Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Where ARE They Now?

Very recent events mean that this will be my last blog for a while. Nothing too dramatic, I've just overcommitted. I need to scale back my projects for the time being, and I'm sure that most of you care a lot more about Fans coming out regularly than this blog coming out regularly. It will return, but I won't say when, and probably not for a few months.

However, I keep my promises whenever remotely possible, and I've strung y'all along with the B5 idea for long enough. So let's get to it!

While it's almost impossible to go outside without tripping over an old Star Trek actor, the Babylon 5 cast and crew have been a bit more reclusive.

The best source for info on the father of B5, ol' JMS, is probably here, faithfully maintained by Mike Helba. The weirdest source is JMS News, which simply re-presents all JMS Usenet postings.

Apparently, Michael O'Hare has gotten into block trading. Or maybe that's a different Michael O'Hare. No film or TV roles turn up in IMDB after B5, and his fan pages seem more focused on his past than his future. He's got a distinguished career, but no one seems to know what he's doing NOW. Maybe he IS doing block trading. Sorry. About the others, I can be more helpful.

Bruce Boxleitner has had a string of roles, but mostly blink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos in films like Gods and Generals or parts in films with doomed titles like The Snakehead Terror, Life in the Balance and Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke. But hey! "Was appointed to the National Space Society Board of Governors in May, 1998." Man, IMDB is something.

Claudia Christian starred as... hey, Princess Leia!.. in... um... Darth Vader's Psychic Hotline. But don't feel too bad. She also shows up as a character with the last name "Sinclair" in the Atlantis animated films. And she has a juicy indy role in True Rights. She's not getting any new T-shirts made about her, but she's doin' okay.

Jerry Doyle has dropped his political campaign and is plunging into talk radio.

All that turns up for Mira Furlan is the post-prod film "Disi duboko," being filmed in her native Yugoslavia. Anybody know enough Serbo-Croatian to tell me what the title means? Didn't think so.

Poor Richard Biggs barely jumped on board Tremors before its future got called into question. I like this show, dammit.

Like JMS, Bill Mumy usually has something going on. He's a writer, songwriter, singer, actor... a real one-man band.

Stephen Furst has a new book out.

And there you have it. See you in the funny papers!


Monday, December 29, 2003

Shot Down by the Red Planet?

The Beagle has landed, but it may not have landed very well. We watch, and hope.

Wow, I disagree with EVERY criticism Jeff has about Return of the King, except Elrond's outfit, and, I guess, Arwen's tokenism (but what was the alternative? Have her pick up a sword and join the fighting? Isn't the point that she's a DIFFERENT person than Eowyn? Grmbl.)

Well, that blog sure went nowhere.

Comic-book vunderkind Alex Ross got to do his original idea for an Uncle Sam cover image for the Village Voice recently. Warning: it's shocking! Shocking!

What dystopia do you want to explore today? Great site. Worth it just for the timeline.

Thanks to VOX POPVLI for this excellent glossary for writers, especially SF writers.

Thanks to Drooling Fan Girl for the tale of the lost first episode of The Twilight Zone.

Want more Serling? American readers, try the PBS documentary (check here for showtimes in your area.) Be warned, though, it misses some details.

Alicublog just destroys SF writer Orson Scott Card's claim that he's a Democrat.

Babylon 5 characters: Where are they now? (Oh, you wanted to know about the ACTORS? Check back Wednesday.)

And finally, LOTR reviews from the '30s, '40s, and '50s at the Times.


Friday, December 26, 2003

plug Plug.

SF poet Mike Allen wrote me recently to alert me to some of his new online work ("How I Will Outwit the Time Thieves" and "the telePath Co. soothes a user" and the horrific "Inc.") If you like the above links, subscribe to his brainchild, Mythic Delirium.

Shady Texans don't have to wait to see upcoming movies.

Maybe I'm being partisan, but I somehow feel like this could only happen in an SF bookstore.

SF writer Vernor Vinge has some wild ideas.

In non-SF fandom news, Clay Aiken earns some of my respect by using fame the way it should be used.

Is this the world's greatest autograph hound?

Paycheck opened Christmas Day, because what EVERYONE wants to see on Christmas is a violent thriller about corporate sleaziness and amnesia (tomatometer score: 18% at this writing). How good an idea this must have seemed when it went into production, with John Woo, Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman and the ghost of Philip K. Dick! As it is, it's not really BAD-bad, but so forgettable that [write your own amnesia joke here].

