Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monsters Writer/Director Gareth Edwards

When you meet him, Gareth Edwards comes off as a rather unassuming, very British fellow who doesn't seem quite interested in creating a scene. He's drawn quite a bit of attention though with his debut feature film, Monsters, a genre-crossing story about two people trying to get back to America from Mexico, by crossing a quarantined zone along the southern border of the U.S., where giant space aliens have taken up residence. While promoting the film in advance of its October 29th, 2010 theater release, he spent a little time with me to chat about low-budget filmmaking, back-breaking camera gear and drunken DVD commentaries.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rules for Life

Love this note in the show's program: "8 Hours of Sleep + 3 Meals a Day + 1 Shower = A Happy and Healthy Fan."
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Winner of the Weekend

It's got to be the ghost of Michael Jackson. It's amazing to see how all of the unsavory elements of Jackson's life have been essentially ignored now, as the pile of humanity surrounding Ubisoft's Michael Jackson: The Experience extravaganza were all about the dancing, not the lawsuits and accusations.

Featuring a raised stage, synchronized lights and fog machines, the mammoth booth had dancers hired by Ubisoft and plenty of volunteers who grabbed the Wii controls and danced along with the videogame MJ. Combine his ultra-catchy songs with the inherent ease and fun of the Wii and the novelty of watching strangers make fools of themselves, and then put it right in front of the exhibition floor's main doors, and you've got an attention-grabbing exhibit and plenty of positive publicity for a title that could have been an also-ran.

Runner-Up: the booth for Animal Planet's Lost Tapes, a series about cryptozoological creatures like the Yeti, whose appearances around the convention were tied to a Twitter contest. The booth was designed like a jungle, with real dirt on the ground and trees and vines above you, and featured another contest, where you used a black light to find a code to enter a contest. Animal Planet is 2-for-2 after last year's Dark Days in Monkey City display.

Honorable Mention: Fox brought the popular Alien Anthology exhibit with them from San Diego, and though it is very enjoyable, and let you walk away with a fun "Need a Hug?" t-shirt, it couldn't live up to the hype from SDCC.

Bigger than Ever

The first year of this New York Comic-Con saw ticket sales shut off when the Fire Marshall decided the room was too overcrowded. If only he saw what was going on this weekend. Despite expanding to the entirety of the Javits Center and shutting off sales on Saturday, there were plenty of areas that were simply jam-packed, to the point where I may have accidentally impregnated three delightful anime characters. The talk around the building (official word on attendance has not yet been spoken) put the number around the magic 100,000 visitor mark, which would not surprise anyone caught in the maelstrom of the anime Artists Alley or the joyful dancing around the Michael Jackson: The Experience display. That would put them about 40,000 shy of the San Diego ComicCon, but lord knows you wouldn't want to even approach those numbers in the Javits. Even so, just five years in, it's amazing to see what the NYCC has become.

More Pictures from New York Comic Con 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The One Corey

Had a chance to chat with Corey Feldman for a short bit, as he promoted his new Lost Boys film, The Thirst. Unfortunately, time was short and not much was learned, but when asked why a Lost Boys fan who didn't like the first sequel should watch this one, he said it's because unlike The Tribe, this one is an honest sequel. So there you have it.
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"It's All About Accessories"

Sat down with the hilarious Jon Glaser, star and creator of Delocated, on Adult Swim. For those not in the know (shame on you) Delocated is a faux reality show following Jon (the character), who's in the witness protection program, which requires him to wear a ski mask at all times and have his voice permanently altered. Though I'll write up more later, some quick bits:
- DVDs are in the planning, with deleted scenes, commentaries and the demo he made for the series, with Paul Rudd and Yo La Tengo.
- It's hot shooting with the mask, but he won't complain.
- The voice conceit means they have to be carefully about overlapping dialogue when they improvise.
- He'd like to do a crossover with Childrens Hospital ("a great dumb idea") but they shoot on different coasts.
- The only way he'd do The Office is if he can wear the mask.

The Story Behind Free Hugs

So I asked a few more anime fans why they were offering Free Hugs, and apparently there is no anime connection. Their intention is simply to spread happiness (though on a few occasions, it was more like creepiness.) Can't bash people for wanting to spread happiness.
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My Personal Mystery is Solved

When I first saw Secret of the Kells, I was struck by the similarity between the face designs of the film, and the old Jay Lovitz show The Critic. I never found any connection between the two, but it was always stuck in my mind. Well, I got the chance to talk to Tomm Moore (and artist Ross Stewart) today and though Moore remembered the series, it was a coincidence. Now I'll be able to sleep once more.

An interview with Moore and Stewart will be posted soon on DVDTalk.
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What's the Deal with Free Hugs?

