Comic-Con® attendees will have a chance to peek inside the craniums of powerhouse world-building artists Frank Miller (Sin City, 300, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) and Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Star Wars; The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight; The WondLa Trilogy) to see how the blank page becomes inhabited with compelling imagery, unforgettable characters and iconic storytelling from the earliest inception stages to the last dot of ink. Mr. Miller and Mr. DiTerlizzi will exchange ideas about the heroes and anti-heroes that inhabit their works; the creative and artistic heroes that inspired them as young artists (which comics writers, illustrators, filmmakers set their imaginations on fire), and their responsibility to inspire a new generation of artists. The panel will be moderated by Borys Kit, Senior Film Writer for The Hollywood Reporter.
Comic Con Panel: Hero Worship: Capes, Conflict & Creativity A Conversation with Frank Miller and Tony DiTerlizzi
Friday, July 21at 10:00 am – 11:00 am; Room 6DE
Both artists share a deep understanding of the precarious nature of childhood and the importance of the HERO concept to their art. Mr. Miller has said that Batman is interesting “because he straightens the world out. He brings order to a very chaotic world. Especially when you’re a child. You need somebody, even if it’s a fictional character, to tell you that the world makes sense and that the good guys can win. That’s what these heroes are for.”
Mr. DiTerlizzi is fascinated by the sources of inspiration that empower fellow creators and is eager to compare and contrast methods and processes with Mr. Miller on stage. His major takeaway after a lifetime spent in the pursuit of art? “Encourage children to use their imaginations,” he proclaims. “Help them to develop the imagination musculature in the same way you develop physical competence.” One of Mr. DiTerlizzi’s first handmade books, on dinosaurs, was done for a Boy Scout merit badge…another on insects was part of an entire summer spent illustrating a field guide on fantastical creatures. This original creative enterprise would serve as the template for the creatures in The Spiderwick Chronicles, (created by Mr. DiTerlizzi and Holly Black) which sold 10 million copies worldwide, was translated into 30 languages and was made into a film by Paramount.
In addition, both Mr. Miller and Mr. DiTerlizzi have plans for major retrospectives of their work at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi, an exhibition of works by the Caldecott Medal-winning, New York Times bestselling author/illustrator, runs November 11, 2017 through February 25, 2018.
is regarded as one of the most influential and awarded professionals in the entertainment industry today, known for his intense, hard-boiled storytelling and gritty noir aesthetic across comics, graphic novels and film. Recently, Mr. Miller, alongside Brian Azzarello completed DC’s best-selling “Dark Knight III: The Master Race,” a nine-issue second sequel to “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Mr. Miller made his feature film directorial debut in 2005 with SIN CITY, the adaptation of his graphic novel, which he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez. The critically acclaimed film was nominated for a Palme d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, won the Austin Film Critics Award and garnered a Czech Lion nomination. In 2015, Mr. Miller and Mr. Rodriguez returned as co-directors on a sequel with SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR which reunited the duo with returning cast members as well as series newcomers Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Lady Gaga among others.
In 2007, Mr. Miller served as an executive producer on Zack Snyder’s blockbuster 300, based on his own graphic novel, written by Mr. Miller and painted by Lynn Varley. The film went on to gross over $456 million dollars worldwide in box office alone. In 2008, he wrote and directed his second feature, THE SPIRIT, an action fantasy based on the Will Eisner comic book series and starring Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Mr. Miller became a professional comic book artist while in his teens, working on a variety of assignments for major publishers, including Gold Key, DC and Marvel. He first drew attention to his work on two issues of Marvel’s Spectacular Spider-Man, in a story that teamed the ever-popular arachnid with another popular character Daredevil. Mr. Miller was then offered the regular penciling slot on Daredevil’s own book and, soon after, took over the writing chores on the title. Over the next several years, in collaboration with inker Klaus Janson, he created the ninja assassin-for-hire, Elektra.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Miller attracted further attention as one of the first comic freelancers who braved the field outside the comfortable world of company-owned characters with the creation of Ronin, a futuristic high-tech samurai pop adventure. It was the first of several collaborations with Lynn Varley.
Since then, Mr. Miller has added a number of notable projects to his repertoire, including Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, with Janson and Varley; Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, with Varley; Batman: Year One, illustrated by David Mazzuchelli and colored by Richmond Lewis; Elektra: Assassin, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz; Elektra Lives Again, with Varley; the award-winning Martha Washington miniseries Give Me Liberty, illustrated by Dave Gibbons; and Hard Boiled, illustrated by Geof Darrow.
The Sin City books have garnered numerous awards, including two Harvey awards for Best Graphic Album of Original Work in 1998 and Best Continuing Series in 1996; and six Eisner Awards, including those for Best Writer/Artist, Best Graphic Novel Reprint, Best Cartoonist, Best Cover Artist, Best Limited Series and Best Short Story. In 2015, Mr. Miller was inducted Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame for his lifetime of contributions to the industry.
#1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi has been creating children’s books for nearly two decades. From fanciful picture books like The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and the WondLa trilogy, DiTerlizzi imbues his stories with a rich imagination. With Holly Black, he created the middle-grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, which has sold 12 million copies worldwide, been adapted into a feature film (on which he served as executive producer), and has been translated in over thirty countries.
He teamed up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy as a picture book and his collaboration with acclaimed author Mo Willems created the bestselling The Story of Diva & Flea. The beginning of his storied career is showcased in Realms: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi. He has been featured in Time magazine, USA Today, CNN, PBS, the BBC and NBC’s TODAY.
Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.