11/08/13 @ 11:46 am EST
STRACZYNSKI TALKS RETURNING TO TWILIGHT ZONE AFTER 25 YEARS
J. Michael Straczynski is known for creating Babylon 5 and Joe’s Comics, but back in 1988 he was a writer on the Twilight Zone TV series. Now, 25 years later, he returns to the Rod Serling creation with Twlight Zone #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. Tony Lee chatted with Straczynski about the project. TONY LEE: Joe if I’m correct, this is a return for you – as you were one of the series writers when the TV show returned in the eighties. How do those 22 minute episodes affect the way you’re writing these 22 page ones?
J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI: Probably the main consequence of working on the ’88 Twilight Zone is that it really helped me to codify in my own head what is and isn’t a Zone story. When you sit down to actually work in that universe, there’s a certain amount of reinventing the wheel that goes on initially. Which is why when freelancers came in the pitches would almost always end with “…and we discover they’re robots!” or “they’re Adam and Eve!” or “they’re really dead!” Being immersed in that world helps you to avoid all the obvious stories and look for ones that are a bit more challenging and come at the characters from an oblique angle. TL: As a long term fan of the series, what’s your earliest or most stand-out memory of it?
JMS: I’ve been trying to remember the first Zone I ever saw, and I believe it was “Walking Distance,” though I wouldn’t swear to that under oath.
The thing that struck me about the show was the speed and strength with which it could establish a main character and pull you into the story. Strongly defined characters were at the very core of the show.
If there was any one element that kept drawing me back, it was the writing: punchy, sharp, incisive, brave enough to park the camera and let the character just talk for a while. Good writing. Amazing writing.
There were three key to the show: a tightly constructed character, who was b) often running from or to something, so he was already in motion, and c) in a situation that he could not explain to others or understand himself. TL: At San Diego, you stated that you wanted to write the series as stand alone arcs connected by theme, character and location. What made you decide to do it this way rather than as one shots or even two parters?
JMS: A 22 page comic doesn’t equate to 22 minutes of television. If you pull out a comic script and format it for TV, it’s actually only about 10 minutes of material, give or take. So you need roughly 3 issues to equal one half-hour episode, which is why some of those who suggest these should be all done in one issues are coming at this from the wrong side of the coin. A zone episode needs proper character and story development, and you can’t get that in 10 minutes…hence, the use of multiple issue arcs. TL: You’re on board for at least the first twelve issues, what can readers look forward to in this series? What surprises can we look forward to?
JMS: Probably the most interesting part, and certainly the most challenging from a writing perspective, is that these are three independent stories with overlapping characters that stand totally on their own…but which over time, in the aggregate, begin to comment upon and affect the other two stories.
It’s like writing three stories made of playing cards, which can be laid out in one way, then shuffled into a completely different order, layering one into the next, and it still works. Pulling that off has been very difficult in terms of maintaining the chronology…I have spread-sheets and calendars spread all over my desk to keep track of it all — but in the end, it should be very cool. TL: You’re one of the few writers out there who’s managed to successfully straddle multiple mediums and genres – what’s next for you, and what medium will it be in?
JMS: I’ve been ridiculously fortunate in my career. The average career for a TV writer is ten years; by the end of that time, the town has pretty seen what you have to offer, they’ve defined you, you’ve defined yourself, and the doors start to close. In a couple of years I will have been working in TV on and off for 30 years, and that’s damned improbable.
I think the key to survival in the business is doing just what you mention: work in multiples mediums and genres, learn from each one and apply those lessons elsewhere. Writing a comic hones your visual sensibilities, which you can use in a feature; a drama series gives you training in character moments you can use in a comic. It all feeds into everything else, and stops anyone from putting you in a box…because once you’re in that box, they bury you in it.
In terms of the future…I’m always looking for new challenges. In TV there’s nowhere to go within the structure of the form once you’ve been a show-runner. You can do more shows, better or different shows, but there’s noplace higher on the chart than show-runner. In film, once you’ve written movies that have hit half a billion dollars or earned Oscar or BAFTA nominations, you’ve gone as far as you can as a writer in that respect; more movies, yes, better and different movies, sure. But logistically, organizationally, you’ve gone about as far as you can.
So I’m moving a bit more into directing. I don’t want to direct full-time…hate getting up early…but for the occasional project, it’s worth it. I was going to be directing my first feature this fall, but we pushed it to winter ’14 to accommodate actors schedules and make room for Sense8, the series I’m doing for Netflix with the Wachowskis. But even there I’m slated to direct the episodes we’re doing in London. So yeah, directing is the next big challenge. TL: And finally – what’s your favourite Twilight Zone episode?
JMS: “The Obsolete Man” for reasons that would take pages and pages to explain. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/11/06/straczynski-talks-returning-to-twilight-zone-after-25-years/
07/18/14 @ 11:41 pm EST
Review: Vampirella #1 (Collins)
Writer: Nancy Collins,
Pencils: Patrick Berkenkotter,
Inks: Dennis Chrisotomo,
Colors: Jorge Sutil,
Letterer: Rob Steen,
Cover: Terry Dodson,
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: June 4, 2014
Vampirella gets a new start and a new #1 as this veteran character shows she can still star in one hell of a yarn.
