August Grab Bag!

After being gone for a few months, the Grab Bag is back! For the new readers, this is where I basically talk, Herb Caen style, about anything that I think you might find interesting.  

The bag’s pretty full right now, so let’s get started!

* * * *

From the Wow, People Still Feel That Way? Department: Check out this article from Slate, titled on their homepage as “Fahrenheit 451 Comic Book: Bad Idea” by Sarah Boxer.  Now, okay, I admit, it, I have not read Fahrenheit 451 (I can barely spell that F word), but I know the basic elements about the story. I just found this article, which basically mocked the very idea of comic books being legitimate forms of storytelling, to be not only way off base, but also insulting to the form.  She refers to comics as “shallow,” that Bradbury was “giving into the enemy” when working with Tim Hamilton to make this graphic novel.  This quote rankles: “It’s as if author and artist were vigorously waving a white flag and shouting, ‘We couldn’t beat ’em, so we joined ’em!'”   Er, what?  She goes on: “The comic book is more surrender than salvation – white flag, not life raft. Bradbury appears to have decided to hurry the apocalypse for books, or at least to announce it, by helping transpose Fahrenheit 451 into the perfect anti-book (in Fahrenheit 451 terms)—both theatrical script and comic strip.”

I have never, really, read such vitriol directed at the comic book form. I find it incredible that she cannot seem to consider that comics are their own form of storytelling, separate from books, not replacements for them.  Her irritation that pictures would take the place of text is dumbfounding, she seems to refuse that a graphic novel realization of the story–an authorized adaption by Bradbury, no less–is a valid way to tell it, indeed, she refers to it basically as “a joke – an extended ironic, illustrated joke.”

What’s frustrating is that the article was framed, seemingly, as a review of the graphic novel, but was instead a diatribe about comic books (and then, later, the Kindle).  Give it a read and see what you think. The comments are entertaining, as well. I personally thing the graphic novel looks pretty damn good.

* * * *

In the Spider-Man Bullpen, we have two stories–whether they are good or bad depends entirely on whether or not you liked Spider-Man 3 and, well, musicals.  Despite what the producers say, there is a strong possibility that Spider-Man: The Musical, er, “Mega-Musical”, might not see the footlights of day.  According to Variety, workers stopped building the sets for the show last week, because of a general lack of greenbacks–the show was supposed to cost $35 million to make.  I guess there was some frustration that Marvel posted a 38% drop in profits–a 26% reduction in revenue during the second quarter, most likely because they haven’t had any big movies come out (they still had a $29m profit, though).

Interesting notes about the show, which is supposed to open in February: Evan Rachel Wood is supposed to be Mary Jane Watson, and Alan Cumming is act as the Green Goblin, and the production is helmed by Julie “Lion King” Taymor, with music by Bono and the Edge of U2.  Stay tuned!

Variety also reports that Spider-Man 5 and Spider-Man 6 have a writer, James Vanderbilt, who was the first writer on Spider-Man 4 (though Gary Ross is rewriting that script).  What’s cool is that 5 and 6 have an interconnected storyline, which could result in a truly exciting cliffhanger, like in the books.  One big question is whether director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are coming back. If not–reboot time!  Vanderbilt wrote the upcoming film The Losers and Zodiac, which I quite liked.   

In other movie news, it looks like Kick Ass has found a distributor for the US and Canada: Lionsgate

* * * *

From the I Feel Like Voting on Something Lunch Cart, Cinematical is hosting The Best Superhero Movie of All Time Tournament.  Check it out, they are on Round 5 and somehow Iron Man is not on the list, so perhaps it’s already too late to make this list actually count for something.

* * * *

Fresh from Legal, we have the one thing that can actually split Superman in half–lawyers. It turns out that the estate of Jerry Siegel is still battling with Warner Bros. and DC Comics on that actual rights of the character and apparently a decision has been made. What’s funny is that the evolution of the character is actually determining the case.  The Siegel estates owns all of the rights of the Superman character that appeared in the first two weeks of the strip and portions of Action Comics, Superman and other comic books, but the other aspects of the character, introduced later in his evolution by other folks, are not part of their control.  These aspects include not only Superman’s ability to fly, but also characters like Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane.  So, while DC and Warners are apparently feeling vindicated, now it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll see more Superman films or other TV projects given the legal battles that would ensue (one imagines Siegel’s estate getting cash when Clark Kent gets into Superman’s costume, but not getting cash when he flew).  Things will get even more complicated when the entire rights to Superman reverts to the Siegels in 2013.  What about Joel Schuster, Superman’s co-creator? He left no heirs…In other news, the Terminator owners are filing for Chapter 11 (did anyone see the last movie? How was it?) on the heels of a lawsuit brought on by the producers versus a hedge fund, with accusations of extortion, bribery and fraud.

