Well, here we are again, & I don’t know if this is San Futuro Volume three or four, as Jim won’t let on if the TC6 Manga piece was really a volume of SFC or not.. For this venture into the world of comics. the Ed (capital “E’ insisted upon !!) desires a theme. Apart from the obvious reply of “well, don’t comics count as a theme” the most obvious options were… Sex; Horror, Kinski and Films. Sex comics aren’t really a great forte of mine – the nearest I get are Faust (Sex’n’Violence), Heavy Metal (Arty European Sex); and Omaha The Cat Dancer (Cute animal sex – Jim won’t let me write about it as he considers it a slur on Bambi’s good name).
Well, if not sex, waddabout horror ??? It’s close to all the team’s hearts (not as close as sex, but still pretty close!!), we’ve got a good few examples of various types… the gory ones such as Faust, Blade, Chaingang etc; the psychological ones – Hellblazer, Sandman, Cry For Dawn (okay, so that one also has a load of gore – so what ??); and various others – Vampire Lestat is obvious horror, but are things like Give Me Liberty horror ?? I reckon so, meaning that I either look at all the things I consider horror or wimp out & only do the blatantly genre comics.
This entails a decision, and, as it’s now one week to deadline, I guess I don’t really have time to figure out what to do for the horror article (mebbe it’ll still appear in the future at some stage!) Next up, Kinski. The perfect topic for a TC article. She who embodies 90% of emotions generated by a certain TC editor (the other 10% being based around the phrase “Waddaya mean the comics article/layout [Delete as appropriate] isn’t ready yet 9????”). She who has yet to be celebrated (as far as I know) in any sort of comic at all. Sony Jim, looks like a Kinski-comics article is no go, for the mo’.
That only seems to leave us with film tie-ins. So, the theme is set, the bottle of tequila awaits, and it’s time to start on some filmy-comicy sort of waffle… Filmwise, there’ve been a load of tie-ins (both to & from films/comics). Firstly, there’s film to comics… this has given us: Terminator: Predator: Alien(s); Hellraiser; Darkman; and loadsa manga (the Japanese stuff from TC6). Then there’s comics to film… no shortage here eitherwith: Batman; Superman; Dick Tracy; Predator (again); loadsa manga (again); T*nge Mmtnt Nnja T*rds etc.. etc.. etc.. Like I said, there’ve been plenty of tie-ins, the Tequila is now gone, the editor is panting for an article, so on with the reviews…
There have been three volumes of Aliens produced by Dark Horse. The first volume featured some stunning black & white artwork; the second had stunning painted artwork; and the third had fairly standard colour art. The three volumes follow on from the end of the film (Aliens that is, rather than Alien) and feature Newt, Ripley, Hicks and a selection of minor characters. The first volume has been reprinted in a single paperback, and I suspect that the subsequent series will follow hot on it’s heels. Anyway, here come some plot details, so skip them if you think it’ll spoil it for you.
Volume 1: Newt has been dreaming about the aliens and is talking it through with her psychiatrist… Cut to Hicks, Hicks is dreaming about the mission to Acheron, the aliens and the rescue of Newt. Cut to space, Coast Guards are blasting a derelict ship out of orbit. Problems. Meet the aliens. Cut to office, voice-over tells us how TV has evolved… see video being recorded. Subject matter ? Religous. Denomination ? The Church of the Immaculate Incubation. Content of video ? The True Messiah. Identity of Messiah ? Yup, it’s an alien.
So it begins – Hicks, Newt and the aliens are together again. By the end of issue one, we’ve found out what’s going on… the U.S. government have spotted the alien homeworld and would like a few specimens to train as the ultimate weapon (train aliens – would you like to try). Well, there’re six parts to this and it was so good that the costs have gone through the roof – get the trade paperback if you can. As a hint, by the end of the sixth issue, we’ve met up with the other type of alien (you know, like the dead one in the mystery ship in the movie), aliens are on Earth, and lots of marines have been killed!!
