I turned 50 today. And I decided to embrace it boldly and proudly. Taking the same route as my Christmas card art, I created this banner using selected moments, memories and achievements from my life to spell out my message graphically.
This was a last minute project I thunk up for myself too. The notion to do this only hit me yesterday morning. I brainstormed words and letters for about fifteen minutes, then went about my day as thoughts and notions ruminated in my brain. I got to work with the actual graphic designing at 8:30p last night. As I'd hoped, I finished it just before midnight, as yesterday transitioned into my birthday.
This morning, I spent a few hours to compose and write this blog. Figured you'd wanna know where each letter comes from. So here you go. Enjoy the read!
F is from Super Friends
One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons growing up.
I is from The Tick
The first kid's meal toy program I worked on from start to finish was for a comic book super hero that I'd never even heard of before. The Balancing Tick (at left) and Charles the Brainchild toy (concept sketch below and photo of the produced piece here) were the first toys I ever designed. Check out my portfolio page to find my original concept sketches of The Tick toy.
F is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This is but one of many geek shows I loved watching. Others were The X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess, Firefly & Serenity and most anything with "Star Trek" in the title.
T is from Batman
I loved this show as a kid! Batman is my favorite comic book hero to this day.
Y is from Barry Manilow
Yes, I am a Fanilow. And darn proud of it.
Back in the day, there was this thing called the Columbia Record Club where you could get like 6 records for a penny. This two-LP set was one of the ones I ordered.
Y is from Disneyland
That's no surprise, right?
I have hundreds of photos I've taken at various Disney events and parks posted on Flickr, including the one below from my experience joining hundreds of thousands of Disney fans at three in the morning to celebrate Disneyland 50th birthday. Click it to check out the entire gallery.
E is from Huey Lewis and The News
My favorite rock band, the voice of my college-age self.
A is formed by the Starfleet Uniform pin from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Like I mentioned before, I've been a Star Trek fan since the original series. The art I used for the "a" is a graphic I rendered myself, first for a tee-shirt design and then an infographic I created this past year that's posted over at this site.
R is from Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition
I designed Star Wars kid's meal toys. And for that, I was forced to take many business trips to a place called Skywalker Ranch. Ho hum..
Below is a Taco Bell promotional header card showing the toys in the promotion, shamelessly pointing out the ones I concepted in the series. You can see some of my concept art on my portfolio page.
S is from San Diego State University
That's where I went took the five-year plan to earn my degree. This was the logo they were using oh those many moons ago.
O is from San Diego Comic-Con International
The first time I went to Comic-Con, Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, was there to help ease fans' fears about Michael Keaton being cast as Batman. Comic-Con then was nothing like the monster it is now.
Visit Flickr to see my pix from my visits to Comic-Con and WonderCon over the past few years.
L is from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games
At the first company that hired me after graduating college, I got to build and manage a staff to design and develop lapel pins and collector's pin sets for the Olympic Games sponsors and retailers when Atlanta hosted the games. All that experience working personally with the licensing office in Atlanta, as well as with licensing offices on other sports licenses, groomed me well for my eventual work designing products for licensed entertainment properties like The Tick and Star Wars.
D is from DC Comics
This is the 1970's version of the logo that I saw on the covers of the comic books I read and collected back in the day. I still read comic books today which, since I have freelance work for clients including Sideshow Collectibles, doubles professionally as "research"!
Below is the first of many other projects I've worked on at Sideshow this past year, including some DC Comics characters, that should all finally see the light of day beginning in 2014.
Man of Steel will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray in 11 days. And Superman being one of those entertainment properties having gazillions of around the world wanting their hero presented in something special, this Blu-ray is being offered in several different, unique editions. And for your educational pleasure, I thought I'd whip out a quick blog listing those editions for you.
There's seven in total. - UPDATED 11/3/13: Eight! Added a cool exclusive edition from Australia that I found after my original posting.
Plus one from a land across the moat.
