Hello Barbara, this is the skeleton...

Got a new movie to recommend to fans of old 50's sci-fi/horror films: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera. Came out on DVD yesterday.

Written, directed and starring Larry Blamire, it's an affectionate homage to the grade-C genre programmers of the Fifties. Think Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Astounding She Monster or Robot Monster, and you'll get the idea. Some of the satire is overdone, and not everything rings true, but the overall result is hilarious.

A talented cast works hard at being bad actors, but the stand-out performances of the faux-fright flick are Andrew Parks as alien visitor Kro-Bar and the lovely Jennifer Blaire as Animala a beast woman created out of four forest animals by the aliens' mutation ray. The best performance of all is given by the titular Lost Skeleton an evil telepathic plastic pile of bones with a penchant for abrupt proclamations: "I sleep now!" "Shut up!"

Shot on video at Bronson Canyon and converted to B&W, the look of the film is pretty close to its inspirations. Sure, I've got a few quibbles, but overall, I admire the work the cast and crew put into this, and I'm quite certain I'll be quoting the deliberately bad dialogue for years.

Check it out.

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We've got you covered.

When the GRAVEDIGGER one-shot ships from Rorschach Entertainment this November, it will bear two different covers. Here's a peek:

The one on the left is by interior artist Rick Burchett, and there's the special variant cover by NIGHTMARK artist (and pal) Fred Harper on the right.

Cool, no?

For more preview art, downloads and updates, check out the GRAVEDIGGER website.

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Well, this IS my journal, right? Time to get personal...

I've had a few people e-mail me, wanting to know what precipitated me quitting my job last week.

I try not to get too personal here for fear of boring the handful of folks who read this thing. But this is a pretty major event in my life, and it does effect the site and my comics work/future. So here's the straight dope:

I quit my job because it was killing me.

For the last seven years, I've worked as the Art Director of a nationally-distributed weekly tabloid newspaper. The work is high-stress and deadline intensive, and frankly, the marketplace is brutal. Circulation has been steadily declining for the last few years and the work environment has been declining right along with it.

Well, I have high blood pressure and a stress-related gastrointestinal disorder that the docs don't even have a specific name for. I've had this condition my entire adult life, but over the past year, it's gotten much worse. The pain has been so bad on several occasions that it has literally incapacitated me for over 24 hours at a time.

Needless to say, this contributed to some occassional absenteeism which only made my work situation and my immediate boss more intolerable (although, I hasten to add, I never exceeded my allotted PTO days).

Early last week I called in sick because my condition was acting up and I was in some serious agony. My boss ever the soul of compassion and sensitivity called me back a half-hour later and left a callous and somewhat insulting voice mail on my machine.

My wife was furious, and it was the last straw for me.

The job had no future; I'd gotten no raises in five years, despite increased responsibilities and duties. Circulation is down and management has responded to this situation with threats and insults. I've stuck there through high and low, including a bio-terrorism attack that took the life of one of my friends and co-workers (he literally sat two work stations from me).

What can I say? I'd finally had enough.

My plan is this: I'm interviewing tomorrow for a temporary editorial position that I hope will get us through the next two or three months. In that time, The Moll and I hope to save enough geetus to move out of South Florida and back to my hometown in Maine. There's a house awaiting us there; nothing fancy, but it's ours if we want it.

If the stars align properly, and the Moll can find a decent job in the Pine Tree State, I then hope to stay home for a year or so and concentrate on my writing. I'm pretty sure I can pick up some freelance work, and I'm really itching to get cracking on the various novels and comic book projects that are impatiently waiting inside my mind, eager to be released upon an unsuspecting and ill-prepared world...

So, those are the gory details. A new era begins.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I can use all the luck I can get.

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Beware the night...

It looks good that the NIGHTMARK serial I did with Fred Harper some years back ("Dark Streets") may finally be completed, collected, and released as a trade paperback/graphic novel sometime in 2005.

For those of you unfamiliar with NIGHTMARK which, I'm guessing, are most of you it's a supernatural private eye series that I've been working on since the late Eighties. Various one-shots and miniseries have been published over the years, and it predates pretty much all the "occult detective" stuff that's around now.

