Monday, June 26, 2006 

I Own This

I don't have a ton of original comic book art, but what I do have is pretty good. Like this piece below, from Preacher #26:

Even you non-comics types can understand this one. (And fortunately, it's in black-and-white, not the uncharacteristic Crayola-marker pallette that was used to color it.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 

Just A Bunch Of Random Stuff

News, notes, and other ramblings:

--Got a new column up at the Chicago Sports review on the career revival of No-mah Gah-see-a-paah-rah. Check it out by clicking here.

--Two of my comic series-in-development, RIPPED and THE NETWORK, have found a home and will be winging your way later this year or early next. I'm going to wait until the contracts are signed before announcing the details, tho. Covering my ass and all that.

--I've also been contacted to possibly work with a boyhood hero of mine on a new project. This one's got to stay quiet for the moment, but if it comes through, it'll kick ass. If not, well...there'll be a story to tell.

--I'm writing this from the Braves/Blue Jays game, and I'm ready to go down on the field and strangle a reliever myself. Goddamn, our bullpen stinks on ice. Twice in the last two innings we've had big rallies to tie the game--and both times, our bullpen has come right in and given up run(s). I'll do a big column on the Braves' misfortunes sometime this summer--aside from the monthly celebration of the hometown club I do in ChopTalk, that is--but even if we do manage to clamber back into the race (no sure thing at this point), we're going to die a painful late-inning death in September if we can't get the damn bullpen to be a bit less accommodating to the visiting team than Atlanta's famed strippers.

--Oh, and I caught a foul ball tonight, sort of. Chipper Jones shot one straight back at the pressbox, and it popped off my hand and dropped to the floor next to me. (I'm going to check the replay tonight, and if I'm visible, I'll figure a way to peel it off my DVR for your viewing pleasure.) Anyway, I didn't keep the ball--this writing gig is sweet enough, so I figured I'd share the love. I tossed the ball to some little kid down below, who nearly caught it off his teeth. If it ends up on ebay, I'll hunt the little feller down right after I'm done with the bullpen.

--Last weekend was a jaunt to the lovely Isle of Palms in Charleston, South Carolina. This weekend: a return to my old grad-school haunt of Memphis. All the barbecue a brother can stomach, and more.

Monday, June 12, 2006 

Back From The Islands

So yet another Great Summer Of Running Around The Country Like An Idiot With No Job kicked off this past weekend with a little jaunt over to Bermuda--you know, 'cause I gots the bling like that. (That, and I'm married to a lawyer who had the good fortune to get invited to her lawyers' association's annual meeting.) Some observations about Bermuda:

--This place is pretty much friggin' paradise. It's on a latitude with Charlotte, N.C., believe it or not, but has the warm weather of Florida without the fat Wisconsin tourists, endless strip malls, and bead-hawking beach vagrants. It's still a British colony, though they call it a "protectorate" or some such nonsense, which means the people combine decorum with island sensibility--so they're polite when they take half a freakin' hour to get you one drink.

--As the island is almost totally made up of narrow streets carved out of limestone cliffs, there's not a whole lot of room for traffic--meaning they don't rent cars to anybody. They do, however, rent scooters--provided you're capable of handling one. Me, I found that four hundred hours of drive-by shooting practice on a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City motorcycle really doesn't help you at all in the real world--I got on board an alleged "scooter" and nearly propelled myself right into a wall. One bruised ego later, I was drowning my fury in Dark-and-Stormies (rum + ginger beer) when I heard that someone just down from our hotel had pulled a "kamikaze lobster"--Bermudese for an idiot tourist who gets in a wreck because he can't handle driving a scooter on the left side of the road with a passenger on the back of his bike. And so my metaphorical scooter flameout got that much easier to take. And yes, I probably should have worn a goddamn dress for the rest of the trip anyway.

--I took a ferry across the sound from our hotel to Hamilton, the main city in Bermuda, and the tour guide took pains to point out the homes of the presidents of finance companies and banks who call Bermuda home. They're Bermuda's version of America's movie stars or athletes or England's royalty--the island's version of gods. Which makes sense--in a place where a friggin' candy bar is three bucks thanks to all the shipping surcharges, everyone's going to want to hang with the richest cat on the beach.

--That said, I do love their "Yorkie" candy bar--it's a fistful of chocolate but it's not sold in America, and that's a shame, since its slogan is "NOT FOR GIRLS!"

--The beaches are dotted with three-story-high limestone cliffs, pockmarked with quiet coves that scream "Pirates of the Caribbean" so loudly they virtually demand you bury a little booty of your own. So, no, I can't continue along this particular path; my wife's colleagues might end up reading this. Hey there, folks! Good to see you again! Sucks being back in Atlanta, huh?

--We stayed here. Choice, huh?

--Parenting in action: As two parents gawked at the lovely islands of Bermuda atop the ferryboat, their barely-walking toddler trundled toward a gap on the roof that opened out to the sea below...and would've made it, were it not for a more observant fellow passenger. And at the baggage claim back in Atlanta, a three-year-old kid was jumping on luggage. All well and good--except that this was luggage in motion on the baggage carousel, and the kid was doing a real-life version of Frogger hopping from Samsonite to Samsonite.

Plenty more to say, but being that there were planeloads of lawyers on the trip and all--plus the fact that, you know, I probably ought to respect my wife's career--we'll leave the observations at that.

