Why hit a Corgi?

Yes I know YouTube’s rife with stuff like this but I feel the need to push this on the world just cos it made me chuckle, also somebody’s got to continue supporting the Mon-stars of rock.

Also while you’re there check out the Saturday morning Watchmen video posted up by the same guy.  A tribute I feel more in tune with Alan Moore’s original intention for the material than the lackluster movie.

Darick Robertson Draws Star Wars

As a chaser of abject awesomeness, check out this drawing by on Darick Robertson posted to the Growing Up Star Wars Flickr pool.

For those not in the know Darick is the artist behind Transmetropolitan, the other miscreant responsible is the perennial language abuser Warren Ellis. He also happens o be one of my favourite comic book artists evar.
Thanks to a Mr. Wil Wheaton for this internet treasure, whoever he is.

5 Films You (Maybe) Didn’t Know Were Based on Graphic Novels

American Splendor #1Hollywood seems to have picked up a new habit; that of adapting comic books into films. There’s Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman, Superman, the X-Men… OK, so I jest about the unfortunate name legacy left to some of these franchises, but a lot of them have translated successfully into high grossing films.

Now you may be seeing a trend in these movies, there’s a large showing for Marvel and DC’s finest, but there’s still a lot of love out there for the more obscure, more adult comics. I’ve already mentioned the WE3 movie on these digital pages and works like From Hell, Sin City, V for Vendetta and 30 Days of Night have shown that the graphic novel format can translate just as well.

I have to admit I’m not a fan of superheroes in comic books, the trappings of the underwear pervert have formed a gestalt of ideas it seems hard to break out of (with the exception of Animal Man.) Don’t get me wrong, I like the films that have grown from these established characters, but I’m more of a Transmetropolitan kind of guy. With this in mind I went to see The Spirit last week and was thoroughly disappointed; with Frank Miller, a man with an amazing eye for using shadow contrasts, and the source material from Will Eisner, the father of comics I expected a triumph, instead I left the theatre bored and bemused.

To this end I’ve decided to list, for your delectation, 5 movies that you may not know were based on comic books…

A History of Violence

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, A History of Violence tells the story of a cafe owner trying to escape the repercussions of a horrendous crime he committed as a youth. The comic was written by John Wagner, one of the creators of British comics icon Judge Dredd (which also became a film, but a truly abysmal one) and drawn by Vince Locke, famous for his work on the Brief Lives run of Sandman. the film holds an 87% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for two Oscars, one of them for Josh Olsen’s adaptation of the original comic’s script. The film differs quite a lot from the graphic novel, but the central themes and tone are retained effectively.

Road to Perdition

The original Road to Perdition was written by Max Allan Collins, an insanely talented writer of novels and script, as well as directing and writing for a band. The bast. The art for the books was drawn by Richard Piers Rayner, an old DC/Marvel hand and now Middlesborough FC’s resident artist. The books themselves tell the story of a disgraced mafia enforcer trying to raise his son in a world of violence, a theme which is retained in the film version. Sadly David Self‘s treatment of the adaptation was tinkered about with by a rotating group of writers at the behest of Spielberg and resulted in the dilution of the film’s message.

The Crow

Perennial goth posterboy Eric started life as the main character of J. O’Barr‘s The Crow. As the writer and artist James created The Crow as a way of dealing with the death of his fiancée at the hands of a drunk driver, a fact mirrored in the fiction as Eric’s fiancée is killed in the book. In this case I feel the film outshines the comic. O’Barr’s personal misery is evident in the book, but comes across as a little too goth for my tastes. The film was directed by Alex Proyas, director of the fantastic Dark City, and the production of the film famously led to the death of it’s star Brandon Lee.

American Splendor

Yeah, if you’ve seen this then you know it’s a biopic of autobiographic comic creator Harvey Pekar. the film takes aspects of Pekar’s life and mixes them with the elements of his American Splendor series to tell the story of Pekar’s life and the creation of the series he’s famous for. Drawn by different artists, including legendary underground comics genius R. Crumb the comic series is to my mind one of the best examples of exactly what can be done with the graphic novel medium. The film currently enjoys a 94% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. See it, its bloody good.

Ghost World

Not strictly its own comic book, Ghost World was a story arc from creator Daniel Clowes‘ alt comic Eightball. It tells the tale of two 90’s high school graduates and the decline of their friendship as they transition into adulthood. Directed by Terry Zwigoff the man responsible for Crumb, a documentary about the life of R. Crumb (which I’ve not managed to see yet) the movie garnered Clowes an Oscar nomination for his treatment of his own work.