With horror writer Nancy Collins at the helm, this is a particularly strong issue for everyone’s favorite dark mistress. There has been a kidnapping and Vampirella has been called in by the Vatican itself to investigate. All she has to hear is that Ethan Shroud is someone connected and off we go!
I was expecting a bit more of a horror vent in this one, but what Collins spins out instead is a bone-chilling detective novelette, complete with mysteries, victims and red herrings. And while we do get a bit of the mystic here, Vampirella’s strong suit as a dark detective really comes through.
And a cliffhanger that makes NOT wanting to read issue #2 impossible!
All in all, one of the strongest beginnings for Vampirella in her long, long history.
07/18/14 @ 5:51 pm EST
Writer: Brian Buccellato,
Art: Ronan Cliquet,
Colors: Viviane Souza,
Letterer: Rob Steen,
Cover: Jae Lee,
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: June 4, 2014
Coming up fast on its conclusion (and sadly this book’s final issue), this most excellent and noir chronicling of the adventures of the Black Bat hits its stride with #11. Full of answers to questions posed since issue #1 and nefarious reveals, writer Brian Buccellato begins to put a bow onto one of his most brilliant pieces of pulp writing.
Our boy Tony now knows Cameron Tell, not Oliver Snade, is the true mastermind behind pulling the strings, and as he battles for redemption there is a possibility the hero may have to violate one of his most sacred vows. Will the vigilante turn to murder, even as the cops and press had feared?
For such a character-driven yarn, #11 is also very action-packed. Artist Ronan Cliquet has already proven his mastery of cinematic tenseness with the fabled “truck issue” of Black Bat, and here too we see that same sense of urgency that carries this tale through to its final page.
Anyone who is not utterly shocked by the conclusion of #11 has not been following this series, and if you missed it you really missed it.
07/16/14 @ 3:17 pm EST
Questions for Joseph Michael Linsner @ Dawn/Vampirella #1
Congratulations are in order on the occasion of Dawn's 25th anniversary, and those are congrats to you as creator. How does it feel to have created a character with such a legacy?
Thanks. It feels fantastic -- like a rebirth! I'm at the beginning of another 25 years and can't wait to get started. My epitaph is going to be "Joe Linsner -- The Dawn Guy", which I can deal with if that's my legacy. I'm very proud of the work I've done with Dawn on her 3 graphic novels. I'll be honest though, in 1989 when she first appeared in Cry For Dawn #1, I had no idea I'd still be drawing her 25 years later.
To my mind, I believe this is Dawn's first crossover with ANY character. But crossing over with a Dynamite signature character like Vampirella ... was there any added pressure there?
I have nothing but the greatest love and admiration for Vampi. She was designed by my favorite artist, Frank Frazetta! So that was an extra kick in the rear to make sure that I give this project my all. I'd be lying if I tried to say that Vampirella wasn't an influence on Dawn. I grew up loving Vampirella. Having the two of them meet for Dawn's 25th is bringing things full circle.
Instead of just handling the writing and covers, I now hear ...
06/12/14 @ 3:27 pm EST
Steve Grant Talks Jennifer Blood - From Bleeding Cool
Steven Grant is probably best known for his run on The Punisher as well as his recent story-turned-film, 2 Guns. Now he is tackling the Jennifer Blood character created by Garth Ennis. Byron Brewer caught up with the writer to talk about how the new series came about and why he likes working for different companies. BYRON BREWER:
Steve, how does it feel to be working with Dynamite Comics for the very first time? And on such a special project! STEVEN GRANT:
It’s interesting. I like working with different comics companies, to get an idea of how they’re similar & different & get a view of how different approaches work creatively. Being published by Dynamite was something I felt was worth doing. So far so good. BB:
Can you tell us a little bit about how this mini-series came about and how you became a part of it? SG:
In the wake of the 2 Guns film last summer, when things momentarily appeared nice and relaxed, I ran into Nick at the San Diego con. We’d loosely chatted about doing something for years, we’ve know each other for decades now. I told him to throw anything at me for a limited series, his choice. He took it under advisement. A couple months later he dropped me an email saying he’d really like me to resurrect Garth’s Jennifer Blood. All he had to do was say Garth Ennis, one of the most consistently interesting comics writers working today. I was pretty relieved, really. I realized after I’d said “anything” that John Carter was potentially on the table. Edgar Rice Burroughs is not my thing. But Jen made ...
06/09/14 @ 2:11 pm EST
Dynamite's Vampirella sale ends today on Monday, June 11th at 11 PM EST! All periodicals are priced at only 99 cents and collections are also incredibly discounted with prices ranging from $3.99 to $8.99!http://tinyurl.com/kfpm22s
Make sure to take advantage of this incredible sale!