and would appreciate get-well wishes.  Get better soon, Mike!
Let’s welcome Grace Adelaide Clews into the world.  She is the grand-daughter of Skipper Barry Murphy.  Congrats to Barry and his family!  


 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday July 31st at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in.   

  No, I’m not talking about Lovecraft.  July 31st is ICS annual PIZZA NIGHT!  With Pizza courtesy of Rusty’s pizza.  Mmmm!  Bring your appetites!  

  Okay, now I AM referring to Lovecraft night, courtesy of John Clayton.  On July 31st, be prepared to worship Ancient Ones, use words like gibbous and squamous (i.e. “The pepperoni looked rather squamous” “The crust is quite gibbous”) and, like all Lovecraft heroes, go insane.

 Due to vacation time and a new computer system being installed, (yeah!) there will not be an ICS Files coming out next month. We will be back with our regularly scheduled fun filled information packed newsletter in September.  Thank you.

   For one weekend in the summer, Baltimore is temporarily taken over by large flocks of strange folk in costumes, either scantily clad or bizarrely overdressed for the season and occasionally donning cat ears or large (fake) samurai swords. These are all the nutty anime fans attending Otakon, the second largest anime convention in the states. This year it takes place July 29th through August 1st and it’s the biggest Otakon yet. 
   Not only are we taking over the convention center, but also the Baltimore Arena, which has been rented out for the concert they hold each year. Kicking off their American CD release is  one of the biggest Japanese rock bands of all time, L’arc~en~Ciel, which Otakon just confirmed as a guest less than a week ago (and I thought I put things off to the last minute…). 
   L’arc~en~Ciel has had several songs used for anime shows though out their 10+ years together (most recently FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST), but regardless of the anime connection, this promises to be a darn good show.  As an opening act, a new Japanese group known as Angela will be performing. Yes, that’s a group, not just one person. Angela is best known in the anime fandom for performing the opening and closing themes to UCHUU NO STELLVIA (being released on DVD by Geneon in September).
   Otakon is more than an anime convention though, it celebrates several aspects of Asian culture, particularly film. Renowned Hong Kong Director Ching Siu-Tung is also making an appearance, and his film HERO will be screened as well. Most of the screenings and panels are not listed on the website yet, but rest assured there will be a good line up.
   While Otakon is Friday through Sunday, there will be a pick up line for preregistration starting on Thursday at 5 due to the high volume of attendees. (To put it in perspective, the first prereg went through the website 4 minutes after the site went live and then averaged one prereg every 60 seconds for the ten hours after that. And they didn’t even announce it was open till the next morning. As one staffer put it “You people scare me”)  Preregistration is available online through the 10th at the price of 55 dollars for the entire weekend. One day only passes will also be available if you wait in line at the con.
   Whether or not you’re an anime fan, or one of Asian cinema, it’s definitely a weekend to hang out in Baltimore to witness the spectacle that is hordes of anime fans. Cosplaying, and glomping bishies! Spending way too much money in the dealers room and having to panhandle in order to secure transportation back home! Not to mention getting strange looks as you walk around the town dressed as Vash the Stampede or taking up three seats in the Burger King, one for you and two for your Sephiroth costume, though sadly, sometimes it’s the other way around.

   Pilot Mike Melvill took SpaceShipOne 62.2 miles above Earth, just a little more than 400 feet above the distance considered to be the boundary of space. The flight lasted just 90 minutes.
   The spaceship - with its fat fuselage and spindly white wings - was carried aloft under the belly of a carrier jet. The jet then released the spaceship, and its rocket engine ignited, sending it hurtling toward space at nearly three times the speed of sound. It left a vertical white vapor trail in the brilliant blue sky.
  SpaceShipOne touched down in the Mojave Desert at 8:15 a.m. to cheers and applause.
   Melvill, 63, said seeing the curvature of the Earth was ''almost a religious experience.''
''It was really an awesome sight,'' he said. ''It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and it blew me away.''
   The flight is an important step toward winning the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million award for the first privately financed three-seat spacecraft to reach an altitude of 62 miles and repeat the feat within two weeks. That should be coming up soon.
   The three-seat requirement demonstrates the capacity for paying customers; the quick turnaround between flights demonstrates reusability and reliability.
   Promoters hope that Monday's milestone and others will lead to a future where tourists will pay perhaps $20,000 to $100,000 for the opportunity to soar above the Earth's atmosphere, float in zero gravity and take in the sights.
   ''The door to space is finally open to the rest of us,'' said George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society, which is wants to see space travel opened to people from all walks of life.
   By contrast, Alan Shepard soared to an altitude of 115 miles in 1961 when he became the first American in space. That flight lasted less than 15 1/2 minutes.
   During his brief trip, Melvill opened a bag of M&M's and watched the candies, uninhibited by gravity, float through the cockpit. ''It was absolutely amazing, these M&M's were just going around. It was so cool,'' he said.  
(and we all thought of Homer Simpson and his weightless potato chip eating scene eh?)
   For good luck the veteran pilot had attached a tiny horseshoe to his flight suit. He said the jewelry was something he had made and presented to his girlfriend when she was 16. She became his wife a year later.

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   Original Star Trek star James Doohan (Scotty) is battling Alzheimer's disease. 
   Doohan's wife, Wende, broke the news in Britain's Daily Record newspaper saying “It is hard for him to do interviews, because the more he starts searching for the words, the more frustrated he gets," she reportedly told the newspaper. "With Jimmy, it's mostly the loss of words. He still recognizes everybody. And there are times when he is sharp as a tack."
The 84-year-old Doohan also suffers from Parkinson's disease and diabetes. He is slated to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later this month.

4400 SITE 
   USA Network has launched a new Web site for its upcoming SF series THE 4400, about the return of 4,400 alien abductees. The series comes from executive producer Francis Ford Coppola.
   The 4400 deals with the sudden and inexplicable return of 4,400 people who have been missing for as long as 50 years, appearing just as they were when they were taken. The government investigates the abductees to piece together where they've been and why they're back. It becomes apparent that their return will change the human race in ways no one could have foreseen.
   THE 4400, starring Joel Gretsch (Steven Spielberg Presents Taken) premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT on July 11.

   A casting call has gone out for the role of Lois Lane, Clark Kent's future love interest, who will reportedly appear in four episodes of the WB series. A twenty-something Lois Lane will travel to Smallville in search of her cousin, Chloe Sullivan (series regular Allison Mack). Lois is described in the casting breakdown as "Caucasian, smart, beautiful, urban, headstrong, and no-nonsense."
   Producers are also looking for a young actor to play a new character named Jason Teague, a college student at Metropolis University who will become a regular cast member. There is no word yet on which actors or actresses are being considered for the two roles. SMALLVILLE will begin filming its fourth season in Vancouver, B.C. in July

   BABYLON 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski said that he and DARK SKIES creator Bryce Zabel have put together an idea for a new STAR TREK series, which he said would revive the ailing franchise. "I got together with Zabel and wrote a treatment earlier this year that specified how to save STAR TREK and develop a series that would restore the series in a big way," Straczynski wrote. "I actually think it could be a hell of a show. Whether that ever goes anywhere with Paramount, who knows?"
   Straczynski added that Paramount called him last year to accept an executive producer position on the currrent TREK series, ENTERPRISE, in its upcoming fourth season, but that he declined. "The series I mentioned has nothing to do with any current series," he added. "It's a new show."
   Manny Coto, who created Showtime's SF series ODYSSEY 5, will take over ENTERPRISE next year as show runner. "As for Manny, he's a good writer, and left to his own devices, I think he could be a big help over there without the other powers-that-be impeding the process," Straczynski said.

