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Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

It’s Wednesday and you know that means?!   That’s right.  It’s New Comics Day!

I no longer get down to my local comic shop as often as I’d like but, fortunately, my comixology membership allows me to keep up with all of the latest releases (and back issues!), purchase those that catch my interest, and even lets me preview the first few pages of each new issue.

I’ve always loved comic books but, the truth is, with so many titles out there and the oft maddeningly confusing crossovers and big events, it’s hard to keep track. Sure, I have my regular go-to’s but, sometimes, it’s nice to make a new discovery. Usually, this is a result of my wanting to check out an admired writer or favorite character, or, occasionally, being drawn to an intriguing premise.  Every so often, however, it’s the art – specifically the cover art that piques my interest.  I know, I know.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Certainly, appreciate the artwork, let it lead you into a new book and, once you’ve appreciated the whole package, THEN judge.  But if the cover art catches your eye, why not reward the artist with a purchase?

Here is the first installment of what may (or may not) be a regular blog feature. My Favorite Comic Book Covers of the week:

Star Wars: Darth Vader #8 (cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli)

I don’t read Star Wars comics.  Hell, I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since halfway through Return of the Jedi.  But this is one bad-ass cover with our stripped down Vader looking very zen in the face of a fiery planetary object, his dark accoutrements foreground prisoners of gravity.

Aquaman #30 (cover art by Stjepan Sejic)

Squint and slightly blur your perception, and it’s almost like Jason Momoa is staring back at you through the prison-like bars of Arthur Curry’s trident.

The Mighty Thor #701 (cover art by Russel Dautermann)

I like the way this one play with depth and perception, the fuzzy, unfocused background image of the nameless creature walking way; the shockingly crisp image of a shattered Mjolnir lying abandoned on Bifrost.  And, hey, is that blood?!

Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #2 (cover art by Declan Shalvey)

All the action is left justified, our anti-heroes facing off, blades vs. blades, as their turning structure crumbles and gives way to a prevailing stark white nothingness.

Descender #26 (cover art by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen)

Along those same lines, there’s this minimalist cover that nevertheless conveys so much.  Have you ever seen a lonelier looking robot?

Maestros #2 (cover art by Steve Stroce)

On the other side of the spectrum is this audaciously detailed masterpiece that mixes magic, tech, and elements of horror.

The Realm #3 (cover art by Nick Filardi, Jeremy Haun, Kelly Jones, Michelle Madsen)

Speaking of horror, even if you don’t partake in the genre, you have to give it up for this eerie illustration that does a terrific job of evoking a sense of mounting dread through color and light.  And, oh yeah, that skull-sporting dude advancing on us.

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So, yes, in addition to the scheduled general meet and greets, I’ll be teaming up with my friend (and former fellow Dark Matter Executive Producer) Vanessa Piazza to pitch Masked while in L.A.  Editor Lou Anders assembled a diverse selection of tales that focus as much on the individuals behind the masks as they do on the superheroics.  The stories are grounded in character, something I’ve always been a firm believer in, from Stargate straight through to Dark Matter.  I envision the series as an anthology in the vein of Black Mirror except that, instead of studying the influence of technology, the focus will be on the social, political and personal effects of possessing extra-normal abilities – the advantages, the drawbacks, the costs.  Two great examples from established comic lore are DC’s Batman and Marvel’s Spiderman.  Batman – the world’s greatest detective, the dark knight, a masked vigilante who protects the streets of Gotham.  And, yet he is, at heart, an orphan, so scarred by the murder of his parents that tragedy fuels his relentless quest for justice.  Spiderman – the web-slinging, wise-cracking defender of New York is, in contrast, a meek, mild-mannered high school student similarly driven by tragedy to bear the weight of responsibility power and fate have thrust upon him.  Batman and Spiderman, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, have always been, for me, the pinnacle of engaging, richly textured characters – at once relatable yet delightfully complex.  And that’s what we’re looking to bring through a collection of original superhero-themed episodes scripted by some of comics and genredom’s heaviest hitters.  Tonally, thematically, I want Masked to offer viewers a show that engages and entertains, but provokes as well.

So who is your favorite superhero/alter ego?  And why?

