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PCR #170  (Vol. 4, No. 26)  This edition is for the week of June 23--26, 2003.

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In recent weeks there have been some nostalgic discussions of experiences at past movie theaters and coincidently I experienced the painful demise of a local convenient store. Many childhood memories involve buying candy, soda pop, baseball cards or just plain goofing off - this was at the nearby Majik Market. Driving back from a short trip, I stopped there for gas only to face the horror of fancy Formica counters and bright colors that fill this establishment (now a Circle K.)

Then on a later occasion I was cutting across town and attempted to stop at Merlinís Book to catch-up on some recent comic releases. It was gone.

A small handwritten sign was taped to the door: "Merlinís is closed." I was shocked.

Moving after college meant I donít pay that area of town frequent visits. Merlinís was a staple, a mainstay if you will, for the comic collector. This was a supplier, a dealer, to fill my addictions: Avengers #19, Batman #404-407 and even Spawn #1 - all vivid moments in my comic book collecting lifetime. A lifetime of memories that are set apart from the birth of my children or graduating college - no, these are the memories of the fanboy. This is my comic book memory.

I remember reading countless comics at the local A&P and pleading with my grandmother for the recent Spectacular Spider-Man issue that had both Spider-man AND Daredevil on the cover. Imitating "Hulk smash" and "Shazam". Later in life, particularly in college, it was Greenshift and Merlinís and the latter is gone.

I hate the newsstand. Comic shops are extinct because they canít pay the rent. Greenshift has the enormous inventory teasing you, taunting you -- hiding behind their "30% off" of overpriced comics. Merlinís was different - old school. You didnít go to Merlinís because you wanted a comic to stick behind plastic to elevate in value. No, you went there to read the tattered monthly issues, check out the art and talk some smack with other fanboys. Now itís over. "Merlinís is closed".

You canít go back in time, at least not without the help of a crazy scientist and a Delorian, but we visit these sacred grounds to revel in our past. It may have been sticky floors in small theaters where the screen loomed overhead like a leviathan. It may have been recycling bottles to skim the ten cents for Bazuka bubble gum. It may have been at the local comic shop reading comics with battered spines and folded corners. Whatever it is, it is with you forever - or at least until you realize that you canít go back there.

THE SLUSH PILE (I had to endure on to several other newsstands)

John Carpenterís Snake Plisskinís Chronicles #1: To the delight of Carpenter fans, the Snake hits comics running in an action-packed first issue. Even if youíre not familiar with the "Escape from..." movies, you can enjoy the fun ride. The art of Tone Rodriguez brings a realistic look to the characters (after all, we want to see Kurt Russell) and drives the action with great attention to detail.

Incredible Hulk #51-54: The Abomination versus the Hulk: it is not only intense but interwoven into an "X-Files"-esque story with writer Bruce Jones injecting sexual energy into a book full of intrigue, paranoia, and drama. Artist Mike Deodato does a fantastic job on portraying the savage power of the Hulk (especially facing Nadia in issue #52). Secret Conspiracy has me guessing from issue to issue attempting to figure out Mr. Blue and surprised along the way. Jones also begins a new title Kingpin #1, Marvelís Tony Soprano. I want to see how Jones will attack the issue of loyalty in the mob as series unfolds. The art is gritty and the Kingpin is more than just a brute and his intellectual superiority shines through.

Spider-Man & Wolverine #1: Crap! Run, be afraid. This is a story for Marvelís Ultimate Universe - a real mess here. Decent art, but not worth your time.

Shaak Ti one-shot, Star Wars: Empire #7: Just two more sub-par SW comics to avoid. Predictability compounds that of caring for most of these characters. Boba Fett features the cover of Empire, but is in the backseat again.

Smallville 1 & 2: Iím a big fan of the TV series, so I enjoyed the interviews with the cast and information about the show. The comics lack the subplots and depth of the show, but act as a "good" supplement. Itís still early in the series, so it will be interesting to see if the comic will stand on its own.

ONE SHOTS

TOP 50 COMIC MOVIES: Wizard #143 is released this week (June 25 comic shops, July 8 retail shops) and will feature the Wizard rankings of the Top 50 Comic Movies of all-time. The dust is still settling from the top cult movie lists, so I am NOT proposing a full-blown list, but Iíd love your emailed comments. Fifty sounds like a lot of movies, so Iím worried about the dynamics of filling out the list - especially with the multitude of sequels that are generated.

Here Comes Space Ace: Defender of the Universe #1 from MVCreations & CrossGen: Based on the hit Sci-Fi-based arcade game, the six-issue mini-series heralds the return of cosmic hero Space Ace (along with the hottie Kimmy and the Baby Borf.)

More on Don Bluth: Last week I discussed Dragonís Lair, which was created by Don Bluth, who also worked on the animation on "Xanadu" (which I did not know). So, curious, I contacted the site to determine what Donís contribution was:

"Don designed all of the characters, storyboarded, directed the live-action reference for the human characters, created all of the layouts and animated every scene in the 2 minute, 7 second sequence. It took 11 weeks from first discussions with Joel Silver to delivery of the color negative. It had an insane deadline. When he started animating in the third week, Don's daily goal was 10-00 (feet) about 6.66 seconds of animation. He animated 185 feet in about 18 days. The crew worked 7 days per week. He hired a cook to feed the small crew that occupied his home, allowing them to stay focused on the daily goals of the schedule. The finished drawings were sent into the Studio City studio facility (Don Bluth Productions) where Gary (me) pushed the project through, in tandum with The Secret of NIMH. Don had storyboarded three sequences ahead on NIMH which allowed him the time to take a small crew and do the Xanadu project. Hope this answers your question. Regards."

Thanks to producer/director Gary Goldman at www.DonBluth.com for his feedback.

Pixar Contract: With Pixarís contract expiring with Disney, the success of "Finding Nemo" seems to be leading to a power swing for the small group. Pixar will obviously be seeking larger percentages from their parent distributor. The studio is self-reliant except for distribution, so go "Nemo", go...hereís to getting your just desserts from the Disney giant.

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"Splash Page" is ©2003 by Brandon Jones.   Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.