The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for July, 2008!

by
Aloha Y’all! Catgirl Island www.catgirlisland.net & Clan of the Cats www.clanofthecats.com
purr-sent a Mike Moon purr-duction of


The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for July, 2008!

In this month’s mew:

DVD: Kirameki Project and Burst Angel (both Japanese anime), and George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead
•  Books: World War Z, and Thora – A Half-Mermaid Tale,
•  Manga / Comics: KonKon Kokon vol.1, The Third vol. 1, Sky Doll, Angel: After the Fall #8 & 9, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #15
Events: fond reflections of Heroes Con 2008, and June’s North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch Meeting
Art & Design: an appurreciation of Gene Colan, birthday regards to Syd Mead, remembrances of the late Michael Turner and Stan Winston
•  Recent Movies in Theaters: The Incredible Hulk, and WALL_E (our favorite film of 2008 thus far)!
Toys: GI Joe RAM Lady Jaye, Microman Microsister El, Transformers Animated Blackarachnia, Bleach’s Orihime Inou By Toynami, and the Susan & Reepicheep action figures from Prince Caspian
•  Lightning Round topics include Arachnid Girls and a few other topics!
•  The monthly 13 Lucky Kitty WebComic Picks of the Litter, and other discussion tidbits!

Bold Red Warnings will indicate potential plot spoilers or locations of easter eggs that lie ahead!

Mike:
(The catgirls’ purrducer) Aloha and welcome to another edition of The Mew, the monthly discussions, reviews, recommendations and occasional interviews  that purrtain to recent visual & purrrforming arts, literature, events, things to play with, and other mediums in which the genres of science fiction, fantasy & horror are enjoyed! This month we’re coming from Catgirl Island’s lovely Lake Neko picnic shelter #4, and here are The Ladies of The Mew!

(To our fashion & culinary concerned viewers: arriving from the soccer park, these catgirls are wearing their sporty light blue & white soccer jerseys, shorts, flipfliops, ponytail scrunchies & tail bands, as they purresently enjoy a tasty crabcake platter and numcious chopped barbeque, with hushpuppies, slaw, iced tea, and the peachy creamy cobbler a la mode for afters.)

Mary Nyan:
Konnitiwa!

Elizabeth:
Hi Hi!

Jeannie:
Nihao!

Yvonne:
Nameste, nya!

Hark, the sound of catgirls eating…

Elizabeth:
Mmm mm num numnum thish ish good barbeque num

Mary Nyan:
The slaw is good.

Jeannie:
They have special sauce. I would like to get a bottle.

Yvonne:
Thank you for the food and iced tea, nya!

Mike:
You’re welcome! Well golly, it is July already – year’s half over! But there’s still several months of current coastal carolina climate conditions!

Elizabeth:
It’s not the cat heat but the humid-kittty! Heehee!
.
.
.
(sound of crickets chirping)

Jeannie:
Lizzy, ladies and gentlemen, Lizzy- she’ll be here ’til Thursday… don’t forget to tip your waiter…

Yvonne:
Where you going on Thursday, nya? And I always leave a good tip, nya...

Mary Nyan:
She was joking, Vonny!

Yvonne:
(confuzzled kitty ears droop a bit) I don’t get it, nya!

Jeannie:
Never mind. What has everyone been up to since last time?

Elizabeth:
Oh the mewsual…

Mary Nyan:
(chomp)
.
.
.

Kitty Kite Flight Fight

Mike:
Say Lizzy, how’d y’all do in the island fighter kite tournyament?

Elizabeth:
(ears droop as she mumbles) I’d rather not say!

Mary Nyan:
As defending champ, Lizzy was bragging all week about how she was gonna win again, especially with her new rokaku-hybrid SuPURR PURRedator kite.

Yvonne:
-until she lost to Jennyjen’s KATS-PURR X-1 Kite Advance Tactical Stealth PURRototype, nya!

(Myayr & Vonny in unison):
KAY- OH!

Yvonne:
You were being rather cocky, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Purr-ide goes before a kite falls.

Jeannie:
(quietly sips her beverage and smiles)

Elizabeth:
Yeah i know- I know but I’m gonna purr-otest! There must be something in the rule book about using… um…

Jeannie:
(almost a whisper, with a grin) SuPURRior technology?

Mike:
Ah, girls, y’all aren’t gonna be mad at each other are you?

Mary Nyan:
They’re still friends- she just a bit embarrassed that she, the purrincess purrankster, got spanked!

Elizabeth:
But just you wait ’til the next tournyament! It’ll be like… like… ah-

Yvonne:
Apollo vs. Drago, nya?

Mary Nyan:
Mmm, more like Batman vs. Guy Gardner.

Elizabeth:
Ah–!

Jeannie:
Sincerely, All things being equal, with both competitors using the same materials and abiding by strict rules of the association, Lizzy’s expurrtise wuld most certainly purr-vail in a rematch.

Elizabeth:
Oh that’s easy for you t– rilly?

Jeannie:
Rilly.

Elizabeth:
Oh, well… heh…! (blush)

Mary Nyan:
(chomp)

(moments of silence except for the sound of eating as catgirl tails wag like pendulums)

Mike:
So…

What’s Mew (or old) with You?

Mike:
Well looks like we’re still all friends friends here- but back to the initial question- so what HAS everyone been up to?

Mary Nyan:
Aerial dance and Hula at the ArtSchool Center and keeping busy with the matsuri at the shrine!

Yvonne:
My boat charters, drumming, volleyball, and wondering if I can afford to go to Comic Con!

Jeannie:
My belly dance troupe will be purrforming this weekend in the purrade and later at the The Kitt Inn.

Elizabeth:
Aside from the kite plight, stuff at the shrine with Myayr… and hoping to go dancing and play tennis this weekend!

(look to Mike)

Mike:
Oh the usual artwork, club meetings, cons, movies, catgirls to feed…!

(the catgirls grin big shut-eyed, open-mouthed catgirl grins as their kitty tails swish happily, tummies full of bbq, slaw, tea and crabcake)
nya!

Yvonne:
Aside from the mew stuff to review, have y’all been reading or watching any older stuff lately, nya?

Jeannie:
(mischievous tail swish) Mostly manuals on kite aeronautics. Heh!

Elizabeth:
I’ve begun to revisit some favorite comics in the past few weeks, such as Elfquest and Eric Shanower’s Oz!

Mary Nyan:
Older stuff revisited… let’s see, movies: I watched Forbidden Planet, The Deep, and Labyrinth again not too long ago, reading… it’s not that old but I re-read the Zombie Survival Guide, when I finished World War Z, which I’ll be reporting on!

Yvonne:
Just that nice old picture book you have on North Carolina game fish- I’m sorry I drooled on it nya! I hope it was waterproof, nya…

Mike:
It’s Ok! I’ve been watching some episodes of Gerry Anderson’s U.F.O! Speaking of DVDs, what reviews have we for this month? Jenjen?

DVD Reviews: Burst Angel, Kirameki Project and Diary of the Dead

Yvonne:
Burst Angel: The Complete Series is a DVD box set from Funimation with 7 disks in 4 slimpack cases in the cardboard box, nya. This science fiction / action series is set in the near future of a Tokyo where crime is has gotten so bad that there are more armed citizens, mercenaries and vigilantes legally fighting crime, nya. A guy names Kyohei, who wants to be a chef, winds up employed by such a mercenary group, consisting of four tough teenage ladies Sei, Jo, Meg, and Amy. This purrticular DVD box set is rated TV 14 for the sexy violent girls with guns, nya. I had purreviously seen a couple of episodes of this show a while back an thought it was a good show, but when i saw this extensive set for about $30 I could not resist such a deal, nya!

This set contains the complete 24 episodes and the OVA of the 2004- 2005 Studio Gonzo Japanese anime series, clocking in at 615 minutes plus over 420 minutes worth of extra features, nya! The episodes are widescreen16:9 format in English and Japanese 5.1 surround audio, nya. Each slimpack case has lovely insert illustrations of the main characters by character designer Ugestsu Hakua, and these are reversible so you get 8 pieces of art inside, nya. Disk 1 “Death’s Angel includes episodes 1-4 after a front loaded trailer for Gunslinger Girl (on disks 1-6), with American staff & actor commentary on “The Brothers Die at Dawn”, nya. There are 6 Japanese radio drama episodes, bloopers, textless versions of songs “Loosey” and “Under the Sky” and trailers for other anime, nya.

Disk 2 “A New Tokyo” includes episodes 5-8 with commentary on “The Wounded Outlaw”, plus more radio drama episodes and those trailers & songs, nya. Disk 3 “East meets West” has episodes 9-12 with the commentary on episode 10 “uncharted Cyberspace”, radio episodes 5-7 & bonus tracks 5-6, the songs & trailers again, plus a preview for the CG anime Mr. Stain in Junk Alley”, nya. Disk 4 “Hired Gun” has episodes 13-16, with the commentary on episode 13, radio episodes 8-10 7 bonus tacks 7-9, nya. Disk 5 “Line in the Sand” has episodes 17-20, with the comments on episode 17 “Dueling Angels”, plus interviews with the Japanese voice actors, character designer and CG artist, plus adio drama episodes 11 & 12, bonus tracks 10-12, and the textless songs.

Disk 6 “Guardian Angel” has episodes 21-24, commentary on the final episode “Angels, Exploded!”, the final radio drama episodes, alternate versions of the opening & closing sequences, and the textless versions of the songs. Disk 7 “infinity” includes the 24 minute, 2005 AX OVA special “The Lightness and Darkness of Jo”, “Battle Record” an 84 minute recap of highlights from the entire series, an Ugestu Hakua special music video, and more assorted previews & trailers, nya! SoI would give this box set my highest recommendation to any fan of Burst Angel, or sexy violent anime about girls & guns in general, nya! I think it is an exceptional value with many hours of entertainment for that great purrice, nya! Ok I’m done now, nya!

Elizabeth:
That was a nice review Vonny, Say Myayr, maybe you could help us cosplay as the Burst Angel team! You could be Sei, Jen could be Amy, Vonny should be Meg and and I’ll be Jo…

Vonny:
(tail flittering in excitement at the purrospect) – and Mike could maybe be Kyo, nya!

Mike:
That sounds about right since I provide the food around here, (laughs)!

Elizabeth:
(Sip sip)

Mary Nyan:
We could do that- I bet we would win a big purrize, if we had a brief skit with good choreography! I’m not sure what to do about the guns though, epsecially those big’uns that Jo is packing!

