Posts Tagged ‘batman’

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Bat To The Future

March 21, 2016

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Author’s Note: With BuffaloComedy.com having gone the way of the dodo (where this piece originally appeared in January of 2015) and Batman Vs. Superman just 5 agonizing days away from its theatrical release (which I’m not laying any bets on until I see it), I  thought now might be a good time to revisit my reflections on the 75th Anniversary Year of the Dark Knight Detective.  This is an essay from the upcoming book Travesty.   

By the time you read this, the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics (in 1939, for those of you who don’t have a calculator nearby) will have come and gone. He’s a character who has endured the test of time, and you may know Detective Comics by their abbreviation: DC. I caught hell some years ago for defending the cultural importance of the impending theatrical release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). It was a week-long troll battle in a lesser publication and I hate to be the guy who said I told you so, but I was right, Buffalo. That film changed the superhero film forever and demolished most (if not all) box office records. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. What follows is a personal recollection/celebration of the mythos. Dates and citations have been left out, messed up or guessed at because the author is lazy.

I’ve been a Batman fan almost all of my life. As a child, I got into the comics around the same time that I caught the syndicated reruns for the high-camp television version with Adam West, three separate Catwomen and the famed ‘Bat-usi’. This led of course to Batman:The Movie, which we have to thank for the ‘Bat Shark Repellant Spray’ incident. The utility belt can only hold so much. The Caped Crusader has gone through a lot of incarnations over the decades he’s traveled through, which may be one of the secrets behind his staying power. While it was corny and cheesy (‘camp’ is an ironic form of comedy that borders on being an endangered species), the tv series hit home for at least a few seasons.

The ’80s was a great time to get into comics since the medium was growing up in terms of maturity and readership. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns made such a gritty impact on the pulp multiverse that college courses are still taught dissecting its importance. The story zeroes in on Batman coming out of retirement in order to stomp out the threat of a mutant gang, subvert government opposition to superheroes and to square off with Superman. Miller followed this up with Batman: Year One, a mini-series that focused on the roots of billionaire Bruce Wayne’s lifelong war on crime.

Toward the end of the decade, comic icon Alan Moore applied his craft to The Killing Joke, a one-shot story where the reader is taken through a retelling of The Joker’s origin, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter is crippled by same, the Commissioner’s sanity is tried by The Joker and Batman’s is questioned at the close of the arc with a punchline and a recurring pattern of raindrops. The Joker postulates throughout the book that the difference between sanity and insanity is just one bad day. Batman tries to prove him wrong.

In the early ’90s, mainstay Grant Morrison took a turn with Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. I re-read this book almost every year and always come away with something new in this layered psychological examination of the aberrant psyche. Batman infiltrates the asylum (which the inmates have taken control of spear-headed by the Joker) and tries to keep his head while everyone else’s is long gone. This is interspersed with the story of how Arkham Asylum came to be, which is quite haunting to say the least.

Meanwhile, in the single issues, there was the groundbreaking A Death In The Family, a story arc that was revolutionary because DC set up 1-800 lines so that readers could vote on the fate of Robin at the hands of (you guessed it) The Joker. For you younger readers, people used to have phones in their house attached to the walls that we called ‘Land Lines’. A 1-800 number was a ‘toll free’ number that residents could ‘dial’ on said Land Lines. Spoiler alert (not sure if it’s a spoiler alert twenty five years later): the readers killed off Robin. Luckily, nobody ever stays dead in comics for some reason, and that particular Boy Wonder (there have been around four) came back in Under The Red Hood.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 18: ‘Mythos’

January 14, 2016

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Graham Nolan has been on my bucket list since I started Big Words Video.

He’s a phenomenal artist, a veteran from DC Comics and the man co-created Batman’s Bane, for god’s sakes.  Delving into the research and prep for the episode, I gained an even greater appreciation for his career.  A 6 year run on Detective Comics, 6 on ‘The Phantom’ comic strip, 12 years on ‘Rex Morgan: M.D.’, a creator-owned web comics (‘Sunshine State’)…the list goes on and on and on.  I saw this a lot, but it was an honor to sit down at the same table with Nolan.  We take for granted that we have such an artistic visionary in our own back yard.  Michael Hoffert Jr. was a natural fit for the Co Host Hot Seat on this one because he knows more about chapter and verse in the comic industry than I ever will.  Just watch the episode for yourself, will ya?