Standard Combo Pack
3D Combo Pack
Limited Edition 3D Combo Pack Gift Set
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Amazon
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Walmart
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Target
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: WBShop.com
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Germany
And finally here's one that's available in Germany. It includes Region B discs so if you decide you want this one, you'll need to own a region-free Blu-ray Disc player to play the movie (unless you plan to use the discs as coasters).
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Australia
Added November 3, 2013.
Just found this this morning, available exclusively in the Australian market.
Australia Blu-ray Discs are also traditional Region B discs (US is Region A).
A Bonus Feature
Hope you enjoyed the recap. Do you know which one you're going to get? Or will you just stream it on Netflix?
Speaking of Netflix, I'm not a Netflix subscriber so I'm not sure if they also provide the bonus material with movies. But this new short is included when you pick up a copy of Man of Steel. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Back in 2007, Warner Bros. Animation started released direct-to-home video animated movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other heroes published by DC Comics. Most of the films, which each run some 70-odd minutes long, were adaptations of popular graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman. But there are a few, like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight, that were original scripts rooted in comic book lore.
"New Frontier" figurine
As a life-long DC guy, I’ve enjoyed watching every single one as they are released. Best Buy started including an exclusive toy figurine beginning with the second title Justice League: The New Frontier. As a toy guy and as someone who also loved the original graphic novel, it was easy to decide to pick it up. Since then, Best Buy has gone and offered an exclusive toy figurine for all but one title (Batman: Gotham Knight). So guess who was a sucker getting every single one?
This past weekend, a friend mentioned watching one of them. It was one of the ones released midway in the series. Being as old as I’m getting, I couldn’t remember if I enjoyed it or not.
I watched it again and realized it wasn't one of my favorites.
So, for my own benefit that I can have something to refer to to remind myself which films I enjoyed the most and also to introduce you kind readers to these films, below is a list of the DC Universe Animated Movies currently available to buy or rent and my ratings of each. And as it so happens this may be a good time to explore these. The next title, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, is due out in two weeks. It’s based on a story published in the summer of 2011 that directly leads into that fall’s reboot of DC Comics’ entire line of comic books. Marketed as “The New 52”, every DC Comics title was reset to issue number 1 when a new timeline resulted from the conclusion of the Flashpoint story, making Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all the rest exist in a present day time frame when the public had only been aware of these superheroes for five years. The idea was that this rebooting of origins, simplifying of 70-odd years of back stories and even fashion makeovers of heroes’ uniforms could make it easier and more appealing for brand new readers to jump into comic books, especially given the current Hollywood environment of heavily promoted and popular summer blockbuster movies based on comic book properties.
Before Flashpoint, movies previously produced have mainly been from a selection of popular graphic novels written in the past thirty years. Given the nature of Flashpoint’s role in DC’s publishing work, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the film adaptation served a similar purpose, rebooting the film series to feature stories based on the world of The New 52, perhaps focusing on lesser-known heroes. UPDATE: Confirmed just this morning that, at least initially, it's the former. See more details at the end of my blog.
So maybe this is an opportune moment to chat about these existing films. If you haven’t seen any, I recommend you consider giving my favorite five of the lot a try. They’re shown with comments in CAPS. And they’re really, really good!
Film 1 - Superman: Doomsday (2007) – Good.
Film 2 - Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) – Great!
Film 3 - Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – Okay. Released the same time The Dark Knight debuted in theatres, a collection of six original short stories presented in various anime-style animation.
Film 4 – Wonder Woman (2009) – Great! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 5 – Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) – Fun! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 6 – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) – Okay.
Film 7 – Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) – Loved it!
Film 8 – Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) – TOP FIVE
Film 9 – Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010) – Okay.
Film 10 – All-Star Superman (2011) – Great adaptation!
Film 11 – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011) Good. Another collection of short stories featuring selected members of the Green Lantern Corps, released at the time of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern film.