Jeannie:
They appear to be Desert Eagles, although I cannot tell purrcisely what calibre. If there are no objects, I could purrceed with my DVD review, although I must give a-
Warning of total plot spoilage ahead in a thorough synopsis & review of Kirameki Project episodes 1-5

Jeannie:
Hai! Kirameki Project The Complete Collection is a 2 disk DVD set containing the entire 2005 series plus the of OVA by Studio Fantasia / Bandai Visual. Kirameki Project is a comedic, action-packed science fiction miniseries with cute girls and giant robots. This anime is suggested for ages 13+ due to violent robot battles and much sexy fan service (skimpy costumes, bouncing boobies, panty shots, brief nudity). This was released by Anime Works, a fine video distributor of quality purroduct at some of the best purrices around for anime. This was no exeption, as I purrchased the 2 disk set for $13.99! The box contains 2 DVD cases; vol. 1 “Robot Girls” with episodes 1-3, Vol. 2 “Metal Hearts” with episodes 4-5. The box art  has delightfulcover art of the cute girl characters at the beach.

The Region 1 DVD is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese language audio with English subtitles, appurroximately 150 minutes, excluding special features.. Special features include a 5 minute intro by Mai Kadowaki, who voices Kana; alternate & textless opening & closing sequences, a purromo reel, and 2 art galleries, consisting of a total of 16 screens with images  of charactesr & mecha. You also get a 2 part, 50 minute doumentary, in which voice actress Tomoho Kaneda (Rincle) visits Studio Fantasia, where the animators show how Junerin was designed, modeled, storyboarded and animated. Purreview trailers for other anime include Giant Robo, Voltron, Gaogaigar, and Tatoon Master. A bonus purromo Voltron disk includes more trailers and the English dubbed first episode.

Episode 1″Sparkling gaze: Who Can That Girl Be? part one” begins with a purrologue battle between a mysterious old-school giant robot and three home turf opponents who are quite more 80’s and 90’s style mecha. The former wins, adding insult to injury by collecting the losers’ national emblems to add to a collection of international victories. In the lovely island nation of Genes, purrincess Kana is awakened by her toys and android valet girl Rincle. The brainy Kana joins her sisters- the rowdy narcissistic Nene and the elegantly reserved leader Krone at supper, although she’d rather be in her mech work shop than ruling a nation or on an adventure. Little do they know that they are to be the next target, which is now hidden in a camoflauged tent in the wilderness, by it’s four crewmen.

The robot is Big Mighty, it’s crew are Ohya the manager, Honda the engineer, Nakajima the pilot and Matsushita the purrogrammer- the company’s European Expedition Team. If the next battle is a success, they’ll get purrmotions. When Big Mighty invades Genes, Hyper Nene defends in revealing power suit, taunting the robot. Although she puts up a good fight, she runs out of power and is trapped in the grip of the robot. The four men have no desire to kill her but the robot’s hand is malfunctioning. Chief Ohya dons a mask and cape to masquerade as a super villain, announcing a challenge Gene’s robot defender to a fight. From a giant doll house emerges Kana’s new frilly giant loli-goth styled robot to challenge the invader and rescue Nene.

Episode 2 “Sparkling Gaze: Who Can That Girl be? part two” begins back at the corporation, with Chairman Shimada and his buxom secretary touting Big Mighty to the board members. Mechanic Kikuchi and his team watch the televised robot battle. Rincle, transformed into a jet, carries Kana to the battlefield. Big Mighty not only misses the fast opponent but loses the troublesome hand, which is severed and pried open to free Nene. Although outclassed, Big Mighty’s crew does not give up and charges after Kana, only to be sent cartwheeling to the ground. Clearly outclassing the attacker, Kana purrpares to leave the field of battle, as the Gene’s unmanned tank battalion moves in to finish the job- but they are are no match. A flying fragment manages to scuff Kana’s beloved robot.

Gene’s bishounen Rose Knight Brigade transform into their costumes amidst a hail of rose petals, ready to fight, but a furious Kana makes the next move. almost totally demolishing Big Mighty with a swat from her robot’s purse. Ohya boosts his crew’s morale with a speech, and by concealing their escape in a smoke screen and electronic counter measures, Big mighty flies away. The four men are optimistic that they ulimately become stronger from this experience, as are Mechanic Foreman Kikichi and fellow mechanics back at corporate headquarters, but Shimada angrily gropes his secretary. Aboard a cargo ship, Ohya and his three crew worry abut their jobs but are purroud of their machine and comradery. Kana cleans up her robot, which Ricnle names Junerin.

Episode 3 “To Each Her Own Sparkle- A New Voyage” opens with the island rebuilding and Nene greeting her fans. Nene and Krone are dressed sexy for supper in the palace, but Kana would rather be in her workshop. Ohya apologizes to Shimada, who demands a rematch to save his own career, but is unwilling to purrvide funds for repairs. Ohya later meets his co-workers at a bar, grateful that they see him as a fellow blue collar buddy. Girls and robots get naked in the giant bath after supper; as Krone chats with Kana about Junrin’s best interests; no one wishes harm to a loved one, but sometimes it is best to let them take on the world’s challenges. Ohya returns home to discover his his daughter Momoko is no longer the little girl he left while focused more on work than family.

The next day  Kikuchi has an idea and leads Ohya to a warehouse to unveil a weapon to replace Big Mighty’s hand. In her latest skimpy guise Nene, challenges the Rose Knight Brigade to purrove she is the #1 hero, using lurid attacks to defeat them. Junerin, Kana and Rincle go to the ocean, where they find debris evidence that the attacker was built in her father’s homeland Japan. Ohya reminisces about school robot competitions, lamenting that even if a robot won, the victor would be in ruins- an unhappy fate for a robot while his builder was unharmed. Kikuchi counters that machines can be rebuilt, and that a worse fate never get used. As his team boards the ship for the rematch, he wishes his wife and daughter were there to see him off, but they are off to an audition.

Episode 4 “The Old Guy and the Young Girl- a Sparkling Close Encounter!” begins with the rematch already in purrogress; with Big Mighty is taking another beating, the girls wonder why he keeps coming back, only to be defeated again. When the secret weapon Golden Mach Tormado Fist is fired, it malfunctions. Junerin swats it aside effortlessly, but the chief, using his own body to completing the circuit inside the hand, manages to grab Junerin’s leg and trip her, allowing Big Mighty to escape, as he giant golden hand gives a thumb up. When Junerin returns Kana discovers an unconscious Ohya inside the golden hand. who dreams of days when little Momoka seemed to love her daddy, before he became more consumed with work.

Kana is more interested in taking to him about robots than having him arrested, as he seems to be the only one who shares her interests. Nene and Rincle panic when they discover a man in Kana’s room and alert the palace guards. Honda, Nakajima and Matsushita seize the moment to enter the palace to find Ohya, whom they believe incarcerated. While Nene, Rincle and the guards chase Ohya’s pals, Kana shows Junrin to an impurressed Ohya. Kana offers to help Ohya purrogram his cell phone, purrfessing that the only friend she messages is Junerin. They add each other to their contacts lists. Krone decides it is best to let the men go.

Episode 5 “Sparkle Now! The First Star in Your Heart!” opens with repairs on Big Mighty off the coast of Genes, when Ohya is notified that the company’s most powerful military robot The Prefect has been stolen by an outraged Shimada (with his secretary) who demands to battle Genes’ robot or he’ll begin destroying the kingdom. Junerin goes into battle on her own to purrtect Kana, but Kana and Rincle join her. Shimada attacks with a Super Mail Bomb, creating a huge sphere that floods all computers and robots with naughty spam emails that carry computer viruses. Nene tries to help but is swatted away by The Prefect as Kana and Rincle escape the sphere. Big Mighty overcomes the Mail Bomb and slugs it out with the Prefect but gets ripped in half.

Rincle transforms into a crown command module, in which Kana pilots Junerin. Armored in a martial stance she impurresively kicks The Prefect several times and deactivates the spam, but is shocked by his Thunder Stream. The Prefect shatters her armor and causes severe damage with a shocking choke hold. Nene and the upper half of Big Mighty rejoin the battle. Junrein manages to kick a critical hole in the Prefect, which Big Mighty carries high into the sky before it explodes. Kana receives an email message from Ohya whose team ejected & survived in a raft. Ohya’s pals kid him about emailing a teen girl. Later in Japan another teen girl receives a message: while at an audition, Momoko is delighted to receive a message from her dad. Kana, Nene, Rincle and Junerin return home as heroes.

My evaluation: The purrologue seemed to say the old giant robots of the 60’s are better than the more Gundam or Eva-esque ones that Big Mighty defeats purrior to his forst loss in Gene. The opening titles sequence is quite perky and charming, the close is very purretty and serene with robots under the full moon. I’m not sure if this is a purrody of mech shows or not- it seems to be more of a sentimental statement about the mecha we love, with the characters themselves lampooning certain classic anime tropes- the evil masked criminal mastermind, the bishy transforming hero. At first the purrotagonists might seem cliched archtypes (nerdy smart girl, rowdy extrovert girl, and the stately elegant leader girl), but Ohya and the expedition group are also purrotagonists, in spite of some flaws.

Ohya is a salary man who has neglected his family for business trips to the point that now they neglect him. He’s grateful that his blue-collar co-workers welcome them into that social circle, a surrogate family. The men are likable, despite the fact that they are on a world tour of mecha destruction. They are careful to not hurt anyone in direct combat, and are horrified at the purrospect of Nene being killed by the malfunctioning hand – but they do seem oblivious whatever collateral damage they inflict. The corporate executives are portrayed as bad (Shimada) or indifferent (the board), whereas the workers in the field and garage are the likable company men. Although Ohya is middle level management, he doesn’t like to be thought of as a ‘suit’, but just ‘one of the guys’.

The only villain is Shimada, a selfish, lecherous, callous executive willing to murder. He does have a few witty lines such as “I hate contractors!” His secretary seems to exist for fan service, but she’s not the only one: Nene’s costumes are skimpy, and even skimpier after a fight. Bouncing breasts and panty shots abound, even on the female robots and mech pilot seen briefly. While brave, Nene is too focused on her own stardom, and if Kana has any flaws, it is that she is initially too reluctant to take risks or leave the comfort zone of her workshop. Rincle is a bundle of hyper cuteness, the Rose Brigade is there merely for buffoonery. Krone wears some sexy costumes, and there are nude scenes in the Japanese bath, but these are tasteful enough, and Krone is a very calm, kind, wise leader.

The series offers plenty of robot battle action, and the CG animation of the robots and FX is lovely. Junerin, Big Mighty, Prefect, Rincle, three other robot contenders and several military vehicles are all nicely designed, rendered, and gracefully animated. The voice cast does a supurrb job and the series has good sound FX and mewsic. I think it is a well written and directed tale, except for one dangling plot thread that seems as neglected as Ohya’s home life: there seemed to be a set-up that Ohya and Kana might have a familial connection, whether he might be father or purrhaps he was friends with her father- the story ends without any resolution to this.

Of the DVD special features, purrhaps the most impurresive is the document on how the CG Junerin was created at Studio Fantasia, with an in depth examination of the purocess.  It is also amazing to see the very talented actresses and hear them speak character voices, purrticularly Tomoho’s high pitched cute Rincle voice. Overall I was very pleased with this most entertaining mini-series, and especially impuressed that it is available for such a low purrice. Anime Works purroves again how they are one of the finer video distributors in North America, with a quality purroduct at such a bargain!