A couple of years ago, Vanessa was featured in a Hottest Canadian Film and TV Talent You’ve Never Heard Of – But Will list.  There’s a great write up on Vanessa (click the link), and an equally great artist’s rendition accompanying the piece –

Hey, you have less than a month left to get your letters in for a chance to win a piece of Dark Matter…well, a piece of Dark Matter.

Details here: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/september-29-2017-fandom-start-your-blickensderfers/

Some of the items up for grabs:

Android chip and Victor upgrades.

FIVE’s sketches.

FOUR’s imperial ring.

FIVE’s goggles.

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Back in 2009, I was contacted by editor Lou Anders about contributing a story to his forthcoming anthology of superhero fiction.  The collection, he explained, would feature original works from established comic book and SF writers, focusing on grounded, character-driven narratives in the vein of The Dark Knight.  My first reaction was “I don’t know…” for the simple reason that I honestly didn’t think I could pull it off.  I have nothing but respect for authors of prose fiction.  What they do is really, really, REALLY hard.  Scriptwriting, with apologies to screenwriters everywhere, though admittedly challenging, is not even on the same level.  The time and effort required to compose a short story, much less a novel…  Lou, sensing my reticence (I believe I actually wrote “I don’t know…” in my return email to him) suggested he’d leave me time to think about it.  If I ended up writing the short story, he’d include it in the anthology.  If, I didn’t, well then that would be fine too.

So I thought about it.  And came up with a story.  And wrote it.  And rewrote.  And rewrote it countless times until the deadline loomed and I delivered it to Lou.  In the end, it was more of a novelette than a short story.  It took me nine months to write.  In comparison, it takes me about two weeks to write a script.

The critics were kind and, in the end, I was happy with the way my story, “Downfall”, turned out.  On the other hand, I was amazed by the quality of the stories that made up the rest of the collection.  Gail Simone, Bill Willingham, Daryl Gregory, Paul Cornell, and many others delivered some truly memorable tales.

Shortly after the book came out, io9’s Charlie Jane Anders wrote the following article:

This book could teach Hollywood to do superheroes right

Well, seven years later, it looks like it’s going to happen.

Dark Matter EP Producer Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership With eOne

“Piazza is also developing “Masked,” based on the original super-hero fiction anthology edited by Lou Anders, who will also be involved in the series adaptation. Notable comic and graphic novel writers, including Lilah Sturges, Paul Cornell, and Gail Simone whose short stories appear in the book, will contribute to the anthology series, working with Piazza and executive producer and showrunner Joseph Mallozzi.”

I’m excited to be a part of this for a number of reasons.  First and foremost is the source material, a standout selection of stories that will form the basis of a spectacular superhero-themed anthology series.  Second, is the calibre of the authors I’ll be collaborating with on this one.  Third, is the opportunity I’ll have to re-team with the dynamic and talented Vanessa Piazza.  Fourth is the opportunity I’ll have to work with my old friend, editor and author extraordinaire Lou Anders who will also be involved in the show’s development and production.  To paraphrase Dark Matter’s Wexler: “That’s a win-win-win…win.”

If you’re not familiar Masked, you can just click the icon in the right sidebar.  Or pick yourself up a digital version online or hard copy at your local bookstore.

 

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Well, it was close but our winner nudged out second place by 2% of the vote.

Here are the results…

And here is (the final shooting draft of) your winning script –

xxx

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And then there was one.

Another potential partner dropped out of the running today in our mad dash to save Dark Matter.  In the end it came down to money.  As much as both sides wanted to make it work, it was clear the gap separating us was too wide.  A valiant effort but to no avail.

And so, we switch focus to our final suitor – a delightful wildcard with a creative proposition.  Unfortunately, said proposition comes with its own set of complications, chiefest of which is a timeline that may stretch far past our drop dead date.  And yet, if the pieces come together and all the parties sign off (and that’s a pretty big 

I mean, look the size of it!), then we’d be looking at mini-series that would run, depending on budget, between 4-8 episodes – offering Dark Matter fans some form of closure.