Film 12 – Batman: Year One (2011) – TOP FIVE!
Film 13 – Justice League: Doom (2012) – TOP FIVE!
Film 14 – Superman vs. The Elite (2012) – Not my fave.
Film 15 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One (2012) – AMAZE-BALLS!!
Film 16 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part Two (2013) – GREAT!
Film 17 – Superman: Unbound (2013) – Okay. More interesting to watch immediately after Apocalyse since this takes place after that story.
And this just in...
As I was putting the finishing touches on this blog, Newsarama posted a tweet from Warner Bros. today confirming that the next DCU Animated movie will indeed take place in DC's New 52 universe. Justice League: War will adapt one of the first New 52 stories, Justice League: Origin, collecting the first six issues of the N52 title and describing how these seven heroes first met and how the Justice League ultimately came to be.
On the one hand, it's about time! N52 debuted almost two years ago, so it makes perfect sense to finally have the heroes' comic book looks and back stories finally align with this popular animated film series. On the other hand, I hated this story! It was mainly the personalities carved out by writer Geoff Johns that disappointed me, and how conflicts between them just felt more contrived for conflict's sake. I was also reading the solo books for The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and Superman as this story was unfolding, and because of the different writers across the books, I also became distracted when many of the heroes' personalities weren't consistent from the solo book to the Justice League book.
So it wasn't a great read for me. But what can I do? I guess just continue to hope that Best Buy goes on including figurines with each new N52 movie so my collection continues to grow. Because as I said, I'm a DC guy. I'm still gonna watch these movies!
Here's the trailer for the new movie, which goes on sale in exactly two weeks.
This has been a hard blog to write. This is my fifth attempt to write something down about Man of Steel without it meandering into an overly long diatribe.
Three weeks after first seeing it, I still love Man of Steel! I’ve seen it twice now and wouldn’t mind seeing it one more time in theatres before owning it on Blu-ray. But not everyone has enjoyed the movie. I talked to some of my friends who were disappointed with the film. It was almost like we’d seen two different movies, when really we were seeing one movie two different ways. And even some of the online feedback from the comic book world thought the film went too far with one scene, arguing that it was a decision the world's greatest superhero would never choose to do.
Enjoying the movie as much as I did makes me want to defend the film. That’s not to say my opinion is better than anyone who didn’t enjoy the movie. But as much as I got out of listening to my friends tell me what they didn’t like about it, I hope folks who didn’t enjoy Man of Steel will be open to what I have to say about it. And if you are among those who have decided to wait until later to see the movie, this blog is spoiler free unless you click on some of the links below.
First, to be fair, I’ll list some of the reasons my friends gave me for why they didn’t enjoy Man of Steel, presented in about the order it was consistently given to me.
The Level of Destruction – It is overwhelming in this movie! It goes to a degree never before seen in a superhero movie. And it is clearly provocative in the way it’s depicted. That said, there’s a part of me that chose to view the film only within the context the story being told in this film and not bring to it outside notions, including the events of recent tragic, true-life events. And choosing to do that, I only saw what the film showed: a no-holds barred fight between two and more super-powered beings taking place on our world. It happened in a small town and then a large metropolis. And it was devastating! By contrast, it was nothing like the fight shown towards the end of 1981's Superman II, and in the context of this film, it couldn’t be. That doesn’t mean, however, that the visuals won’t disturb some sensitive viewers. The distinct visuals in the film were certainly a calculated risk on the part of the filmmakers. But in my eyes, it’s exactly what could result if such a fight between creatures took place here. So I accepted it.
The Lapses in Logic - Yeah, this movie is not perfect, and this is one point I can agree with whole-heartedly! And for me, they all involve Lois. Risk falling off a narrow ledge to follow a stranger into an ice cave? Decide to snap a picture of something that could easily be as malevolent as it is a curiosity? Shout out someone’s name and reveal someone’s identity within earshot of others? Fall so easily in love with an alien? And then, there’s the moment Lois is brought up to the spaceship, more as a plot device than anything else. And does she really need to be in the plane delivering the package? Also, can’t deny Jonathan Kent’s last scene being a WTF moment, at least the first time I saw it. So here I saw the same film my friends saw. But I still thought the many strengths of the film far outweighed its obvious weaknesses.