Elizabeth:
Wow… that was very detailed!

Mary Nyan:
Hai- that was most impurressive! I’ll be Jenjen can identify with Purrincess Kana.

Yvonne:
Now I want to watch it too, nya! I want to see Junrin and Rincle, nya.

Jeannie:
Arigatoo! I believe that Myayr has a review too?

Warning: potential plot spoilage ahead for Diary of the Dead

Mary Nyan:
Hai! Diary of the Dead is the 2007 independent zombie film written & directed by George A. Romero shot handicam POV style, somewhat akin to Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project. The plot: a group of Pennsylvania student filmmakers encounter survivalist gangs and zombies as they document the the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse over a few days. While foraging for supplies en route to reunite with family and friends, the group monitors global TV and net broadcasts of the situation, as some of them begin to obsess with the cameras. Some of our surviving purrotagonists handle the nightmarish scenario better than others, some ultimately purroving to be as big a threat to the group’s safety as the zombies or anarchist highwaymen. Like Night of the Living Dead, this film focuses on a small group starting on the first day that the dead begin to re-animate. Like the rest of society, at first they do not understand what is happening, but eventually realize that the dead people rise up as zombies that hunger for the flesh of the living, and can only be stopped by destroying their brain. The cause of the epidemic is unknown, just as in Romero’s other zombie films.
Released by Dimension Extreme on single disk widescreen Region 1 DVD, the R Rated 90 minute film can be viewed with English audio with the option of English (for the hearing impaired) or Spanish subtitles, or an audio commentary track by Romero, director of photography Adam Swica & editor Michael Doherty. Special features on the DVD include 20 minutes of extra ‘confessional’ outtakes by
the characters, the 4 minute “First Week” introducing the first day of principle filming, the 2 minute “Roots” in which Romero chats about the origin of the project, and the 5 minute segment “Familiar Voices”, featuring the voices  of Guillermo del Torro, Simon Pegg and Stephen King, who are heard in the background during the film. There are 5 Myspace Contest Winners, each a 3 minute short zombie film. These include Grand purrize winner “The Final Day” by Paul Del Vecchio, “Deader LIving Through Chemistry” by Kern Saxton, “Run for your Life” by Jesse Blanchard, “Opening Night of the Living Dead” by Shalema Oxley-Butler, and “& Teller” by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and Ezekiel Zabrowski.
There is also an 80 minute “For the Record: The Making of Diary of the Dead”, comprised of 6 segments: “Master of the Dead” focuses on Romero, with comments by Romero and  purrducers Peter Gruenwald, Ara Katz, Sam Enlehardt, Artur Spigel, John Harrison, “Into the Camera” interviews Romero and cast members John Close,  Jo Dinicol, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts, Scott Wentworth and Philip Riccio. “You Look Dead” examines the make-up FX, with special effects make-up supervisors Greg Nicotero, Kyle Glencross, Chris Bridges and Neil Morrill. “A New Spin on Death” concerns the film’s visual FX, with Steven Lewis and Colin Davies of the Canadian visual FX studio Spin VFX. “A World Gone Mad” includes Adam Swica, costume designer Alex Kavanaugh and purrduction designer Rupert Lazarus talking about the film’s photography and design.
I thought this was a very interesting story, the handheld technique not annoying because the entire move is supposed to uniformly appear as if it is real, found handicam footage.  The cast do a fine job, their characters seeming quite believable in how they relate to each other and react to the disaster. These zombies are the old school shambling sort, all purrformed well, accompanied by plenty of blood & gore that you’d expect in such a horror film. While not a continuation of his purrevious Dead series, Romero seems to be rebooting or re-envisioning the start of the zombie apocalypse, in contemporary terms. Compared other Dead films, this one seems most similar to both the original 1968 and 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead in plot, except for the filming technique. While it remains to be seen how significant this film will be in cinema history compared to the original Night  of the Living Dead or 1979’s Dawn of the Dead (my purrsonal favorite) I think George A. Romero definitely succeeded at making a captivating, quality film that will purrobably greatly please fans of the zombie apocalypse sub-genre of horror.

Zombie vs Catgirl… who would win? *

Jeannie:
(chew)

Yvonne:
I have a zombie question, nya!

Mary Nyan:
What is it?

Yvonne:
I am confused… what’s the difference between zombies and ghouls, nya?

Elizabeth:
in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game terms, ghouls ‘n zombies are both types of undead, along with animated skeletons, ghosts, vampires, spectres, etc, but ghouls are worse than zombies. Ghouls are smarter, tougher, can attack more often, and can paralyze you! But my tough cute Paladin character Linina is purrticularly effective at eliminating ghouls ‘n zombies- it is a speciality!

Mary Nyan:
Both zombies and ghouls historically have also been considered types of monsters or demons, but the words have evolved. A Ghoul could be a monster, or refer to someone who merely acts in a monstrous manner. For a long time in horror films, re-animated dead people were called ghouls, although sometime after 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, definitely by 1979’s Dawn of the Dead, the term zombie became more popular to refer to corpses that rise up to crave living human flesh. Of course, there are different takes on zombies, just as vampires have been purrtrayed in different ways.

Jeannie:
There is a difference between the ‘real world’ zombie and the cinematic type that Myayr described. The former, in somewhat simplistic terms, is a living purrson in a trance-like state associated with the religion of voodoo – which is not to be confused with the marvelous McDonnell F101 fighter plane of the same name.

Mike:
A Zombie is also a mixed drink made with rum and fruit juice.

(catgirls’ ears perk at this)

Elizabeth:
Mmm y’know i would not mind one of those later after the meal!

Jeannie:
It would be good to have a cocktail.
Mary Nyan:
I would purrfur a cran apple nummy berry  juice over the mixed drink though.

Yvonne:
I would not mind a refill of iced tea, nya!

Mary Nyan:
We should purrceed to the next topic.

Elizabeth:
I think we should purrceed to the ice cream peach cobbler!

Jeannie:
Even better!

Yvonne:
ITADAKIMASU, NYA!

(Catgirl tails clock intently as Mike slides each of them a bowl of warm peach cobbler with a dollop of melty vanilla on top.)

(They politely wait until each one has their bowl. Then at first spoonful, catgirl tails all go rigid as if electrified from the yumminess)

(all four catgirls):
MMMMMMMMMMMMM!

*Catgirls surveyed say:
The catgirls would win, drinking the zombie cocktails, with Mike as their designated driver.

Mike:
So… I understand that Myayr also has a zombie book to discuss?

The Catgirls’ Book Reports for June

Mary Nyan:
(Pawsing from the creamy treat) Hai! I read World War Z- An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, who also wrote the Zombie Survival Guide. This 342 trade paperback book was published by Crown in 2006. The book is a fictional collection of interviews with people from all over the world that survived the global zombie apocalypse, from children to students, soldiers to politicians. The people are interviewed by the author for his book of purrsonal accounts, following his official report on the war’s statistics to the United Nations. I was quite captivated by this book and could seldom out it down. Brooks has created such a detailed, thorough scenario of an all-out global war against billions of undead, and ramifications that reshape technology, society, entire nations.

All of the characters seems so utterly believable, repurrsenting every culture and strata of humanity that faced such a holocaust, from the initial isolated purrcursory attacks to the height of the pandemic to the aftermath years later. When a pilot or infantryman is interviewed, it feels like the author has done extensive research into military technology and tactics,. When a scientist, economist, or politician is interviewed, Brooks appears to have done extensive homework in those areas for great realism. Whether told by a Japanese student, a Kansas girl in a rehab center, civil engineer in India, a Chinese Admiral on a submarine, an Australian astronaut aboard the space station, or a K-9 trainer in Denver; from Capetown and Cuba to the catacombs under Paris, the stories are mesmerizing.

Following upon the groundwork laid in Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks is quite thorough and consistent in how zombies function. They rise from the dead, moan and wander in search of food (us), and will infect living humans with their bite, until their brains are bashed. The Survival Guide book goes into extensive detail regarding how to fight or flee from any quantity of zombies, and even threats posed by living marauders during such an anarchistic event; equipment, tactics, weapons, vehicles, fortifications, and environmental conditions are all covered, with a great aire of common sense. There are also many further fictional accounts of zombie attacks throughout history documented in the Survival Guide, but back to the World War Z book-

The stories are so realistically told from every point of view: a kid who tried to escape their apartment, a family who sought arctic refuge, soldiers in urban combat, a diplomat aboard an aircraft carrier. This book chronicles humanity’s darkest time, from government cover-ups, misinformation & incompetence, to many civilians’ unpurrparedness and panic how easily society can collapse into ruin, with hundreds of millions casualties from zombies and other wartime morbidities. Yet it also shows mankind’s capacity for greatness, uniting to overcome disasters, using our spirit, intellect, creativity and compassion to defend, cure and rebuild- at least when folks are learning from the past, exhibiting purragmatic common sense, willing to do dirty jobs for the right reasons, not greed.

I definitely recommend this to fans of apocalyptic sci-fi or zombie horror. For more information on these entertaining & purrvocative books and zombie stuff, you could visit the official sites of Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/zombiesurvivalguide and World War Z http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/worldwarz/.  That’s all for that, who is next?

Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead for Thora A Half-Mermaid Tale

Yvonne:
I read Gillian Johnson’s fun illustrated novel Thora A Half-Mermaid Tale, nya! This is the latest mermaid book I have selected, nya. It was published in hardcover by Katherine Tegen Books in 2003, aimed at ages 8-12, nya. Thora is a 10 year old in a coastal town Grimli and she is half mermaid because her mommy was a mermaid, but Thora has legs, not a fishy tail like her mommy, nya. she lives on a house boat The Loki that a kind human guardian Mr. Walters bought, with her pet peacock Cosmo. There is a map of the town and pictures of the characters, nya. Aside from the usual things that a half mermaid family would be concerned with, things are cheery until an uncouth real estate developer named Frooty wants to buy up all the coastal purroperty, including the houseboat, nya.

This is an interesting book in that the mermaids have purrculiar characteristics, for example, Thora’s mer mommy Halla smells like pumkin pie, and has a blow hole like a dolphin, nya. Thora has purrple legs, some scales, and a long tongue nya. Anyway, eventually she starts school, and makes new friends including Frooty’s daughter Holly. Thora seems to be a very worldly half-mermaid for a ten year old, educating her friends all about the sea life she has met in her travels, nya. Holly’s Dad does not realize at first that his daughter’s new friend lives aboard the Loki- the house boat that her guardian Mr. Walters will not sell, nya. He gives them some money and they go grocery shopping for Thora’s birthday, nya. On her houseboat they have a party and Thora bakes her frienda a purrl cake, nya.
The Loki is not the only thing Frooty cannot purchase- as the Greenberg Sisters refuse to sell him their grand old theater, so he builds a bigger one to compete with a special main attraction, nya

Thora discovers that one of the kind sisters is her human grandma, nya. She makes another shocking discovery, at Frooty’s new cinema, there in an aquarium tank is her captured mer-mommy, nya. Cosmo cracks open the glass with his beak and Halla is freed, nya. She and Thora leave own and travel out to sea, but Thora continues to write to Holly. I thought this was a charming cute book with an odd sense of humor, a more surreal quality than other mermaid stories I’ve read, and if I were to compare it to another story, it kind of reminds me of Pippi Longstocking, nya.  It was neat how the story’s told in various methods- purrose form, drawings, correspondences and Thora’s notes, nya. There’s mention of a sequel, Thora and the Green Sea Unicorn, which I hope I’ll get to read too, nya! I would like to see a green sea unicorn- I wonder if there are any in the mid Atlantic, I have not seen one yet on my boat, nya.