"Dark Streets" is a 60+ page graphic novel, originally serialized in the comic I used to co-publish with James Chambers, SHADOW HOUSE. The comic was cancelled before the final 10-page chapter was completed, and Fred has agreed to finish it up now for the new edition.

There's a number of details as yet to be worked out and some potential production snags that may have to be dealt with, but I'm uncharacteristically optimistic that everything's going to be okay. The NIGHTMARK character and property is very dear to my heart, and has been for 20 years.

So, to recap: GRAVEDIGGER: THE SCAVENGERS one-shot in November, FEMME NOIR: THE DARK CITY DIARIES in '05... (both from Rorschach Entertainment) and maybe NIGHTMARK: DARK STREETS, as well.

And I spoke with Rick Burchett yesterday, and he's still onboard with our top secret project for Moonstone Books.

Looks like I'm going to be busy, job or not...

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Retro-movie review: Jake Speed

* Posted this on the old forum a while back. Watched the flick again recently and thought I'd repost my thoughts for the hell of it:

Pop: There are a few, a very few men. Remo. Mack Bolan. Jake Speed. In this case, I think Jake Speed's the man for the job.

Here's another one of those almost universally reviled films that I actually like. In fact, not only do I like Jake Speed, it's one of those little non-guilty pleasures that I find I can revisit frequently, and enjoy every time I do. I recently found the Anchor bay DVD, and I'm really happy to have this in my collection in a quality, widescreen edition.

Sure it's got flaws. A horde of them. Bad synthesizer music when it really needs a rousing, John Williams or James Horner score. A questionable leading man. Plot problems (although they're not really problems, considering the conceit of the film). A really lame "Heavily Armed Raiding Vehicle." What really hurts the film the most though is the lackluster direction, but if you can stick with it, I think you might find this 1986 B-movie adventure to be worth your time.

The premise is brilliant: you know all those pulp and paperback heroes that we all love so much? They're real. (Doc Savage is even mentioned in passing!) And when Margaret Winston's (the delectable Erin Gray lookalike Karen Kopins) sister is kidnapped in Paris by white slavers, her grandfather recommends looking up paperback hero Jake Speed (Wayne Crawford) to arrange a rescue. Nobody takes Pop seriously, tut-tutting over the old boy's obvious senility, but later that evening Margaret receives a mysterious message... and we're off into a knowing, smartly written adventure.

In the mid-Eighties Wayne Crawford tried to be a movie star, writing and producing various vehicles for himself. Jake Speed is the only one that approaches any level of success, and for me, it even manages to survive Crawford's dubious charms as a leading man. In fact, considering the premise of the film, Crawford's less-than-Hollywood-polished looks and acting skills are probably more appropriate for the movie than a Harrison Ford would have been. I really like Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away, Fade to Black) as Speed's pistol-packing chronicler/sidekick Des, and Karen Kopins is a delightful heroine, constantly wondering just what madness she's gotten caught up in. John Hurt is at his campy, Snidely Whiplash best as the film's villain (although he doesn't appear until far too late into the flick), complete with a pit full of man-eating tigers.

But what I really love about this film is the premise... and the script.

Jake Speed: We were gonna fight our way through enemy territory. Scale the highest mountain in this goddamned place. Traverse a bridge that was about to collapse. And then if we were lucky, I mean really lucky, we were gonna fight our way through two thousand extremely poisonous snakes.
Margaret Winston: There are thousands of snakes around here?
Jake Speed: There's gotta be if you look hard enough!

A lot of reviewers (online and off) don't seem to get the joke. Or maybe they do, and it just doesn't hit them the way it hits me. But the message of this film is that adventure and heroism and honor are valuable things, worth pursuing, even if the rest of the world just doesn't get it. And I'd like to think that my pulp heroes are out there somewhere, "defeating evil where it exists!"

Jake Speed: Evil may triumph, Sid, but it'll never conquer.
Sid: You're a Boy Scout, Jake!
Jake Speed: REFRESHING! Isn't it?