You're probably better off with Peter Pan (current score 75%), even if it is a bit... adult in parts.

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas. Tune in this Monday for, among other things, a "where are they now" on Babylon 5.


Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Circle Closes.

I've now seen Return of the King, so life is complete. Its tomatometer score is (at this writing) 97%. Go see it.

Then click here to see Return of the Badgers.

Last time out, I joked that we'd soon see 9-11: The Game. Well, guess what. Thanks to Yuji.

The Washington Post reviews recent epic battles in the movies.

L. Ron Hubbard's life as a play.

A study of nerdhood.

Betty Hill, the world's most famous alleged alien abductee.

Jim Baen of Baen Books is playing Santa to the U.S.S. Enterprise-- the aircraft carrier, not the starship.

Five Star Trek actors autographed a telescope to further the cause of astronomy.

I just can't figure out why these guys call themselves Science Fiction Idols. Anybody?

The Pope approved Mel Gibson's The Passion! How nice to know the film detailing the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ will not be remotely controversial, after all!

Lyrics from over 7000 anime songs. In case there isn't enough randomness in your life.

How to buy autographs.

New Zealanders find themselves a bit ambivalent about what LOTR's done for them.

And finally, thanks to KT and Kevin Hicks for turning me on to Netflix, a great service for the busy film buff.


Thursday, December 18, 2003

Dealing With Disturbing Events in Disturbing Ways.

Let's play "Chernobyl Mutant!" Next up: Pearl Harbor Alien Attack and 9-11: The Game.

Hey, way to make George Lucas even more paranoid and reactionary, Mr. Foley. Grand larceny in the Lucas camp.

State-sponsored science fiction: the National Intelligence Council 2020 Project.

Gen Con So Cal is so proud of its debut, it issued a press release.

All the words for exposition an SF writer could ever need: infodumping, kuttnering, heinleining and frontloading. Can you guess which two are desirable?

No, come on. Stop kidding me, everybody. This just can't be Dave Sim talking. (If you're unfamiliar with Sim, ask me why.)

All movies is political: K.A. Dilday listens to what The Lord of the Rings says about current-day Earth, and doesn't like what he hears.

SciFiWire notes the Golden Globes are SF-heavy this year.

This may be the best trailer I've seen all year. But don't tell Harlan Ellison.

You need a bit of context to understand this Indian article on what SF could do for India, but you can get the gist.

Scott Kurtz has a cool cover contest.

If you think Gen Con So Cal is proud of itself, that ain't nothin' to the SCI FI Channel.

Speaking of Ellison, A Boy and His Dog is one of the more underrated DVDs on the market, but boy, is it not for the squeamish.

Finally, Graphic Smash gets some representation in bookstores with Visual Storytelling by Tony Caputo with images from Soul Chaser Betty, essay by Jim Steranko and intro by-- of all people-- Harlan Ellison.

Highly recommended if you're looking for a gift for your comic-geeky friends.

No, you are not technically your own best friend. Geez.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Here It Is! All-LOTR, All The Time!

Before the Rings roundup (no spoilers-- promise), a shout-out to Sara Turner and Jerzy Drozd, who will be pencilling and inking Fans Thursday and Friday. If you haven't already checked out their delightful style in The Replacements, do so! And now, onward:

"Trilogy Tuesday" is supposed to be a great way to meet chicks. Actually, it's a much better way for geek girls to meet GUYS.

LOTR weapons scholarship.

Typecasting scares Elijah Wood more than Sauron. As it should.

I'm Mongo Knotwise of Michel Delving. And you?

Can you read J.R.R. Tolkien's initials?

Bored with SCA? Try creating a Middle Earth Historical Reenactment Society.

Viggo Mortensen learns what it's like to be a Beatle.

Ma Quetelyë i Eldalambë?

Where are all these places, anyway?

What if Tolkien had used Meatloaf as a ghostwriter?

For once, Tolkien gets perhaps a little more credit than he deserves, instead of less.

Finally, no Web catalog of Rings is complete without the low-tech, gloriously obsessive


Monday, December 15, 2003


We've actually got a funny strip coming up this week... honest. I know Fans has been awful grim lately, but when you set out to portray Hell, the laughs just don't keep coming.

This blog is going to be a little more infrequent for a while... MWF this week, Sunday and Saturday the next (because of Christmas) and MWF for several weeks thereafter. I do have a plan to ramp it up as an interesting new feature for next year, though.