In the meantime, time has officially run out on our second stage.  I heard the strike team is in place and ready to move.  I’m hoping we can move the Marauder to the breezeway in our remaining stage and buy our shuttle some more time while the Ishida cruiser, labs, and the Ferrous Corp shipyard come down.

It’s crazy to think that, not that long ago, we were actually thinking of expanding our stage space to make room for an alien ship interior, Galactic Authority facility, and underground bunker.  What a difference a month – and an altogether baffling network decision – make.

Regardless of how things go down between now and week’s end, the Dark Matter Council is planning on another enormous fan tweet storm this Friday night.  And, as a little thank you to you all for your continued support, I’m going to talk to Playback Operator Greg Whiteside about showcasing some of the amazing graphics our playback team has created over the show’s three seasons.

Whelp, still not dead yet!  But we’re in an 11th hour life or death scramble.  This gif, by Robert Ek, about sums it up –

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It all comes down this!

For now.

I’ll be live-tweeting along with cast members and many of you tonight.  Let’s get noisy and remind SYFY why Dark Matter fans deserve a fourth season!

Matt Carter makes the case for Why a Dark Matter season 4 renewal should happen on SYFY

“You can sense the joy that Joseph Mallozzi and the writers put into just about every episode that they do. This matters to people who look to the show as a form of escape from our world, and to capture some sort of wonder or sense of adventure. Syfy isn’t going to be able to replicate that, even if there are some other great shows out there on television and others in the pipeline.”

Dark Matter finale: Which of Future FIVE’s predictions will come true?  The cast explains

“It’s rare for a series dishes out its own spoilers, even rarer for the cast to be as in the dark as their fans. For the Raza crew, that’s just the nature of the game, and it’s one they enjoy playing. Luckily for all involved, patience wins out.”

Dark Matter’s Anthony Lemke on Three’s Loyalty and Keeping Boone in the Past

“We’ve had a pretty surprising and supportive fanbase from the very beginning. I think that’s partially because of those who came with their own fanbases. Joe [Mallozzi] from his Stargate years, Zoie [Palmer] from Lost Girl, Jodelle [Ferland] from her entire career, and Roger [Cross] brought in his pretty solid fanbase as well. We’ve been lucky that way.”

Ellen Wong on That Betrayal and Admiring TWO’s “Baddasery”

” I have joked about that with Joe also. Going into Episode 312 we were texting about it, and I said, “I want to see Misaki in a white, flowy dress, chilling by the beach, sipping on drinks.” She needs to relax and enjoy life, and put Ryo aside for a second. She maybe has a lover who is really understanding; there’s no killer in her, she’s just so chill, and after awhile she’ll probably get bored and put her drinks aside and say goodbye to her lover, break his heart or something, put on her gear and become that warrior again and do what’s right.”

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About 18 years ago, my writing partner, Paul, and I landed staff positions on a little scifi series called Stargate: SG-1 (You may have heard of it!).  With one script under our neophyte belts, we were given the green light to start work on our second.  It was based on a pitch that involved the team traveling off-world to a planet facing imminent extinction.  In an attempt to stave the coming apocalypse, certain members of this civilization were “resetting the clock”, inadvertently trapping SG-1 in a  recurring 24 hour time loop.

When it came time to hash out an outline, series co-showrunner Robert C. Cooper had a few notes:

1 – We already have one cool piece of technology on the show = the stargate!  Use it instead of our proposed “time-loopy device” to create the problem.

2 – Forget the people on this other planet.  Let’s make this episode about OUR characters.  Focus on them and their efforts to get out of the loop.

3 – Play up the humor of the situation.

As we received more notes on the planned script, it suddenly dawned me.  “We’re doing Groundhog Day!”, a reference to the Bill Murray comedy which sees his character, weatherman Phil Connors, reliving the same day over and over and over again.  Rob’s response was “Yeah!” and to throw me a look that seemed to say: “It took you this long to figure it out.”

I considered.  We couldn’t just do a Stargate version of Groundhog Day.  Could we?

Well, before there was Groundhog Day there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “Cause and Effect”.

And before “Cause and Effect”, there was Ken Grimwood’s novel Replay.

And before Replay there was a Philip K. Dick short story called “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”.

And before “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”, well, it’s possible there was something else.