   Christopher Judge, who plays Teal'c on SCI FI Channel's original series STARGATE SG-1, said that his character undergoes one notable change in the upcoming eighth season: He grows hair.
   "Yes," Judge said "It took a lot of years of begging and groveling for me to finally get it, but yeah, ... that will be the most obvious change, definitely."
   Judge, who is not naturally bald, said that seven years of shaving his head daily took its toll. "I got really tired of it," he said. "And by three quarters of the way through the season it was really painful to actually shave. So, you know, this is very welcome. Very welcome. Hopefully the fans will like it."
   Judge added that it took a little persuasion to get the show's producers to allow such a dramatic change to his character's appearance-and he even tried a more radical look. 
   "It first was at least considered when there was going to be all the changes this year," he said. "I'd done a bunch of conventions and had cornrows during hiatus, so I talked to executive producer and he said, 'OK, maybe so.' So I kind of unveiled the cornrows at the conventions. So we got here and pictures were sent down to MGM. And they didn't like it. So I had to shave the cornrows. But this is what's left."
   Judge's hair is now closely cropped. "Believe me, I'm grateful for it," he said with a smile. "I think it was time for it. You know, I mean eight years for this character to be on Earth? I just think that was the next move toward his ... final assimilation. So yeah, I think the timing is right."
   So how will the show acknowledge Teal'c's new do? "Nothing's said about it until we find Rick [Dean Anderson] in ... the first episode of the season. And he comes out of the little chamber and says, 'So what's with the hair?' In typical O'Neill fashion.

   The voice actress Giselle Loren will take over Sarah Michelle Gellar's starring role in a proposed animated BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER animated TV series, for which a pilot is being produced. Sources told said that Gellar chose not to reprise her role, leading creator Joss Whedon to recruit Loren, who previously voiced the character in the video game Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its sequel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds.
   Other BUFFY regulars-including Alyson Hannigan (Willow), Nicholas Brendon (Xander) and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)-will voice their characters in the pilot. The pilot will be screened for potential distributors next month.

   Cartoon Network is developing an expanded version of its STAR WARS: Clone Wars animated series. The network and Lucasfilm will create five new 12-minute Clone Wars segments, expanding on the original three-minute toons.
   The new segments will air the week of March 21, 2005. The premiere precedes the May 19, 2005, theatrical debut of Lucasfilm's upcoming prequel movie STAR WARS: Episode III (no other name yet).
   Genndy Tartakovsky, who produced the original Clone Wars segments for Cartoon Network, is on board to write, direct and executive produce the new ones. The series picks up the saga where the second prequel film, STAR WARS: Episode II-Attack of the Clones, left off.

   Jonathan LaPaglia and Kathleen Quinlan will star opposite Anne Heche in CBS' original movie THE DEAD WILL TELL, a supernatural thriller inspired by readings of self-styled psychic James Van Praagh. Stephen Kay will direct the telefilm, about a woman (Heche) who starts to have visions of a beautiful young woman shortly after her fiance (LaPaglia) gives her an antique engagement ring. Quinlan will play the fiance's mother.

   The BBC confirmed that the Daleks will not appear in a new DOCTOR WHO television series after a failure to reach a deal with the estate of late SF writer Terry Nation, who created the metal monsters. The talks reportedly broke down over issues of editorial control.
   A BBC spokeswoman said, "After lengthy negotiations, the BBC and Terry Nation have been unable to reach an agreement on the terms of the use of the Daleks." The Terry Nation estate said it was "bitterly disappointed". The Daleks were voted TV's most evil villains in a poll last year. 
   The new WHO series, from writer Russell T. Davies, is set for release on BBC One in early 2005.

VOYAGER STAR IN SEX SCANDAL – (7 will get you 9 you can guess who! )
   Former ST: VOYAGER star Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) alleged that she was pressured to have sex in front of other patrons at swingers' clubs in New York, Paris and New Orleans by her ex-husband, Illinois Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Ryan, according to newly released divorce documents. The allegation is contained in nearly 400 pages of records ordered released on June 21 by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, who ruled on media requests to unseal documents from the Ryan case.
   Jeri Ryan leveled the charges in a court filing in connection with child custody proceedings in September 2000. Jeri Ryan argued that she refused Jack Ryan's requests for public sex during the excursions, which included a trip to a New York club "with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling," according to the court documents.
   Jack Ryan confirmed the trips with the actress, but described them simply as "romantic getaways," denying her claims that he sought public sex. The politician has repeatedly claimed that his divorce file, portions of which were sealed in 2000 and 2001, contained no embarrassing information that would harm his chances against Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The Ryans were married in 1991 and, in November 1998, Jeri Ryan filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences".

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July 9-11: Shore Leave 26, Hunt Valley, MD.
Guests include: Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko in ST:DS9)  Nicole deBoer (The Dead Zone's Sarah Bannerman) Clint Howard (Balok in Star Trek)
A Fan produced Play on Sunday at 5pm starring our very own Jim Childs! (DVD to be seen at a future meeting after hours.)

July 30-August 1: Otakon 2004, 
The Baltimore Convention Center
Japanimation at its best! And right here in our fair city!

NEW   NEW   NEW   NEW   NEW   NEW!!!!!
July 31 –August 1 :  Super Megafest - BATFEST!  
Batfest Hits Baltimore!!  See all the favorites! Adam West, Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Joanna Cameron, Julie Benz and The Batmobile!!  Also a number of comic artists and other stars. Have dinner while watching the original BATMAN film with Adam and Lee there for questions.
At the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel.  Check out the website for more details –

August 13-15: Horrorfind, 
Hunt Valley, MD.
Guests include: George Romero, Adrienne Barbeau, Jeffrey Combs
and a boat load of more celebrity guests

September 2-6: The Worldcon - Noreascon 4. 
Boston, MA.
The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention. 

October 15-17: Capclave 2004 
Vienna, VA

October 29-31: Chiller Theatre 
East Rutherford, NJ

literarynewsliterarynews Read literarynewsliterarynews

   The Horror Writers' Association announced winners of its 2003 Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of the author of Dracula and honoring outstanding work in the horror field. The award is an 8-inch replica of a haunted house. A list of a few of the of winners follows:
.Lost boy, lost girl by Peter Straub

First Novel
.The Rising by Brian Keene

.Borderlands 5, Elizabeth and Thomas Monteleone, eds.