Volume 2: Newt & Hicks are back in space… eventually they reach an outer colony . One problem here – the military are running the place and still want to try & train aliens (some people never learn). The major difference is that these aliens are to be trained to kill their own kind. Cue crackpot colonel, lots of confusion, near death-by-aliens for our heroes and yet more massacred marines. Eventually (i.e. in issue four – of four!!) Hicks & Newt are safely back on Gateway station (where Aliens the movie began) and our old pal Ripley comes out of the woodwork ready to kick alien ass.
Volume 3: This volume has a sub-title… Earth War. In this volume we find out the truth about the aliens, the other alien, what happened to Ripley between the film & her reappearance in Volume Two, what happened between Ripley and the other in the movie… etc. etc. Ripley’s plan is the same one she had all along – get the aliens in one place & nuke them. How she intends to do this ??? I’ll leave it for you to find out, but I promise you this – there’s plenty of action.
Clash of the titans ???? Well maybe, but the title skips one vital fact – there’re still puny ol’ humans involved as well. A four issue limited series, it’s now on issue three. We have… Predators & Aliens fighting… Humans caught in the middle… Cute art… Okay story-line… Plenty of action… Nice covers as well!!
Whoops… The one that got away. Yes, there are plenty of Terminator comics out there. Yes, they should have been reviewed. No there isn’t room here for a full review (personally I prefer Aliens!!). The first Terminator volume wasn’t appealing to me, those since have been mini-series and I’ve gone out, bought them and enjoyed them. The latest series is from Dark Horse, the previous ones were from Now Comics (Who also did Rust (Buy! Buy!!)).
More violent fun!!! The first four issues comprise a “mini-series” adaptation of the movie… and then things start to twist. The movie adaptations good (similar standard to the film I suppose), and the series is sort of like just keeping the film going. It follows Boone (Cabal if you prefer) and the Nightbreed as they try to find a new homeland/sanctuary. Some of the Nightbreed forget the ways of Midian and return to eating human flesh, and Boone has the doubts due of all reluctant heroes. Basically: if you liked the film (even just as entertainment) you’ll like the comic; if you didn’t like the film, but liked the book… give the comic a try – you may be pleasantly surprised; if you liked neither, don’t bother unless you hope you were wrong with the movie & the book.
Well, both movies have been adapted to comic-book form, but Robocop also has his own series these days. Outside of the content of the films, but with OCP up to there old tricks. Sort of fun, but nowhere near as dark as the original movie…
The film that spawned a comic that spawned a film… Yup, Predator 2 (the movie) is supposed to be the film of the comic-book sequel to Predator (the movie). It’s set after Predator (not surprisingly), and features Schaefer (Dutch’s big brother (Arnie was “Dutch” in case you’ve forgotten)), a New York cop with a less than delicate (and less than orthodox) manner when dealing with the bad guys. Anyway, it’s heatwave time in New York, and the city’s going crazy. Enter a Predator. Havoc hits NYC. So, Schaefer vs the predators… Schaefer finding out what happened to Dutch… The army getting involved… Loads of predators in NYC (bit like Xmas shopping on Oxford St. (Yeuch)). It looks like this should be one helluva movie if it lives up to the comic… then again, it could turn out to be another Batman!
The Hellraiser comics are not adaptations of the films. They are something much better. Set in the same mythos (for want of a better word) as the films, they tell of Lament configurations, LeMarchand (who invented the Lament configuration(s)), other ways to call the Cenobites, the creation of Cenobites and a whole host of other goodies that will appeal to horror fans, comics fans, and anyone else out there with a taste for the macabre. Each issue features five tales using different authors and artists, a few of the tales use the same characters, but the majority are unique creations not to be found anywhere in the films. A mixed bag in general, but even so, generally a good mix.
I know this is going to appear unfair… I haven’t read the comic adaptation of the film, but I’m going to say that the only reason I haven’t is that the movie was great, but the comic looks like a heap of shit. As such, I didn’t buy it on principle. Other people who did mistakenly buy it hoping for something as good as the film agree. Waste your money if you like.
Well, that’s it on the review front. Yes, there’s a lot of ground I haven’t covered, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing (give or take the odd immoral exception!!). Brief mentions here of two comics related items:
Comics Scene – a bi-monthly American magazine. It is a sister-magazine to Starlog, and devotes itself to comicsd & films. The films involved are either comics-based or animation, and it includes listings of all comics for which film rights are known to have been purchased, along with the current state of such projects. Often an interesting read, with plenty of inside info type interviews & reviews. Available from comic shops etc. etc.
