Doing a clean-up and wanted to link some recent work.  I got to talk with some really brilliant people for a couple places.  My ego is inflated!

A chat with BONE Creator Jeff Smith on his work and being a self-publisher in the 1990s

Got to talk with Caldecott Winner David Wiesner on his new book MR. WUFFLES!

Here’s a (very quick) interview I did with George A. Romero on his new EMPIRE OF THE DEAD miniseries.

A talk with Elizabeth George, creator of INSPECTOR LYNLEY

THE DARK IS RISING Author Susan Cooper on her new book and the power of her series

Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy on the New Dark Horse Retrospective of their work, Pt.1

Milligan and McCarthy, Pt.2

Richard Kadrey on Sandman Slim and KILL CITY BLUES

A Very Silly Piece with Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa on GOD IS DEAD.

QUANTUM AND WOODY Creators Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright talk returning to the characters

A recap of a BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Anniversary Panel from San Diego Comic-Con

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As I’ve had some articles published all over the place recently, figured it was time to start a new compilation post.

Chris Rousseau sorts through records at Nice Price Books in Carrboro.

Very Sad: Beloved local used bookstore Nice Price Books is closing, and I talked to them and several other used bookstores to get the reasons why.

Jonathan M. Katz - Zach Hetrick

Here’s an interview I did with reporter Jonathan M. Katz about his new book on life in Haiti and the failed policies of relief efforts, THE BIG TRUCK THAT WENT BY.

Madeline Trumble and Con OShea-Creal as Mary Poppins and Bert

Here’s a strangely detailed review I did of the touring production of Disney’s MARY POPPINS, and how it compares to both the original books and the film.

LIzzy Caplan and Geoffrey Arend in SAVE THE DATE

For Valentine’s Day: A look at some anti-romantic movies, SAVE THE DATE, CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER, THE HEARTBREAK KID, AN UNMARRIED WOMAN and MARGARET.

Kyle Baker recently put his classic graphic novels including WHY I HATE SATURN and THE COWBOY WALLY SHOW online for free, and here’s my look at why these are worth checking out.

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I interviewed  Brandon Sanderson on his besteselling conclusion to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, A MEMORY OF LIGHT!

Ron Rash - Photo by Mark Haskett

Here’s my interview with SERENA author Ron Rash on his new short story collection NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY!

George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" plays Saturday at 7 p.m.

A look at the films of the Nevermore Film Festival in Durham this weekend, including JOHN DIES AT THE END and a 35-mm print of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD!

My new interview with Ryan Browne of the webcomic GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS on his Kickstarter Campaign!

Here’s my talk with Michel Fiffe on his acclaimed self-published comic COPRA!

My interview with the creators of the webcomic TRIP FANTASTIC!

The creators of HACK/SLASH and HOAX HUNTERS Pay Tribute to Fake 1980s Toys with MINI COMICS INDLUDED on Kickstarter!

The Book of Mormon comes to Durham Feb. 11-23, 2014.

A Look at the Durham Performing Arts Center’s New Broadway Series!

Follow-up to earlier piece: Nice Price Books is having a closing sale that will help raise money for the Chapel Hill Library.

A review of a local production of the play THE LAST FIVE YEARS!

Jeffrey Brown talks the adorable VADER’S LITTLE PRINCESS!

A look at the many (many, many…) faces of Superman’s foe General Zod!

NEW TOY BLOGS:
ARCHER ACTION FIGURES ARE COMING!

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My Little Pony Meets Doctor Who with “Doctor Whooves!”

Coming soon: New JURASSIC PARK Toys!

New “Presidential Monsters” with Baracula!

The Many (Toy) Faces of Slyvester Stallone

New Batman “Movie Masters” Trilogy 3-Pack!

The Return of Captain Power Toys?

Some high-end pieces of IRON MAN 3 Merchandise!

Check Out This Chic Han Solo in Carbonite Business Card Case!

Yes, they finally made a figure of Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING

New WALKING DEAD Michonne 3-Pack

New Target “New 52” Justice League 7-Pack!

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How to Build Your Dragon — Getting Down with Masters of the Universe Classics’ Granamyr!

New Reverse-Flash FUNKO at Dallas Comic-Con!

These ‘Alien” Pint Glasses are Xenomorphically Awesome!

New WALKING DEAD toys from FUNKO!