The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association by Thomas F. Monteleone
Illustrated Narrative
.The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

.Bubba Ho-Tep by Don Coscarelli

Work for Young Readers
.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Lifetime Achievement Award
.Martin H. Greenberg
.Anne Rice

   Legendary SF author Arthur C. Clarke will take home the 2004 Robert A. Heinlein Award, for outstanding published work in hard science fiction or technical writing inspiring the human exploration of space, the Heinlein Society announced. Clarke will receive the award at the society's annual dinner, coinciding with the World Science Fiction Convention, or Noreascon 4, Sept. 2-6 in Boston. Clarke, who lives in Sri Lanka, is expected to attend if possible via real-time video.
   This is the second year for the award, named for the SF writer. Clarke is considered a literary giant of so-called hard science fiction, which is based in real science.

   Connery—Sean Connery—has signed a deal with HarperCollins U.K. to write his autobiography.
   The 73-year-old Connery, best known for his big-screen portrayal of James Bond, is rumored to have received a $1.75 million advance from HarperCollins.
   "Having always vowed never to write my autobiography, here I am standing on the runway awaiting my journey into a new space," Connery said. "It's rather scary, but utterly exhilarating, and I'm looking forward to it."
   In addition to his acting career, Connery is expected to talk about his controversial involvement with the Scottish National party and the political attempts to block his knighthood.

   Late SF author Douglas Adams, creator of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, will be heard in an upcoming U.K. radio dramatization of the final three books in the beloved series. The author recorded the part of Agrajag—a character who repeatedly dies and is resurrected—at his home studio 18 months before his sudden death in 2001 at the age of 49.
   Producers have used digital technology to bring his voice back to life in the radio program based on Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long and Thanks for All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless.
   The series began life as a radio broadcast in 1978. Five of the original radio cast, including Simon Jones as Arthur Dent and Geoffrey McGivern as his alien traveling companion Ford Prefect, will voice the new Radio 4 series, which will be broadcast in 14 parts starting later this year.
   The creators used Adams' instructions and notes, which he made in preparation for the latest radio productions.

   Legendary SF author Ray Bradbury has ripped into filmmaker Michael Moore for using the title Fahrenheit 9/11 for his new Bush-bashing movie, an obvious takeoff on the 84-year-old's science-fiction classic Fahrenheit 451. 
   Bradbury reportedly told the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, "Michael Moore is a screwed a--hole, that is what I think about that case," according to an English translation of the story. "He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission."
   Bradbury added, "Moore is a horrible human being. Horrible human!" When asked if he agreed with Moore's political positions, Bradbury replied, "That has nothing to do with it. He copied my title; that is what happened. That has nothing to do with my political opinions." According to the Swedish daily, Bradbury said he had tried to discuss the issue with Moore several months ago, but that the director avoided him.
   Bradbury refused to say if he would take legal action against Moore.

And an UPDATE –

9/11's Moore Calls Bradbury 
Legendary SF author Ray Bradbury said that filmmaker Michael Moore called him to say he was "embarrassed" after Bradbury complained that Moore's upcoming political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 improperly co-opted the title of Bradbury's classic SF novel Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury is demanding an apology from Moore and wants the new documentary to be renamed.
Moore called Bradbury on June 12, Bradbury said. "He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by." 
Joanne Doroshow, a spokeswoman for Fahrenheit 9/11, said the filmmakers have "the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury". "Mr. Bradbury's work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9/11," she said.
Bradbury said he would rather avoid litigation and is "hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he'll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title."

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   Fox has signed Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd and Chris Evans as three-fourths of the FANTASTIC FOUR. Chiklis (TV's The Shield) will play Ben Grimm/The Thing; Gruffudd (King Arthur) will play Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, and Evans will play Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.
   Jessica Alba (Sin City) has emerged as most likely to play Sue Richards/the Invisible Woman, though Rachel MacAdams (Mean Girls) and Keri Russell (TV's Felicity) are also candidates.
   As in the Marvel Comic series on which it is based, FANTASTIC FOUR will deal with four astronauts who develop superhuman powers after their experimental spaceship is exposed to cosmic rays. They band together to fight against the evil Doctor Doom, the trade paper reported.
   The $85 million-$90 million movie is headed for an August or September start in Vancouver, B.C., with a planned release date of July 1, 2005. Tim Story (Barber Shop) will direct, from a script by Simon Kinberg.

   Just a couple of years ago, it was hip to come up with cute little endings to the phrase, "You know DVD has gone mainstream when...". Now that the format has become fully entrenched and just about completed its takeover of the home video market, it is passe to complain about such once-red-hot topics as multiple versions, director's cuts and studio double dipping. 
   But is it perhaps worth noting that now, during press conferences for big hit Hollywood movies that haven't even hit theaters yet, directors are already touting the extras-special extended edition that will be coming out on the DVD, Version 2.0?
   Add Spider-Man guru Sam Raimi to that elite list. The director is already planning an extended cut of SPIDER-MAN 2, to be called SPIDER-MAN 2.5 , and spoke out about his plans. 
   While this new cut of the film has not even been started, Raimi revealed that all told only about five minutes of new footage will be reinstated, and most scene extensions and small additions rather than major sequences. On his approach to the editing, Raimi said, "There's 10 seconds here that was a nice moment, but it's a little slow. Let's trim that up to keep the pace going. This is interesting, but it turns out that information in this particular scene is clear. That's pretty much the type of things that were cut out."
   But before SPIDEY 2.5 hits DVD sometime in 2005, a special edition of the theatrical cut will be released first, and come loaded with extras including featurettes, commentary and other standard DVD extras. And lest anyone think that Raimi is not keeping a watchful eye on all things Spider-Man, the director did reveal that, "I do approve these things. I watch all of them, and... I usually make some edits and suggestions in each and every piece where I try not to give away too much of the magic unless it's necessary."
   Watch for SPIDEY to set new records this holiday weekend at the box office, and likely on DVD this fall, too. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has not issued any official statement on SPIDER-MAN 2.5, a release date or features. Stay tuned.

   As expected, the new version of KING KONG’s director Peter Jackson has cast LOTR actor Andy Serkis as the title computer-generated ape. Serkis will also play a live-action character named Lumpy, the cook on tramp steamer The Venture, which sails to Skull Island and captures the ape, the trade paper reported.
   That's a lot more live-action screen time than Serkis got in the LOTR trilogy, where he provided the voice and movements for the computer-animated Gollum and was seen only briefly in the finale as Smeagol. Serkis will return to New Zealand, where Jackson will shoot the film for Universal Pictures.
   KING KONG also stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody. 