Comics the Ninth Art – a Spanish TV series all about the history of comics. It’s been showing late Sunday evening (earliest showing 23:30, latest 00:10) on London Weekend Television for the past three months, but whether other ITV regions have had it, I don’t know. It’s given a good history of comics with nicely “animated” sections from some of the classics (including Watchmen, Dark Knight, Incal, Area 88 & various manga). Episode one was basically a summary of what the series contains; two to eleven covered a Western history of comics (European & American); twelve was manga; and thirteen covered the future (showing snippets from various “up & coming” artists). The series has just finished, but if you get a chance to see it, it’s definitely worth a look.
A few lists here… Firstly, of films that are (apparently) in the process of being made; secondly of comics for which film rights are out there and are still supposed to be produced some day; and finally a list I snuck in that contains a few title’s I’d like you to peek at that I had no better excuse available for…
American Flagg; Blackhawk; Deathlok; Dr. Strange; Evangeline; The Far Side (!!); Green Hornet; Green Lantern; Grimjack; Iron Man; Lone Wolf & Cub; Mai The Psychic Girl; Mandrake; Mr. X; Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD; Phantom; Prowler; Reid Fleming; Rocketteer (Disney!); Shadow; Spiderman; Tom & Jerry (Film now on hold…); Vampirella; V For Vendetta; Watchmen (Sam Hamm… Joel Silver… Terry Gilliam… needs a studio); Wolverine.
Give Me Liberty; The Nazz Chronicles; Hard Boiled; Shade – The Changing Man; The Last American; Marshall Law – Kingdom Of The Blind; Sandman (okay, so it’s not new, but I don’t think I’ve said “Buy It” yet, and I should have!!)
That’s all for now – ’til next time… Happy reading.
“As shocking as it sounds, I believe the Soviets have already launched WW III, to the hilt. And it’s not at all the kind of war we’ve been expecting…The great Soviet first strike has been delivered with surreptitious biological warfare, not with nuclear weapons or ground forces”.— Lt.Col.Thomas E.Bearden in ‘Aids – Biological Warfare’.
“Dares to present real facts, placing the blame of this disease precisely where it falls, on the shoulders of wilfully promiscuous homosexuals and our timid government! Exposes the homosexual community’s sinister success in controlling government health officials and how the ‘gay’ community is succeeding in its evil agenda of legitimizing perversion in the eyes of youngsters”— Blurb on ‘Exposing the AIDS scandal’ by Dr. Paul Cameron
“I told you I was sick”— Inscription on hypochondriac’s gravestone.
Hypochondria is a wonderful thing. There is a whole universe of wonderful diseases, illnesses and sundry ailments out there waiting for you to discover. Does anything compare with the delights of diabetes, the pleasures of pneumonia or the sheer, unadulterated joy of coming down with a disease whose symptoms you can find no mention whatsoever of in your copy of ‘The Family Doctor’? The realisation that Death is lurking round every corner, waiting to mug you with his scythe certainly helps you appreciate life a whole lot more.
If there’s one disease that’s been a godsend to the pseudo-sick, and that has driven thousands of more people into our ranks, it’s AIDS. Even the government seems keen to drum home the message with commercials of icebergs crashing into tombstones (or was it tombstones crashing into icebergs?), quietly forgetting that you’ve currently got a greater chance of dying on the roads.
My personal paranoia produced one of the worst moments in my life: coming back to my desk the day after a visit to give blood (handily incorporating an AIDS test), I found a note asking me to phone the Blood Transfusion Service. Fortunately they were just checking my address – I’d moved since my last pint – but it took a long time for my heart-rate to return to normal. Not bad going, since I’m not the slightest homosexual, am totally unacquainted with the sharp end of heroin-filled syringes and can’t honestly claim to sleep with as many loose women as I’d like. So why do I occasionally find myself lying in bed, absent-mindedly checking my armpits for swollen lymph nodes?
