Episode 324: Wizard World New Orleans 2017

The first weekend of the year brings with it the first convention of the year: Wizard World New Orleans! Blake, Erin, and Kenny stop in to this year’s convention and talk about the panels, the shopping, the meteoric rise of Pop Vinyls and Mystery Boxes, and the cosplay that seems to have overtaken even Harley Quinn and Deadpool… 2017 is the Year of Negan.

And what’s cool this week? Blake loved Superman #14, Kenny is a fan of the world’s most annoying video game, and Erin just wants some King Cake.

Don’t forget to email your votes for our upcoming “Who Needs a Rebirth” episode! Send your top ten lists to AllNewShowcase@gmail.com!

Episode 324: Wizard World New Orleans 2017

Merry Christmas, Showcase Family

Hello, friends of the Showcase! Merry Christmas to you all! In just a moment, our traditional Showcase gallery of Christmas comic covers. But two quick things:

  1. Don’t forget, we’re still taking your votes for the top ten franchises that need a Rebirth makeover for an upcoming episode. You can read the full details here.
  2. As I do every Christmas, I’ve written a new short story that I’m giving away for free. You can get it for your Kindle or Kindle app right here.

And that’s it! You guys have a wonderful Christmas, a Happy New Year, and we’ll see you soon!

At the Movies Episode 53: Rogue One-A Star Wars Story

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Carolers are singing, gifts are being wrapped, and there’s a new Star Wars movie in theaters! This week, Blake, Erin and Jason take a look at the first standalone movie in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

And what’s cool this week? Jason has enjoyed the first season of Designated Survivor, while Blake was charmed by the DC Rebirth Holiday Special.

At the Movies Episode 53: Rogue One-A Star Wars Story

Who needs a rebirth?

It’s a little early for new year’s resolutions, and I don’t really do those anyway, but I’ve already determined to spend 2017 (the Showcase’s 10th anniversary year) trying to get the show back onto a more regular schedule. 2016 was a fiasco for many reasons, and real life constantly got in the way of recording no matter how often I wanted to. But even the desire to record isn’t quite enough, I need new ways to generate conversation, I need stuff to talk about. That’s where you guys come in. I’ve decided to bring back the ol’ Ultimate Top Ten List episodes (and in fact, may even expand beyond ten) by letting you guys chime in on some topics near and dear to our geeky hearts, then getting together with my co-hosts to discuss your choices, and our own.

I don’t intend to start recording these episodes until January, but in the meantime, I want to start the voting on the first topic. And that first topic is…

(drumroll please)

…who needs a Rebirth?

It can’t be denied that DC Rebirth is one of 2016’s real success stories, edging out the Chicago Cubs as the best comeback of the year. For all the new Rebirth titles, though, there are a lot of other characters, teams, and franchises that have lost their way. So for the first of our new Ultimate Top Tens, I want you guys to tell me the top ten franchises that need a rebirth. What are the once-great properties most in need of a fresh start, and a return to what made them great in the first place?

The task is simple: send me your top ten list. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Make a list of your choices. Choices are NOT limited to DC characters, not even limited to comic books, but to ANY pop culture character, team, or franchise that you think was great once that needs a Rebirth-style reboot to get back on track.
  2. Lists MUST be ranked, with your #10 being the one you feel least passionate about and #1 being the one you want Rebirthed the most. The rankings will be used to determine points to create the final top ten list.
  3. You don’t need to justify or explain your choices for your vote to count — all you need to do is send the list — but if you have additional comments, we may read some of them on the show.
  4. Send your choices to me in a Facebook message or email AllNewShowcase@gmail.com. Feel free to discuss choices here in the comments, but your choices aren’t official and your votes aren’t counted until I get a private message.
  5. There’s a little time here — get your choices in by January 7. Plenty of time, but get ’em in.
  6. And you know what? What the hell, let’s make it a little more fun… One randomly-chosen entrant will win an autographed copy of any of my books in-print!

So not only do you get to wax poetic about nerd stuff, but you have a chance of some free stuff. Can’t beat that, right? Join me, my friends, in bringing the Showcase back to life.