   A Harvard professor is suing DAY AFTER TOMORROW director Roland Emmerich, charging that he plagiarized plot elements from the professor's novel for the SF disaster film. Ubaldo DiBenedetto filed a lawsuit in Germany against the German-born director and the movie's local distributor, 20th Century Fox Deutschland, for an as-yet-undetermined amount of damages.
   DiBenedetto alleges that DAY includes uncanny similarities to his 1993 novel, Polar Day 9. A Cologne state court will review the complaint on June 16.
   DiBenedetto wrote the book under the pseudonym Kyle Donner. In it, he describes how U.S. officials ignore warnings by scientists that global warming could bring on a new ice age, the lawsuit says. Like Emmerich's movie, Polar Day 9 begins at an arctic research station, includes scenes of Americans fleeing across the border into Mexico and ends with scenes of icy devastation in a major American city, DiBenedetto alleges in the suit. The author claims that he sent Emmerich a copy of the book in 1998, but that no deal was made for adapting it for the big screen.
   According to the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, DiBenedetto's lawyers chose to go to trial in Germany rather than in the United States, because local jurisdiction in cases of intellectual property and copyright law is said to be more favorable. Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachimanoff are credited with writing the screenplay for DAY AFTER TOMORROW, from a story by Emmerich and inspired in part by the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber.

   Alan Tudyk, who reprises the role of space pilot Wash in the upcoming SF movie SERENITY, said that it was creator Joss Whedon's perseverance that got the movie off the ground. SERENITY is based on Whedon's canceled Fox SF television series FIREFLY. 
   "I think it's a testament to his tenacity that he got Fox to sell the rights and that he got another studio-and no little studio, but Universal-to buy the rights and then to make this multi-million dollar movie based on a show that was canceled," Tudyk said. "Today is my day off, but yesterday I was shooting with everybody. And there's a very big déjà vu going on right now."
   An SF western set 500 years in the future, FIREFLY aired for just a few weeks on Fox in the fall of 2002. The show starred Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds, captain of the spaceship Serenity, and featured Tudyk as the ship's pilot. The show's avid fans transformed the ensuing FIREFLY DVD set into a best-seller, prompting Universal to green-light a Firefly feature film.
 SERENITY is currently in production, with all the series regulars back in the fold and Whedon on board as writer and director. "Every day we did FIREFLY we were thankful," Tudyk said "And then, when we got canceled, even though we knew we had all these fans-because they were taking out ads in Variety and things like that-it seemed like it was over. ... it was disappointing, but not a big surprise. But then Joss, at the closing party, said, 'Look, I'm not giving up.' It was inspiring, but you kind of questioned, 'What do you mean you're not giving up? Didn't we just get canceled?'"
   Tudyk can be seen next in the upcoming SF film I, ROBOT, in which he plays the title character. SERENITY is tentatively set for release on April 22, 2005.

   It is reported that Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday) has been signed to play the lead in a film version of I DREAM OF JEANNIE, the 1960s fantasy TV series. The 17-year-old actress would likely play the title character of a genie rescued from a bottle by an Air Force officer. That role was originally played by Barbara Eden in the TV series. No word on who will play the Air force officer as of yet.
   Gurinder Chada (Bend it Like Beckham) is directing the movie

   Quentin Tarantino said Monday he plans to shoot a third part of the KILL BILL vengeance series.
   "I have plans, actually not right away, but like in 15 years from now, I'll do a third version of this saga," the director said at a news conference to promote KILL BILL - Vol. 2, which opens in Spain next month.
   Tarantino said part three would focus on the daughter of a hired killer that Uma Thurman's character bumps off early in her revenge spree. Thurman plays The Bride, who goes after her former lover and boss, Bill, after he kills her fiance on their wedding day and leaves her in a coma.
   Tarantino said he set his goals high in shooting the two films. "'Good' -- that wouldn't have been good enough. 'Well done' would have been an insult. I was doing the movie to do some of the greatest action scenes ever made," he said.
   Asked whether violence seduces audiences, Tarantino said: "You better believe it. I mean that's one of the reasons why it's so cinematic. It can be very enthralling. I've always said Thomas Edison invented the movie camera to show people killing and kissing." 

   Fox Searchlight is putting together a sequel to the SF zombie movie 28 DAYS LATER, with the tentative title 28 WEEKS LATER, Variety reported. The studio confirmed that a sequel is in the works, and that Rowan Joffe (Last Resort) is being wooed to write the script. Danny Boyle directed the original film, which was a sleeper hit in 2002.
   Boyle is not expected to direct the sequel, though he and screenwriter Alex Garland likely will take producing roles alongside the first film's producer, Andrew Macdonald.

   Goran Visnjic, who co-stars in the upcoming comic-book movie ELEKTRA said that he's been a fan of science fiction since he was a kid and that he still watches SF on TV—including one particular SCI FI Channel show. "I was a big sci-fi fan since I was a kid," Visnjic (TV's ER) said. "I first grew up with, like, mythology, then just a lot of sci-fi, and STARGATE SG-1 is one of my favorite TV shows."
   In ELEKTRA, which is based on the Marvel Comics series spun off of DAREDEVIL, Visnjic plays Mark, the father of an unusual girl who is targeted by ninja assassins, including the title Elektra, played by Jennifer Garner. "In Mark's case, ... what makes it interesting for an actor to play [is that he's], like, protecting his daughter," Visnjic said. "That's my main objective, and Mark's only duty in the film, you know, [is] protecting his daughter." 
   Mark is an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. While shooting a fight scene in a wooded park outside Vancouver recently, Visnjic rehearsed with a knife for a scene in which he helps Elektra fend off attacking ninjas.
   It's Mark's role in part to help Elektra, a cold-blooded killer, redeem herself, Visnjic added. "Trying to put Elektra on our side to help us out, because she's the only one literally who can save you," he said. "When an international mafia, with ... villains with supernatural capabilities, [comes] after you, you want to have somebody like Elektra on your side. Mark is one of the characters who is helping storytelling. ... And he's one of the things ... to help Elektra on her journey, ... making it really complicated, because he is one of the reasons why she is turning from a professional serial killer ... into a good person again." ELEKTRA is currently in production, with an eye to a February 2005 release.


No girl is safe as long as this headhunting thing roamed the land.
Night Of The Blood Beast (1958)

Yesterday they were cold and dead - today, they're hot and bothered.
Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971)

Bug-eyed sex critters on a blood-mad rampage!
Evil Spawn (1987)

When the ax swings, the excitement begins!
Strait Jacket (1964)

Half angel, half monster, all woman!
Night Tide (1963) 