Media hype is, unsurprisingly, largely responsible but it helps that most of the symptoms of AIDS are so nebulous as to be virtually meaningless. Tiredness, loss of appetite and sweating are three main ones, but there’s scarcely a disease worthy of the name that won’t leave you feeling tired, and if the imminent prospect of a terminal disease doesn’t stop you feeling hungry and make you break out into a cold sweat instead, you’re a cooler dude than I am. Also, AIDS does more than kill you, being the only disease that’ll terminate your family home too. No life insurance or mortgage company will pay out if you catch AIDS, whether you were healthy to start with or not, and some look askew at you if you admit to having had an AIDS test (which strikes me as hideously irresponsible).
This may be why AIDS puts the fear of God into people, or it might be the implication that they’ve been up to naughty tricks. Perhaps it’s the you-can’t-tell-by-looking aspect – it certainly doesn’t seem sporting, or English, that all you can do is spin the chamber of the carnal revolver, slap the barrel against your groin and pull! Or maybe it’s the sexual aspect generally, the idea that the most popular indoor sport of them all can seriously damage your health. Anyone remember herpes? Wasn’t that supposed to be the great disease of the decade? Turned out to be the sexually-transmitted equivalent of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, really. Yes, the sixties had hippy free love, the seventies had punk free love, the eighties had… Kylie Minogue and AIDS. Ever feel you were born in the wrong era?
But where do the conspiracies come in? Firstly, there’s the theory that AIDS sudden appearance is because it was a germ warfare weapon which was accidentally (or deliberately) released. Related to this is the Wrath Of God theory, very popular with people like James ‘Cesspool’ Anderton. The problem with both these is that lesbians very rarely get AIDS and while one may plausible consider the US government, or God, devious enough to construct a virus capable of wiping out all those pinko fags and Haitians, who’d want a world inhabited solely by women in dungarees and silly hair-cuts?
Meanwhile, certain sections of the gay community take it into the area of sexual politics, AIDS being nothing more than a heaven-sent excuse for the nasty Conservatives to repress someone else. They may be right (tho’ I suspect the number of gay Conservative MP’s is more than they’d like i.e. greater than none) but while I sympathise, I shrug my shoulders and feel such are the penalties of life in a democracy – most minority groups, from horror fans to SDP voters, reckon they’re repressed by someone or other. This is perfectly normal, well adjusted paranoia.
However, if you’re conspiracy hunting, it’s always worth looking to see who’s making the money and this time, pharmaceutical companies are the winners – shareholders in whichever company eventually finds a vaccine get cocktails in Rio. Yes, there’s no conspiracy theory like an economic one (preferably involving multinational companies), so my guess is that AIDS is the product of some highly illegal genetic engineering experiments in a Swiss laboratory, released on an unsuspecting world. The drugs cartels are just pretending to do vast amounts of research on it, saving enormous amounts of tax, and when they do release the vaccine (already discovered, but being kept secret), it’s more profit thanks to the paranoia they’ve induced in us, and they also get hailed as saviours of mankind.
Some of you may scoff, but you’ll know I’m speaking the truth when I’m found dangling off a bridge in Bristol with my trousers down and needle marks in my bum. Oh, sorry – wrong conspiracy. That’s only for those who work for Marconi, isn’t it? More on that one next time…
The gale licked at my turn-ups.
My toes curled involuntarily inside their Cartier corsets in a futile attempt to grip the shiny steel surface of the girder rather better than hardly at all. My stomach lurched and swayed rebelliously, in stark counterpoint to the solidarity displayed by the rest of my anatomy, standing rigidly pressed against the upright at my back. I still held the upper hand in my sado-masochistic tango with gravity, but the battle for my mind was in retreat.
I wanted to learn the acordian, fly a microlight and drive Italian cars at breakneck speeds through sleepy villages. But I wanted down from here more. I could still hear her laugh, a bass clarinet in an operetta by Carl Orf, eminating from a silken throat framed in a rather excessive collection of molars. That, I realised, was my downfall. No-one had twisted my arm or greased my palm. I wasn’t tired of living or, like a moth with sunglasses, tired of flying round the lightbulb. But listen to Clifton Chenier or Joe El Sonnier frisking the mother of pearl on a cajun anthem, pull up to 7000ft cloud base like Zeus on Pegasus, or power through a moonlit landscape in a three lite Alfa Romeo with a laughing, pony-tailed redhead fondling your thigh and you may just realise that there’s more to life than picking up peanuts for picking up someone else’s dirty laundry.
