Friday, August 31, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #16

It's Friday, and my gut impulse is to make some sort of Rebecca Black joke, but seriously, how lame would that be?

Smokey knows how lame it would be, don't you, Smokey?  By the way, ask Craig how he got fired on his day off; I bet it was for stealin' boxes to make a fort.  Damn; you should get his ass high...

Anyways, let's let Craig and Smokey do their thing; we'll do ours, and have a look at this week's comic books.  Sound good?

ANY week that brings a new Joe Hill comic is a good week.  This was a good week.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Review of "Batman and Robin Have An Altercation"

Stephen King has really been on a roll lately when it comes to short fiction.  It's debatable as to when you want to say this hot streak began, but I'm going to date it back to 2007.  That year saw four memorable stories from the Master: "Graduation Afternoon," "The Gingerbread Girl," "Ayana," and "Mute."

2008 was only marginally less good: "A Very Tight Place" (a personal favorite), "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates," and "N." (which made its debut appearance in Just After Sunset and is also a personal fave).  2009: "Ur," "Throttle" (written with Joe Hill), "Morality," and "Premium Harmony," PLUS two excellent poems ("Tommy" and "The Bone Church").

He slacked off a bit in 2010, only producing "Blockade Billy" (and "Fair Extension," if you want to count that as a short story), but was back at it in 2011, churning out five new short tales.  I wrote about them here, in case you're interested.

So far, 2012 has been quite solid, too.  First "In the Tall Grass" with Joe Hill and then "A Face in the Crowd" with Stewart O'Nan, and now a third short story has appeared.

It's in the September issue of Harper's, and is called "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation," and guess what?

I've read it.

And I'm here to tell you this about that: it's not actually about Batman and Robin.  Damn, I'd love for Stephen King to write a Batman story one of these days, but this ain't it.

To ease the pain of that revelation, here is an amusing superhero photo culled from the interwebs:

You done chuckling yet?

Now are you done?


Okay, good.

So, if this isn't a Batman story, what the hell is it?

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Review of "Black Ribbons" by Shooter Jennings (co-starring Stephen King)

She reached for the car radio, wanting some nice loud country music (there was another bad habit Scott had taught her in the last few years of his life, one she hadn't yet given up), then glanced over at Darla and saw that Darla had gone to sleep with her head resting against the passenger window.  Not the right time for Shooter Jennings or Big & Rich.  Sighing, Lisey dropped her hand from the radio.  (Lisey's Story, p. 150)

Lisey's Story was released a bit before Halloween in 2006, but Shooter Jennings had been on King's radar for at least a year at that point: Jennings had been mentioned in two of the Pop Of King columns the author wrote for Entertainment Weekly in 2005.  In these columns, King singled out -- pardon the pun -- "Manifesto No. 1" and "4th of July" as being excellent songs the reader should check out.  "This one's a joyous rock-country-gospel hybrid," said King of "Manifesto No. 1," and in a year's-best-singles writeup later in the year he called "4th of July" the "perfect evocation of America's holiday."

How King came to be a participant on Jennings' concept album Black Ribbon years later is apparently a simple story.  Jennings told it in an interview with Oregon Music News:

I reached out through his website and other people and I never heard back from him. I was doing an interview for Entertainment Weekly online I asked them if they could pass along a message to Stephen King. They did and literally three to four hours later I received an email when I was at a grocery store that said, “He’s very busy but if he can find the time he would like to do it.”

And apparently that was all it took.

Odds are a good many of you have never heard of this atypical Stephen King project before, but that's what I'm here for, folks: to keep you in the know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crossover Mega-Special! "Bryant Has Issues" and "News From the Kingdom" IN ONE ISSUE!!!!!

I hadn't actually intended to put out a comics column this week, since my pull list included a mere two titles (neither Stephen King related), but I've found in the past that if I let these things go a week or two, then when I finally get around to catching up they seem damn near unmanageable.  So, a new resolution: to blog about my new comics every single week, regardless of the content.

And to think, I once envisioned this as a monthly column.  Hah!

However, I had a genius idea today: combine "Bryant Has Issues" with "News From the Kingdom" (my King-news column) and just get it posted!  Yes, dear readers, THAT is what passes for genius in the Burnette household.

Let's start with the news, so that those of you who don't give a tin shit about my comics can bail out way before we get to that point.  Leading off, here are some brand-spankin'-new photos of Carrie and Margaret White from the new version of Carrie:

Looks pretty nifty to me, folks.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Review of "A Face in the Crowd"

The new short story "A Face in the Crowd" is on digital shelves today (here's a link), and yours truly stayed up late just so he could write a review.

And it really IS going to be a brief one, because, as with a great many short stories, there simply isn't a heck of a lot I could say without being more spoilery than I'd like to be.

So come along with me and let's see what I have to say.  Cause I, for one, damn sure don't know yet...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Review of "Shadow Show"

Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5 this year at the age of 91, which by almost any standard of measurement is a good long run.  If each us run a footrace with the Grim Reaper, relatively few of us lead him such a merry chase, and virtually none of us create such a grand legacy in the process.

Editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle would have had no way of knowing that Shadow Show, their anthology of all-new stories from noted authors in tribute of Bradbury, would make its appearance in the same summer that found the grand old magician pulling his final magic act: dying, only to immediately begin the process of living forever in the hearts and minds of untold millions of readers, past, present, and future.

A great many cultural titans were asked for their feelings on the subject of Bradbury's passing, and everyone from Steven Spielberg to Barack Obama seemed genuinely moved.  Perhaps the most poignant observance came via Stephen King, who had this to say on his website:

Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories. One of the latter was called "A Sound of Thunder." The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.