A Harry Potter review by Dava Sentz

   The realm of fantasy is an extremely underrated genre. An audience teetering on the edge of reality and make believe are often the only ones to appreciate it. The best fantasy writers have a way of placing their readers in a world, which is totally new to them. And, if our minds are kept open, we will feel comfortable within that world. We will absorb ourselves in this unrealistic and magical setting, truly embracing the people within because they feel natural to us. J.K. Rowling is an author with such a gift. In creating Harry Potter, she has driven us to think outside the box, and focus on an alternate reality.  And, through her world, we have learned valuable lessons in friendship, loyalty, and the true powers love. Her stories are nothing short of spectacular. And, now that Christopher Columbus has decided to step down from the director's chair, it is time for Alfonso Cuaron to take the reigns of the wizarding world in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
   Being that I am such a big fan of the books, and this third installment in particular, it might be safe to assume that I held this film up to higher standards than the previous two.  The Prisoner of Azkaban plays host to several creatures and characters that have earned a special place in my imaginative library. First, there are the Dementors. Viscous, soul-sucking guards of Azkaban Prison, these monsters await to feed upon happy thoughts. If given the opportunity, they will bleed their victims until all joyful memories are lost. There's convicted convict Sirius Black, the notorious prisoner of Azkaban, known for killing thirteen people with a single curse. There's the winged hippogriff Buckbeak, a gentle, yet misunderstood creature with the body of a horse, and the head of an eagle. But, for me, the nearest and dearest introduction is that of Professor Remus Lupin, third Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to grace the corridors of Hogwarts castle. 
   This novel has so much to offer its reader, that it may be unfair to expect the same kind of satisfaction from the cinematic version. However, I am very pleased to report that Alfonso Cuaron did meet most of my expectations.
   In the grand tradition of its predecessors, the Prisoner of Azkaban delivers an exciting array of magic, danger, and humor. It also puts to use brilliant performances from it's young cast. Daniel Radcliffe, (Harry) Rupert Grint, (Ron), and Emma Watson, (Hermione) have certainly grown into their roles, both physically and mentally.  They are the living embodiment of Rowling's beloved characters, aided considerably by the talents of Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall) and Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape). But, Potter fans are also given the opportunity to welcome new faces to the ever-thickening plot. Hogwarts School receives a new Head Master this year. Michael Gambon, who took up the role of Professor Dumbledore after the death of Richard Harris in 2002, gives a brief, but convincing portrayal as the all-knowing, eccentric wizard. Gary Oldman turns out a wicked, mysterious, and thoughtful performance as Sirius Black. And, Emma Thompson, though her screen time limited, does not disappoint in her role as the zany Divination teacher Professor Trelawney. But perhaps the best supporting performance came from Mr. David Thewlis, who did an outstanding job of bringing Professor Lupin's affectionate, playful nature into stunning reality.
   If Azkaban's strengths laid in the abilities of its cast and special effects team, (the dementors and hippogriffs are bloody brilliant, after all.) its weaknesses surrounded the condensed time period in with Alfonso Cuaron was attempting to work. Obvious to those who have read Rowling's novel, it seemed the director invested too much time preventing needless dialogue spurts, and in so doing, he inadvertently glossed over what is considered thoughtful detailing. For instance, who were these tactful mischief-makers known as Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs? Why was Harry's patronus in the form of a stag when he finally mastered The Patronus Charm? And, who sent Harry the coveted Firebolt broomstick? These are some of the questions that should've been answered in polite, well-explained sequences. Instead, they were squeezed together in two-minute intervals, sure to leave nonreaders in a state of confusion. 
   Apart from glossing over crucial plot events, the film also seemed to lacking in the bond shared between old friends, a theme that was ever present in the first two films. I would've liked to see more interactions between the students of Gryffindor House, as they sat with their parchment around the common room fire. Sadly, the quickening pace in which the film was moving made these innocently charming moments an impossibility.
   On the whole, however, P.o.A. is an amusing adventure for the young and young at heart. It's magical mayhem, excellent plot twists, and whimsical setting earn this film two very enthusiastic wands up. Whether you have read the books or not, Harry Potter will deliver the ingredients for fine summer fun. 


July 7th     KING ARTHUR
Cast:  Clive Owen (Arthur, AKA Arturius), Stephen Dillane (Merlin), Keira Knightley (Guinevere), Hugh Dancy (Galahad), Ioan Gruffudd (Lancelot), Stellan Skarsgaard 
As the Roman Empire crumbles (circa 450 A.D.), the British Isles are thrown into a loose anarchy. Then, one king emerges to unite them,Arthur, with his concept of a Round Table of united knights

July 16th     I ROBOT 
Cast: Will Smith (Detective Del Spooner), Bridget Moynahan (Dr. Susan Calvin), Alan Tudyk (Sonny)
Premise:  This film is based upon elements from all nine of the stories in the "I Robot" anthology by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992).  This film is not a direct adaptation of any of the nine stories in that book, but is instead a prequel of sorts to them. Detective Del Spooner's (Smith) investigation into the murder of Dr. Miles Hogenmiller, who works at U.S. Robotics (run by Greenwood), in which a robot, Sonny (Tudyk), appears to be implicated. If robots can break those laws, there's nothing to stop them from taking over the world. Or maybe... they already have?

July 23rd     BOURNE SEPREMCY 
Cast: Matt Damon (David Webb, AKA Jason Bourne), Franka Potente (Marie Kreutz), Joan Allen (CIA Agent Helen Landy), Tomas Arana, Brian Cox (Ward Abbott), Tom Gallop, Julia Stiles (Nicolette), Karl Urban
 When a Chinese vice-premier is executed by notorious assassin Jason Bourne, it causes serious trouble and hubbub in the CIA. Why? There is no "Jason Bourne", as that name is just a cover for CIA agent David Webb (Damon), 

July 23rd      CATWOMAN 
Cast:  Halle Berry (Catwoman; AKA Patience Philips), Benjamin Bratt (Detective Tom Lone), Sharon Stone (Laurel Hedare)
premise:  Price is brought back to life, however, its by an Egyptian Mao cat who is indebted to Patience for saving its life. Reborn with a new attitude, Patience Price becomes the new Catwoman and sets out to see vengeance for her murder and to stop the evil doings of Avenal Beauty. 

DVD news dvd news dvd news dvd news dvd news DVD news

   Summertime is often known as “con season” among anime fans, since it’s typically when all of the anime conventions are held and the DVD releases seem to slow down a bit, with bigger titles being announced at conventions and then being released more towards the fall. This July is a wonderful exception, with some of the most anticipated titles coming out.

GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX volume 1, SRP 24.95, LE version, SRP 49.95, released by Bandai Entertainment (distributed by Manga Entertainment), 07/27/04

   Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film GHOST IN THE SHELL is a staple in the anime fandom, based off of the manga by popular sci fi author Masamune Shirow. Popular franchises are frequently reinterpreted into new forms, but rarely do they turn out as well as this. STAND ALONE COMPLEX is the TV series based off of Shirow’s classic tale of futuristic cops in a world where humans and computers intermingle and the definition of what makes us human is obscured.
   If you’ve seen the movie (and you really should if you haven’t) or read the manga you’re already familiar with the world this is set in, just ignore the part about the Puppetmaster and all will make sense. Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Atsuko Tanaka, reprising her role from the movie), is our heroine, a human whose body is now made entirely of cybernetic parts and an officer for Section 9 of Public Safety. She’s part of a special ops team, often going after rogue robots and people using cybernetics parts to their advantage when committing crimes.
   Originally airing on a pay per view channel, the show gained so much popularity that it got a second season (uncommon for shows in Japan, which have set runs of so many episodes). It is also the most expensive anime TV program made so far, and boy does it show. The CG is some of the best there is, and (with the exception of the all CG opening that looks pretty stupid to most fans, despite the fantastic song that goes with it) and it blends with the 2D animation beautifully. The art style is more reminiscent of the movie than of Shirow’s manga, though Motoko retains more of her vixen-like qualities rather than the more asexual appearance of the movie. No place is this reflected better than her costume, which definitely wins the award for “Most obviously designed with the hormones of fanboys in mind, rather than how things would really be”. I don’t know how she can fight crime in that without getting wedgies, but it’s possible that women with cybernetic bodies have abilities that I just don’t know about.
   It’s hard to pin down what makes GITS so enduring. Many of the elements are familiar to anyone who likes anime or science fiction, since AI is such a popular theme. And shows about special ops teams that hunt down certain kind of individuals is certainly nothing new either. Most likely it’s the attention to detail; Shirow’s vision of the future is intriguing and filled with interesting concepts that are both practical and frightening at the same time.   
   For the DVD release the tachikoma end shorts are included, as well as interviews with the Director and actress Atsuko Tanaka. The special edition has 2 DVDs packaged with a slipcover, one which is the same as the standard release, with the second presenting the show in anamorphic widescreen and Japanese and English audio tracks in 5.1 DTS surround sound. A third disc is the first soundtrack, which is composed by music prodigy Kanno Yoko (COWBOY BEBOP, MACROSS PLUS), which is some of her best work to date, taking a more techno approach to her ethereal style of music, as well as a few hard rock pieces. Working with some of her favorite musicians such as Steve Conte and Italian vocal prodigy Ilaria Graziano, the soundtrack is well worth the money, particularly for songs such as the opening “Inner Universe” or “Run Rabbit Junk” in which she channels Rage against the Machine, but without the suck. And if you listen carefully to the beginning of “Velveteen” you’ll hear a sample from BLADE RUNNER. Looking at the retailer’s pages for the second disc it appears that a CD is included with the special edition for that one as well. This is almost definitely the second OST, which includes 
the opening for the second season (“Rise” performed by Origa) and the opening “Get9” that was used for the rebroadcast of season one, which is a fantastic 70’s funk inspired piece. If we’re really lucky, volume 3 will include the image album “Be Human”.

WOLF’S RAIN volume 1, SRP 29.98, LE version, SRP 49.99, released by Bandai Entertainment, 07/06/04

   In the distant bleak future, the earth is so ravaged that wolves are mere legends, long extinct. No wait, they do exist after all! They’re just pretending to be humans! Er, okay, I don’t know how that works either, but you got to give Studio Bones credit for coming up with something original, even if it’s not developed very well. It sure looks pretty though.
   A lone wolf named Kiba is searching for Paradise, something that only wolves can find. Drawn by a mysterious scent to a laboratory he finds Cheza, a “flower child”, a young girl who can lead him to his destination. Joined by other wolves, the rebellious Tsume, the domesticated Hige, and the passive Toboe, who looks so much like a girl even the most seasoned of anime fans who are used to stuff like that still can’t believe that’s a he. Together the five of them search for paradise, even though much stands in their way. Cheza is pussued by the scientists who one studied her as well as the mysterious czar-like Darcia, and the wolves themselves are often the subject of a hunt, particularly by the man Quent who holds a vicious grudge against all wolves for some reason.
   While it’s not a true masterpiece, the visuals of the show is stunning, and anything with a soundtrack by Kanno Yoko is hard to pass up. The animation is typical of Studio Bones, smooth and brightly hued, so even if the story is less than perfect, we’re willing to forgive them for at least having the guts to do something new.
   The original run of the show on TV in Japan has earned itself a place in the great hall of “questions that shall forever baffle the anime fandom, no matter how many times someone answers them”. Somewhere between “Which is the true ending to Eva?”, “Does Anno hate anime fans?” and “How many episodes are there of Twelve Kingdoms?” there is the question “What’s up with all the recaps in Wolf’s Rain?” Well here you go, to the best of my ability.
   In the middle of the broadcast, right around episode 15 I think, instead of showing a new episode, there was an episode that was basically a clip show, with some new dialogue added to the narration. Nothing too unusual for anime, recaps are used when viewers need to be reminded of certain things or the animators needed a vacation. Except WOLF’S RAIN had four of them. In a row. And this is not a show where a whole lot happens from episode to episode. It did not affect the overall episode count though, since four episodes were released on the DVD containing the finale, so there are still 26 original episodes, in addition to four recaps. So what’s the deal? Well there’s a few theories. One is that the animators got sick, and another is that the studio was short on money for awhile. Some sources indicate that this was a planned hiatus from vacation, and that the recaps were shown instead of just airing reruns. I don’t know for sure what it is. However the 4 recaps were included in the Japanese DVD release of the shows, whether that’s because of money gouging investors or purist fans who want “all” of the show, even if they already bought the content once, who knows. Either way Bandai says they will release the recaps. However they also said that the show would be released on 6 DVDs and that these recap eps would be used as an extra. But people who have received their Limited Edition sets early have said the box fits 7 DVDs. So at the moment it looks like if you want the recaps, or a full box, you may have to pay for them. Boy, the money we spend for our hobby.
   The standard edition of this was actually released on June 22nd but some of the LEs have hit the streets early. The special edition version includes a box, a Kiba plushies and the first soundtrack.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION PLATINUM EDITION volume 1, SRP 29.98, LE version, SRP 39.99, released by ADV films, 07/27/04

   One of the best things about being what is the most controversial anime, and often considered to be the best of all time, is that no matter how many times you are released on DVD there are some suckers who will gladly shell out the money for it, even though they already bought it once. Even though the Director’s Cut version was released on R1 just a few months ago, here we go again, suffering through just as many rereleases as the Japanese fans have had to put up with.
   This Platinum edition is what is known as “Evangelion Renewal” in Japan, a complete remastering of the entire series. The reason it is called “Platinum” as opposed to “Renewal” is because this release does not include the movies (since that license is owned by Manga entertainment). Aside from including the show redone on DVD though, ADV has gone the extra mile and given us new shiny fancy packaging. The individual DVDs will have slipcovers and an English version of the booklets included in the R2s. The special edition will include a box that will hold all 7 volumes, plus the slipcovers 
that cover them.

farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

MARLON BRANDO       1924 - 2004


Edmund DiGiulio, the Hollywood technical wizard who earned a technical lifetime achievement Academy Award in 2002 for his contributions to film, has died at age 76.
Other recipients of this, Gordon E. Sawyer Ocsar, have included special effects legends Ray Harryhausen and Linwood Dunn.
One of his major contributions was the Steadicam, which is now ubiquitous in the motion picture industry. Invented by Garrett Brown, the innovative camera system was developed in the mid-1970s by DiGiulio's company, Cinema Products Corp. In 1968, after opening Cinema Products, he quickly developed an award-winning through-the-lens viewing system for 35mm studio cameras. It won the company its first technical Academy Award. Since then Cinema Products has worked on many films and developed
numerous innovations including a very fast lens for shooting in candle light and precise electronically controlled motors for film cameras that eased synchronization with sound recording equipment. A favorite of Stanley Kubrick, Digiulio worked on 
a clockwork orange, the shinning and barry lyndon.