Salon has a fascinating and sure-to-be-controversial feature called When Books Kill. If you haven't subscribed, a day pass is still free. Several science-fiction works made the list. Since I'm sure someone will ask, no, I don't believe in banning books, but I do believe that fiction has power and power means responsibility. We ARE an influence on the world and we would do well to be a positive one.

The hunt for Brutus De Villeroi, "natural genius" and a real-life inspiration for Jules Verne's work.

A couple days after we caught Public Enemy Number One-Point-Five, Saddam Hussein, this article implies that the current wave of war videogames is doomed. Pretty persuasive...

"Science fiction" used as an insult for the 47,000th time. It depends on what KIND of science fiction you mean, replies Dr. Drexler. At stake: only the future of nanotech.

A more complimentary comparison to SF can be found in this profile of a gene-splicer. I confess I'm surprised that this paper seems to smile upon "playing God..."

TIME has a story on "The Lost Gospels" and how they're influencing modern fiction and SF.

In Back to the Future II and The Jetsons and God knows how many other SF stories, telephony is videophony. Well, guess what. (Yes, the author gets his science-fiction movies confused, but the tech is genuine.)

Okay, I know I've linked to this story before, but "We could not make their computers stupid enough to not run away" is the funniest movie-related quote I've heard all year.

And sometime Wednesday, look for a special all-LOTR blog. Just 'cause we like ya.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

Because Readers Are The Ultimate Editors.

Nobody wants into Graphic Smash like Darryl Hughes does. Check out his work, then tell me what you think.

Superstudio was essentially the J.G. Ballard of modern sculpture.

Movie studios have a new brain trust-- video store owners.

I can think of worse things to be called than "warrior-philosopher of the liberal world." They say Francis Fukuyama is a futurist, not a science-fiction author. Potato, potahto.

What's dragonwriter Anne McCaffrey up to these days? Well, she's been speaking out on why Ireland is better for writers than America, inspiring award-winning sculptors, irritating customers by giving old work new packaging, and publishing Dragon's Kin, an all-new book, in time for Christmas. Reports indicate that arthritis is starting to slow her down, so if you want to write a letter or an e-mail of appreciation... now may be a good time.

And finally, Mad Magazine shows a bit of its old flair with this inaction figure.


Another Teapot-Tempest...

Scroll through this page to discover the latest wacky dispute in the world of webcomics. The meat of it, to the extent that it can be said to have any meat at all, is that Sean Howard of A Modest Destiny threatened to shut down Penny Arcade because some of its forum users have avatars similar to his sprite comic's characters.

Let me repeat: the avatars are similar to his sprite comic's characters. I don't want to dis all sprite comics, but it seems to me that derivative character design kind of, you know, comes with the territory. This is like complaining that somebody is writing poems with the same rhythm and meter as your higgledy-piggledy.

And that's not even getting INTO the other reasons this is ridiculous, which Gabe points out better than I could.

But it gets even better: the threatened shutdown caused Howard's site to be shut down itself. What a comedy... somebody should do a strip about it.

Top Ten Science Fiction Books by Women Writers.

And finally, Jerry Seinfeld fulfills a lifelong ambition. Bzzzzzzzz.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003


Nice fanart aside, things are looking a bit brighter.

I've picked on him a lot lately, but Ronald D. Moore has some interesting things to say... not least of which is the old argument that Trek needs to take a break. Paramount may even quietly agree with him.

IGN seems to think this would be a crushing defeat for SF TV. My take? Maybe fifteen years ago, when it looked like Next Generation was tanking, but not now. There's a whole Sci Fi Channel, in case you haven't heard. Shows like Jake 2.0 and Alias are doing okay, and Doctor Who is coming back.

It's true that there isn't a really "literary" SF show on TV right now, but somehow, I don't think Paramount's going to be the company to change that. I've made a lot of noise about the improvements upon Enterprise this season, but that just means it's advanced to being a pale echo of the first three series, rather than a screeching parody. If it dies, I'll get over it, and so will SF TV.

For me at least, Battlestar Galactica recaptured some of that magic in the last hour, which leads me to some hope for the series. Oh, didn't you know that was a four-hour pilot episode and not a miniseries as previously advertised? Sorry, but if you were expecting an ending that was any more conclusive than "and so it began," you got punk'd.

The Omega Men posited that Vega had a planetary system similar to our own. Well, guess what. (Article is careful to cite as unlikely the development of life, much less intelligent life, given that the system's entire cycle of existence will only last a measly billion years. But one never knows.)