At the Movies Episode 52: Doctor Strange

After a long (and unplanned) hiatus, Blake, Erin, and Kenny are back to review the latest Marvel film, Doctor Strange. How does Scott Derrickson’s film live up to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s second-most-famous creation? Does Benedict Cumberbatch earn a place among the MCU’s greats? And will Blake ever learn to pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor?

And what’s cool this week? Kenny is all about The Flash Season 3, Erin is reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and Blake’s unabashed love for DC Rebirth continues with Flash #9.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

At the Movies Episode 52: Doctor Strange

Three Wishes: Comics on TV

In Three Wishes, I choose a topic and pick three (often pie-in-the-sky) dreams I’d like to see become a reality. Most of these will never see the light of day, but in a perfect world, they would.

 bone-1I recently finished a re-read of Jeff Smith’s series Bone, a comic I dearly loved when it was published originally in the 90s and early 00s, and one that I’m happy to report still holds up marvelously. For the first few issues (or chapters, for those who read it in collected editions), it seems as though this comic will be a sweet, funny tale about three cartoonish characters driven out of their home and forced to make a new one in a strange valley with bizarre creatures. The tone shifts rapidly, though, and it soon becomes clear that Bone is really an epic fantasy series, full of adventure and mysticism that shares more DNA with the likes of Lord of the Rings than Garfield.

The final issue of Bone was published in 2004, but despite that fact, it may be more popular today than ever before. Thanks to a well-structured partnership with Scholastic Publishing, an entire generation of young readers has grown up with the three cousins from Boneville in the 12 years since the series was completed. At the time the book was still in production, there was often discussion of a Bone movie, and Nickelodeon even expressed interest in the project. However, it became clear to Smith that they had no idea what the property really was when they wanted to give Fone Bone a pair of magic gloves and a soundtrack by N’Sync, and he eventually killed the deal. The most recent information I could find says that Warner Bros held the film rights as of 2012, but nothing has really been done with them and I don’t know if they even still hold Bone in their stable.

Regardless, the more I thought about it, the less I think a Bone movie would be a good idea. I really think the better home for this incredible story would be on television. The TV landscape has undergone a seismic change since Bone finished its run. In fact, the change began even earlier, in the 90s, with shows like Twin Peaks (the more famous example) and Babylon 5 (the more successful example) showing that TV was an excellent medium for longform storytelling. Whereas most shows were episodic, telling one story each week that often brought no lasting change to the main characters or the status quo of the series, these shows were willing to experiment with a single extended story that had its own beginning, middle, and end. The same year that Bone’s final issue was published, ABC launched a TV show with a similarly simple title: LOST. It became a breakout hit and since then, serialized stories have become commonplace. In fact, two of the biggest shows on TV today are serialized adaptations of genre properties: Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

bone-55A Bone TV show would be the best way to explore the rich world Jeff Smith created in his 55 issues (and assorted specials and spin-offs), allowing the audience to learn the whole story in its beautiful complexity instead of truncating it to the measly 90 minutes it would likely get on the big screen. The show would, of course, have to be animated – you simply can’t capture the charm of the Bone cousins in live action and having CGI avatars of them interacting with real humans would, frankly, look silly. But how do you sell a TV network on a fantasy cartoon series with a predetermined end date?

Go to Netflix.

As a platform, Netflix has proven itself to be a good fit for more unorthodox properties that would have struggled to find a network home (Stranger Things being the most recent hit example). They’re also no strangers to comic book content, with six different Marvel series in various stages of production. In addition, Netflix has a long-standing partnership with Dreamworks Animation which, okay, is responsible for a lot of bleah shows based on their movies, but also gave us the amazing reboot of Voltron. I feel confident that, with the right show runner, Bone could be another Netflix hit.