A huge thanks goes out to Mr. Nolan for not only making the time to do the show, but braving some pretty gnarly ‘Lake-Enhanced’ (the new buzz term the meteorologists are using this year) snow on the drive out and back.  Thanks are also in order to producer Richard Wicka and Michael Hoffert for knowing the biz back to front.  If you want, did you know that you can SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube?  For FREE?  Well you can.  I’ve also heard that it’s possible to LIKE & SHARE these clips on the YouTube interface.  You should try it.  You really should.  There’s another episode en route in less than two weeks, so we’ll all see you soon!

Tom

 

 

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Big Words Video 18.5: Graham Nolan-Batman

January 14, 2016

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Okay, so this was really, really cool.  As a Big Words Video bonus clip, this is something that was in the back of my mind for a long time.  We did an over-the-shoulder shot with Graham Nolan while he went from a blank slate on his IPad Pro to a rough finished sketch.  The entire process took about seven minutes while we peppered the clip with some follow-up questions.  Just a really, really cool way to complement Episode 18.  Check it out right HERE:

Thanks again to Nolan for doing the show!  And for those of you reading, SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube already, will ya?

 

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‘Bat To The Future’ Appears on BuffaloComedy.com

January 5, 2015
2015 marks the end of DC's year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Batman.

2015 marks the end of DC’s year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Batman.

Since we’re on to a new month and a new year, I’ve got a brand new essay up on BuffaloComedy.com.  It’s on a topic I’ve covered before and most likely will cover again: Batman.  I couldn’t resist the urge to comment on DC’s ‘Batman75’ celebration, so I punched up ‘Bat To The Future a longer essay about the comics, the films, the cartoons and the games with next to no accuracy where chronology is concerned and proudly so.  You can check it out right here, gang:

Bat To The Future

Please take the time to read, Share on any and all networking platforms and to Like on that pesky Facebooks.

When I punched up the first draft I considered putting in the research and including citations along with writing the piece in chronological order.  That notion went out the window pretty quickly.  Much like ‘Reg Soldiers On’ (my essay from the 2009 book Slapstick & Superego)   I opted for a free-association format instead.  This may invite immediate attacks from the sort of comic fanboys who quote chapter, verse and issue number, but so be it.  I thought the piece might be more approachable to the casual reader by not taking that route.

I’m pretty proud of the four essays that have run so far with BuffaloComedy.com and hope that the next eight will follow suit.  Editor Kristy Rock and I have settled into a comfortable routine of submitting two pieces so that she can select one.  That way half of the new material can go live in a timely manner and the other half can be saved for the manuscript of the upcoming book Travesty.

There’s another great announcement to make, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.  Best not to give everything away all at once…

See you in the funny papers,

Tom

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Final Calendar Of Events For Fiscal Year 2008/Some Promotional Spots for ’09

October 15, 2008

Monsters Of Verse/Breathing Room Bookings Fall/Winter/Spring 08/09:

Friday, October 24th, 7 p.m., Think Twice Studios, Greg Sterlace t.v. show (Tom only)

Saturday, October 25th, 7 p.m., The Center For Inquiry, Amherst (Monsters Of Verse)

Tuesday, October 28th 8 p.m., Clarence High School, Poetry Club, Lit Mag reading, Q/A (Tom Waters only)

Wednesday, October 29th, 7 p.m., Think Twice Radio Studios, Big Words Interview with award winning comic writer/artist Jeff Brown (Top Shelf) and special co-host Michael Hagler (Tom only)

Friday, October 31st, 7 p.m., Think Twice Studios, Greg Sterlace t.v. show (Tom only)