I'm not going to promise that everyone's going to like Jake Speed hell, I'm definitely in the minority on this flick but it's a personal favorite. Better direction and higher production values might have made this more successful with the masses but this is pulp, after all, and even in its flawed, unpolished state, I find its varied charms to be quite satisfying.

Your mileage may vary.

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Quit my job today...

After seven years. I've got no savings, no job prospects and no idea how we'll pay the rent...

...but for the first time in over a year my stomach doesn't hurt.

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Dig that crazy grave...

The GRAVEDIGGER website is now live, with Preview Art, wallpaper downloads, reviews and a few other goodies, all intended to help promote interest in the GRAVEDIGGER one-shot coming from Rorschach Entertainment in November.

I urge every SUPERNATURAL CRIME fan to order this book from their favorite comics retailer when it's solicited in the September Edition of PREVIEWS. Otherwise, we may not get enough orders to print the book. Retailers are especially wary of non-superhero comics from independent publishers, so it's important to demonstrate that there's a demand for this sort of material.

Also, a good response to GRAVEDIGGER could positively affect the sales of the forthcoming FEMME NOIR miniseries from the same publisher!

So swing by www.gravediggercomic.com and check it out.


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Not dead yet.

Yep. It sucks. Sucks all around. What I thought was going to be a three-week hiccup in the FEMME NOIR schedule has turned into a sizeable hiatus.

None of us are happy about it. But scripts are in Joe's capable hands, and I expect that we'll be back on track shortly.

And it's not like we were just sitting around, watching Have Gun Will Travel DVDs. I mean, I was, but I'm pretty sure that Joe was legitimately busy with other stuff. And I haven't just been watching TV I've been pretty busy, too. Mostly I've been trying to make sure the Moll and I are somewhat prepared if/when my day job comes to it's nearly certain end. Gotta have a contingency plan. I've also been re-lettering and preparing the GRAVEDIGGER one-shot for Rorschach Entertainment. We've also been hammering out the details for a four-issue FEMME NOIR miniseries, which, by the way, looks like a "go," thanks to the aforementioned Rorschach Entertainment.

Now all we gotta do is write and draw the damned thing!

Anyway, I hadn't posted anything in a long while and thought it was about time I brought you up to date ("you," of course, refers to the three people who occassionally drop in here to shake their heads sadly at my pathetic meanderings).

Saw Underworld the other night on the extended director's version DVD. Liked it a lot better than I thought I would. Nice production values, cool design, and despite what the trailers had led me to expect the CGI wasn't excessive. In fact, it was nicely integrated into the practical effects work.The story had its flaws, but even that was better than I expected. Kate Beckinsale looks great in black rubber. Growwlll.....

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Free at last!

Some very good news about my favorite comic book series of the Eighties possibly of all time:

May 18, 2004


GrimJack, one of the best selling and most desired original comic book characters in the history of independent comic book publishing, is about to be loosed upon an unsuspecting world once again.

The creation of John Ostrander and Timothy Truman, GrimJack was originally published in 1983 by First Comics, Inc. as a back-up story in Mike Grell's long running hit series STARSLAYER. A true overnight sensation, First Comics promptly moved GrimJack into its own stand-alone monthly title. GrimJack was published in more than 80 original comic book issues, an original graphic novel, and three spin-off series.

After the demise and, ultimately, the highly contentious bankruptcy of First Comics' public parent/owner, all rights to the GrimJack property became tied up in a knot of legal complexities. Ken F. Levin, one of the country's leading developers and producers of comic art properties for movies, television, publishing and video games, immediately undertook a crusade to free the rights. Levin, a co-founder of First Comics, and his fellow First Comics co-founder Mike Gold, GrimJack's longtime original editor, then began an odyssey of blind alleys and intense negotiations. Their efforts have finally resulted in the resolution of all rights issues and the formation of a new company, The NightSky GrimJack Rights and Production Vehicle (Four Wheel Drive Model), LLC. GrimJack creators John Ostrander and Timothy Truman have substantial equity positions in the new venture.