There are many, many people carrying signs that say Free Hugs (or even Deluxe Hugs for 25 cents.) I asked one cosplayed sign-holder what was behind it, but she had no idea. The mystery continues...
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Bana's in Hanna

Director Joe Wright is following up on the disappointing The Soloist with a seeming departure in the form of Hanna, the story of a teenage girl raised by her ex-CIA father in Finland to be an assassin. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Hanna and Eric Bana as the father (as well as Cate Blanchett as the villain, who, according to Bana "brings the whole film down.) It sounds like an interesting idea, described by Ronan as a "fairy tale mixed with action," and there's a whole storyline about Hanna adjusting to a world she doesn't know that sounds like it's right in Wright's wheelhouse.

Written by 24-year-old Seth Lochhead, after a gap year backpacking through Europe hallucinating on absinthe (according to Wright, though he MAY be joking), Hanna will be released on April 8, 2011.
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Zombie Killer... Q'est que c'est

The new DLC for Red Dead Revolution, due out later this year, brings the very popular zombie genre to the Ol' West, and like the legendary Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, they are two great tastes that play great together. I got to play a bit with a demo, and it was great fun to tackle the challenge of burning a group of coffins, and beating off a gang of zombies looking to stop you. The look and feel of the play is fantastic, especially if you like zombie games, and the addition of a new weapon, the blunderbust, makes exploding the undead even more fun.
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Sure, it's Not the Real World...

But there really should be a modicum of professionalism among the "press" covering the show. From the costumed Inez Saines wanna-bes to the bloggers who have nothing to ask at a roundtable, it's hard to get the talent to take you seriously. It's not Woodward and Bernstein or anything, but let's act like we deserve to get into the show for free.
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Epic Mickey May Just Be Epic

Got some hands-on time with Epic Mickey this morning, and it's a lot of fun to play, in large part due to the fan service, since it's loaded with Disney characters, both popular and obscure, along with the ability to collect and watch actual Disney cartoons. The gameplay is no slouch either, with solid 3D platforming action, and a neat painting/erasing system that let's you interact with everything around you. Figure, with branching quests and lots of goodies to collect (including the classic Disney pins) you've got a good 20 hours of play at least. The game hits November 30th.
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Day Two - Almost a Fight!

Day One went so well..almost too well. This morning, with far more people on the grounds, has been far more chaotic. Attempting to discover the press entrance, I was directed to three separate locations, none of which were correct. Can't complain much though, since the regular line, is approximately 50 times longer.
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Day Two - Fight!

Well, hopefully there will be no fights, but it should be a fun day, even if it will be insanely crowded at the NY ComicCon. They've actually suspended ticket sales for Saturday due to the amount of people attending.

Today, I'm hoping to take a look at Epic Mickey for the Wii, and maybe get some hands-on time, and check out a few panels, in between interviews with Corey Feldman, Tomm Moore, Jon Glaser and Gareth Edwards. I'm also planning on snapping way more pictures today, as the integration of the Anime Fest has brought the cosplay element to a whole new level.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

My Favorite Swag

Because it's darned cute.
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Day One - Done

How do I know the NY ComicCon has truly arrived? I didn't stop moving, and didn't come close to seeing everything I wanted to. Saturday brings even more. When I have the chance, I'll write up the interviews I did with Zak Sabbath, the cast and creators of Childrens Hospital and Robot Chicken's Matt Seinrich. I've got even more scheduled tomorrow. Stick around.The director of the new creature feature Monsters gave the crowd a look at how he created the film, in his own very British way, deadpanning and being generally self-deprecating. He definitely comes off as a good guy ("I'm really rubbish at describing my film.") I'll have more after I interview him tomorrow.
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Gareth Edwards: Cool Guy

The director of the new creature feature Monsters gave the crowd a look at how he created the film, in his own very British way, deadpanning and being generally self-deprecating. He definitely comes off as a good guy ("I'm really rubbish at describing my film.") I'll have more after I interview him tomorrow.
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Heading to the Hospital

Childrens Hospital. The show. On Adult Swim. With Rob Corddry. And other funny people. Who I'll be interviewing. Fun.
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Picture Time

The first set of pics from the show:

Me and My Porn Star

Zak Sabbath isn't your usual porn star, since most porn stars don't have an MFA from Yale, nor does your average porn star have his own web series about his D&D gaming group, which is made up of people from in and around the adult industry. I sat down for an interview with him, and will be posting that at some point soon. Look for it on DVDTalk when it's ready.

Hands-On: Capcom vs. Marvel 3

Fun. End of story.

Seriously, it just looks tremendous and was really a blast to play, even for someone who hasn't picked up a fighter in years. I went head to head with another player, and using Okami, Deadpool and Iron Man, I took home a pretty easy victory. The sense of humor in the game is an added bonus, as Deadpool's victory reaction was great.