Next stop: a return engagement with the Atlantic in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 

The Ballad of Flash and Poo-Hole

Got a couple of pieces up at the Chicago Sports Review now. First up is an assessment of the Heat's Dwyane Wade, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, and why they have the future of sport in their hands. Click on the pull quote below to get it:

"Outside of us sports freaks and their hometown fans, nobody would bat an eye if Flash and Poo Hole (how's that for the world's worst nickname?) walked right into their local Starbucks. In snapshot, at least, these two cats are as good as it gets in 2006 pro sports, but both of them I feel still fail the Girlfriend Test--you know, does your girlfriend know who these two are? (And if you're a female reading this, and you know who Pujols and Wade are, where the hell were you when I was on the market?) And until we get a Lil' Dwyane Action Figure or a Pujols-as-Grandmamma campaign, they're going to remain the province of ESPN alone."

Next is a piece on real-life fantasy teams--where too-rich owners go jock-sniffing and grab up all the superstars they can, irregahhhhdless (said with a Boston accent) of how well they mesh as a team. As before, click below:

"There's a tipping point; economically speaking, it would be called diminishing marginal utility. For sports, it usually means being smart and capping your buffet meal at right around two stars and two specialists. After this point, your team usually starts to slide into disappointment and ridicule, gets fat with ego, and fails under the weight of their own expectations and those of the fans. And all of a sudden, what looks so good on paper turns into what the hell happened? awful quick."


All That You Leave Behind

My buddy Jason Rodriguez on his exceptional project-in-progress, Postcards:

"'Postcards' is a book about the pieces of our lives we leave behind - these little mysteries that strangers stumble upon. For this project, we'll be dealing with actual postcards that were sent out during the early 20th century. People writing home to mom from the warfront, talks of quarantines, secret admirers, and updates on sick mothers accompanied with birthday wishes. The creators involved with 'Postcards' have been assigned to create the story behind a card of my choice. They have to tell what they believe happened."

Read the entire article here.

Why am I posting this, other than it's one of my best friends in comics having some incredible success? Hmmm...why, indeed?

Sunday, June 04, 2006 

You Are Food

So I've got latest pitch package, up and ready to roll. This one's called XL, and it's...well, it's pretty damn self-explanatory. (Giant monsters don't need much translation.) Me, I can see this one as a major motion picture in the summer of 2009...

Check out XL by clicking here.

Friday, June 02, 2006 

Late Night Mutant Party

I've always dug the seismic-shift storyline--if executed properly (and it rarely is), the "everything you knew is wrong!" trick can make you completely reexamine how you look at literature as a whole. The comic series Preacher did it, making you think that it was a character's 66-issue search to bring God to justice when it turned out to be a search for the salvation of a friend's soul. It'll never happen, but I think it'd be cool if Lost turns out to be the story not of a plane crash on a remote island, but of a love that endures beyond all reason between Desmond and Penny. And there's a rumor going around that the current Battlestar Galactica series has a seismic shift in the works--that in the humans-Cylons battle, the humans (whom we've been following for two seasons) are actually the bad guys.

I was reminded of these ideas tonight while watching X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Briefly stated--kick-ass film from the perspective of seeing favorite comic characters onscreen; missed opportunity from a literary perspective. Here's the spoiler-free version--there's a plan afoot to "cure" mutants (those born with powers, abilities, or physical structure different from ordinary humans). The cure is pharmaceutical in nature--inject somebody with a specific antidote, and presto--no more mutant. Magneto (bad guy, controls magnetism) and his band of merry mutants want to destroy the means of producing this cure. The good-guy X-Men, naturally enough, try to stop him.

Here's the thing, though--Magneto's in the right here.

Think about it--if mutation is a symbol for differing race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever--as is the avowed intent of most X-Men storylines--then why would a plan to cure mutation be any more acceptable than one of those goofball programs to "cure" homosexuality? Heck, one of the X-Men--Storm, played by the ever-lovely Halle Berry--even says this early in the movie, but then goes on to battle to defend the lab. Yes, Magneto's methods are a bit extreme--although the scene pulling the Golden Gate Bridge from its moorings is unbelievably cool--but I have a tough time arguing with his motives.

Now, the idea that the X-Men could be the bad guys here--and yes, going along to get along can be bad too--is a fascinating one, but it's obviously too heavy for a summer film. We get the big action shots, we get the triumphant conclusion--but we're left with a nagging feeling that something was wrong with how this played out. (And it's not just because the film cribs its ending from Fantastic Four, either.)

There's also the matter of the Phoenix. Without going too deep into detail here, there's a mutant--Jean Grey--who has the powers of telekinesis and telepathy (she can move stuff with her mind, and can read yours to boot). Thought dead at the end of the last movie, she survived--but now is the power-mad Phoenix. There were worlds of possibilities here that were left largely unexplored in favor of a neat-and-tidy--if surprisingly violent--solution.

So, did I like it? Yeah, I did--Hugh Jackman has defined Wolverine, and seeing the powers of everyone from Kitty Pryde to Colossus to Angel play out on the big screen is just a total geekgasm. I would have loved to see more Sentinels--giant robots--the eyebeam-headlights in the darkness are just perfectly creepy. Kelsey Grammer did a fine job as Beast--though the appearance of his shorter, skinnier little brother--perhaps sporting a natty turquoise shade of fur--would have made the picture complete.

Bottom line--not nearly the best comic book movie out there (that's probably Spider-Man 2, with Batman Begins not far behind). Matter of fact, it's probably the "worst" of the three X-flicks. But it's true to the characters, it allows change to occur throughout the series, and it blows all kinds of stuff up real good. Go see it.


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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