While it's nice that someone points out the technical wizardry behind the latest Looney Toons movie, they're apparently unaware that Back in Action has already had its chance to "wow audiences" and didn't do so well. Speaking of Australia and animation, Gollum comes to New Zealand TV.

There has got to be something wrong with the comics blogosphere when this gets paraded as "the best superhero comics cover of the last decade." I mean, no accounting for taste, and there are far more important discussions to be having, but... come-freakin'-ON.

da Vinci, Robot Doctor.


Tuesday, December 09, 2003


My own life could be going way better right now, so I think I'll wait a bit to see the first episode of Galactica, which Charles describes as "relentlessly depressing."

Let's talk about something nicer. It's Christmas, let's talk about toys:

Dave Barry's guide to holiday shopping shouldn't be taken seriously. (The Chicago Tribune asks for registration, but it does leave you alone afterward, if you ask nicely.)

Now, believe it or not, this is a real news item. "Working to put food on your family!"

The Lion and Lamb Project has put out this list of cool-- I mean "totally inappropriate" toys for kids. My favorite line? "Easily excited by sunny days, weekends, and ice cream trucks, Bruce Banner turns into the green playing machine known as the Hulk." Ice cream trucks? Sunny... weekends??? "RAAAARGHRRR! HULK TGIF! HULK EAT CHOCOLATE MICKEY EARS!" I needed that.

Singapore's best new action figure isn't even a media tie-in. (Temporary link.)

Scientology does one thing I can't condemn.

Finally, ego-surf alert: Comixpedia has a roundup of the year's events by yours truly and six other webcartoonists.


Monday, December 08, 2003

Galactica Cometh.

Most TV reviewers really don't seem to care that Battlestar Galactica is the least faithful remake since The Time Machine. They opine-- sometimes politely, sometimes snarkily-- that the original was perhaps not as deep as its atmosphere of grandeur might lead one to think. They ask us to judge the new show on its own merits. Fair enough-- but I don't think they'd respond the same way if Cheers were remade with Tara Reid playing Sam(antha) Malone.

But at least it's not another Scare Tactics.

And then you get feminist critics who just don't get why they can't sex-change a few of those characters in Lord of the Rings. Stephanie Merritt knows better.

Clay Kallam has some nice ideas for Christmas gifts.


Saturday, December 06, 2003

4 Sale Cheep: The Planet Klendathu.

Hilariously, this article mentions that the land for sale is "made famous by a science-fiction action film" but doesn't name the film. I guess EVERYONE in Wyoming saw Starship Troopers.

Ronald D. Moore hates space opera. At least he does now. It's really tempting to laugh off complaints about "bumpy-headed aliens" from a guy who produced two versions of Star Trek. But it's kind of sad that he thinks realistic, dramatic conflict is a "new kind of science fiction" (it sort of points out how little of it he's actually READ) and that escapism is obsolete. (Dude, it's not, okay? Lord of the Rings is as good-vs-evil as you get, and it's doing all right. You're just OLDER, that's all. Your tastes change when you get older. Happens to us all. Entire genres do not crumble because you blew out the candles on your cake.)

T3 Stars Comment On Videogame. Except a couple of them don't. Seriously, a couple of them just talk about the film and say NOTHING WHATSOEVER about the video game. Find out the ones who felt they couldn't say anything nice about it. It's fun!

These days, probably has the best-looking Alien Nation site out there, whilst this one is the simplest and easiest to use, and this one boasts the quirkiest stuff and a couple of dead links. It's kind of reassuring, in a way, that you can still find cheap, poorly designed sites for underrated and short-lived SF shows. It's like going back in time ten years.

And finally, the top ten action figures we'll never see.


Friday, December 05, 2003

Notice This.

Scott McCloud's But No One Ever Noticed The Walrus-- well, it got to me. What can I say? An gentle satire on office politics dissolves into a sweet conclusion. It's Dilbert with heart.

Brace your taste buds for The Graphic Smash Cookbook!!

Remember KITT from Knight Rider? Well, guess what.

Get in on the ground floor with Neo-Opsis, a new Canadian science-fiction magazine. It could become nothing, but it could become something! They're targeting the mundane audience as well as old-time fans, and that's a good start.

Another fan the Wachowskis wish they didn't have.

More wisdom from Arthur C. Clarke.