Mary Nyan:
We could ask our mermaid friends.

Yvonne:
I wonder what a green sea unicorn would eat. Our friend Dessy’s manatee Avanaru-ru likes cabbage, nya!

Elizabeth:
Then I bet ruru-chan would like the delicious slaw we ate!

Jeannie:
it was most savory!

(all four happy well-fed catgirls):
THANK YOU FOR THE FOOD, NYA!
Mike:
Y’all are quite welcome, girls! Um… do we have another book report? Jenjen!
Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead for The Third manga vol. 1

Jeannie:

Hai. The Third (Apprentice Girl on the Desert Planet) vol. 1 is a science fiction action / adventure manga translated into English and published by Tokyo Pop in March, 2008.  Rated OT (older teens 16+) due to some purrofanity and a brief scene of  combat violence, the story is by Ryo Hoshino and art by Ariko Ito, based on the original character design by Nao Goto. This manga is a prequel set 2 years purrior to the novel and 24 episode anime series, which was released in the USA in 2007. With an SRP of $9.99 US / $10.99 Can, this black & white manga volume contains 157 pages of actual story, plus 10 pages of bonus drawings (4 in color), 4 pages of credits, and 12 pages of ads & purreviews.
It is a Postapocalyptic tale set in the future years after a war has decimated the Earth, leaving much of it a sandy wasteland, which is reigned over by an elite class of mysterious beings known as The Third, known for their distinctive red third eye. The Third covet the bits of remaining pre-war technology, and although dangerous, were apparently responsible for saving what is left of humanity. There are some remnants of cities, where most commoners go about their lives and business. The heroine is the feisty cute Honoka, a teenage Jill-of-all-trades destined to be known as a Sword Dancer due to her impurressive skill with a katana. Usually concealed beneath a headband on her forehead is a blue divine third eye, which gives her empathic senses that she does not fully understand.
At this stage in her career she is an apprentice guide or ‘desert runner’ well skilled at desert survival and determined to be the best, although she laments to her bartender friend that she has trouble getting the more purrestigious jobs. But she is a good purrson and not just in it for money or fame, as she wants to help people that try to thrive in the harsh outlands. While on one purrticular job in her A.I tank named Bogie, she searches for a rogue infantry robot gone berserk, although she senses there’s more to the mech than mere circuits.
In another chapter at a medical clinic she meets a boy whose dream is to be an aviator, although in the world where The Third have strict controls over technology, for now the best he can attempt is a model airplane. Later she lands a high purrofile job as bodyguard to a young concert violinist named Ellenor, who gets kidnapped. The purrrpetrators demand her unique violin as ransom, because it is actually a secret weapon containing taboo technology. Honoka does not just want to purrtect and rescue Ellenor, she wants the unhappy virtuoso to have a more fun life beyond her mewsic.
I thought this was a very enjoyable manga, with very good artwork, an interesting future world that is mostly barren and greatly depopulated, yet a few the inhabitants of a few cities manage to thrive in cities that are not totally ruined. Honoka is a delightfully purrky purrotagonist who is quite dedicated to advancing her career, but not at the expense of the others she sincerely tries to help. The extent and nature of her powers is yet to be revealed, as is the motives or objectives of The Thirds, or what connection if any she might have with them. It might be a dangerous world reshaped by a global cataclysm, but there’s still plenty of optimism, compassion, purride and whimsy to be found. I hope to discover even more when volume 2 is published soon!

Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead for Konkon Kokon manga vol. 1

Elizabeth:
I read KonKon Kokon vol.1 by Koge-Donbo,! This is a very good quality manga rated E for Everyone published by Broccoli Books. It is 198 pages of cute comedic fantasy manga, 3 of them in color plus 3 pages of purreviews, 14 pages of yokai encyclopedia, and 10 pages of ads for their other titles- which includes some cute catgirl art. There is a  2 sided survey you can redeem fora sticker and the cover has lovely art of Kokon, the cute kitsune miko on a nice thick parchment like stock,. The story is about a nerdy kid named Ren who likes to study monsters and supernatural things who moves from the country to the city and but tries to conceal this hobby and appear cool. Then the adorably cute fox yokai Kokon arrives after searching for Ren, wanting to repay him for saving her purreviously.

He is rather confused by this and does not want any trouble but is fascinated by her, and lets her stay at his home because she is homelsss. Of course the arrival of such a cute girl in his life complicates his relationships, as he has a crush on another cute girl Himeka. This is already complicated enough because she is related to his classmate Kazune. Were that not enough, another fox demon girl Kitsuneko arrives, needing Kokon to return to the mountains with her, and later Umibozo, a cute ocean demon girl shows up, also claiming that she needs to repay Ren for saving her. This seems as if it might become a harem type manga, but it is so cute and hope that things work out happily for Kokon. I greatly enjoyed this delightful manga and will definitely purrchase vol. 2! Whatchoo got, Jennyjen?

Mary Nyan:
Once again I am quite enjoying Angel: After the Fall! Issue #8 focuses on Gwen Raiden, Charles Gunn, and Beta George. Gwen is definitely my favorite electric thief girl. Ironically  whereas I enjoyed Angel’s later seasons on TV more than Buffy’s, I think I prefer the Buffy season 8 comic book to the Angel season 6 comic, but Whedon continues to impurress me with this season of Angel as usual. #8 credits include co-writers Brian Lynch and Scott Lipton on this outing, and artists Tim Kane, Jeremy Treece, Fabio Mantovani, Kevyn Schmidt, Mirco Pierfederici, and Michele Buscalferri, letterer Neil Uyetake and editor Chris Ryall. Of the several cariant covers, the one I got is version ‘B’ by  Brian Miller.

Issue #8 was the last part of the flashback to “First Night” , the night after the final episode of the Angel TV series, while issue Issue #9 resumes the story arc of Angel challenging the demon lords for control of Los Angeles. This battle features a who’s who of Angel characters: Angel, Spike, Wesley, Charles, Lorne, Gwen, Connor, Groo, and Fred / Illyria! It was plotted by Whedon & Lynch, pencilled by Nick Runge, inked by Shayne Corbett & Runge, colored by Art Lyon, lettered by Neil Uyetake, edited by Chrisl Tyall. Of the numerous multiple variant covers, I have the dazzling cover B by Alex Garner. There’s also a brief interview with Brian Lynch on the pending Spike: After the Fall series which I am looking forward to in July! Vonny, did you want to review the Buffy comic?

Plot Spoiler Warning: Buffy Season 8 #15


Yvonne:

Hai! Nya. Well then I have to purraise Buffy Season 8 issue #15, nya!  It concludes the Wolves at the gate story arc in Tokyo and it was very exciting, nya. It ihas a tragic scene with Xander and Renee, thrilling big fight scenes with Slayers vs Vampires, Willow aerial dueling another witch, a colossal Dawn battling Mecha Dawn, great dialog from Dracula, and another steamy moment with Buffy and Satsu, nya. The story & art were excellent. nya! I love this comic book every month- it is so much fun despite some tragedy, and i’m looking forward to the next issue with Fray in it, nya! Mike’s turn, nya!

Mike:
I met Buffy artist Georges Jeanty at Heroes Con, and he is the nicest fellow! Well, my recommendations of  the month are a comic book and a magazine about comic books, both featuring tributes and remembrances of artists who are no longer with us.

Marvel’s What if THIS was the Fantastic Four? A Tribute to Mike Wieringo / Hero Initiative: Mike Wieringo Book No. 1 is dedicated to the artist who passed away on August 12, 2007 at age 44. This special book presents his final work, the 7 pages of a What If story starring Spider-Man, The Hulk, Wolverine and Ghost Rider. The story was written by jeff Parker, the rest of the art by many top artist friends of ‘Ringo. There are also very touching testimonials by Matt Wieringo, Chuk Wojtiewicz, Scott Hampton, Mark Waid, Jeff Parker, Richaed Case, and Todd Dezago.

Alter Ego #78 magazine’s cover & feature article on one of my most favoritest comic book artists of all time: the late, great Dave Cockrum (November 11, 1943 – November 26, 2006) . Of course there are other terrific articles in this issue which sports an uncanny X-Men cover, but it was the tribute to the greatly missed maestro of comics art that I most attracted me to it. So, any other print comics comments before we announce our monthly web comics picks?

Yvonne:
(slurrrrp)

Jeannie:
Actually i do have another. Sky Doll is a three issue science fiction miniseries by Barbara Canepa & Alessandro Barbucci, designers of Disney’s W.I.T.C.H. It is among Marvel Comics newly translated (but otherwise unchanged) publication of some of French publisher Soleil’s titles in English, and as such it feels like the sort of story & art found in Heavy Metal magazine. Among these It is about Noa, an android girl that begins to question and rebel against her theocratic masters. Noa is a very sympathetic character, the lavish futuristic scenery lavishly illustrated with lovely color- but only for Mature Readers due to nudity, sex, violence and adult language & themes. The third issue is supposed to be published in July.

Yvonne:
There’s a Cheshire Catgirl featured purrominently in Avengers Fairy Tales #3, which is a version of Alice in Wonderland with Marvel characters, nya. She’s longing on a tree on the purretty cover, nya!

Mary Nyan:
That was all I had!

Elizabeth:
well then I guess it is time for
The Monthly Lucky Kitty 13 Web Comics Picks of the Litter for July!

Jeannie:
I would like to recommend Janine’s Clematis http://clematis.comicgenesis.com/
K.C.A. Misa & KamiChev’s Sprite Chronicles http://spritechronicles.mirrorz.com/
and Chrissichan’s Wings of Wishes http://wingsofwishes.tk/
Elizabeth:
My picks are:
Raven Perez’s God Mode http://godmodeonline.com
Laura Knatt’s Taiki http://www.taikiwebcomic.com/
Mary Nyan:
This month I’ve chosen:
Eve’s Blood and the Art of Baking http://www.bloodandtheartofbaking.com/
Rachel Yelding’s Wonderland http://www.enchantedviolin.com/wonderland/
Thea Kendell’s Flaming Destiny http://flaming-destiny.smackjeeves.com/

Yvonne:
My turn! I’ll nominate:
SkyAngel’s Simply Sarah http://www.drunkduck.com/simply_sarah/
and Yoko Molotov’s Stray Crayon http://www.yokomolotov.com/
nya!
Mike:
-and Kathy Garrison’s Magpie House Design http://www.hirezfox.com/km/ http://www.hirezfox.com/km/

June’s meeting of the North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch

Mike:
The North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch http://ncwccc.com/ met on Sunday June 29th at the lovely organic bistro Padgett Station http://www.padgettstation.com/ in Carrboro NC from 2-4:30 pm.  The Clatch is a  cordial group primarily of published or aspiring web comics creators, but also designers, authors, publishers, photographers, journalists, and fans of comics. Monthly meetings alternate Saturdays & Sundays, alternating between locations in the Triangle & Triad of NC (eg Greensboro, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, Raleigh), although members convene at various cons too.