Tuesday, November 4th, 8 a.m., Clarence High School, Poetry Club, Lit Mag workshop (Tom Waters only)

Thursday, November 6th or 20th Main St., Talking Leaves Books, Main St. (Monsters Of Verse)

Sunday, November 16th, 7pm, Desiderio’s on Broadway, (Monsters Of Verse)

Tuesday, November 18th, 7:55 a.m.-1:35 p.m., East Aurora High School English Honors presentation(s) (Tom only)

Saturday, November 22nd, FYE Transit (Amherst), 1-4pm, (Monsters Of Verse)

Thursday, November 13th, 7-9pm, Spot Coffee, Delaware & Chippewa (Monsters Of Verse)

Saturday, December 6th, 1-4pm, FYE Hamburg (Monsters Of Verse)

Saturday, December 13th, 3 p.m. -3 a.m. Tom & Lindsay’s pad, Batman marathon party, invite only.

Sunday, December 14th, Buffalo Indie Market appearance (Monsters Of Verse)

Saturday, February 7th, 1-4 p.m., FYE, Transit, Signing (Monsters Of Verse)

Saturday, February 7th, 6 p.m.-?, Don’s Atomic Comics!, Tom’s Atomic Poetry Kegger w/Monsters of Verse! Free beer for anyone with a book by Tom Waters, additional store discounts for everyone who brings a girl.

Wednesday, May 6th, 7 pm, Center For Inquiry (Monsters Of Verse)

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Stick & Move

July 18, 2008

     So apparently, the Batman series has caused a furor among the homebound shut-ins who revolve around Buffalo Rising.  Perfect.  That’s exactly what I was looking for.  My goal in writing a five review series this week on Batman was as follows: a) drive more traffic to the BRO site thanks in large part to Batman searches and fanatical interest in the new movie, b) make a loud and obvious declaration that I was writing for BRO and that I was a new staple and c) I love comics, period.         

      Certain parties started some shit.  I’m not one to take anything lying down.  They were less than capable in dealing with having their swiss cheese philosophies shot down in front of their eyes so they threatened (rather impotently) me with legal action.  Apparently, they don’t know me well enough.  Apparently, they don’t know that I know first amendment rights backwards and forwards.  I live for this.  Regular readers of this site know all too well what a nasty, vindictive, rotten son of a bitch I can be.  Well Buffalo Rising Online is going to find out.  I’ve had a few slings and arrows directed my way regarding my lack of ‘journalistic integrity’.  And to this I say: FUCK journalistic integrity. 

      I am not (nor have I ever been) a journalist.  I’m beyond that.  I’ve always refused to stoop to the levels of what, where, why, how and when.  It sucks the life out of a story, it’s boring and it’s derivative.  I am (and always will be) a creative writer, a poet, and an essayist.  I play outside of the box and it’s been very lucrative for me.  It’s actually paying off.  So suck on your journalistic integrity all day long.  Love it and adhere to it.  It’s not for me.  Once I started getting big fat wonderful checks once a month from the Buffalo News (two massive checks from my books once a year) and making my own rules, I stopped giving a flying fuck about journalism, or integrity.  Journalism is boring.   It’s a passing fad that’s almost extinct.  Some of us are more concerned with immortality, leverage and the bigger picture.  I’d rather control the vertical and the horizontal than worry about the humdrum day to day. 

     I’ve got more than a few newspapers, web sites and marketing geniuses on retainer.  If you’ve got a lawyer, I’d love to see him.  Bring the fucking noise, you sad, pathetic simpletons.  I’ve got better verbiage, a better grasp of the world of literature, and a better understanding of my rights as a writer.  Did your left nut get sucked back into your chest cavity?  I thought so.  If you want to join the fight, log in, turn on and drop out over at:

www.buffalorising.com 

I’m just getting warmed up.  ‘The Dark Knight’ is going to be a massive cult triumph this weekend and BRO and myself were at the forefront.  It’s so much more relevant to be at the front of the pack as opposed to running behind the bandwagon after they’ve passed your block and then some.  Oh, there are so many games I could play.  One more day to Dark Knight…

-your tiny ego must be reeling, mustn’t it?  you don’t get any more free press from me, fucko

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‘You’re just a freak… like me!’ 6 Days To The Dark Knight!!!!!