In an interview Mr. Levin commented, "GrimJack is just flat-out cool. Period." Mr. Levin, who has been involved with a great many comics-to-movies deals, including the blockbuster Tom Hanks / Paul Newman film "The Road To Perdition" and the spring 2004 hit "Hellboy," added that "GrimJack's stories and variety of characters are so wonderfully strong, I suspect the comics world is as thrilled as I am that these rights are finally free."

"Tim, John and I couldn't go to a comic book convention in the past decade without being repeatedly asked about GrimJack's return," Mr. Gold noted. "There's this legion of GrimJack fans who have kept the spirit alive through message boards, websites and emails," Gold concluded. "And we are all enormously appreciative of their continuous support."

GrimJack's creators are long-standing stars of the comic book field. An internationally-produced playwright ("Bloody Bess"), Mr. Ostrander's comic book writing credits include Batman, X-Men, and Superman. Mr. Truman's comic book art credits include The Justice League of America, The Lone Ranger, and Star Wars. Mr. Truman is also known worldwide for his ongoing artistic work with Grateful Dead Productions. Stated an exultant Mr. Ostrander, "The best news of all is that we have the original team committed to creating an entirely new GrimJack comic book series, and we're also hard at work preparing repackagings of the First Comics' books with behind-the-scenes and new material. We couldn't be having more fun." An announcement as to a new publishing agreement is expected in the next few weeks.

Personally, I'm excited about the possibility of new GRIMJACK adventures and having the original stories reprinted as trade paperbacks. This is great news and I'm thrilled for the creators.

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Take a deep breath, and....

Man, was I pissy last week.

What can I say? I've been on edge lately, and my lack of productivity (at least where my personal projects like this site are concerned) is a source of great stress and frustration to me. Whatever the cause too many distractions, uncertain unemployment situation, computer problems, health issues, laziness, writer's block, or all of the above the result is the same: the work ain't getting done not as fast as it needs to, anyway and it's driving me nuts.

Apparently it's bugging some of you guys, too.

Hey, I understand that. I do. I've announced a weekly schedule, and when I fail to stick to it, it's disappointing... for all of us. But I wonder sometimes if people realize the effort and time that goes into producing each and every page of FEMME NOIR. Writing, drawing, lettering, coloring it all takes the same amount of time on a free web comic as it does on a pay print comic.

And, now that I've calmed down, I want to make this point clear even though we strive for professional quality here at SUPERNATURAL CRIME, this is not a professional site. You don't pay to read the comics and we don't get paid to make them. It's my hobby. It's what I do for creative expression and fulfillment in my spare time. Same for Joe and in his case, it's even more of a busman's holiday since he draws comics full time and it's how he pays his bills. He draws FEMME NOIR because he likes to; if it ever gets to a point where he no longer enjoys the experience, I won't be able to keep him drawing it and wouldn't want to.

So why even have a schedule? Because otherwise, we'd probably never get any pages done. It's a self-imposed schedule to help us produce, but it's not intended to chain us. Paying work and family responsibilities, in particular, will always take priority.

Until we start charging people for FEMME NOIR and BROTHER GRIM, I'm not going to kill myself for missing a few updates. I'll feel guilty, and I'll work like hell to get back on the announced schedule, but that's it. I mean, what else am I going to do? Give people their money back? It's frustrating for me, too and disgruntled e-mails from my alleged "fans' don't help the situation at all.

But don't get the impression that I and my collaborators don't appreciate our readers. We may be doing these strips out of our love of the medium, but it wouldn't be half as much fun if nobody was reading and enjoying them.

As aggravating as it is when I get angry e-mails about a missed update, there's a bit of a compliment buried in there (at least, upon reflection, it seems that way) obviously these people like and enjoy the strip so much that they're disappointed when it's not there. I may wish they weren't jerks about it, but I'm going to try and take their comments in a positive way, whether they intend them that way or not.

New strips soon. In the meantime, thanks to Ken, Steven and Fred for the encouraging e-mails.

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