Sunday, July 27, 2008


My parents moved up their visit by five days so things have been crazy. Suze and I spent an entire evening on the phone with Dad trying to make travel arrangements to New York for their Italian guests. We then had to step up our house-cleaning efforts and on top of that, I have to work today (Sunday.)

In between all that (and looking longingly at my unoccupied drawing board) we managed to squeeze in a very late night viewing of the new X-FILES movie. Suzanne and I are rabid fans of the TV show and couldn’t wait. I have to say I was a little disappointed. We both knew going in that the movie was going to be a standalone story and having nothing to do with the “mythology” of the original series. That suited me fine because I always loved the monster of the week episodes. But that was no excuse for the the scale of the story to be so small. It just didn’t feel like there was much at stake. Still, it was great seeing Mulder and Scully at it again though I would have liked to have seen more of the characters from the series popping up. I keep forgetting they killed most of them off at the end of the series. The fate of the Lone Gunmen still rankles.

One major (to me) quibble is that quite a bit of the story takes place in our hometown of Richmond. This was a common occurrence in the series due to Richmond’s proximity to FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. That’s fine. But there was no location shooting done here and no effort was made to make British Columbia look remotely like Richmond. In one chase scene, a multitude of taxicabs can be seen cruising the streets well after dark in heavy traffic and there is a construction crew working on a building. In Richmond, they roll the sidewalks up around 9:00 and there most certainly isn’t any construction work going on after 5:30. Worst of all, scenes taking place in the surrounding area show foot-deep snow and deep lakes frozen solid. I can’t tell you the last time that happened in this neck of the woods. Winters are very mild and have been for at least a decade. If we’re lucky enough to get snow down here at all in the winter, it usually melts within days if not hours. It very rarely gets cold enough to freeze a lake all the way to the bottom. All of this would be forgivable if I didn’t know that one of the producers...I believe it’s Frank from Richmond!

On the plus side, there were some nice character moments and there were little wink-wink moments for the fans. Nothing distracting, just very satisfying. (For instance, pay attention to the contact names on Mulder’s cell phone.) There are also some pretty tense scenes and some nastily horrific moments. I won’t reveal anything in case you haven’t seen it. Chris Carter does an admirable job in his feature film directing debut. Apparently the budget was relatively tiny ($30 million) and he really did put it all up there on the screen. Production values were high and Carter really does have some flair with a camera. I just wish the story was a little more engaging. The X-FILES deserves something a little more...epic.

Hopefully, this will do well enough to justify a third movie. I’d love to see Darin Morgan come back and contribute. If they can’t do epic, Morgan’s brand of humor would be a nice alternative. His episodes were always the highlight of the series, lightening the mood just at the right times. Maybe Carter’s gotten it out of his system and can allow himself turn the reins over to someone else. I’m not going to hold my breath, though. Releasing this movie in the summer, a week after THE DARK KNIGHT was about the most foolish thing they could have done. This is the biggest summer movie season in a long time and that movie is going to be a juggernaut. It’s already reached $300 million in ten days, which is a record, and shows no signs of slowing. X-FILES, I suspect, would have done much better in the holiday season.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


There's not much I can say about DARK KNIGHT without spoiling anything so I'll keep it short. (Besides, Todd's sent me script pages so I have to familiarize myself with them and get my reference materials together.) DARK KNIGHT was simply incredible. I don't think there was a single moment in the film that I felt like I was watching a movie. It's a testament to Christopher Nolan's genius (yes, genius) as a filmmaker that you are so completely sucked into this film that you actually believe there is a Batman. Ledger's Joker was perfect. He may not look like the Joker from the comics but once you see his performance you won't care. He was the Joker. The thing that Caesar Romero and Jack Nicholson never got (except maybe one scene in Burton's original version) was that the Joker isn't a clown. He may look like one but he's not. He's the Boogeyman. He should be frightening, not funny. And Ledger was just that. Frightening as hell. He's a sociopath with a dark sense of humor and the complexity of his machinations would make a clockmaker envious. He's Hannibal Lechter as supervillain. It's a shame we'll never get to see more of Heath Ledger in this or any other role.

Anyway, that's about all I can say. If you want a nice, spoiler-free review, I think Chris of Chris' Invincible Super-Blog sums it up best here.

One parting thought. If you've seen it, did you also think it totally cool that the mayor of Gotham City was played by Batmanuel?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bizzy Bizzy Bizzy

I haven't had this much going on since last Fall. I thought my road would be smoothening (is that a word?) out more by now but I guess everybody thinks that. Work is as crazy as it's ever been and will probably only get worse. I'm trying to keep a good attitude and remind myself every day that I'm lucky I have a job. Advertising is usually the first thing to get cut in hard economic times. But we're all getting a little frazzled lately and I have no firewall between my brain and my mouth and I got a little snarky yesterday. Which landed me in hot water. So I'm guessing I'll be getting some of the tougher assignments coming up. Way to go, Mafus. Oh well, it's just one of those things you hate to go through but seem really funny later. Here's to you, later.