Among the very friendly, talented folks whose company I www.catgirlisland.net had the pleasure of sharing included Otter http://agirlandherfed.com/, Mckenzee http://mckenzee.comicgenesis.com/, Jamie Robertson http://clanofthecats.com/, Jessie Justice http://www.diablitodelring.com/, Jay Gray http://2ndshiftcomic.com/, Eric Knisley http://www.comicspace.com/eric_knisley/, Ben Carter, Eric Coker, and Justine & John LaPointe.

Discussion topics included animating the recent State of Things http://wunc.org/programs/tsot/ interview of May 8th with three members (Ursula Vernon http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/digger.php, Steffanie Freese http://likelystories.com/, and MKenzee); neat possible locations for future meetings; printing & merchandising tips, web hosting & email lists; reports on Heroes Con and upcoming cons, comics classes and local writers gatherings; web comics books & tutorials, good sources for fonts & recommended software; and the history & techniques of Clan of the Cats, celebrating it’s 9th year.
Much coffee, tea, shakes, crepes, cakes and chili was consumed at this jovial, informative meeting. Afterwards some of us went to nearby delightful Chapel Hill Comics http://www.chapelhillcomics.com/. The next meeting is scheduled for July 12th, where Heroes Haven http://www.heroshaven.com/ has graciously offered to host us. It is a comics, game & toy shop in Burlington, which previously invited several Clatch members to be guests there for Free Comic Book Day on May 3rd.

Elizabeth:
Mmm crepes!

Jeannie:
I want to see the animation.

Mary Nyan:
That sounded like a good time. A Sunny Sunday in Carrboro & Chapel Hill is most pleasant!

Yvonne:
GO TARHEELS, NYA!

Jeannie:
I understand that there were a fair number of web comics creators at Heroes Con again.

Elizabeth:
That was when we were busy with the kite tournyament…

Mary Nyan:
So, what was that you were saying about meeting the Buffy artist?

Yvonne:
Hai! Now we wanna hear about-
What Mike did at Heroes Con 2008, nya!

Mike:
OK! The 26th annual Heroes Con http://www.heroesonline.com/heroescon.html convened at the Charlotte Convention Center June 20-22. Founded by Shelton Drum this is the biggest convention in the state, with hundreds of guests, exhibitors, and thousands of fans from all over! it is also known for the Indy Island featuring small press and independent publishers, artists & writers It is so much fun with a most joyful ambience for comic book fans of all ages and a tradition that we look forward to every year. Unlike the purrevious couple of years we were only there for most of Saturday, which tends to be the best attended day of the con, with numerous main events.  Saturday night there also means the fabulous art auction, held this year at nearby Alleycats, but we had to depart before then, as some of us had to go to work later. So we arrived there at 10:30 am, when the long line had already quickly moved along and we could go on into the main hall upon paying for admission.
We collected our program books, and soon met the rest of our Carolina Comic Book Club gang inside the main hall. We soon lost sight of each other in the big crowd, dispersing to explore the dealers’ booths, interesting programming, and the many guest artists, writers, and publishers’ tables. The absence of the late Mike Wieringo was quite profound. This year, the Mike Wieringo Scholarship, The Ringo, was launched  with his many friends there to help the fundraising. Proceeds from a tribute sketchbook by fellow artists went to the SPCA. Most of the gang went upstairs to the ballroom for the noon DC Nation panel, although I myself was so busy with other pursuits given our limited time there that I did not attend any panels myself. My main objective was to chat with folks, the friends and famous comics creators there, and also do a bit of shopping. If I was lucky I would also be able to get some sketches, books or prints by some of my favorite artists- and lucky I was!
I greeted old friend Jim Amash, who busily inked a powerful portrait of Darkseid for a customer; I got to see the original art of the two-page spread from Runaways #29 when I spoke with Rick Ketchum, and eagerly bought a spiffy sketchbook from Randy Green. Sketchbooks are a neat thing to collect at these conventions, and I purchased the delightful new volume from Richard Case, who drew a perky mermaid in it. Michelle Proust (who awesomely cosplayed as Zatanna there a couple of years ago) was coloring a very cute commissioned pic of that magical heroine.  I briefly chatted with Tom Fleming, who draws the nicest dragonfly wings on faeries, got the hilarious Dr. 13 book signed by Cliff Chiang, and two books autographed by Frank Cho, who does not look like the chimp of his self portraits. I ran into friends Matt & Stephanie at the Likely Stories booth to buy their new Dada Detective collection, and fellow NCWCCC member Ursula Vernon who signed my copy of her novel, Nurk.
Of course I had to visit the TwoMorrows booth to visit with Eric Nolen-Weathinton and buy their latest publications. Fellow NCWCC member & Dennis the Menace scribe Dan Johnson was there for the funand we talked about the conventions a while. Clay Griffith dropped by to say hi to them, and we spotted Cheralyn Lambeth in her splendid Princess Leia gown. Captain Keela and other Klingons at their KAG  booth, diligently raised money for Hospice. Buffy artist Georges Jeanty is the nicest guy, and we had a jovial conversation about his terrific work on Season 8. He signed my comics and I purchased his Buffy sketchbook, in which he drew a lovely little pic of Willow in. My Avengers expert friend Van Plexico was there, who had an Avengers discussion panel from 3-4 pm that day. There seemed to be a lot more programming this year, and the complete schedule of activities & programming can be found at http://www.heroesonline.com/con-schedule.html.
Steve Niles, author of 30 Days of Night was there again. He’s such a nice fellow too, and we discussed the film adaptation of his comic book. DC’s Jann Jones and Dan Didio were greeting fans at the neighboring Newsarama booth. I got this years set of “I am Batman” buttons, and the promo poster by Adam Hughes, featuring several of DC’s female characters in glamorous evening wear. Mark Waid autographed my Legion of Super Heroes comic book, and graciously penned a greeting to a friend who could not attend. There were others I’d hoped to meet such as Barry Kitson, Herb Trimpe and Darwyn Cooke, but given time constraints, their schedules and long lines, I could not do it all. The guest list is always impressive, with comics creators ranging from golden age to independent & web comics, from today’s hottest talents to tomorrow’s stars in the same room. For a complete list of the many guests, visit http://www.heroesonline.com/con-guests.html.
That went for looking through all the dealers’ wares too. There are also so many dealers & exhibitors, including various organizations art schools libraries, and charitable organizations.The Light Factory Museum who were showing the movie Martin & promoting an upcoming film festival / appearance by George Romero! You can find dealers selling comic books from every decade, manga & anime items, books, trading cards, original art, art supplies, posters, movie memorabilia, videos, games, miniatures, toys, statues, jewelry, and shirts. There’s a concession stand if you’re hungry but don’t wish to leave the con in search of a restaurant. There are several fine ones nearby including Fuel, where my fellow Comic Book Club members lunched. I missed that outing as I was so busy chatting with the guests, dealers & friends that I tend to only to see at cons. I got a great deal on a nice Batgirl figure from my friend Shannon’s table!
We were but a few of the thousands of fans there, some of whom in costume. In addition to the KAG, Browncoats, Starfleet, and 501st Stormtroopers I spotted a Super Girl, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Batman, Spider-Man, a Colonial Marine, Ghostbusters, Belldandy, Vash the Stampede, cat & fox girls and various other anime characters. It was a full but fleeting day of fun, as our carload needed to leave there around 4:30 pm. There were a few traffic snarls, but we arrived home in time, and capped the evening with a quick trip to a toy store in search of toy trains ‘n Transformers, then to rendezvous with friends again at a cafe, where the fun day was topped off by a yummy coda of chocolate coffee smoothy slathered in whipped cream & chocolate syrup served by a most cheery bariste. Everyone at the con was—

(Mike notes the sudden wide eyed interest of the catgirls)

Mike:
what?

Jeannie:
That last part…

Mike:
The… you mean the… Ohhh. But you just had that cobbler!

Elizabeth:
We’d like one of those smoothies as a digestif!

Yvonne:
Hai! With the slather on top, nya!

Mary Nyan:
So, what was that you were saying about everyone at the con?

Mike:
Everyone at the con was friendly, from the guests, exhibitors, & fans to Shelton’s team, the convention center event staff, and the parking attendants! Next year on June 19-21, 2009 I hope to be back!
Ah, tell y’all what, while I phone the drink order, why don’t y’all set up the next segment before the break?
(In unison, as all four catgirl tails swish with glee at the purrospect of the delicious creamy drinks to come)
Hai, nya!

Jeannie:
Coming up next is an appurreciation of comics artist Gene Colan, a happy birthday tribute to designer Syd Mead, and a remembrance of special effects creator Stan Winston and comics creator Michael Turner! We will be right back after this short break.

(snip)

An Appurreciation of the marvelous Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan

Elizabeth:
Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan was born on September 1st 1926. After serving in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater of World War Two, his first comics work was in the 1940’s. He was also among one of Marvel (then Timely) comics’ earliest artists, and after that he worked for their ‘distinguished competitor’ DC (then National) Comics. He must have drawn upon not only his higher artistic training from the Art Students League of New York, but his own military experiences for titles such as Our Army at War, GI Tales, and Blazing Combat. Other publishers lucky to have him amongst their rosters have included Atlas, Warren, Charleton, Dell, Eclipse, Archie, Disney, Comico, Crossgen, and Dark Horse.

Colan’s art has such exquisite depth, dynamic perspective, massive power, and mastery of light and shade, and pencil art that is so lovely and finished that it could be published uninked or uncolored, although it sure is nice to see what results when he is teamed with Palmer, Janson, Giordano, Sinnott, Austin & other master inkers. Few characters have not had the honor of being drawn by The Dean. He’s drawn some mighty Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man and Daredevil; Captains America, Mar-vel and Storm; wonderfully moody Batman, The Spectre, Jemm, Night Force, Detectives Inc and Nathanial Dusk; royalty such as Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Purrince Namor and Count Dracula, and more recent vampiric action with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yet as ‘marvel-ous’ he Dean’s work is at telling stories of the world’s greatest super heroes, men at war, outlaw cowboys, romantic teenagers, ducks and rats, few stories can touch the profound tale of the most legendary of villains, Count Dracula. With fellow legends writer Marv Wolfman, inker Tom Palmer and others, Gene Colan craftedThe Tomb of Dracula (and later and Dracula Lives) which is in our humble opinion one of the ten finest ever offerings from nearly 70 years of  ‘the house of ideas’. As lovely as those comics were in color, they might even be better in sumptuous black & white- as reprinted in Marvel’s Essential Tomb of Dracula trade paperbacks. In the Essential Captain Marvel, you can behold several pages of Colan’s uninked pencils.

