March 2009

Crime Pays in Comics: Ian Rankin and His Comic Book Love

By Zack Smith


Our two-part talk with crime novelist Ian Rankin, writer of the upcoming graphic novel Dark Entries for the Vertigo Crime Line, concludes today. In this installment, the best-selling writer discusses just why so many crime novelists have headed to comics and more. Read on…

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Jesse Alexander p.2 – Jeph Loeb & His NBC Pilot, ‘Day One’

Our two-part conversation with former Heroes co-executive producer Jesse Alexander, writer of Marvel’s upcoming Howling Commandos: Shotgun Opera concludes today. When we spoke with Alexander, he was in the middle of filming some shots for Day One, a new science fiction pilot he’s created for NBC. While we had him on the phone, we took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming series, and Alexander’s other TV work.

Read the full interview here!

Starting Vertigo’s Crime Line: Ian Rankin on Dark Entries

By Zack Smith

An exlusive talk with the internationally-renowned crime novelist on his all-new graphic novel for Vertigo.

Read the full interview here!

Jesse Alexander: TV to Comics with the Howling Commandos

By Zack Smith


This May, Marvel takes you back to WWII for an untold tale of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. Howling Commandos: Shotgun Opera is a 40-page one-shot by TV writer Jesse Alexander and veteran artist John Paul Leon (most recently seen on Ex Machina Special) that serves as a companion to Captain America: White by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

Alexander is a new name to comics, though he’s been associated with some of the most popular genre shows of the last decade. A former co-executive producer on Alias, Lost and most recently Heroes, which he left along with Jeph Loeb late last year. Alexander’s currently filming a new pilot for NBC called Day One, a new apocalyptic drama starring David Lyons (ER), Julie Gonzalo (Veronica Mars and Eli Stone) and Thekla Reuten (In Bruges) among many others.

We called up Alexander during a break from shooting the two-hour pilot to find out what’s going down with the Howlers on this mission. In part one of this two-part convo, one thing becomes apparent: Jesse Alexander loves the Howling Commandos.

Read the full interview here!

Reprinted from The Independent Weekly

There are two types of musical theater lovers: Those who love Miss Saigon and those who don’t. For some, Miss Saigon is an enchanting, tragic romance; for others, it’s overblown, overproduced and reduces both Madame Butterfly and the Vietnam War to a couple of set pieces and a rhyming dictionary.

I enjoy musical theater but I’m not a connoisseur; as a result, my perspective falls somewhere in the middle. In N.C. Theatre’s production at Memorial Auditorium, there were a few genuinely thrilling parts and a few others where I found myself wincing in annoyance—only to hear the person next to me sniffling and wiping their eyes with a tissue.

On a technical level, this is perhaps one of the most impressive productions ever seen at Memorial; as a work of storytelling, its ultra-earnestness and sometimes-painful lyrics are tailor-made for a wide audience, but leave others cold. The tale of Miss Saigon, by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr., is by now well-known; set against the backdrop of the fall of Saigon, a 17-year-old prostitute named Kim (Jennifer Paz from the show’s first national tour) finds love with the earnest G.I. Chris (Eric Kunze, reprising his role from Broadway and the first national tour, and who was last seen locally in N.C. Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar). Circumstances separate the lovers, who reunite years later in a world that has changed. There’s also a helicopter and a pink Cadillac on stage.
The standout here is Broadway veteran Kevin Gray as the wily pimp The Engineer, who gives a comic-yet-desperate spin to his role; at times, I cared more about whether he’d escape Vietnam than Kim. His performance of the satirical ditty “The American Dream” is the evening’s highlight. This ode to the on-stage Cadillac is an old-school Broadway number with excellent choreography and fancy footwork. The rest of the cast does well, though Jennifer Shrader occasionally seems a bit stiff in the underwritten part of Ellen, Chris’s girl back home. Technical credits by director Richard Stafford and choreographer Marc Oka are excellent.

This is a huge hit for N.C. Theatre; the packed house at the performance I attended delivered a standing ovation and shed plenty of tears. Perhaps you will cry, too. Or maybe you’ll be one of those who wonders how many words could possibly rhyme with “Saigon” or “Engineer.” It all depends on what kind of musical theater lover you are.

Batman in the ’60s & ’70s: ‘The Batcave Companion’

By Zack Smith

It’s been said before, but this time we mean it: You only think you know the history of the Dark Knight. The Batcave Companion, the latest volume of comics history from TwoMorrows, takes you inside the period of Batman’s history from the 1964 “New Look” through the 1970s era of Ra’s al Guhl, Silver St. Cloud and more.

Don’t let the title fool you – it’s not just a focus on where Batman hangs his cowl, but a thorough exploration of an often-ignored era of Bat-history, packed to the gills with interviews, rare artwork and more, all under a brand-new painted cover by Neal Adams and an introduction by Dennis O’Neil.

Several years in the making, The Batcave Companion finally hits stores this April. It’s a labor of love for Michael Eury and Michael Kronenberg, who revealed to us why they dared venture into the Batcave…and what readers can expect to find.

Kevin Cannon – The High Arctic, a Dare, and ‘Far Arden’

By Zack Smith


If you’ve ever found yourself sitting around moping about that graphic novel you’ll never get around to doing, maybe you should take a lesson from Kevin Cannon. Despite a busy career as an illustrator for such works as T-Minus, Cannon accepted a dare to try and produce an entire graphic novel under very unusual circumstances. The resulting book, Far Arden, proved to be a hit webcomic (you can read it at ) and was subsequently picked up by Top Shelf Productions for a 400-page graphic novel premiering this May. We got up with Cannon about the graphic novel, and just how it came to be.

Read the full article here!

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