I've been trying to clear my plate in anticipation of getting the script for Christian and my backup story in the PERHAPANAUTS from Todd. Which is hard because every time I scrape something off said plate into the plant by the window, somebody notices and says, "Wow! You really must really like that! Here's twice as much!"

In the midst of all this chaos, my parents are having friends come over from Italy at the end of the month to stay a few weeks in the States. They'll be bringing them to Richmond to visit and then the plan is for Suze and me to give them a tour of the area, including a weekend trip to Washington D.C. It's only when you've got important guests coming that you realize what a mess your house and yard truly are. This is causing us no small amount of stress as I've been trying to figure out just how we're going to get the house sparkly and the yard trimmed before they get here while we're working 50 and 60 hour weeks. It's worth the effort though. When my parents took Suze, Mike and me to Italy a few years back, these folks were incredibly hospitable. Hopefully, we'll be able to repay their kindness.

Despite all this, I'm really hoping to squeeze in a viewing of DARK KNIGHT this weekend. I've got mixed emotions about this film. On the one hand, I'm really looking forward to it because all the reviews are overwhelmingly positive and it's supposedly the best superhero movie ever made. Oscar-worthy even. Even the Richmond Times-Dispatch gave it a positive review which is unheard of for a comic-themed film in these parts. (That ****er hates everything.) On the other hand, I really wish Mike was able to see it. He really loved BATMAN BEGINS and was looking forward to this one. He loved the way they were handling the Joker and was even excited that they'd added some articulation to the neck of Bale's cowl. One of the last things I sent him was the soundtrack to BEGINS and he was wearing it out. Add to that the sadness of losing Heath Ledger so soon after what would have been a career-making role. But I'm sure all that will be temporarily forgotten once the lights dim. I really expect to enjoy myself because (wait for it Todd and Craig), Mike would have wanted it that way.

And just so you don't think I haven't been drawing, here's an illustration I did for Suzanne's amazing, generous and purty sister Jennifer. Her day job is writing, designing and editing her church's newsletter. She also has a Christian-themed blog and asked if I would draw a picture of her in a superhero outfit for the masthead. I was honored to be asked and I'm a little ashamed at how long it took me to actually get it done for her. I did the pencil rough for her about three months ago and she only asked for a couple of tweaks. But I didn't actually do the finished version for her until a few days ago. Sorry, Jen! She was very patient with me and I only hope it was worth the wait.

Next week, if I can, I'll post some cool Mike-related stuff. Mom and Dad were cleaning their house in preparation for the Italians' visit and came across some old Rustburg High School newspapers for which Mike did some stuff and some drawings he did right out of college. Some other interesting (but not so cool) stuff include old newspapers covering the bus wreck Mike and I were in as kids.

Okay, back to work. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pot Luck

I've been stirring too many pots lately, with the scholarship fund, work, some personal obligations and breaking ground on a new patio (oh, my poor aching hands) so I've let the rest of my Heroes summary fall to the wayside. I've got a ton of pictures to share and will probably do so soon before interest wanes. If it hasn't already. But I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't give a big thank you to all the folks who pitched in and helped at the booth so Suze and I could have a little fun or fulfill some other obligations. So thanks to Andrew Neal of Chapel Hill Comics, K. C. Carlson and Suzanne's wonderful friend Sandra (who lives in Charlotte) for minding the store. Thank you also to Jeff Parker, Richard Case, Mark Waid, Cully Hamner, Rich Faber, Randy Green and Scott Sava for taking the time to sign at the booth and helping us raise awareness of the scholarship fund. Thank you to Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau and Nick Cardy for taking us under their wings. Thanks to Shelton Drum for letting us sit in Artists Alley with our friends instead of the booth he'd set aside for us at the entrance to the con. Thanks to Mark "Uncle Boom" Waid for dinner Sunday night. Thanks to all the great artists and publishers who donated artwork and other items to the fund. And thanks to everybody who donated and stopped by to offer their support.

I've got a few things to share. It's late so I'll be quick.

1. The Pulse's Jennifer Contino did an interview with me about the Mike Wieringo Scholarship Fund. Hopefully, I don't come off sounding like a moron. You can read it here.

2. My very first ever convention sketch was for our friend Eric Newsom. He runs the Question fan site I hope he doesn't mind if I share this with you as he plans to put it up on his site at some point. He was nice enough to send me a scan of the sketch. (Eric, if you want me to, I'll take this down.) I'm not sure why he wanted a sketch from li'l ol' me, but I'm glad he did. Check out Eric's site. It's incredibly well-designed and if you aren't already a Question fan, you will be after a few minutes at

3. Good taste must run in the family. Eric's dad Warren requested my second convention sketch and then was kind enough to allow me to do finish it after the con. Warren did give me permission to post it. This is Warren's City of Heroes character Heroid. Hopefully, I did him justice. I was smart enough to finish the drawing before I started digging into that hardened cement they call dirt in Virginia.

Okay, that's it for now. Once my poor mits have healed up, maybe I'll have some new drawings to post soon. Like Christian, I've been playing around with some new grayscale Copic markers I bought.