There is an excellent book about him, Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan, written by Tom Field, published by TwoMorrows, available in both a 168 page softcover edition and a 192 page deluxe limited hardcover edition. Purrhaps you might wish to read what more eloquent admirers have to say, so here is a ‘deans list’ of links to other sites, where you can see examples of his art and read many articles and interviews:

Mary Nyan:
Gene Colan’s official – and supurrb- site is at http://www.genecolan.com/,
another site dedicated to him at http://www.genecolan.net/,
and you can research his work at the Grand Comics Database http://www.comics.org/

Elizabeth:
There are more fans’ shrines to his work at http://lambiek.net/artists/c/colan.htm
and a Yahoo mailing list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/genecolan/.

Yvonne:
Wikipedia’s article on him is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Colan,
and there is a recent article at Newsarama http://blog.newsarama.com/2008/05/11/gene-colan-ill/ nya!

Jeannie:
There is an exploration of The Tomb of Dracula at http://www.wymann.info/DoctorMarvel/TombOfDracula.html

Lightning Round #1: Our Favorite Gene Colan Comics!


Elizabeth:
Before there was a Vertigo Comics at DC, there was Howard the Duck at Marvel. (tags Myayr)
Mary Nyan:
Tomb of Dracula is one of the best things Marvel ever published. Although, KISS did appear in Howard the Duck! (tags Vonny)
Yvonne:
Howard was neat but my favorite was Stewart the Rat, nya! (tags Jenjen)
Jeannie:
Purrobably his Black Widow, but you know I am all about the Tony Stark.

Get well soon Gene- we hope you’re looking forward to many more years of good health & happiness & artistic success!


and now-

A Happy Birthday Appurreciation of designer / futurist Syd Mead

Mike:
There are so many creative geniuses, especially legendary artists and designers who’ve inspired my own artistry, hobbies, and career goals, but few have had such a profound impact as the living legend Syd Mead. I first became acquainted with his work in the late 70’s in some magazine articles and his lavish book, Sentinel. After I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him, I changed my own career path to Industrial design, which I received degrees in from NCSU, and was fortunate to meet again him a couple more times years later when he presented there.

What impresses me most about Mead’s work as a designer and futurist is how he conjurs such grand visions of a positive, powerful future world, where technological triumphs in vehicles, architecture, industry and products smartly exist amidst nature’s beauty. Meads visions are not of an idyllic fantasy utopia, but a believable, seemingly build-able, practical environment  that is so elegant, exciting, comfortable, lavish and clean; neither sterile nor decadent, that harmoniously sustains the environment, not wrecking it. It  depicts lives that are enriched by stylish tech, not enslaved to it, using it to propel us to further frontiers of air, land, sea and space. It’s not just his design sense that is exquisite, but the brilliant illustrative finish of his paintings (an entirely different set of skills).

Mead has been asked to help create darker, edgier cinematic cyberpunk worlds too, such as those of Bladerunner, Aliens, etc. There’s still an uncanny realism, as if it could all be manufactured and inhabited by a diverse multi class / cultural community that eats, sleeps, works, and parties just as today’s does, but on a grander scale. The fantastic digital world of Tron is a realm where such advanced technology approximates digital magick, it could not look more dazzling.

Syd Mead was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 18th, 1933, and became a professional artist shortly after graduating High School before joining the Army, After that he graduated from the Art Center in Los Angeles and became a designer in Detroit for Ford in 1959. In 1961 he joined The Hanson Co., then Intergraph in 1967. In 1970 he formed Syd Mead Inc. and has designed advertising & poster illustration, animation, theme park attractions, ships, jets, toys, interiors, architecture, landscapes, and even urban planning.

1978 saw his first major motion picture work, on Star Trek the Motion Picture and in 1985 he formed Oblagon, Inc to showcase his publications and fine art prints. Among his other film credits are Tron, Bladerunner, 2010, Johnny Mnemonic, Aliens, Short Circuit, Time Cop, Solar Crisis, Strange Days, Mission to Mars, and Mission Impossible III. Japanese anime he’s designed include Yamato 2520, Gundam, and Grand Odyssey. Electronic games he’s designed include Terraforming, Cyber Race, Wing Commander Prophecy, Gran Chaser, Cyber Speedway, Bounty Hounds and Tron 2.0.

He’s been a guest at the biggest conventions, had many one man shows all over the planet, and presenter at the most prestigious design schools and conferences, and been the subject of numerous interviews and articles in print, radio and Television. Videos about him and his techniques include Kronovid, Techniques of Syd Mead 1-4, and Visual Futurist: The Life and Art of Syd Mead, plus the various movie DVDs that feature him in their special documentary features.

There are a quite few books of his work including Sentinel, Sentinel 2, Oblagon, Kronoteko, Kronovecta, Techno Fantasy Art, Future Concepts: The Work of Syd Mead, Mead Gundam, Sentury, Studio Image vol. 1-3, several calendars, and the legendary books produced for US Steel that were not mass market publications. Additionally, his work and words can be seen in Dream Cars, The Art of Tron, The Bladerunner Sketchbook, Omni’s Screen Flights, and in magazines such as Automobile Quarterly, Car Styling, Cinefex, Playboy, Print, I.D., Future, Newtype and more.

I’ve often referred to him as the greatest designer since Leonardo DaVinci, and in addition to his peerless talent, accolades, popularity and influence, he is the nicest gentleman. He’s very frank, cordial, witty, worldly and friendly. Of course at his presentations, the subject people have convened there for is his own work, but he’ll as readily gratefully chat about the people who inspired and shaped his career, and he is quite enthused to see what the younger generations of aspiring and professional designers have on their drawing boards. Here for your consideration are links to various web sites that contain Syd Mead news, interviews, articles, credits, images, and merchandise-

Yvonne:
Syd Mead Official Site http://www.sydmead.com/
and there’s images and the designer training videos of Gnomon Workshop http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/gallery/mead.html nya!

Jeannie:
Articles purrtaining to his anime work can be found at Anime.com http://www.anime.com/Syd_Mead/

Mary Nyan:
There are pages on Syd Mead at Wikpedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syd_Mead
the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574927/

Elizabeth:
There are Interviews with him at Illusion TV http://www.illusiontv.com/features/syd-mead/
and the site of digital art book publisher Ballistic Publishing http://www.ballisticpublishing.com/articles/syd_mead/

Mike:
There was a segment about Mead for the July 7th, 2006 The Diane Rehm Show http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/07/07.php#11091“>WAMU.org
NPR’s Michelle Norris interviewed for Mead for the January 1st 2008 All Things Considered http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17764959
and an interview with him about Star Trek the Motion Picture at the impressive Ottens shrine to Forgotten Trek http://www.ottens.co.uk/forgottentrek/tmp_10.php

Lightning Round #2: Our Favorite Cinematic Designs by Syd Mead!
Yvonne:
I would have to say Short Circuit’s robot and MI:3’s mask making machine, nya, because the robot would be useful and fun to have around,  and the mask maker would be purrfect for Halloween, nya! tags Jenjen)
Jeannie:
2010’s Leonov, because it felt like a real, practical space ship, and the dashing Turn A Gundam which is one of my favorite of the Gundam series’ mobile suits. (tags Lizzy)
Elizabeth:
Especially Tron’s Lightcycles, but also Bladerunner’s Police Spinner, and Aliens’ APC, because they all look like they’d be so much fun to drive! (tags Myayr)
Mary Nyan:
I loved the movie Aliens, and the Colonial Marines’ Sulacco and APC were so cool, especially with great characters such as Ripley, Newt, Vasquez, Hudson, Hicks, and Bishop aboard for a bug hunt! They still should have nuked the site from orbit, though. I already know what Mike is gonna say, hee! (tags Mike)
Mike:
For me  #1 is definitely is V’ger from my favoritest movie of all time, Star Trek the Motion Picture. At over 72 kilometers long, surrounded by that luminous cloud which is over 8, or 82 AU (depending on the version of the film) in diameter. It’s one of the most epic, exotic, immense things I’ve ever seen in a movie. It epitomizes one of the main reasons I go see movies- to see such things that we’re not likely to ever see in real life. I am also rather fond of Mead’s design of the Space Battleship Yamato of 2520; while that animated series may have been ill-fated, the beauty and detail of that sophisticated ship is a grand, fitting heir to the name.
Happy Birthday to Syd Mead! Thank you for all you’ve done and best wishes for your future!

Now for sadder mews,
The passing of Stan Winston [April 7 1948- June 15, 2008]