Superman Not Being Superman – So, where were all those super rescues we have all seen before, most notably in the Christopher Reeve films and Superman Returns? Those little scenes during heightened action and the world crumbling around the innocent people west of the San Andreas Fault and huge metal objects raining down in Metropoiis that remind and re-inforce the idea to the audience that this is why he is the world’s greatest superhero Superman? Well, my answer to this is two-fold. First, I go back to when I previously said that I chose not to bring in previous notions with me when I saw this film, and that includes the idea of the Richard Donner-directed Christopher Reeve films and Superman Returns. This isn’t those films, so I think it’s unfair to expect moments from any of the former films to naturally be in this one. It’s akin to saying “This movie sucks because it didn’t show kryptonite or Lex Luthor.” But I acknowledge that this film didn’t show more than three scenes of Superman doing that ol’ Superman thing of an actual rescue of or prevention of harm to innocent bystanders. Those moments were the soldier in Smallville, Lois in the skies over Metropolis, and the family at the end of the battle. That’s all I can recall. Was that enough? No, at least by many people’s accounts. Superman should be shown saving people and making rescues; that is the expectation when watching a Superman movie. But that leads to my second argument, that this Superman in Man of Steel really isn't Superman. Not the Superman the movie-going audience has always seen in every other such film. Not yet anyway. By the end of this movie, we’re not even sure that Superman is even called that by the world at large. All we know is that the military knows he’s good and has called him Superman, but we’re not yet shown what the world at large truly yet knows about this visitor from a stranger planet who was sought out these other stranger visitors who freaked everyone out by hacking into the world’s communication network to send a bizarre and troubling message around the world. To my mind, a more appropriate title for Man of Steel could be Superboy, a story about the hero who finally came out to reveal his true nature but has yet to earn the credit of being the world’s greatest superhero. Yeah, Man of Steel is a Superman movie, but if you think about it, he’s not really Superman, at least not yet. This first time out, he had a lot of things to process during his coming out party, and it’s easy to argue that he made a lot of tactical errors with everything he decided to take on on his first day at work. And seeing it this way makes it very plausible to me that this "rookie" Superman, while having heroic qualities, is yet to become the hero folks expected to see the first time at bat.
It Wasn’t Fun – This one took me longer to understand, but I can see it now. I didn’t spend a lot of time laughing when I watched Man of Steel. The only audibles I uttered during the movie were “Wow” and “WHOA!” and that happened frequently. Then I got the notion to re-watch Batman Begins. Batman Begins was written by David Goyer, who co-wrote the story and wrote the screenplay for Man of Steel, so I watched the film to compare it against his newest origin script. And I discovered, much to my surprise, that I laughed out loud a lot as I watched the supposedly darker, heavier film called Batman Begins. And those moments were always courtesy of Michael Caine’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox. Their moments brought levity and genuine humor to the film, which was pretty nearly absent in Man of Steel. A friend pointed out that in The Avengers, there’s major destruction and carnage too, but it was somehow easier to accept and avoid any somber overtones because the heroes had funny moments during the action. Can’t argue with that. Trouble is there are no characters like Alfred and Lucius in Man of Steel to introduce that levity organically into the situations. So maybe on balance, Man of Steel could’ve earned more points by lightening it up here and there. But that’s not the story they chose to tell, and I can’t hold it against them, being someone who enjoyed and appreciated the risks they took to tell their story and felt they were successful with it. With the way this film ended tho’, it’s a sure bet that in the sequel, the offices of the Daily Planet will provide fodder for humor and levity as characters dance around secrets and lies.