The point is I could have thrown my hands up and said “It’s too similar to something that’s already been done” and moved on.  Of course, had I done that, I never would have co-written “Window Of Opportunity”, an episode very similar to Groundhog Day – that nevertheless consistently ranks as one of Stargate fandom’s favorite episode of the entire 300+ episode franchise.  And how to account for this episode’s lasting popularity?  Well, how about the fact that, while the time loop premise has been done before, what makes it so memorable is OUR CHARACTERS being trapped.

WoW offers so many memorable moments: the juggling, the Fruit Loops, the kiss, golfing through the stargate.  It was fun and funny and, despite its similarities to what had come before, stood out and left a lasting impression for many fans.

Fast-forward to this same time last year.  We were assembling the Dark Matter writers’ room in anticipation of a third season pick-up.  Among the numerous stories I wanted to tell was our own version of the time loop episode.  And so, after breaking our first three episodes, we sat down to beat out the story.  We went back and forth, argued, hit roadblocks, reconsidered and then, by day’s end, we had…absolutely nothing.  I went home that night, came up with second narrative attack, and presented it to the room – only to have it go up in flames.  Eventually, we tabled Episode 304: The Time Loop Episode, and moved on to Episode 305.  By the we wrapped up the season 3 writers’ room, we had 7 outlines for the first 8 or so episodes.  I don’t have to tell you which episode we never got around to breaking.

That summer, I wrote the scripts for Episode 301 and 303 but, before sitting down to start on 304, I decided to do a little research.  And said research involved me reading Dick’s “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”, and watching movies like Run Lola Run and Groundhog Day and Source Code, and checking out t.v. episodes like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Cause and Effect”, The X-Files’ “Monday”, Supernatural’s “Mystery Spot”, Farscape’s “Back and Back and Back to the Future”, Futurama’s “Meanwhile” and “The Late Philip J. Fry”, Star Trek: Voyager’s “Coda”, and a lot more.  I wanted to distill the time loop narrative to its structural touchstones, and then write the greatest time loop episode ever – one that honored what came before but would be uniquely Dark Matter in its approach.

I was, admittedly, scared to death as I sat down, sans outline that Saturday morning, and started writing.  And, as I wrote, the pieces of the story started falling into place: the mid-loop start, harried THREE, the Android’s assist, third time’s the charm, the complication, the flash-forwards, the treasure trove of teasers.  I ended up writing 32 pages that day, the most I’ve ever written in one sitting, then finished the script the following day.  And then I slept for about 12 hours.

The episode was directed by Ron Murphy and he did a terrific job in delivering one of the craziest episodes we’ve ever done on this show.

And then there’s the cast, lead by Anthony Lemke and his loopy THREE: Melissa O’Neill, Zoie Palmer, Jodelle Ferland, Ayisha Issa, Mishka Thebaud, Alex Mallari Jr., and guest star Michael Reventar – all of who tear it up.

Don’t believe me?  Check out Aimee Hicks’ preview at SpoilerTV or Tom Gardiner’s preview at ThreeIfBySpace or…

Greg David for TV, eh?: Things Get Loopy In Episode 4

We’ve gotten a mere peek at Anthony Lemke’s comic timing over the past two seasons. This week’s script allows him to go full-on and it’s a goshdarn treat. I won’t give anything away but I’ll admit I watched pretty much every scene Three was in with a stupid grin on my face. Even the soundtrack in those scenes is different, with a funky bass thump to note this isn’t your usual Dark Matter episode.

Jennifer Griffin for ScreenSpy: The Raza Crew Grapple With Time in Episode 304 “All The Time in the World”

I won’t lie. We’re kind of excited about this one.

Mary Powers at TVGeekTalk: Dark Matter Advance Preview: All The Time In The World

It’s been a while since we had a Three-centric episode, and this one reminded me of what a great talent Lemke brings to the role and how fortunate the series is to have him.

Seriously.  If you have plans tomorrow night that DON’T involve staying home to watch this episode of Dark Matter, change them!

Dark Matter Episode 304 – Friday, June 23rd at 9:00 p.m. EDT (6:00 p.m PDT) on SYFY and Space Channel.

 

 

 

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