I Played Tron: Evolution, and I Liked It

A lot. First of all, there's still some work to be done before the December release, but from the demo I played, it is going to be a rather entertaining play. The combat, which combines elements of Assassin's Creed-ish freerunning, with a rather original disc-throwing attack method, is super smooth and loaded with options, including tons of combos. The look is even more impressive, as the piano-black and neon-blue world of Tron is gorgeous, and makes for very dramatic visuals.

This is shaping up to be a must-play.

Protecting Your Data from Evil

Mimobot, producers of fine USB drives in fun designs, is shortly going to be adding a new license, which will join their current line-up, which includes Star Wars, Hello Kitty, Happy Tree Friends and their in-house designs. The new license comes from one of the big comic publishers, and should make comic geeks who need to carry 2GB-16GB of data very happy. Price range from $20 to $70, with the licensed stuff coming in on the more expensive end of the scale.

Quick DVD Note

Anchor Bay is going to be making a very cool announcement later today for a TV release in 2011. I'd fill you in, but embargos are embargos.

On another TOTALLY UNRELATED note, they'll be handling the DVD release of Let Me In, which is coming February 22, 2011.

Want TV Batman on DVD

...And don't want bootlegs? Warner Archives announced today that they are releasing Legend of the Superheroes on their DVD on Demand platform. This awful 1979 2-hour TV movie is the last TV appearance of Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo, and also features Charlie Callas and Ruth Buzzi. The transfer has been remasters from an original 2-inch tape, and in a first for Warner Archives, it has bonus content, in the form of deleted footage. It's available for pre-order now on their site for $19.95, and will be shipped later this month.
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Beat It With Your Wii

Michael Jackson: The Experience comes out November 23 for the Wii, DS and PSP, but it's the Wii version you'll want, for obvious reasons. Featuring all of Jackson's biggest hits, it looks like a blast to play, especially if you have any rhythm. What's nice is the ability to be back-up dancers, so up to four people can play.

Move and Kinect versions are being developed for early 2011 releases.
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Hammer Time (or Thor of War?)

Thor: God of Thunder, a muti-platform release from Sega, looks pretty nice in the limited sneak peek I got at the game. An action platformer, it mixes the melee attacks that come naturally for a guy with a hammer, a grappling system, with a trio of god powers, telling a story that was worked on by top comic writer Matt Faction. At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking they wrapped the Thor IP around a God of War clone, but the producers noted there's strategy in the combat, and it's not about button-press challenges, but full-speed combat. Also, this game is intended for a less hardcore audience, with a T rating.

Plus, the voices will be from the actors in the film, which is quite awesome. Look for more info to leak out before the release in summer of 2011.
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The View from Fear Central

To promote the new Aliens DVDs, Fox has a pod that closes you in with a screen showing clips from the films with incredible surround sound, including the sound of facehuggers crawling around you. Fun and freaky.
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How Big Is It?

Well... The line for professional hours is nearly as big as the general line for last year's show. Plan accordingly.
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This Show is Huge

They've combined the ComicCon with the Anime Fest to create a mega show. If they could draw the biggest stars the way San Diego does, this would be a serious competitor. As it is, this looks like the East Coast's best.
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The Ultimate Star Wars Gift

Star Wars Frames, retailing for $3,000 (or $2,750 with a $250 discount for buying on-site) is an incredible set of huge art books that are housed in a gorgeous wooden box. On the pages are individual frames from all six films, capturing the beauty of the saga. It's really amazing, but I know few people with that kind of cash to blow on something like this. But maybe you so.
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Which Are You?

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The First Stop to Make

Down by the IGN Theater on the first floor of the Con, visit the NY Movie Screenings booth for a chance to win Dave and Busters swag, Jackass 3D goodies and tickets to Madame Toussaud's. Can't beat that for free.
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Thank You LIRR

They managed to eliminate the 20-30 minute delay by the time I hit Jamaica, and now I'm in the city. First thing I've noticed is less comics-related ads around the area than in previous years, though I just hit a corner promoting No Ordinary Family, Red and Hasbro's new Hub network. Maybe, like with everything else, it's the economy.
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Not a Good Start

Due to a disabled Amtrak train, there are 20-30 minute delays into the city. Yay.

The Start of Day One

Waiting for the train to NYC for the first day of the New York ComicCon. There's a lot scheduled for today (and the rest of the weekend,) so I'm preparing myself for a very long day. It got started with an e-mail from a comic creator who shall remain nameless (and shameless.) His subject line was a classic, inviting me to meet M. Night Shaymalan, Seth Green, Stan Lee and [name redacted] at the NYCC. The only thing he has in common with the other three is they will all be in the Javits Center at some point. At least he dreams big.