Reprinted from The Independent Weekly

Nevermore Film Festival
Carolina Theatre
Feb. 20-22

Ever since Kevin Williamson, a native of New Bern, N.C., wrote Scream, there has been a flood of increasingly lame horror movies in the American cinema. While he captured lightning in a bottle, perhaps, with his clever, hugely successful send-up of the teen slasher film, it was all too easy for the knowing wit of that influential effort to curdle into cynicism. Currently, the trend seems to vacillate between spineless, suspense-less, PG-13 remakes, and ugly, emotionally disconnected Saw sequels, “torture porn” and … well, more remakes.

That’s why it’s a relief to say that the Nevermore Film Festival at the Carolina Theatre this weekend represents a trip back to the old school—when horror film artists took their craft more seriously, even with extremely limited resources. Low budgets and no stars didn’t stop the horror auteurs, and it’s safe to say this weekend’s program is a cut above the normal horror fare.

While there are a few films that fall into the oldest and dullest of scream clichés, there’s also plenty of work that falls into the category of “real cool flick.” Simply put: With lower budgets and limited effects, there are several gems at Nevermore that put Hollywood to shame by doing more with less.

Of the films that were made available for advance screening, the highlight is Ben Rock’s Alien Raiders. Boasting some studio backing (it’s available on DVD from Warner Home Video) and a few recognizable TV actors (24‘s Carlos Bernard, Six Feet Under‘s Matthew St. Patrick), it’s a surprisingly engaging mash-up of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Stephen King’s The Mist, depicting a grocery store robbery that slowly takes on darker, world-threatening implications. The plot is well-paced and suspenseful, with some unnerving scenes and effects. My one complaint is the title; it gives away too much for a film that’s otherwise very effective at shifting gears. Incidentally, director Rock was the production designer on The Blair Witch Project, responsible for, among other things, the creepy stick figure used to promote that film.

Another winner is The Disappeared, a British film about a teenager haunted by a number of kidnapped children, including his younger brother. Directed with eerie restraint by the wonderfully named Johnny Kevorkian, the film relies more on mood and characterization than empty shocks, and Harry Treadaway (Brothers of the Head) does an excellent job as the haunted protagonist.

Another highlight, yet one that shows no restraint whatsoever, is Pig Hunt, from Jason X director James Isaac. The plot is a typical horror set-up: Some friends take an Army buddy hunting in the mountains, only to be confronted with evil hillbillies, a possibly evil cult and one big pig. But the film is damn fun from start to finish, with wonderfully profane one-liners, realistically gory hunting scenes, well-choreographed action and some hilariously over-the-top characters and sequences. It needs to lose about 10-20 minutes, but this might very well be the greatest giant pig movie since Razorback. (I realize some might consider this faint praise.)

There’s also a nice piece of self-mockery in Reel Zombies, a Canadian mockumentary about a low-budget filmmaker who tries to film a zombie epic with real zombies after a Dawn of the Dead-type invasion. It’s an excellent look at the combination of desperation and self-awareness that goes into making a bad, low-budget horror movie, and it has a tremendous amount of fun with the premise, though there will doubtlessly be some festival attendees who will wince in recognition at this.

Other features didn’t quite grab me. Resurrection County is another evil-rednecks film, but I felt disconnected from its red-states-gone-bad premise, and Blackspot, from New Zealand’s Ben Hawker, is admirable in its ambition and structure yet a bit dull for my taste.

There are also a number of shorts of varying quality; a highlight is Kirksdale, a visually inventive tale of inmates taking over the asylum (literally). First Kill, a Most Dangerous Game knock-off, has some suspense, but mostly feels like the 400th film at the festival about evils in the woods. Some of the comedy pieces go on too long, such as The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Horribly Inefficient Weapon, which might have made a good Grindhouse-type trailer but feels drawn-out at 11 minutes. Ditto with The Auburn Hills Breakdown, which tries to get too much mileage out of the amusing premise “What if Leatherface’s family found themselves stuck in suburbia?” And a few, such as the teen-surgery tale Excision, have a kicky, weirdly compelling feel.

Overall, though, Nevermore offers an eclectic, sometimes wildly entertaining lineup, and the presence of such classics as the original 1931 Frankenstein, directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff, and the 1954 Creature from the Black Lagoon (in 3-D, no less!) make this a must-attend festival. No matter what you make of the endless supply of horror remakes out there (Hollywood, don’t you dare touch Near Dark), Nevermore proves that sometimes the best material comes from originality—or at least the originals.