* * * *

Finally, in the Let’s Get Excited For Some CG Lunch Room, the buzz is all about this coming Friday, which is apparently Avatar Day. Apparently audiences all around the world will be able to get a “first look” a the film in various theaters, including IMAX outfits – all in eye-bruising 3D, of course.  Along with the movie clip (I think it’s 20 minutes), there will be a trailer for the game, cunningly called James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game, and shots of the upcoming Mattel action figures. If you want to try to go to one of the two showings that night, go to  Me, I am happy to wait until December 18th. 

Thanks for reading–see ya next week!

Mike Romo is an actor in LA who must have been in the shower when James Cameron was casting for Avatar.  You can send  email, contact him on facebook, or deciper his tweets on twitter.


  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The Fahrenheit 451 thing…geez. She genuinely believes she’s voicing a majority opinion. There’s no hint in her tone or phrasing to indicate that she could imagine anyone thinking otherwise. Not sure if she’s aware of the room around her. So stubbornly ignorant. 

  2. Mike, that movie voting thing is only one half of the bracket. You can still vote for Iron Man when they put up the other half (though it’s up against Superman 2).

    And in regards to that Slate article, some people are just always going to be elitist. Not much you can do but ignore them and hope their drivel eventually morphs into nothing more than an annoying ringing in your ear.

  3. I always love it when the person lamenting the death of print is writing for a blog.

    At any rate, the author has chosen to spit venom about the validity of comics on a web site with comments. I am sure any number of bright, articulate well-wishers will correct her misconceptions shortly.

  4. That Slate article makes me too angry for words right now…

  5. They did.  Some of them swore.  Others did not.

  6. So does that mean that another publisher other than DC Comics could end up putting out Superman comics in 2013?  I kind of wish I had a time machine with me right now just so I could see what the heck is going to happen in four years!!

  7. Superman should just go into the public domain already, along with Mickey Mouse and many other characters from that era. I’m all for someone’s family benefitting from their work, but it’s just a shame that Seigel and Schuster didn’t make the FORTUNE they should have made while they were alive; so instead it’s like the family thinks that the great great great grandson should live like a king and CONTINUE to reap the benefits of whatever the character brings in, still, on a daily basis. To put it another way, the Nth grandchild of whoever invented Hercules (if we could find that out) should not make money from Marvel’s Incredible Herc character. At a certain point, characters should go into the public domain. That should happen real soon for Superman, in my opinion. He’s a cultural myth. DC should still be able to publish the character, obviously, but by now the character has passed into the fabric of popular culture as an established, understated fact. The underlying myths of a society should not be forever copyrighted.

    On the F-451 thing: yeah, kind of ironic that the article writer hates comics, and ironic that this person is a BLOGGER. Bradbury’s work was obviously in support of any and all creative output. And there was a movie made of the book several decades ago, so it’s not like this is the first time the story’s been translated into another medium. As of a few years ago, I know that it was still selling over a hundred thousand copies a year–pretty great for an old book. On the other hand, I think it’d be better for comics readers to read the book–the REAL book–rather than just complain about some person (however bitter) who is saying that it’d be good for people to read the F-451 novel. Instead of exerting effort at being offended, I always think it’d be wiser for people to just better themselves. If you haven’t read the novel, use this as a wake-up call to do so…. Or waste a few more hours on the internet complaining about people’s complaining. Whatever works for you.

  8. @robbydzwonar Superman will migrate to Marvel.. and in Marvel Action Comics #1, Superman will call The Sentry a chump and then split him in two.

  9. That Slate review was full of such vile disdain for a story telling medium said person had little understanding of. Honestly, I’m even offended that shit like that is even published and she is a hypocrite for writing on a WEBSITE. Ugh.

  10. @Mike – Do yourself a favor and read F-451 (in comic form or otherwise).  It is excellent and still relevant. 