So, are you with me so far? Well, that’s okay if you’re not. Man of Steel and Superman: The Movie are about as equal as Batman Begins is to Tim Burton’s Batman, meaning they’re not! But each has their devoted fans and followers, and that’s okay. And I think all four films are awesome films, for what they are.
One final thought. One thing I was surprised that was less of an issue with my friends and more an issue with diehard Superman fans was how Superman defeats General Zod in Man of Steel. I won’t spoil it, but here’s a link that summarizes the blog by Mark Waid, writer of a lauded recent update on the Man of Steel's origin Superman: Birthright (Yeah, there are origin reboots happening all the time in the comic books too!). His blog was the catalyst for great discussion on the Internet about the villain's dramatic resolution the week the film debuted. I was shocked at how it ended, but as contrived as that moment played out, the surprise turned again into acceptance. Despite what folks believe “their” Superman would do, in the context of this world and this Superman’s experiences and inexperience, it was plausible to me. And despite what folks say, I believe there was an appropriate response afterwards, if somewhat abbreviated by editing and moving on to the film's final scenes. It may just have been a response too short for folks to realize had happened and/or bought.
So that's my two cents. Thanks for actually making it through to the end here. If you have anything to share, please do below. I'm still interested in hearing what folks think about this film.
But I'm ready for the sequel! And if they go in the direction I’ve suggested, go ahead and titled it Superman.
It's been known since last October that an "Ultimate" collection of The Dark Knight Trilogy of films would debut in a brand new Blu-ray collection this coming fall. But what would it include? Yesterday, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment issued a press release to spell it out, and you can read in full over at SuperHeroHype.com. I'll be breaking down the parts of it that are most important to me here in this blog.
As a life-long Batman fan and a big fan of Christopher Nolan and David Goyer's most fanboy-fulfilling depiction of the comic book origins of The Batman ever put on film, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what Warner Bros. would cook up for an Ultimate Collector's Edition set for these films. After reading through the press release, I'm surprised to find I'm not all that excited about what's inside.
"And why do we fall...?"
There are two basic criticisms I have against this set. One has to do with the new content, the other with the set as a whole.
Regarding the content, I am one of those guys that love going through bonus features. Getting excited learning the minutia of how movies are made started for me when I was a kid reading books about the making of the original Star Trek series and devouring magazines I'd find like Starlog, Famous Monsters and Cinefex which featured articles and photos about such things and satiated my need to know "How did they do that?" way back in those newsprint-and-ink dark ages before the Internet.
In this UCE comes one new Blu-ray Disc carrying the exclusive bonus material.
NEW Special Features:
The Nolan and Donner conversation sounds interesting, but I'm curious to find out what the running time of that conversation is. I hope it's around an hour. The Fire Rises features doesn't sound very appealing to me. Maybe it's just the way it's written, because I certainly am not impressed to hear so many talking heads talk about a film they weren't involved in the making of!
As for the IMAX Sequences, that just points out the fact that the original The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray Disc apparently (I haven't watched my copy of it yet) shows those scenes reduced in widescreen format to match the rest of the film rather than leaving them in their original, taller IMAX format as was done for The Dark Knight Blu-ray Disc release and was awesome to watch!
So to re-buy or "double-dip", as we Blu-ray and DVD collectors say when we choose to buy a movie again and again just to own the newer release, on this trilogy for the one bonus disk isn't quite as enticing as I'd hoped.
"The Tumbler? Oh, you wouldn't be interested in that."
But of course, there's more inside the UCE. Ignoring the five discs of the original trilogy set which I already own (for gratis! See photo above), also included are some exclusive swag.
Exclusive NEW Memorabilia:
Now I love stuff. Anyone who's ever been to my place can clearly see I love stuff. Cool stuff, like starships and animated wall art and action figures. So getting a box with more stuff included with my Blu-rays is a pretty easy sell to a guy like me. But alas, I already have UCE sets of other movies amongst my stuff, and that just means I'm gonna end up comparing what's inside The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE to these ones I own, ones that Warner Bros. themselves put out. And it's pretty clear to me that Warner Bros. didn't go all out like they have done with these other sets.