Most people loose the lifelong battle with gravity to the tune of six feet plus the height of the bed, but the stakes were higher in this game. About sixteen stories higher. My inner ear was telling stories too, the lights of the city swam, spun and flashed and all the alarms in my head sounded. It was like being on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise during a Klingon attack, only worse.
It looked like I could trust my balance like you could trust Insurance Companies to give accurate valuations, London Underground Nestles dispensers to pay up in chocolate or that slice of toast you just dropped to hit the sheepskin rug marmite side up. With the marmite on the toast, not on the sheepskin that is. The wind redoubled it’s efforts to make my trenchcoat flap like a Nomad’s awning in a sandstorm. It looked like things couldn’t get much worse unless Cronenburg had just bought the movie rights. My nose started to run.
My undoing was worn straight from the cleaners, and she knew it. She was my Nemesis, my Lament Configuration, my strange attractor. I had explained to her that I’d lost interest in busting my arse for salted seed kernels and achieving nothing but indifference, apathy and an addiction to polo mints. That there was no longer a place for free spirits or Private Eyes was a conclusion she’d read as “wimp city” before she shut down the play. Why? I wanted her because I couldn’t have her. Everything else in life was everyday, corrupt or on page 149 of the Argos catalogue. Idealism isn’t entirely unattractive, least not when it’s dressed up fancy and taught to dance to 808 State.
“I was once told something about you by a man in a 3 piece suit with a gold AmEx card” she had said in a complimentary tone.
”That man was an imposter” I replied, knowing full well who she referred to and remembering the trouble he got me into when he drove into the side of the Norweigan ambassador’s Volvo while I was blind drunk in the passenger seat. He handed me the keys and legged it.
“Something about heights”. She smiled again, her breath rising like steam in the drizzle, and turned quickly so as to display the long pearl necklaces she wore to good effect. She exhibited the kind of neck-snapping beauty that makes the wearing of baggy trousers essential.
Time was running out. Shock was creeping in around the edges of my consciousness like ice on a Polar explorer’s goggles. My pulse was weaker than MaxPax coffee and the blood was pooling in my swelling feet like a thermometer on a cold morning. One step street pizza.
No. I couldn’t give her the satisfaction. And besides, I wanted to have another look at her before a casket obscured the view. If I couldn’t get out of this, I needed someone who could. Rutger Hauer would drop his head, smile a little under heavy eyebrows and rush across the girder in a stoop, shoulders curved and palms spread forwards like a juggler. When I made the door, I heard him elucidate patiently, as if to a slow learning child, “Now, perhaps that’s not so hard after all”. Guess he could be right at that.
She was waiting for me, of course, in her car, a pretty dark blue Alfa, one of the last Bertone two-litre GTV coupes. Through the closing door I noticed a beautiful old Sila accordian on the rear seat, and as she crashed the syncro on first and made her gravel spun exit, a sticker in the rear window said “Microlight pilots do it with 2-strokes”.
If there is a God up there, then he had a sick sense of humor.
It was enough to make a lesser man weep. Me, I started on a fresh tube of Polos.
(with apologies to Mark Williams)
Ridley Scott’s most misunderstood film flopped miserably at the box-office after audiences used to his hard-edged technoromps were faced with the sight of Tom Cruise playing an elf. They were understandably slightly nonplussed. Yet there is much to admire and enjoy in this film, even beyond the highly pleasing charms of Mia Sara in black lipstick.
A simple tale of light triumphing over dark, this is also a film in which lighting triumphs over plot, effects and acting (despite Rob Bottin and Tim Curry’s valiant efforts in the last two categories). Everything is eventually submerged beneath a tide of shimmer, glimmer and glow not to mention the flower petals, myriad miscellaneous motes or even soap bubbles which litter each frame, most notably in the opening sequences which look like a remake of ‘Scott of the Antarctic’. Visually, it is absolutely stunning stuff and is the prettiest film I’ve ever seen – each scene is arranged with such care and attention to detail you begin to think each of the previously mentioned petals was choreographed individually.
