Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens.
Yeah, I got all that. But did you know there's another comic book movie coming out this year that should be worth checking out?
This one's an animated feature called Gene-Fusion.
Here's the pitch from the press release: "In the year 2310, a new sport, Gene-Fusion, is all the rage… specially-trained athletes, called Fusers, design their own super-creature by combining three forms of animal DNA..."
Against that backdrop, four teens become Fusers only to find themselves part of a greater conspiracy that threatens the Earth.
What happens when a group of visionary yet disgruntled comic book creators think they can do a better job making comics on their own?
They start their own comic book company and then record every delirious minute of it for posterity, that’s what. And then they post it on the internet. Because they can.
That’s the premise of a new live-action web series called The Bullpen, which will follow the fictional comic book company Bullpen Comics from start-up to recurring meltdown.
“It’s The Office meets , says co-creator Shaun McLaughlin who will star in and co-write the series. McLaughlin, who’s written comics for DC and Dark Horse, was also a producer at Warner Bros. for nearly a decade where he worked on Static Shock, Batman Beyond, and various incarnations of Justice League, usually in conjunction with Bruce Timm.
That new Spider-Man musical might want to call Shaun McLaughlin and ask him how it’s done. His play Cheapjack Shakespeare: The Non Musical just opened to a sold out crowd, “the largest fall opening in the history of (Buffalo’s) Alt Theatre,” according to the press release. According to McLaughlin, “Sex, drugs and iambic pentameter has proved a potent draw.”
And competition for opening night was fierce: Friday night’s debut was the kick off of Curtain Up!, the official start of Buffalo’s theatre season. Cheapjack Shakespeare: The Non Musical was competing against 16 other show openings. And first-time playwright McLaughlin emerged victorious. According to the author, “it was a sell out crowd. And they laughed. A lot.”
I’ve written about Cheapjack Shakespeare before. It’s McLaughlin’s adaptation of his own graphic novel, a comedy about a summer Shakespeare company falling apart as they’re beset by infidelity, egos, ambition “and a particularly ill-timed lightning strike.”
Welcome to the Labor Day edition of Weekend Reading, with a few extra links to help you cope with the extended weekend. Let’s get it started; I’ve got to make the rounds of quite a few barbecues.
Comic Books For Kids: You know who everyone should thank for the influx of great graphic novels for kids? Jeff Smith, creator of Bone. Robin Brenner at Early Word explains, and also points out that while a number of librarians are nuts about graphic novels from NY’s publishing icons, they are somewhat ignorant of the kid-friendly graphic novels actually produced by traditional comic book publishers.
Vince Colletta: I don’t think there’s an inker around who polarizes people as much as the late Mr. C. Scoop reviews The Thin Black Line, a new biography of the inker who “saved the bacon of many an editor.”
Gene Roddenberry: Frederik Pohl remembers his time with the “great bird of the galaxy.”
Superman: Randy Johnson, the writer not the retired baseball pitcher and mustache-worshipper, reviews Jeff Mariotte’s 2007 DC Universe novel Trail of Time. “The real fun for me were the chapters labeled May, 1872. They detailed the gradual coming together of four DC western characters, Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, El Diablo, and the Scalphunter, along with an able assist from Johnny Thunder.” Needless to say, he liked the book, and who among us wouldn’t? I’ve already ordered my copy.
With all this talk of comic books being turned into movies (I’m looking at you Scott Pilgrim and Green Lantern and countless others), how about one that’s being turned into…a play? And no I’m not talking about the expensive Spider-Man musical.
I’m talking about Cheapjack Shakespeare, a comedy about a summer Shakespeare company that’s falling apart as they’re “beset by infidelity, egos, ambition and a particularly ill-timed lightning strike.” Shaun McLaughlin, a reknowned comic book writer (Aquaman) and TV producer (Batman Beyond, Static Shock and various incarnations of Justice League), created the online graphic novel that debuted earlier this year. “It’s like Glee with booze and Shakespeare,” McLaughlin says.
Cheapjack Shakespeare: The Non-Musical has finalized its casting, begun rehearsals and set its premiere date for September 9th at the Alt Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Additional performances will be on September 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25.
My buddy Shaun McLaughlin was a producer at Warner Bros. and responsible for some of their best Bruce Timm-related toons like Batman Beyond, Static, and various incarnations of Justice League. It adds up to over 400 episodes of prime animated entertainment, so he knows how to make something with mass market appeal.
He’s moved on to freelancing, pushing several projects through the development wormhole, including both an animated feature (with Omens Studios) and a live-action one. But when you’re in development, you get a lot of down time while you wait for people to make decisions, give notes, and update their social networks.
You could watch a lot of TV or surf the web or blog about your cat, but Shaun’s put his thumb-twiddling time to good use and come up with a nifty little project with his biz partner Gabriel Benson: Cheapjack Shakespeare.
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