I have a tough time disagreeing with these proposed changes to Doctor Who for the 21st century-- as far as they go. I don't think Russell's saying he wants to pair Doctor Who with Buffy, just to pair him with someone who can do more than scream and say "What IS it, Doctor?" Of course, there have been a couple like that.

(Speaking of Buffy, Russell, you guys ARE considering Anthony Stewart Head for the role of the Doctor, aren't you?)

And finally, the return of Space Invaders to arcades. No, not the Xbox or the Playstation or your cell phone or the Internet. You know, ARCADES. You DO still remember what arcades ARE, right?


I Want To Do The Things I Can't, I Need A Head Transplant...

A ton of interesting stuff today, so let's get to it!

In The Amphibious Man, Alexander Belayayev posited that transplanting shark gills into a human respiratory system could allow us to GM an Aquaman. In Professor Dowell's Head, he imagined a human head living on without its body. Well, guess what.

Barbarella seems to keep coming up lately. This time, though, it's sad news: Dildano is dead. For his full filmography, click here.

Cartoons are cocaine. We always suspected. Thanks to Scott Kurtz.

Francis Ford Coppola wants to talk about what happens AFTER the abduction.

"No, no, we're REAL ufologists. The crazy people are over THERE."

Half-Vulcan. All Jewish.

The Cuckoos are back in the Village of the Damned!

The Communist Party is so far gone, it actually thinks it can show off its vitality by flash-mobbing Matrix movies. Remember when the Western world thought these guys were the scariest thing it would ever face?

Arthur C. Clarke weighs in on gorilla rights.

And finally, those wacky Scientologist scamps!


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Tomorrow's Picaro...

Some opera for SF fans. Because we know there are opera fans reading this blog. Maybe even THREE of you!

It doesn't LOOK like Battlestar Galactica. It doesn't SOUND like Battlestar Galactica. It doesn't have the same themes, characters, plot or concept as Battlestar Galactica. But it sure wants you to THINK it's Battlestar Galactica.

It's a whole new genre of reality programming: Antebellum Island, courtesy of The Onion!

Has any science-fiction writer actually predicted this ultimate drinking straw?

And finally, thanks to the marvelous Mozai for The Zero Files.


Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Pop Trash.

Duran Duran has wrapped up the American leg of their 25th anniversary tour and is headed into Sydney. Named for a character in Barbarella, the band is known not only for strong rhythm but for powerful music videos with an SF feel. Check out their latest.

DVD Review: "Escape From New York is one of those odd cult favorites that float bizarrely above any critical disdain..." This one meets my criteria for criticism: it accurately describes the movie and target audience without letting emotion run away with it.

Join the U.S. Navy and watch Farscape DVDs for free. No. Seriously.

Obituaries: Albert Nozaki, the art director of War of the Worlds (1953 version). Read the article, then see the movie. Also, Marguerite McClure Bradbury, one of the true unsung heroes of SF, without whom Ray Bradbury might never have published.

And finally, webcomic Penny Arcade flexes its social conscience.


Webcomics In The News! Twice, Even!

At Sequential Tart, Graphic Smash's very own Ursula Vernon tells us all how Digger came to be.

And in Indiana, Paul Musgrave presents a look at the state of comic strips in newspapers and on the Internet. Of course I'm too close to this topic not to think of corrections I'd like to make (a mention of subscription sites like Graphic Smash woulda been nice), but my biases aside, it's a pretty good piece.

IGN offers up a hilarious review of Deus Ex: Invisible War, one of the few video games that REALLY lets you choose your own adventure. Almost as interesting, but more troubling, is the fact that an ad for the very same game precedes the review...

Speaking of video game innovation, check out early reports on Perimeter, a game about, of all things, war and landscaping.

Thanks to James Lehmann for linking this VERY important story about the future of the Internet. Don't panic: Chinese officials will not be censoring your forum posts tomorrow. But don't ignore it either: the current freedom of Internet speech is NOT guaranteed by the laws of nature. Read and be informed.

Thanks to Robin Savage for pointing out that it's "a Mogwai," not "Mowgli," I was thinking of yesterday. One is the little cutesy furball from Gremlins, the other is the not-terribly-cute star of The Jungle Book. Obviously, I was just... testing you.

Hmmm. Somebody's been sleeping in my bed, eating my porridge, and rewriting my scripts for Cool Cat Studio.

And finally, the world's oldest twenty-sided die? (Thanks to Ray Radlein.) Naturally, Scott Kurtz is all over this.