Another thing that has severely shaken up TV over the past decade is the influx of superhero programming. In the past, there were rarely more than one or two comic book-based shows at a time, and only a handful of those lasted longer than a few seasons. Now, though, superheroes are everywhere on the tube. Aside from the aforementioned Netflix shows, Marvel has Agents of SHIELD and the late, lamented Peggy Carter on ABC, a Cloak and Dagger series coming to Freeform, and Runaways was recently announced as a Hulu series. Fox has Gotham and has recently begun development of a Black Lightning series, and the CW has DC superhero shows that are all part of the same shared continuity four nights a week! If I could tell my ten-year-old self the sort of stuff I’d have on my DVR one day, he would first ask me what a DVR is, then proceed to crap his pants.

irredeemable-1But you’ll notice this superhero content is almost exclusively DC and Marvel. There’s nothing wrong with mining those universes for content, but there’s got to be room for some variety. So combining this with TV’s love for serial stories, I’d love to see Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Irredeemable make it to the screen. Originally published by BOOM! Studios, this series explores a world where the most powerful superhero of them all, the Plutonian, is driven mad and turns against the world. Although many of the themes would later show up in the better-known Injustice: Gods Among Us, Irredeemable not only did it first, but it goes to even darker places. Also, since it isn’t dependent on using the existing DC superheroes, Waid had the freedom to twist his characters in ways even Injustice wouldn’t dare to do. And finally, unlike Injustice – which will keep on going as long as the video game series it’s based on is profitable – Irredeemable had a solid ending that managed to finish with an air of hope despite the harsh world in which it was incubated. To be honest, the ending is probably the biggest strike against bringing Irredeemable to television. While it works very well in comics, there’s a strong metafictional aspect to it that may be difficult to pull off on the screen. But damn, I’d love to watch them try.

As superheroes have risen to TV prominence, there’s one other formerly-shunned format that has risen in popularity: the anthology. After FX’s popular American Horror Story began its second season by starting an entirely new story with only the faintest connective tissue to season one, there have been several popular shows that attempt the same format. Viewers now accept shows where the ongoing threads are thematic instead of following the same characters or plot, something that hasn’t been popular since the heyday of The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (There have been a few popular anthologies since then – Tales From the Crypt, for example – but they’ve been pretty rare.

Anthology series allow for the same sort of storytelling as a serialized show, but on a smaller scale and with the chance to refresh and try something different each episode or each season. I can think of no comic book I’d like to see in this format more than Kurt Busiek’s Astro City.

Astro City 1Astro City, if you have somehow never read it, is a series about a superhero universe that includes pretty much all of the tropes of superhero comics, but with twists. Samaritan (the Superman analogue) is terribly lonely and wants nothing more than to fly uninterrupted. The First Family (think about the initials) is made up of old Doc Savage-style science heroes and their superpowered children and grandchildren. The city’s Darkest Knight, the Confessor, is a Catholic priest who happens to be a vampire. And the thing is, none of these characters ever take the spotlight full-time. For most of its life over the past 20 years, Astro City stories have usually been one- or two-issue affairs, with a few rare six-issue tales. The longest story to date “The Dark Age,” ran for 16 issues. Even that, though, was broken up into a quartet of four-issue “Acts” with other short stories in-between.

The stories bounce around in time, shift the focus from heroes to villains to henchmen to bystanders, and constantly reinvent the comic over and over again, a perfect format for anthology television. Imagine a season of TV based on “Confession” or “Tarnished Angel,” occasionally punctuated by one-off episodes featuring the likes of Samaritan and Winged Victory’s first date, or the hauntingly beautiful “The Nearness of You.” You can do adventure, comedy, romance, and horror all in the same series. The only constant is the city itself.

TV isn’t what it once was, but I think that, on the whole, we’re getting some of the best shows ever made right now. These three comics would make a welcome addition to an already-rich landscape.

Episode 323: Rebirth Roundup

Two weeks in, Blake and Erin take in the beginning of DC Rebirth. They kick things off by delving (in spoileriffic detail) about the DC Universe Rebirth one-shot, then pick their way into each of the Rebirth releases to date.

And what’s cool this week? Both our hosts were wild about Disney’s Zootopia, and Blake gives his praise to Valiant’s A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 323: Rebirth Roundup