The problem is, it’s unsure of it’s audience – presumably a children’s movie (as the advertising material shown here makes clear), the cutesy-pie visuals and ‘soppy stuff’ between Jack and Lili which suggest the ‘My Little Pony’ group are sharply at odds with some grim(m) references to cannibalism, as when one of the goblins says of the heroine, “She was so sweet, I could eat her brains like jam”. The long build-up to the action would bore to tears most small boys not yet able to appreciate things like dazzling cinematography (or indeed, Mia Sara in black lipstick – why is innocence always cuter when it’s dressed to kill?). So the movie gently falls between two stools and fails to appeal to anyone that it’s supposed to.
This may explain the drastic celluloid surgery it suffered – the ‘special version’ shown on TV at Christmas was different from the video, although the extent of the alterations isn’t apparent until you compare them scene by scene. How much was at the request, or with the approval, of Ridley Scott is uncertain – some may be for technical reasons as the special version seems brighter, Tim Curry’s voice is deeper and in several shots the pan & scanning is different, giving the illusion of a new camera angle.
The most obvious change is that the video version (VV) has an orchestral score, replacing the Tangerine Dream electronically based soundtrack on the special version (SV).
Apart from the obvious differences, this totally alters the mood of some scenes, which the composers have chosen to interpret in varying ways. The scene where Lili enters the house in the woods for the first time is a salutory example of how music is capable of altering the tone of a scene. Dialogue is also altered in many areas, moved from scene to scene and removed or added. This can make a lot of difference: In the SV, Lili says to Jack,”Tell me your future”, to which he replies, “not today”, because they’re going to see the unicorns. In the VV, Lili instead says , “Teach me rabbit”, a rather less ominous phrase! Similarly, tho’ this may have been excised on the grounds of taste, one of the goblins says in the VV “Baby! How I love milk-fed meat!”, but by the time it reached TV, it had become “Plenty hospitality here!”
There is a love scene, albeit a chaste one, between Lili and Jack in the SV that is totally missing on video – the first kiss in the VV is not until right at the end after darkness has been defeated. Similarly, you don’t see Tim Curry until nearly an hour into the video, despite hearing his voice. In the SV, he appears, complete with fluorescent eyes, almost straight after the opening caption introducing you to the characters, which is also missing from the VV. In the SV, you see the unicorn’s horn being severed as Jack breaks through the ice that is covering the pool, while on video there’s only Jack. This matches up with a scene at the end where the SV has Jack wakening Lili at the same time as the unicorn’s horn is replaced, and the VV only has the wakening.
Conversely, at two points on video, Lili sings – once to charm the unicorn and, shortly afterwards, to calm Jack’s anger. Neither are included in the SV and the lyricist credit, which opens the VV titles, is also dropped. When Jack meets the Glump, in the VV he is forgiven his ‘crime’ of showing Lili the unicorn after answering a riddle. There is no riddle in the SV – he merely says he did it for love. Another bit removed in the same way is when Jack faces Meg Knucklebones, the swamp with – the VV has him using flattery to distract her, while in the SV it’s virtually straight out with the sword and !
Most of the later sections are relatively untouched – a sequence where Lili dances with a masked figure is noticeably longer in the VV, but compared to the first half there aren’t many changes. However, Lili’s (faked) conversion to the powers of darkness takes place over a longer period in the SV, and is thus more convincing. The two endings do differ significantly – before Jack finally defeats Darkness, the SV gives Tim Curry a speech in which he says “We are brothers eternal” before being sucked into a void. No final speech on the video, and only a couple of after-shots of the void! The final shot of the VV is Lili and Jack walking off into the sunrise/set. The SV gives a rather different impression, closing with a superimposed shot of Darkness laughing…
Personally, I think both versions have their strong points – some of the changes make sense, while others do weaken the film. Overall, however, I’d give the nod to the special version. Yet despite all this mutilation and alteration, what comes through is an adult (in the best sense) fairy tale, delightfully dark and wonderfully moody. And any time you feel Tom “I’m a serious actor” Cruise is getting a bit too pretentious, watch ‘Legend’ and you’ll never take the cute, pointy-eared pixie seriously again!