 Lu Leonard, 77, the character actress and singer who played William Conrad's secretary in Jake and the Fat Man, has died. In addition to her many television credits, Leonard also appeared in films such as Micki & Maude, Annie, Starman, you can’t hurry love, shadowzone, made in america and man of the year. She also once played Larry Fine's wife in Husbands Beware, a Three Stooges short.

Donald Edmund Trumbull, who received a Technical Achievement Academy Award for the design and development of the “Blue Max” high-power projector for traveling matte composite photography and the Academy's Scientific and Engineering Award for advancing the state of the art of real-time motion control camera dolly systems, has died.
Early on, he worked as a special effects rigger on The Wizard of Oz.  
During WW II he shifted to the aviation industry where he worked as an engineer, earning 19 patents for his designs. He continued working in aviation until 1970, when he rejoined the film industry in collaboration with his son Douglas Trumbull to develop specialized equipment and robotic arms for the drones in Silent Running.
In 1976, Trumbull joined the crew of Industrial Light and Magic, helping design and build the first motion-controlled cameras, booms and specialized equipment for George Lucas' Star Wars. He was 95.

Hugh Barnet Cave, successful pulp writer, mainstream magazine writer and novelist has passed away at age 93. He specialized in grisly prose that proliferated in Dime Detective, Black Mask, Weird Tales, Spicy Adventure and other hard-boiled magazines of the 1930s and 1940s. He also sold stories to magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, American Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook and Collier’s. His works included stories such as 
Murgunstrumm, Island Ordeal and the pool of death, and books such as legion of the dead, the mountains of madness and long were the nights. He received many awards over the years, including the World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Life Achievement Award, World Fantasy Special Convention Award, the Bram Stoker Life Achievement Award, and the Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild. 

Max Rosenberg, famed producer who, teamed with partner Milton Subotsky in the mid-1950s, scored his first horror hit in 1957 with The Curse of Frankenstein, has died at age 89. CURSE, made in England in association with Hammer Films for $500,000, made $7 million and kicked off a revival of gothic horror films. He, also produced other cult horror classics such as Dr. terror’s house of horrors, the psychopath, the deadly bees, they came from beyond space, scream and scream again, the house that dripped blood, tales from the crypt, the vault of horror, the land that time forgot, at the earth’s core and the incredible melting man.
In a more than 60-year movie career that began as a distributor of foreign films in New York, Rosenberg produced about 75 movies. He fostered the early careers of directors like Richard Lester and William Friedkin, actors such as Tuesday Weld, Donald Sutherland and Terrance Stamp and worked with talents like Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Joan Collins and Robert Bloch.  
He produced early Rock films like Jamboree, It’s Trad, Dad and the classic rock, rock, rock, and such non genre films as Lad, a dog and the world of abbot and costello.
In recent years, Max Rosenberg was honored with a tribute by the American Cinematheque and appeared several times at screenings of his films at the annual Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science Fiction.