    If we lived in 1953 (when F-451 came out), then Sarah Boxer might have had a valid point.  I haven’t read many comics from the 1950’s, so I can’t say for certain.  However, this is 2009.  She might want to actually pick up more than one comic book before deciding they are as childish and offensive as her column turned out to be.  I absolutely love it when someone with absolutely no knowledge of a topic has an opinion about it.  (I can’t wait until PraxJarvin gets on here and rips her a new one.)

    P.S. I think string theory is absolute bullshit.

    How many times will the Superman ruling change between now and 2013? 5 times? 10 times? More?  I’ll care when it actually happens. 

  11. Anyone who uses the verbs "rankles" is aces by me. Love the Energy and Passion in Mike’s posts

  12. I got sick of Slate and Salon’s elitist bullshit a long time ago.

  13. Actually I remember a Slate article basically implying comics should have never grown up (blaming Watchmen).

  14. Ha–thanks, DaveCarr!  It’s always fun to use words you never get say out loud. But it DID rankle me…OH the RANKLING..


    thanks, JerichoPB–I should have dug further.  I will keep voting.

    Great comments, guys.  I promise to pick up F451–it’s one of my (notso) secret shames that I have never picked it up. Silly, really.


  15. I just checked out this adaptation of FAHRENHEIT 451 from my library.  Does this mean I’m helping bring about the "apocalypse for books?"  Oh no!  What will the literally thousands of books on the shelf beside this one say?  I’ve failed them all.  *sniff*

  16. The Slate article is incredible, and the best argument I’ve seen for a need for better editorial oversight on the blogosphere. I don’t think the author actually intended to orchestrate a firebomb assault on the graphic novel form, but was just so caught up in her own head about the set values of such form established in the source material. Actually, she backs away from her stance quite a bit in the last couple paragraphs which begs the question, why didn’t she just rewrite this piece?

    As for the last Terminator movie? The one that was 20% Mad Max, 25% Transformers, 35% Cyborg, 15% Terminator, and 5% Christian Bale doing god knows what? Yeah, pointless.

  17. Yikes! I normally enjoy Slate (I listen to their weekly podcasts), but that Fahrenheit 451 review is bird cage liner. 

  18. I’m of the opinion that who ever owns something, including a patent, a bauble or a character should be able to with that patent, bauble or character as they please and if that includes passing it to the nth child down the line that’s their business.

    DC or the Siegel’s own Superman, whomever it turns out actually owns it has the right to pass that ownership on. If that is done for a thousand years so be it. Things that pass into the public domain should be items that no ownership is known about or the owners through lack of care have allowed to legally pass into the public domain.

    Mickey Mouse and Superman are private property and should remain as such. 

  19. So, if DC doesn’t own Superman’s origin, was this part of the reason why a new Origin story is being told this fall?  Maybe DC saw the writing on the wall, or just wanted to hedge their bets.  If you retell the origin with enough original material, then it’s yours with no strings attached?  Or maybe not, since it’s all moot in 3 years when DC has to buy the rights back. 

  20. i just checked the Slate comments section for kicks–25 pages of comments so far.  A quick glimpse into comments shows a pretty much unified voice of people slamming the writer…pretty entertaining.

    @crippler — that’s interesting, I had not heard they were redoing the origin.   Be curious to see what they do but every fiber of my being screams that this is a very, very bad idea.

  21. @Crippler: While it’s certainly possible that having Geoff Johns retell Superman’s origin is partially related to legal issues, it doesn’t really seem like it to me. Superman has had his origin revised at least three times in my comic book reading life, so there is a lot of precendent for it happening… just because. Plus, I trust Geoff Johns implicitly to handle this.

  22. love your grabbag =)

  23. Is this going to cripple Blackest Night Superman? Because… I already own the #1 of 3 and I’ll be damned if I don’t see how it ends.

  24. Damn that Faranheit 451 review…well…what can I say you guys have said it all and I agree with you my comics fanboys. However I think the problem with her and the general public largely ignorant about the art form which is to a certain extentpropogated by the industry still. People are dumb-founded when I mention I read comic books. I feel like I have lost some respect in their eyes along with many IQ points. Hell I had a colleague start laughing when I mentioned that comics aren’t all for children, that a great majority are targeted for mature audiences. He stopped laughing when I showed him Kirkman’s Walking Dead and Ennis’ The Boys. Until this narrow perception changes I suppose the price we pay is to suffer fools.

  25. @mikeromo – Geoff Johns has no bad ideas.  🙂