I've been receiving e-mails from him for five years now, and have never stopped by, mainly because of behavior like this. This year will be no different.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Not-So-Big Apple Con

It's only the second year, but I can't help but feel it was a mistake to go head-to-head with the well-established NY ComicCon (which takes place next weekend at the Javitz Center.) (I don't know which was scheduled first, but if the BACC could have avoided the match-up, it would have been smart.)

On its own, the BACC is not a bad show. There's a decent dealers floor with solid deals on comics (and lots of bootlegs if that's your thing), and a healthy amount of celebrity guests, but when you compare it to the NYCC, it looks rinky dink. It wouldn't be hard to circle the floor in about 15 minutes, and there's only one panel happening at any time, so you will likely find yourself with a lot of down time.

The main issues are a lack of big-name exhibitors, as well as a lack of big-name guests. Almost all of the exhibitors on hand last year, including Nintendo, THQ and Troma Films, did not return, so the only companies on hand were the oddly out-of-place Scion, Verizon Wireless (pushing their awesome R2-D2 edition Droid phone,) and the Suicide Girls. Meanwhile, it's cool to see Burt Ward and Adam West or Lee Majors and Richard Hamilton (or even the three grown Brady boys,) but when you pair stars of the past like these with an assortment of D-listers including several wrestlers and supporting sci-fi cast members from the '80s, the whole thing takes on a very low-rent feel. The lack of lines for even well-known stars like West was telling, though the fact that Ward was charging $50 for an autographed picture didn't help. Everyone needs money, but charging for pictures with a fan just rubs me the wrong way.

The venue doesn't give the show a lot of help either. The piers last year were awful, and the Hotel Pennsylvania (despite a fantastic location opposite Madison Square Garden) is definitely better, but there are many issues. The floor is much improved, though there were many empty tables. This time, the signing areas were a problem. The "celeb" area, heavily reduced from last year's show, was crowded into the lobby, structured around the escalators, so it was cramped and confusing. The comic stars area was actually a nice sized room, with a good layout, but you had to go through an area reminiscent of The Shining to get there. The dim, barely maintained hallway was seriously creepy, and I wouldn't have been shocked to have found myself in some sort of Hostel situation, based on the surroundings. A coat of paint and some brighter bulbs would help a lot.

If there was no NYCC, the BACC would be something New Yorkers would look forward to each year, and when it returns in May all by itself, it will be certain to draw comics fans, but it's far overshadowed by the NYCC, to the point where comparisons are unfair.
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Some Pictures From Day One

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meet a Superfan

Craig Cummins drove from Pennsylvania to NYC with a special passenger, a hood from a vehicle on The Fall Guy, knowing Lee Majors would be in attendance. Carrying the hood several blocks, he got it signed by Majors and has an impressive souvenir (once he manages to get it home.)

Back For Another Bite of the Big Apple

There definitely been improvement, even if only because it moved from the piers to the Penn Plaza Pavillion. But there's a better layout and a better class of guest, including Burt Ward and Adam West. But still, most of the guests are pay-for-play, and the show is small overall.

The $6 Million DVD Set (give or take well over 5.9 million)

The $6 Million Man is coming to DVD in November, in an exclusive complete series release from Time Warner, for $239.95 (available for pre-order now at The set has all the episodes, the six movies, plus 17 hours of extras (including featurettes, interviews with the stars and commentaries) all in a box topped with a lenticular animation cel and a voice chip with Oscar Goldman's introduction. (Insert bionic sound here.)

NSFA (Not Safe For Anyone

Long Pigs is named after the culinary term for human flesh, which is probably all you need to know about this Toronto mockumentary by two film students who follow a cannibal. The special effects make-up, including a gruesome dismemberment, is by the same team that brought us 300. The rather packed DVD is available now on Amazon.

Boots on the Ground

If bootlegs are your thing, this is your heaven. You can't walk more than a few feet without seeing a table overflowing with illicit goods. If the Bionic 6 box set wasn't $55, I might have bit.

Long Island Horror

Peripheral Vision is a psychological thriller shot in two old asylums on Long Island. There's a bit of a Session 9 feel, which can't be a bad thing. The DVD is avaiable on Amazon, and features a healthy amount of extras, including a director's commentary and a tour of the hospitals.

The Show Is About to Start

The doors aren't open yet, but the fans are lining ups, and some of the exhibitors are in place. If you're in the area, you can pick up The Human Centipede on DVD and Blu-Ray early, for $25/$30, respectively. The three stars of the centipede are here to sign, and will be doing a panel tonight.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I-Con 29

Here are some pics from I-Con 29, the Northeast's largest Sci-Fi convention. The next one, number 30, will be in April on Long Island. Find out more at

Moving On, Moving Up

With more cons to attend, I've decide to expand the focus of this infrequent blog, and thus, Conning Fellow is born.

Here's a link to the previous incarnation, for anyone who wants to look back at the first four years of the NY ComicCon. Up next, the Big Apple Comic Con, October 1-3, 2010.