By John Ward

 I’m starting this month’s column with a brief film review.  Don’t worry; when I say brief, I really do mean brief.  My son John and I saw SPIDER-MAN 2 today, and we absolutely loved it.  We thought it was better than the first one.
 There.  How’s that for brief?
 Seriously, comics have been on my mind a lot recently, so after watching SPIDER-MAN 2 today, it seemed the perfect opportunity to put my feelings down in print.  Hey, I’m not complaining; column topics don’t usually come that easily!   (I’ve been doing this thing for over a year now, and Betts is still nervously waiting for me to stub my toe on that nasty crack in the sidewalk called the deadline.)
 Those of you who have been with the club long enough might remember my one and only attempt at a panel presentation; I swallowed my pride, taped my knees together to keep them from knocking, and stood to deliver a talk on comics and the movies.  I didn’t exactly kill ‘em, if you know what I mean.  But it was a chance for me to bring together two dazzling forms of entertainment that have been a part of my life since kindergarten: movies and comic books.
 Movies have been with me longer (when your great-grandpa owns the town’s only movie theater, that fact becomes a given), but I think it was comics that had a much more profound impact on my childhood (and, as it happens, my life).  As I mentioned in last month’s column, I truly believe it was a comic book that captivated me before any other book could, and it was a comic book that started me on my lifelong love of reading.  I think it was a Gold Key comic.  Some of you might remember the Gold Key imprint from the ‘60s.  While DC and Marvel cornered the market on superheroes, Gold Key made money by pushing book length versions of the most popular comic strips of the day, including many of Disney’s most famous characters.  How many of us remember Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, with feature artwork by the legendary Carl Barks?
 I remember reading many of those, but the titles that truly held my attention were the action books.  I think my very first comic, purchased for me at the supermarket, was a Gold Key Tarzan.  This was just before the great Russ Manning started his famous run of Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations with the Tarzan title, and for the life of me, I can’t remember who the artist was before Manning.  Oh, well.
 The other titles I read consistently were Turok Son of Stone and Magnus Robot Fighter.  Long before I switched to guys who could swing from webs and knock down buildings, I was captivated by the adventures of two Indians stuck in a primeval forest, populated by dinosaurs.  And then there was Magnus, who had the knack for destroying robots by karate-chopping their long, spindly necks.  Those robots always made a high-pitched Skreeee!! sound when they died.  I loved it.
 I think I started reading Gold Keys because they were the only titles sold at the supermarket where my mother shopped, and she never took me to the newsstand on the corner, where all the other titles were.  Those titles had to wait until I was old enough to run errands by myself.
 Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t live in a vacuum, and I certainly knew who Superman and Batman were.  By this time, the BATMAN show had premiered on television, and all the kids in the neighborhood were staging mock fights with the requisite sound effects (“Biff!  Pow!!  Sock!!!”)  But those weren’t the first superhero titles I bought with regularity.
 I still remember the first ones I bought, within weeks of each other: The Amazing Spider-man #41, featuring the first appearance of the Rhino, and Fantastic Four #55, featuring a classic battle between the Thing and the Silver Surfer.  I didn’t know until many years later that I had just missed, by a stroke of rotten timing, two of the all-time classic stories – the unmasking of the Green Goblin (Spidey #39-40) and the introduction of Galactus and the Inhumans (FF #50-54).  But I would learn.
 These issues began a habit that would continue without a break for years.  I bought many other Marvel titles (and some DC) off and on, but Spider-man and the Fantastic Four were my mainstays.  I never missed an issue.  These Marvel titles were so different from the DC titles because their heroes had problems.  Yeah, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but bear with me; I’m trying to make a point.  Sort of.
 I used to think Stan Lee was the greatest writer of all time, and for a while there, it’s easy to see why.  He wrote just about every Marvel title I read.  When he finally buckled and hired Roy Thomas to start writing some titles, I thought the world had nearly come to an end – kind of the way I felt when Jack Kirby left Fantastic Four.
 Stan Lee probably had more to do with the rebirth of the comics medium than any other single person, and I don’t think you’ll get much of an argument with that statement.  He brought comic books into the present day; he brought comic books into the world.  His heroes didn’t live in Metropolis or Gotham City.  They lived in New York, dammit!  And did I mention problems?  Boy, did these guys have problems!  While Superman was off saving the planet or something, Spider-man was worrying how he was going to keep his suit clean.  It was Spider-man who got involved with campus unrest.  It was Spider-man whose friends went to see EASY RIDER and got hooked on drugs.  I still remember the famous issues that went out without the Comics Code Authority stamp, in which good buddy Harry Osborn was strung out on dope.  Compared to that, a special story on the inner workings of Batman’s utility belt kind of lost its pizzazz.
 But the folks at DC didn’t keep their heads completely under the sand.  They had Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams to thank for that.  These two guys combined to create a run on DC’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow title that was unmatched for its topicality and political awareness.  For a while there, Neal Adams’ unmatched hyperrealistic artwork overshadowed the fact that there weren’t any supervillains around.
 Before I was old enough to truly call myself a comic art connoisseur, I was captivated by Neal Adams’ work.  He did a stint on Marvel’s early X-Men title that was memorable for its take on such characters as Havok, Sauron, and the Sentinels, and he also did yeoman work on other DC characters, such as Deadman and Batman.  One of my all-time favorite comics, long gone from my collection but reprinted in DC’s hardcover The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, was Batman #251, which featured O’Neil and Adams’ classic “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge.”  It signaled a rebirth for the homicidal maniac Joker, after years of TV-influenced pranks and bank jobs.
 There were other artists during this period, but none more striking than Jim Steranko, who put together some amazing comics work on Nick Fury, Agent of Shield.  Steranko’s art had a psychedelic influence that was simultaneously a treat for the eyes as well as a challenge for the mind.  I read his stuff, too.
 I cringe to think what happened to my very first collection.  Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man, Hulk, Nick Fury, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Thor…it was all tossed out when we moved after my parents’ divorce.  I still remember taking a boxful of Steranko, Kirby, and Adams up the street to David’s Pharmacy on the corner, where Mr. David liked to keep comics behind the soda fountain counter for kids to read while they sipped root beer floats.  I sold him the box for fifty cents.  Fifty cents!!
 I started a new collection with many of the same characters when I settled into junior high in the new town, but the collection kind of petered out as I moved through high school.  Looking back, I think I just didn’t have enough time.
 It wasn’t until college that my taste for comics came back, in a big way.  There was a place called the Book Swap in downtown State College, PA just off the Penn State campus, where a bunch of us hung out every Thursday morning waiting for the new titles to go up on the spindle racks.  This was when I discovered a new crop of artists and creators, guys like John Byrne, Marshall Rogers, Jim Starlin, and Mike Grell.  Grell did a title for DC called Warlord that was reminiscent of Neal Adams in his prime, but it was John Byrne on X-Men (working with Chris Claremont) and Marshall Rogers on Detective Comics that really grabbed me.  Rogers’ take on the Joker was second only to Neal Adams’, IMHO.  (Remember “The Laughing Fish?”)  What little money I had in my college days usually went to the Book Swap on Thursdays.
 After college, funds were tight, and I had to restrict myself to the bare essentials, which pretty much meant X-Men.  When Byrne left the title, I even lost interest in that.  There wasn’t much left, although I occasionally picked up a stray issue of a title that looked interesting, such as Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, when he turned the Thunder God into a weird alien named Beta Ray Bill.  (Honest.)  But I sold my collection one more time when I moved away to start my teaching career.
 I started comic collecting again once I was settled in Baltimore in late 1986.  My first store of choice was Alternate Worlds out in Cockeysville, followed by the short-lived Mindbridge in Perry Hall.  This time, I went back to the essentials, the characters that had always interested me:  The Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Batman, X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk.  To these titles were added the Superman titles (one every week) and just about every other comic with “X” in the title.  Now it started to get expensive, which I didn’t notice as much, being an employed professional and all.
 Here’s where I discovered probably the last great comic artist to pull me into his web (no pun intended):  Todd McFarlane.  I bought all of his Spider-man work, as well as his Hulk stuff and the first 30 or so Spawns.  This guy knew how to draw; he was a bit cartoonish in comparison to someone like, say, Neal Adams, but at the same time incredibly detailed.  I remember thinking I had never seen Spidey’s webs drawn with such intricate care.
 What finally drove me out of comic collecting for good was the expense.  I lay part of the blame on the shoulders of the publishers; during this period (the early-to-mid ‘90s), they were going nuts bringing out multiple versions of “collectible” covers, and collectors were snapping ‘em up.   
 But I have to take the lion’s share of the responsibility here; those were my fingers going into my wallet and taking out my money to pay for the books.  By the time I quit, I was forking over upwards of $50 a month on various titles.  Things were just getting too pricey, and there were family expenses by this time that were more important.  So, in early 1995, I gave it up.
 The difference this time was that I didn’t sell my collection.  Instead, I kept it tucked away in a tall stack of six longboxes, the kind used by collectors to store their books.  This stack has been in my storage room in the basement ever since.  I’m not sure exactly why I chose to keep the books this time.  Maybe it’s because it wasn’t a seller’s market at that point, and I wouldn’t sell without getting a decent price.  Maybe it was because I figured on holding on to the collection for my son.  Maybe it was simply because I still enjoyed pulling out a title now and then, putting my feet up, and reading.
 Whatever the reason, I never strayed far from my “roots.”  Whenever a comic-related movie opened, I was there.  It was a pleasure to take my son, even at an early age; he still vaguely remembers going along with Dad to see the infamous BATMAN AND ROBIN when he was five.  More recently, we have been entertained by SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, DAREDEVIL, HULK, X2, and now SPIDER-MAN 2.  About the only comic-related movies I haven’t taken him to see were BLADE and THE PUNISHER.  Eventually, he’ll probably see those, too.
 Because I’ve finally come back around to comic books, both as an art form and a classic mode of storytelling.  My son has become well-versed in the Japanese manga format, which I try to tell him is nothing more than the stuff I read years ago; it’s just black and white and backwards.  And I’ve gotten more interested in Marvel’s Ultimate line of titles, which has taken the origins of my favorite heroes from the ‘60s and given them a new-millennium jolt of electricity.  So there’s still some interest there.  It’s just been tempered by a more…economic practicality.
 Comic books have been a part of my imagination for as long as I can remember, and I sincerely hope my advancing years don’t quell that interest.  If anything, I hope it only gets stronger.  I look at John reading his manga, and I think, Full circle, buddy.
 There is definitely hope.
ICS CALENDER –the Month in review!

July 4th – Independence Day!!  Celebrate !!

July 7th     KING ARTHUR movie opens

July 9-11 – SHORE LEAVE Media Con

July 16th     I ROBOT movie opens

July 23rd      CATWOMAN movie opens

July 23rd     BOURNE SEPREMCY movie opens

July 30-August 1: Otakon 2004  Anime Con

July 31 – ICS Meeting!  5:30pm
  It is the ICS annual PIZZA NIGHT! And the presentation will be done this evening by John Clayton with the theme of a Lovecraft night.

July 31-Aug 1 – Batman Megafest Con