Comics to Films

Partially inspired by Ralph’s mini rant about the Dragonball movie, I thought I’d take a post to talk about the current speight of comic (or graphic novel, if you can’t bear to call them comics) to film translations.

First a confession, WE3 is one of my favourite comics. Written by Grant Morrisson, it sympathetically evokes moments of horror and hubris, cruelty and compassion; the book should appeal to anyone who ever felt any kind of emotion for an animal. Helped along by the quite brilliant Frank Quitely providing some of the greatest layouts I can remember the whole thing sticks together in my mind as one of the best examples of what a comic can achieve. I still can’t read the whole thing through without filling up. Just a little, mind.

I’d completely missed the announcement that WE3 was going to be adapted into a film, and I have to admit I have mixed reactions to this news. Part of this trepidation is at the root of a lot of problems I have with comic adaptations in general. Comics are contained within their own world; they seem less constrianed by the necessities of realism that film requires. Let’s look at WE3 as an example, in the book the protagonists are kidnapped household pets plugged into killer mech suits while we are shown the moral of the tale through the actions of the humans. Outlandish, no? It’s because of this freedom to juxtapose the bizarre with the humane that sets comics aside for me. Few live action films successfully make this blend work. Don’t get me wrong, sporadically a film will do so with astounding results such as Pan’s Labyrinth, but I feel that this kind of filmmaking is rare at best.

In fact this proximity of the surreal to the humanistic viewpoint continues through some of my favourite comic books and for my money is the real strength of the graphic novel format. In film a serious message is often overlooked if elements of the storytelling are overtly fantastical, often leading to a dilution of the message either by making it’s goals more abstract (Lord of the Rings) or removing any moral message more complex than a Saturday Special (Transformers et al.) This is not a failing of film, it’s just not the norm nor particualrily welcomed. As mentioned previously Guillermo Del Toro could be the arbiter of a shift in expectations, paving the ground with Pan’s Labyrinth and his adaptions of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics, he has a keen eye for the visual design of a film and can deliver touching and relevant scenes even if his characters are a fish man and a demon.

Other translations are more direct. The recent success of Persepolis, co-directed by Marjane Satrapi; the writer and artist of the original work closely mirrors the visual style of the book version, adding flourishes of hand drawn animation it turns it into more of a living comic than a film. Frank Miller has also been throwing his hat into the ring, overseeing adaptations of his lauded 300 and Sin City books (possibly due to the butchering of his script for Robocop 2) managed to work with directors and staff commited to bringing the visual style of the books to the screen. While these approaches are valid and produce extraordianry results, they seem to be gimmicky to me neither examples giving the emotional response nor depth of character that I see when I read Transmetropolitan, Fluffy or Pride of Baghdad. Maybe it’s just my preference of film, but I can’t see a comic book film ever succeed at being taken as a ‘serious’ movie.

Apparently there’s ongoing effort to translate Preacher to the cinema. Preacher is a book I grew to love comics with, it threw taste to the wind, mixing cowboy themes with a buddy comedy, slapstick and an overarching message about belief. It was huge, sprawling, filled with insane characters, belly laughs and quotable lines aplenty. Successfully making a movie from the wonderful mess of the comic series would be a feat in itself. Making it true to the spirit of the original may be nothing short of a miracle.

What price trust?

Some people give it away cheaply, others it has to be earned. We all trust people, many of which we have never met. We trust our favourite authors enough to spend £15 on their books, but that trust was developed through good and bad experiences of reading many books over many years. We trust our favourite tv producers enough to forgive the odd episode, storyline, or even series, trusting that things will get better. Musicians, Actors, Reviewers, Directors, the list goes on.

We also learn who not to trust, my friends and I trust Ewe Bolle to make bad movies, not many people want to be in Gary Glitters gang anymore and we trust England footballers to disappoint at every opportunity. Why count on them when I have ten fingers and ten toes.

The amount we have invested in a given relationship is often an indicator of the level of trust and the risk that trust portrays. It’s easy to trust a comic book writer with our £2 and 15 minutes for one book, start to read the book regularly and the risk increases, usually meaning you either drop the book when it continually dissapoints or read it to the end. It’s a simplistic analogy but the same is true of relationships with people. Casual acquaintances acrue more trust as they penetrate our lives deeper, opening us up to a schroedingers box of joy or pain.

Which brings me to a proposition. I want your trust. I know that, generally speaking, anyone who say ‘trust me’ winds up being the villain of the piece, but I’m gonna use Stupor Collider to call people out on their bullshit, help you decide where your trust is misplaced and let you know what deserves closer attention. Ultimatley the trust is only yours to give.