King himself is unfortunately not represented in Shadow Show, but his sentiment -- "the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away" -- is splashed all over it.  It is, I have no hesitation in saying, a great anthology, filled to the brim with good stories, several of which may well turn into classics in their own right.

I'd like to briefly consider each of the stories in their turn, but before we do that, I think it is worth noting just how drenched in melancholy this anthology is.  It is as if nearly all of the represented authors (there are a few exceptions, but only a few) decided, when approached about the possibility of contributing a story to this collection, to reach within themselves and not merely pay tribute to Ray Bradbury, but to eulogize him in some way.  In at least two of these cases, the eulogy is nearly literal; in others, it is much more generalized, and in some it is less a eulogy than a lament for the fact of death itself.  A lament, yes, but also, in a way, an embracing of the fact.

It was always going to be a shame for Bradbury to die, but it seems proper somehow that an anthology like this one should appear in the immediate wake of his passing.  It seems preordained in some way, and somehow, it strikes me that Bradbury would have appreciated the timing.

More than that, he would probably have appreciated the stories.  So should we.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #14

I am currently on day two of an eleven-day stay-at-home vacation, so you'd think I'd find plenty of time for blogging.  And yet, here it is, 11:23 pm, the day almost gone, and me only on my second sentence!  Not exactly top-notch as far as blogging efforts go.

Despite that, I press on, and present to you a crab in a top hat.

Is he live?  Is he dead?  Is he even a he?  Only the original photographer knows.

Prepare yourself, for that shall be only the first of numerous images tonight that don't actually make any sense.

So, what's the first comic up on this week's column?

Yay!  It's a Stephen King issue!  I love it when that happens; it almost makes these comics columns feel like they're on the correct blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

News from the Kingdom: August 15, 2012

It's been close to three weeks since I vomited up one of these news-roundup columns, and the reason for that is simple: not much news happening lately in the world of Stephen King.

The most notable event in that time has almost certainly been the much-reported-upon "news" that Javier Bardem is out and Russell Crowe is potentially in as Roland in the Ron Howard Dark Tower movies that may or may not ever get made.

Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Council of Geeks: "The Dark Knight Rises"

I’ve been wanting to write something for my blog in the way of a review of The Dark Knight Rises, but when the time came to sit down and actually do so, I frowned at my computer for a moment or two, a familiar feeling tickling the back of my brain.  I recognized it as the feeling I get when I come up with an idea.
In this instance, the idea was to get together with a couple of my friends and do a tag-team review/chat about the movie, and then post it here for the edification of untold future generations.  It took several days to get our schedules to sync up, which is the reason for the delay.  However, that has produced the side benefit of allowing me to feel a little better about the degree to which we spoil some of the surprises of the movie.  So, if you haven’t seen it yet, know this: we do not in any way hold back.  We’re assuming you’ve either seen it, or don’t care.
First of all, introductions.  You know me, of course, but joining me are Trey Sterling (who runs the blog Blackout) and Cody Dearman (who also gets his blog on once in a while, at Slightly Disoriented).  They’re both passionate movie lovers, highly opinionated, and prone to be correct way more often than not.  And, like me, they’re both Stephen King fans!  (Not that you'd know it from this particular chat.  Oh, well; maybe a King-chat will be on the books for some future installment.)
We had a long palaver about the movie, so without further ado, let’s just dive right in.  You will note that for a while, it’s just Trey and I, but don’t worry; Cody shows up later, and brings the goods when he does.
Trey:   Greetings, fellow nerd.  I'm going to put Batman Begins on in the background.
Bryant:  Greetings and felicitations … and (I believe it's pronounced) "tally-ho."  If you get THAT reference, you win ALL of the nerd points.

It's from the first-season episode "The Squire of Gothos," but I always think of the Cort and Fatboy show...

Trey:  Nerd points serve no purpose, and therefore seem ... illogical.
Bryant:  Well done.  Alright, here's the plan: we'll just chat about this Batman stuff until one of us gets tired of doing so. Sound good?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Carlo Rambaldi Reaches the Clearing at the End of the Path

Sad news from Hollywood today, as special effects master (and two-time Oscar winner) Carlo Rambaldi has passed away at age 86.

Rambaldi is probably best known for his work for Steven Spielberg on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for which he designed the squat little fellow from whom the movie draws its title.

Readers of this blog may also recall Rambaldi's work on a pair of mid-eighties Stephen King adaptations: Cat's Eye (for which Rambaldi provided the troll makeup) and Silver Bullet (for which he designed the excellent werewolf suit).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #13

It seems utterly appropriate that as soon as I sat down to begin work on my latest comics column, there came a knock upon my door, ad that knock turned out to be from the friendly neighborhood UPS driver.  Who, as it turns out, was delivering to me a couple of awesome graphic novels I recently purchased.  One of those was the Absolute edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, which is an excellent addition to my burgeoning Alan Moore collection.

I'm actually more excited by the second one, though: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft - Special Edition, the oversized hardback of Vol. 1 of Joe Hill's comics masterpiece.  I've included a hastily-composed photo of this book side by side with the trade paperback of Welcome to Lovecraft for comparison.  Apologies for how lousy my phone's camera is.

As you can see, we're talking about something that is clearly WAY bigger.  It's hard for me to emphasize enough how good the art looks in deluxe editions such as this one, especially when the art in question is as good as what Gabriel Rodriguez produces.