July 12, 2008

     Anticipation doesn’t even begin to describe my lack of impatience to see this movie again and again.  Dark Knight is going to be my first Imax film and probably the following four or five viewings as well.  After pitching a 5 review concept to my handlers at Buffalo Rising, they took the bait and I’m off and running.  Starting Monday and leading up to the day of the live action release, Buffalo Rising online will be publishing 5 concurrent Batman reviews by yours truly.  So far, I’ve punched up a review on the Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe edition by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland as well as the Batman: Gotham Knights animated DVD release.      Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s pumped about this film hitting the theaters next Friday, either.  Web searches have found that over a dozen film critics are howling and braying after seeing an advance screening that Heath Ledger deserves the first posthumous Oscar in quite some time for his role as the ‘Ace Of Knaves’, better known as The Joker.  A Wikipedia look-see uncovered an astonishing 110 site references for the film.  And all reports point to the opening day release being sold out.  I hope to god that the opening weekend gross rakes in enough to bury all three Spiderman films and lock in another three or four movies.  Christopher Nolan is a genius for what he’s done with the mythos and I’m trying to keep busy for the next six days so that I don’t obsess over it…too much.  I’m just another Batman super freak…. like you!

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Breathing Room taking off/back from vacation

July 6, 2008

     I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to get back to work and routine.  Three weeks of vacation in six weeks time was too much madness too closely strung together.  On the tail end of it, though, I wrote a mountain of new poetry for the first time in over a year and it’s, well, I feel that it’s a turning point in terms of voice.  The Breathing Room project has been weighing heavily in my mind and it appears as if the two volume concept (completed for over a year now) won’t be the last of that brand of creativity.  With enough time, I’d like to do a soft launch with it (nothing fancy) in August or October.  Response on the material from the fairer sex has been overwhelmingly positive and for the small cross section of men who enjoy reading verse, it’s been pretty good on that end, too.

     I’ll be heading back into Think Twice Radio’s studio this Tuesday to record a video segment for Richard’s ‘Five Minute Video’ series (a high concept, stream of consciousness spot) which should be up (if I know Rich well enough) by Tuesday night.  I’ll throw you the link once it’s there. 

     And finally, my second graphic novel review (‘This Apparition Come-Batman: Lovers & Madmen) went up on Buffalo Rising Online’s web site on the fourth of July.  To hop straight over, click away at:

http://www.buffalorising.com/story/this_apparition_come_batman_lo#sca

     On the verge of near-total exhaustion, I’ll be recuperating and writing in turns at home for the better part of today.  Be it ever so humble, etc.

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Why So Serious? Heath Ledger Joker Trifecta/Countdown To The Dark Knight

June 20, 2008

     It’s far from a well-kept secret that I’m a Batman super-freak.  And thank god that we’re less than a month away from Christopher Nolan’s new visionary masterpiece, ‘The Dark Night’ which, as reported, is the only Batman film without ‘Batman’ in the title because, amazingly, Nolan wants it to be a ‘darker’ departure from the last film.  Darker?  Fantastic.  As if ‘Batman Begins’ was a rosy kaliedoscope of happiness and rainbows.  I’m so psyched about the new film (and the accompanying animated film for simultaneous release on DVD via the marketing wizards at Warner Bros.) that I can’t contain myself.  It’s eating away at me that the new feature length live-action film hasn’t been released yet, and I literally cannot wait.  The promos, viral videos and bumper ads on Myspace are eroding what little patience I have regarding the new movie.  On the one hand, I don’t understand why they waited this late in the summer blockbuster season to release what is obviously going to be a cultural event on par with ‘Titanic’, but then again, I can see why WB wouldn’t want to go head-to-head with ‘Iron Man’ or ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (the latter of which I have a mild interest in’. 

