December 2008

The difference of a decade

Life was different in 1999, and so were the movies

31 DEC 2008  •  by Zack Smith

In 1999, life was good: The economy was strong and jobs beckoned for college students like me. George W. Bush was just a Texas governor, and the only threat to our booming economy was the looming Y2K bug. Remember those times?

It was a markedly good year at the movies, too. Perhaps no film from that year helped set the tone for the ensuing decade more than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. A mega-budgeted sequel full of hype, anticlimax and sound and fury, Menace nonetheless became a huge hit because of a built-in base of fans who would hate it—but lined up for it and its sequels nonetheless. This was the ultimate triumph of marketing over content.

But while Phantom Menace might have been a harbinger of the remakes, sequels and general pointlessness of the next 10 years, the films of 1999 are noteworthy in other ways, too.

Read the Full Article Here


Comic Books As Curriculum

By Zack Smith
posted: 31 December 2008 09:52 am ET

Along with Debra Detamore, Jenkins has authored a new book called Comics in Your Curriculum. It’s a how-to guide for teachers looking to incorporate comics into different subjects. Whether it’s math, history or even science, its lessons help make learning fun…with comics! We talked to Jenkins about his book, and how it works.

Read the full article here.

I wrote some book reviews for the Independent Weekly’s Christmas issue.  You can read all of them here:

Here’s one of my reviews:

The HunterThe Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit
By Richard Stark
University of Chicago Press 

Few writers have pulled off the Jekyll-and-Hyde act that Donald Westlake has with his pseudonym, Richard Stark. Westlake is best known for comic, twisty thrillers, while Stark is the hardest of the hard-boiled, crafting crime novels so cold-blooded it’s almost impossible to believe they’re written by the same person. Stark’s work has fallen in and out of print over the decades and is highly coveted by collectors. Thankfully, the University of Chicago Press is now rereleasing his “Parker” series three at a time, beginning with The HunterThe Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit.

Parker is Stark’s favorite protagonist, a professional thief for whom crime is a job, and a job to be done well. We never learn his first name, nor have any access to his thoughts; we simply observe him as he goes about his dirty work. The Hunter, which was memorably filmed in 1967 by John Boorman as the Lee Marvin vehicle Point Blank and as 1999’s Payback with Mel Gibson (check out the recent DVD that hews closer to the novel), is a simple tale of vengeance, as Parker seemingly rises from the dead after a post-job betrayal. The first three novels tell a loose trilogy as Parker takes on the criminal organization known as “The Outfit,” and there are more novels to come, including a graphic novel adaptation next year from award-winning comic artist Darwyn Cooke. Welcome back, Parker. The literary world’s a brighter place with your stories. —Zack Smith

Beanworld’s Back: Talking to Larry Marder

By Zack Smith


Larry Marder’s getting his Christmas present early this year. The writer and artist, who’s mostly worked behind the scenes at Image Comics and McFarlane Toys, gets to see his cult hit Tales of the Beanworld return to comic shelves this week.

Read the full interview here!

Making His Marvel’s Models: Paul Tobin on Models, Inc.

By Zack Smith


Aside from superheroes, the Marvel Universe has always been a breeding ground for…models. Yes, Patsy Walker and Millie the Model once enjoyed their own long-running books, and that tradition is finally returning in the new miniseries Models, Inc., a four-issue Marvel Universe miniseries that premieres this February.

We talked with writer Paul Tobin (Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil, Marvel Adventures: Avengers ) about this new title…and the return of a certain redhead familiar to Spider-Man fans in its pages.

Read the full interview here.

Turning the Clock Back – Greg Sadowski on Supermen!

By Zack Smith


The late 1930s and early 1940s gave rise to dozens of legendary heroes who are still around today, including Superman, Batman, Captain America and the Spirit.

And then…there were the rest.

Greg Sadowski, best-known as the author of the award-winning retrospective on Bernie Krigstein, B. Krigstein, is about to take readers back to the early days of comics, when heroes weren’t just heroes…they were Supermen!. The upcoming anthology from Fantagraphics features some of the earliest comic book superheroes and some of comics’ most legendary creators, including Will Eisner and Jack Kirby, along with an introduction by Jonathan Lethem (Omega the Unknown). We talked with Sadowski about the origins of his book, and the madness readers can expect to find inside.

And as a special bonus, we’ve included a story that was cut from the final book that just happens to star a character soon to be revived by DC.

Read on to find out more…

From Spiderwick to Comics: Talking to Holly Black

By Zack Smith


We recently chatted with artist Ted Naifeh about his work on the recent graphic novel The Good Neighbors Book One: Kin from Scholastic. Now we’re privileged to talk with that book’s writer, Holly Black.

Black is one of the most popular authors for young readers, best-known for her series The Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi, which was the basis for a popular film earlier this year. She’s also the author of the more teen-oriented Modern Fareie Tales series, which includes Tithe, Valiant and Ironside.

Now, Black’s tackling the graphic novel format with The Good Neighbors, the dark tale of Rue Silver, a young girl who discovers her mother’s disappearance is linked to a world lurking beneath the surface of her own – a world of faeries who are decidedly more dangerous than children’s stories have led us to expect. Black took some time out to answer our questions about her book, her favorite comics, and why she decided to get into the graphic novel game.

Read the full interview here.

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