Below are publicity shots of five UCE sets that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have previously released. I own them all. Click each one to blow them up and see what all's included with each one besides the Blu-ray Discs.
Previous Warner Bros. Home Entertainment UCE Sets
By my eyes, in every case shown, everything included, whether book or watch or replica vehicle or replica totem or facsimile document, were unique and exclusive to the set.
Not exactly so with The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE as they're including three Hot Wheels replicas of vehicles from the films. Three previously available Hot Wheels toys. This picture here on the left? That's my Tumbler and Bat-Pod that I already own sitting next to my Dark Knight Blu-ray and CD collection, the same ones that are included in the set. And that again makes me less excited to double-dip on getting the exact same toys I already have (altho' I guess I could just give the extras away to a deserving kid).
"Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread."
If the UCE had to include a replica, I'd've chosen one of those ninja star-like Batarangs from the movies. The symbol was a prevalent image in every one of the Dark Knight movie posters, and it's also plastered big and bold here on the face of the UCE box. So that makes it seem obvious that that should be what's inside, at least to me. Of course, it might've also been re-purposing an existing, previously available Batarang like any of the ones on the left below from DC Direct or the one on the right from The Noble Collection. Or maybe they did consider it and thought the pointy ends were a safety hazard to stay away from.
Another suggestion I'd offer also comes from another pre-existing Dark Knight toy. MATTEL produced an exclusive action figure set to sell at last year's Comic-Con. As you can see in the video below, the packaging inside riffs on the room in the movie with the piano in Wayne Manor that hides the elevator used to descent to the Batcave. There's a hidden button behind the photo of the piano. Press the keyboard area and a sound chip plays audio of the three-note trigger heard in Batman Begins. Then, when you open the inner door, it reveals his Batsuit inside the Batcave which gets lit up while bats are heard flying and chirping throughout. I own one and IT IS COOL! And I think it would've been kinda neat to have that three-note trigger be heard as one lifted the lid to this The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE set box.
If they chose not to include any figural replicas, they could've still carried on with the Batarang motif by including some inexpensive overlay like vellum or acetate sheet with the Batarang symbol across it as a light cover over the rest of the contents inside the box. The Blade Runner Briefcase set has such an inner cover that you first see when you open the case and then have to lift up in order to access the goodies underneath it. Or include an inner cover with a diecut hole in the shape of the Batarang. Or better yet, maybe that book that holds the discs could've been shaped like a folded Batarang, so you get to open it up and form a larger, fully-shaped Dark Knight symbol.
"Didn't you get the memo?"
And as cheap as these things go, I enjoyed see all the printed facsimiles of call sheets, movie programs, letters, telegrams, production drawings or press releases that were included in the previous UCEs. While some were more interesting than others, these inexpensive paper props helped to put you in the context of the times and events happening when the films were made. By comparison, The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE gets five Mondo art cards and a book on top of the Hot Wheels toys. It's just my preference, but I think there might've been something else from the production of the films provided here that could've been more appealing to me than art cards, like production schedules or audition sides or marked up shooting script pages or pieces of the Batman cape. That last notion is a novelty that trading card companies have embraced often, embedding a small swatch of material used to make the actual costumes and uniforms into a trading card. Something like that's a little more interesting and uniquely "ultimate" to me than oversized postcards I'll never use or frame.
So will I get this or not? That's the $99.99 suggested retail price question, Batfans. Amazon will likely offer it for $69.99 right off the bat (pun intended). And then come Black Friday and the holidays, the price will get some further nursing to get fans to add it to their Christmas shopping lists. Right now though, I don't have a hell of a lot of enthusiasm to buy it for myself. And that makes me kinda sad.
But that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to get it as a Christmas present!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!