     As far as I’ve always been concerned, The Joker is the main star of the show.  I’ve got two and a half short mylar boxes stuffed to the rafters with Batman comics, one-offs and graphic novels and in my humble opinion, The Joker has been the real star of the show the entire time.   Super-hero stories are defined by their villains.  I’ve also had the recent pleasure of reading Batman: Monsters & Madmen (which I was so bowled over with that I wrote a gushing review on for Buffalo Rising) and the impulsive delight of picking up a Batman: The Killing Joke anniversary figurine pack with a delectable vacation Joker, Batman and a trade copy (in whichever iteration or printing, most likely the seventh or eighth or ninth) of The Killing Joke, which is without question one of the top five Batman/Joker stories of all time.  Top this off with a handsome anniversary hardcover of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke and you’ve got a recipe for impatience.  Why isn’t it July 18th yet, goddamnit!  Agh!

     And it doesn’t take a psychologist to determine why I’m so attached to the mythos.  A sociopathic clown who was a former standup comic with anti-social tendencies and a flair for the theatric.  Hmph.  Love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  I’ve seen every single film in the theater (which is a big deal considering that I see about two movies a year on the big screen), I’ve got every copy of Paul Dini’s animated series, a handful of Batman Beyond seasons and a few of the animated films (Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm being the jewel of the crop). 

     Every sign points to Heath Ledger’s performance as being nothing less than once-in-a-lifetime.  The hype factor over his recent death is going to make this the movie of the summer, bar none.  Nicholson (also a hero of mine) is furious that he wasn’t even considered for the role of the Joker, but give me an f-ing break, Jack.  The new series is a re-boot, and there’s no place in the continuity to explain bringing back a 60-something who defined the role eighteen years ago. 

     They say that Ledger spent a month holed up in a hotel room getting a feel for the role reading tomes including The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum while keeping a notebook so that he could record thoughts that the Joker would find funny.  Good on ya, Heath.  I’m not going to pounce on the bandwagon and pretend that I gave the vaguest shit about his other work, because I don’t.  A Knight’s Tale and Brokeback Mountain?  Couldn’t care less.  Just from the clips, though, it’s clear that he fell hook, line and sinker into the role and knocked it straight out of the ballpark and right into the pantheon on the way out of this mortal coil.

     Plus there’s the collectible factor, which is eating away at me.  After combing the web to find a new action figure that never even APPEARED on store shelves, I discovered that there’s not one, but three new Ledger facsimiles.  I’ve got a small pumpkin patch of Joker figurines at home (the crown jewels being an ’80s era Justice League figure and not one, but two Dark Knight returns Jokers, one in box, one outside the box) so there was no way in hell that I was going without one of the new ones.  Apparently, Mattel came to the shocking conclusion that a likeness of the homicidal lunatic from the new film in Ledger’s visage was too scary for children, so they decided to render the 6 inch figure ‘Collector’s Edition’.   Bullshit.  No company is that stupid.  They’re driving the values up.  It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to figure that one out.  So aside from a chilling 6 inch figure, they’ve released a watered down 5 inch figure.  And another company has released an 11 inch that’s a spitting image of Heath walking down the middle of the street with a switchblade licking his lips like a rabid dog in the trailers for the film.  It retailed from DC Direct as a bundle pack with Batman (like anyone cares about him).  The Joker statue alone is starting at $125 on Ebay.  While this is slowly eating away at me, I can’t justify spending $125 on a toy that’s going to sit on my shelves of curios in my study. 

     The Joker (as a collectible) has always remained a hot item.  When cases of new figures come out, he’s a variable, he’s a rarity, and he’s the first to dissappear from big box toy retailers before he even make the sales floor.  I’m not a big toy geek, truly.  But I’ve been amassing a small collection of Joker figures here and there that could be the envy of any collector come early August.  I have zero intention of selling any of them, but in all likelihood, I’ll snap like a rubber band and buy the new 11 inch stature.  Along with seeing the new film five or six times in solemn fascination in theaters.  Less than four weeks to go.  Why so serious?  Because I can barely contain myself, that’s why. 

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