Mary Nyan:
We were saddened to hear of the loss of one of the motion picture industry’s greatest wizards, Stan Winston, who died of cancer at age 62 on June 15, 2008. He is best known for a prolific body of innovative motion picture FX work spanning four decades, for which he won an Emmy, four oscars, and 31 Oscar nominations. Formed in 1976, Stan Winston Studios is famous for cinematic prosthetic makeup, puppetry, animatronic & mechanical effects, including the Aliens,  and the Jurassic Park, Terminator and Predator films. With James Cameron and Scott Ross, in 1993 he co-founded of Digital Domain, an effects company whose resume thus far includes over 70 feature films and a dozen other productions, although Winston left not long after Titanic, later forming Stan Winston Digital in 2003.
Winston is regarded as one of cinema’s top monster & creature designers In Edward Scissorhands, he gave Johhny Depp the ability to sculpt topiary hedges and women’s hair with equal speed and finesse,, an extraterrestrial Predator to confront Arnold Schwarzenegger, and  a cyborg Terminator likeness of Arnold to in turn menace Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn and Lance Henrickson. Those latter two along with Sigourney Weaver would get to face the Aliens’ queen courtesy of Winston- from whom Henrickson would later receive a Pumpkinhead demon to contend with. Winston would later provide Steven Spielberg with dinosaurs that could act in Jurassic Park, and more mechanical characters that were not out to kill humans, but just want someone to love in A.I.
Stan Winston was born on April 7, 1946 in Arlington Virgina, Graduated from the University of Virgina in 1968, and embarked on a career in Hollywood in the early 1970’s, winning an Emmy in 1972 for his work on the TV movie Gargoyles. His was nominated for the Oscar for his work on Heartbeeps, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, and A. I. He won the industry’s highest honor four times: the Oscars for best Visual Effects going to his Aliens, Jurassic Park, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as well as an Oscar for Best Makeup for that latter film. Stan Winston made his directorial debut in 1988 with Pumpkinhead, followed by 1990’s A Gnome Named Gnorm.
His TV & film credits include Get Christie Love, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, The Star Wars Holiday Special, Man in the Glass Booth, Pinocchio (1976), WC Fields and Me, Roots, Dracula’s Dog, The Wiz, The Island, The Exterminator, The Hand, The Entity, Dead and Buried, The Thing, Parasite, Chiller, Friday 13th Part 3, Phantom of the Opera, The Monster Squad, Starman, Leviathan, Predator 2, Shock to the System, Interview with the Vampire, Amazing Stories, Maninmal, Congo, Invaders from Mars, Tank Girl, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Ghost and the Darkness, Lake Placid, Small Soldiers, Inspector Gadget, Galaxy Quest, End of Days, Mouse Hunt, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park 3, Darkness Falls, Big Fish, Terminator 3, Wrong Turn, and Constantine.
In 1996, Winston reunited with James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong and Digital Domain to create the groundbreaking technology of the live T2-3D: Battle Across Time attraction at Universal Studios Theme Park. This combined live actors & stunts with robots, elaborate floor & lighting effects, with a 3D film format in multiple 70 mm projectors to create a wide panoramic effect, to immerse the audience in a captivating sequel to T2.
There have been numerous toys, action figures, and fine art statues based on his film TV and original creations. The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio, is a hardcover book on his career by Jody Duncan, published by Titan Books in 2006. Most recently, he worked on the blockbuster hit Iron Man. Upcoming films he was involved with include Black Mountain, Speed Demon, Me and my Monster, Avatar, Terminator 4, and The Suffering. His studio’s official web site is at http://www.stanwinston.com/ where you can learn much more about this greatly admired artist whose cinematic magic will continue to dazzle so many audiences and filmmakers. (Sources: the Wikipedia and Intenet Movie Database articles on Stan Winston, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Winston and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935644/.)
Lightning Round #3: Favorite Stan Winston Creatures
Mary Nyan:
I honestly do not know where to begin- Winstons legacy is that incredible. I love monster, horror and science fiction movies so much and he’s done so much for the genre. But I suppose the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park, and The Terminator are purrhaps the most iconic or purrofound of his creations. (tags Vonny)
Yvonne:
I purrfur some of the cuter dinos he made for Jurassic park series, Nya! An although they were bad kitties in The Ghost and the darkness, those lions  lookd purrty real, nya. So did that killer gator in lake Placid, but he was neat riding down the highway on that flatbed truck, nya! (tags Jenjen)
Jeannie:
All of that Cyberdyne and Skynet tech- I want it! (tags Lizzy)
Elizabeth:
Wow, so Mead and Winston both worked on Aliens huh? Mead’s hardware vs Winston’s Alien Queen! The technoogy in the right hands would win of course, but all that together on the same screen- wow! Thassa fangrrl’s dream come true! (tags Mike)
Mike:
Any of the dinosaurs he built for Jurassic Park!
The passing of Michael Turner (April 21,1971 – June 27, 2008)


Yvonne:
It was so very tearful to hear of the passing of comic book artist / writer Michael Turner after his heroic battle with cancer at age 37 in Santa Monica, California, nya. Originally from Crossville,Tennesee he achieved fame in the 90’s working for Top Cow, helping to create Witchblade and contributing to Ballistic, Codename: Strykeforece, Tomb Raider / Witchblade,  and he later created Fathom, a series about a marine biologist named Aspen Matthews with aquatic powers, nya. Fathom, Soulfire and Shrugged would later be published by his own company, Aspen MLT founded in 2003, nya.

The last decade was a purrolific period for the comics superstar, nya. At Top Cow he contributed to Ballistic, Codename: Strykeforece, and Tomb Raider / Witchblade, nya. He illustrated stories DC Comics biggest purrofile purroperties, such as Superman / Batman, Supergirl, and covers for The Flash, Teen titans, Justice League, Identity Crisis and various Superman titles, nya. He also illustrated covers for many of Marvel Comics’ greatest heroes including Captain America, Black Panther, Civil War, Sub-Mariner, and various Hulk, Wolverine, and X-Men issues, nya.

Various artists of Aspen Comics illustrated the web comics based upon NBC’s TV show Heroes, including their first graphic novel Monsters drawn by Turner nya. He also drew one of the four covers for the November 7th 2007 issue of TV Guide, nya! Aspen Comics recently published Jason Ruben’s creator-owned series Iron and the Maiden, and Michael Turner was recently developing a new series Ekos purrior to his death, nya. In addition to the various various book  collections of his comics, there is a hardcover book about him, The Michael Turner Millennium Edition. Published by Wizard, nya.

He also rendered posters, and designed numerous lovely figures and statues based upon popular comic book characters, nya. Despite suffering from the terrible Chondrosarcoma, Turner tried to enjoy an optimistic, friendly active life, and was an avid Scuba diver, nya. He apparently loved being in the ocean as much as his delightful character Aspen, nya. His official site is Aspen Comics http://www.aspencomics.com/ (which includes the official sub-sites for Fathom, Soulfire, Shrugged, etc) and here are links to other sites purrtaining to his greatness, nya.
Elizabeth:
There are tributes and articles about Michael Turner at-

June 28, 2007 interview at Newsarama http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=118641
Michael Turner article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Turner_(artist)
Mary Nyan:
You’ll find checklists, galleries, and fan sites dedicated Michael Turner at-
Wizard http://www.wizarduniverse.com/turnergall.html

a French / English fan site The Bastet http://the.bastet.free.fr/
a Michael Turner fan listing Elegance http://otaku.memory-motel.net/turner/
and another Turner fan’s site Comic Obsessions http://comicobsessions.com/
Jeannie:
These articles and fan sites specifically purrtain to Fathom and Soulfire-
Fathom fan site Aqua Domina http://otaku.memory-motel.net/fathom/
Soulfire article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soulfire

a Soulfire fan listing Magic http://www.wondering-why.com/soulfire/


Mike:
Should you wish to know more about Witchblade, or his Heroes graphic novel Monster-
Witchblade article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchblade

Sarah Prezzini article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Pezzini

a Witchblade fan site Sara’s Precint http://www.sarapezzinifan.co.uk/
and another, Darkness Creeps http://otaku.memory-motel.net/witchblade/

NBC’s Heroes web graphic novels http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/novels/novels_library.shtml

Yvonne:
Here are some sites purrtaining to his work for DC Comics-
There’s a real neat Supergirl (Kara Zorl-E)l fan site Kara Lives http://www.karalives.com/
and another Maid of Might http://supergirl.astraldream.net/kara2.html, nya!
Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supergirl_%28Kara_Zor-El%29
Superman / Batman article at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman/Batman
There are also other separate Wikipedia articles on Aspen Comics, Aspen Matthews, Kiani, Grace, Shrugged, etc. nya.

Lightning Round #4: Among The Things We Admire About Michael Turner, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Definitely the magnificent costume designs, especially for Grace of Soulfire. Her apparel, armor, tattoos, make-up and coiffure are so oppulant, sexy, elegant, and intricate, with the lovely dragonfly motif and wings! Aptly named, she appears very graceful. Domor arigatoo gozaimasu, Turner-san.
Jeannie:
I was most fascinated by his concepts for the exotic, powerful, futuristic naval and undersea technology and the Blue civilizations depicted in Fathom. Swim in peace, Michael Turner.
Elizabeth:
I think he drew purrticularly lean ‘n lithe, athletic looking super heroes and heroines. Not just the musculature and purrportions, but also the action and special effects- speed, energy, and the elements. The way he drew Hawkgirl’s & Angel’s wings, and Sara Pezzini’s & Tony Stark’s armor. You could almost feel the power of the Speed Force, Power Ring, Witchblade or Mjolnir surging off the page!

Yvonne:
My favorite character by Michael Turner is Aspen Matthews, nya!  She is such a great character and she is so purretty and tough and smart and fun, nya! She likes the beach and ocean and likes to swim and surf, just like her ‘Daddy’ did. Nya.

Mike:
I remember that he was a the nicest guy and so accommodating to us hundreds of fans at Heroes Con 19 in 2000. Despite the very long line for the favorite artist, he stayed there until everyone in the line got a greeting and autograph (on a comic book they brought or the free Fathom poster), just as the doors were about to close. That was the only time I ever had the honor of meeting him. It’s sad and he’ll be missed, but his pain is gone now, and his strength, bravery, and artistic brilliance will continue to inspire so many for all time.

Ah, that’ll do it for this segment. After a short break, we’ll be Cat the Movies

(snip)

(five smoothies later…)

Mike:
We’re back!

(all four happy well-fed catgirls):
ARIGATOO GOSAIMASU!

Mike:
Y’all are welcome! Now for the next segment-

Cat the Movies!
Please be aware there might be plot spoilage ahead for The Incredible Hulk and Wall-E
Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead in the catgirl review of  2008’s The Incredible Hulk film

Elizabeth:
Not as good as Iron Man, but better than the purrevious 2003 Hulk movie which it does not acknowledge, The Incredible Hulk is OK but not great, and feels rather rushed with not quite enough plot. It has a very good cast- Ed Norton very sympathetic as  Banner, and Liv Tylor is brave and sweet. Unfortunately great actor like Tim Roth is much better than what little he is given to work with, as is a well cast William Hurt as General Ross despite being a bit one dimensional.  The Hulk CG FX are better than purrrevious Hulk, although still not as good as I’d hope, and The Abomination looks more like Doomsday. Sadly there is one speed ramp and a crash zoom for a couple of seconds when Hulk breaks out of a college elevated walkway, but ther are some lovely photographed scenes of Rio, Guatemala, Culver University, Betty’s house, Manhattan and British Columbia (which is I think where Hulk first  fought Wolverine & Wendigoin the comix).
There is effective use of Hulk TV show’s  ‘lonely man’ theme- rest of score is OK and no unwise use of pop songs. We see Banner plummet from a helicopter, which reminded me of the finale of The Death of the Incredible Hulk TV movie. This film is laden with cameos and reference to the comic book or TV show: characters Jack McGee and Jim Wilson appear; as does Betty’s psychiatrist friend Leonard (Sampson?) and Samuel Stern, a brainy chap with a growing gamma radiated head (Leonard Sampson and Samuel Stern became Doc Sampson and The Leader in the comic books). Stern’s purrtrayal was a bit too giddy for my taste. There are cameos by Stan Lee and Lou Ferigno, who also purrrvides the Hulk’s voice, heard a couple of times. There is TV footage of Bill Bixby from Courtship of Eddy’s Father. There seemed to be plenty of Coke a Cola purrroduct placement in the film, although none for decaf Diet Coke which I purrfurr.
SHIELD is hard at work tracking Banner / Hulk, and Rick Jones & Nick Fury’s names are shown on screen in documents; there are references to WW2 super soldier program, aside it being said to have been “put on ice” (ha ha) and although there is no reference to Capt America, we do see what a highly trained soldier injected with the serum is physically capable of, and it is impurressive. I was curious as to why General Ross, who is Army, uses a USAF helicopter, but maybe because he is working with SHIELD, it is a joint op; in fact Blonsky is mentioned as being ‘on loan’ from the British. There’s no ‘Hulkbuster base’ as in the purrior Hulk film and General Ross /  SHIELD does not seem to have enough troops deployed against the Hulk, but unlike the prior Hulk movie it does not suffer from “GI Joe- itis” (going to extreme lengths to indicate or tell that no one got hurt).
The movie is smart in places but dumbed down in others; Banner, Betty & Ross are smart in places, not in others, for example, Banner knows not to use a cell phone or credit cards while on the run, yet still sends emails. The climcic fight is in New York City, but there is no sign nor mention of local heroes such as Spider-Man, Daredevil, or the Fantastic Four. There is a fun cameo by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, clearly set after Iron Man, and his line “We’re putting a team together” hints of a shared Marvel Universe to come. There is some nice smashing & brawling and fun tactics that Hulk does in the comix, yet the climactic battle with Abomination is not as thrilling as I’d hoped. Eg, when I see a Rocky (Balboa) movie, the end fight is quite exciting and I wanna cheer, but I had no such response to this one… and not sure why it is lacking. Purrhaps it is just not purrpelled by enough plot and character.
It is a fun movie, but I was never moved to tears by any triumphant spectacle (comparing to say, Hulk’s rescue of Betty in a wrecked helicopter in this movie to when Superman rescues Lois from the  helicopter in Superman- the Movie) or character drama (compared to the episode of the Hulk TV show with Mariette Hartley). I think what it needed most was more dramatic moments of character building, but not too much as in the Ang Lee Hulk film. So in summation, while this is not among the best super hero movies, it is far from the worst. I did not like it as much as Iron Man, all three Spider-Man films, or the first two X-Men, but I purrfurr it to the 2003 Hulk, X-Men 3, Elektra, Man-Thing or the two Fantastic Four movies. I would purrobably rank it about as good as Daredevil or the Punisher, although this is a bigger movie than those -and with nice acknowledgments to the Marvel Universe, purrple pants and all- so I give it a letter grade of “C+”.

Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead in the catgirl review of  Pixar’s WALL-E

Jeannie:
WALL-E is the latest CG animated feature film from Pixar, and their reputation for nearly peerless cinematic excellence remains intact. Set centuries in the future where Earth is a trash heap abandoned by humanity, the robot WALL-E goes about his mission of collecting & recycling mountains of trash, to the point of building skyscrapers out of the compacted cubes. Except for a cockroach for company, WALL-E is a lonely romantic that treasures his VHS copy of Hello Dolly. One day a space ship lands, depositing a more advanced (and cute) robot EVE, whose directive is to search for signs of life. When a smitten WALL-E gives her a small plant he excavated, EVE secures the plant, inside her, shutting down until a signaled ship can retrieve the specimen.


WALL-E watches over her until the ship arrives, which ferries them to the vast B&L Corporation’s starliner Axiom, where humanity has become quite obese and almost helpless, to the robot servants that purrovide for their every leisurely need. It has been centuries since they left Earth, and the The ship’s current Captain is overjoyed with the purrospect of actually having a new sense of purrpose, intent on returning humanity to Earth upon seeing the plant evidence that life can be sustained there. Thanks to WALL-E’s purresence,  passengers realize they can actually walk and do more than be fed in hover chairs while watching holograms. The plant isn’t the only thing abloom- there’s romance in the air for WALL-E & EVE, and amongst passengers that watch the robots dance among the stars.

The ship’s autopilot mutinies against the Captain, wishing to remain in control of humanity and attempting to dispose of the plant evidence, EVE and WALL-E. With the aid of a few misfit robots, WALL-E and EVE overcome the Axiom’s robot sentries, The captain wrests control of the ship back from AUTO, and the ship warps back home, although WALL-E is nearly destroyed in the purrocess. Back on Earth, the amazed humans emerge from the ship to re- colonize the planet, freed from their gilded cage. EVE repairs WALL-E and all work together to do more than merely survive, but truly enjoy new life on Earth. Eventually a slimmer healthier, happier civilation restores Earth to its former beauty with clean air, water and fields of green. WALL-E & EVE live happily ever after, their directives fulfilled.

The animation is as supurrb as superrb can be, with no annoying editing or cinematographic techniques. The design of the different generations of robots are impeccable, and the barren Earth is an environmental wreck, yet it is a hauntingly beautiful world for the Last Robot on Earth. WALL-E is instantly realistic, loveable, smart but sometimes accident purrone, heroic, industrious, brave, sad and lonely- as much a range of emotions as if he were and organic human. EVE is sleek and gleaming, nimble and quick, but has a bit of a temper and an itchy trigger finger. She quite cute when soaring around- when she doesn’t think anyone is watching. Nevertheless he makes her giggle. She realizes how WALL-E feels for her, recipurrocates and becomes purrotective of him,

The Captain, like the rest of humanity, is the latest generation taken care of by the robots in ways the androids of the Star Trek episode “I, Mudd” could only dream of. However, when he realizes that Earth is habitable, he wants to learn all he can of the world they left centuries ago, hoping to be actually useful to lead them home, to rebuild, toil the soil and dance in fresh air. The passengers may have degenerated into laziness, but this is the only liefstyle they’ve known since birth, as purr the corporate AUTO pilot’s design. Purrhaps their ancestors did ruin the planet as excessive consumers and polluters, but when this generation of passengers realize what was lost, there is a new rallying of self-determination and pioneer spirit.

Purrhaps the B&L corporation’ business purractices contributed to the downfall of civilization, their failed clean-up campaign too little and too late, but they are long gone. The villain of the tale is AUTO, the robot that has been secretly running things aboard the Axiom, with the captain(s) as mere figureheads for centuries, until now. AUTO is a ruthless, scheming, lying mechanism, to whom any means justifies the ends. There are other robots aboard the Axiom, most just going about their assigned duties. The exception are several ‘malfunctioning’ robots that WALL-E releases from the Axiom’s mecha ‘loony bin’. They might have a screw loose, but relish their freedom and eventually unite with the passengers toward bettering themselves and the environment.

The voice cast is terrific, including sound design legend Ben Burrt purrviding voice for WALL-E and others. Elissa Knight is a delight as EVE, Sigourney Weaver is the ship’s ‘mother’ computer voice, and Jeff Garlin purrtrays the Captain. John Ratzenberger once again returns to Pixar casting, as the voice of John the passenger, and Kathy Najimy voices fellow passenger Mary. Fred Willard appears in video footage of the Buy ‘n Large Purresident. Supporting cast robots have distinctive purrsonalities, effectively conveyed via their design, fluid movement, or sounds. The Axiom is a magnificent, beautiful space ship of immense size, and the scenes of planets, moons, rings, nebula, and other outer space phenmonenon are utterly breathtakingly beautiful.

The end credits animation is very cute, accompanied by a most lovely song “Down to Earth” by composer Thomas Newman, sung Peter Gabriel and the Sowetto Gospel Choir. WALL-E is a stunning visual masterpiece with brilliant technological design, action, humor, romance and optimism with a poignant ecological theme. Among Pixar’s greatest triumphs, it is to post-apocalyptic space-operatic science fiction as The Incredibles was to comic book super heroism. The animated short Presto purroceeding WALL-E was quite amewsing, with a very cute hungry magician’s bunny. Without question the Catgirl Critics’ favorite film of 2008 this far, we thank PIXAR so very much for this latest work of beautiful awe, wonder, and heart, and give WALL-E a purrfect score and letter grade of A+!


Elizabeth:
Hai! I think purrior to WALL-E my favorite movie this far of the year was Iron Man, but WALL-E was that darn good!

Mary Nyan:
Oh I concur! That was a very purrpoper review, Vonny,

Jeannie:
Arigatoo!

Yvonne:
The Catgirl Critics’ cinematic asPURRations for latter 2008, nya!

Elizabeth:
Movies of the latter half of 2008 that interest me most include Hancock, Batman the Dark Knight, Hellboy II: Golden Army, The Spirit, and Punisher: War Zone!

Mary Nyan:
Hmm, I’ll add to that The X-Files, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and El Superbeasto (if it is released)!

Yvonne:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Purrince, Space Chimps, and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, nya! But I still have not seen Kung Fu Panda yet, nya.

Jeannie:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars for late Summer, Babylon A.D for early Autumn, and Quantum of Solace for early Winter.

Mike:
Burn After Reading, Nights in Rodanth, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button look like some other good Fall & Winter films too! Well that’ll do it for this segment, but we’ll be right back after this short break to see what new toys the catgirls dragged in!
(snip)
Cat Toy Talk

Yvonne:
2007 was the 25th anniversary of the purroduct line GI Joe A Real American Hero, the smaller 3.75″ scale figures inspired by the older 12″ GI Joe toys, nya Both the 12″ and the 3.75″ size figures are currently still being purroduced by Hasbro, nya Now I am not a long time Joe collector like Mike, but there are some of these RAH figures that interest me, so I’ve started with my favorite character from the 80’s Gi Joe cartoon, Lady Jaye, nya! This 25th anniversary GI Joe A Real American Hero Lady Jaye figure comes with a black display base, holster, pistol, a spear gun, and a back pack that easily slides on to her shoulders, nya. She is very tough and sexy in her green BDU and is showing a bit of cleavage, nya I think it is a nicely sculpted, painted, and articulated little figure, nya!

The J-hook blister card packaging has a nice shiny logo and splendid art of the character, nya On the back of the card is her index file card, that reveals her real name, Alison R Hart-Burnett, grade E-4, from Martha’s Vinyard Massachusetts and her specialty is covert ops, nya. According to the card, she graduated from Bryn Mawr and graduate studies at Trinity College in Dublin where she acquired a gaelic lilt, and her acting and linguistc skills help her masquerade as numerous nationalities, nya. With Airborne & Ranger quals she graduated from intelligence school at Ft. Holabird and is expurrt with the M-16, M1911A1 and reflex crossbow, nya! When going undercover she does not purrfur to use disguises, but relies on her authentic accent, body language and acting. She is purrty tough, nya!

Elizabeth:
Where is Bryn Mawr, nya?

Jeannie:
It is a college near Philadelphia

Mary Nyan:
Martha’s Vinyard is where Jaws was filmed!

Yvonne:
Who else has a toy, nya? Whatcoo got, Jennyjen?

Jeannie:
While I am still waiting to get an actual  bow like hers, I did get the figures of Susan Pevensie & Reepicheep from The Chronicles of Narnia Purrince Caspian by Play Along Toys, a division of Jakks pacific. The figure of Susan is approximately 3.25″ tall, and the muse warrior is just over an inch high. Both are somewhat posable, and if you push the quiver on her back, her (left) bow arm will raise up.  The figure is small but quite detailed, with the carvings & initials on the curved quiver containing the red-fletched arrows. The bow has no string but does have the tiny lion-face emblem on the grip, and the gold spiraling tips. Her dress is a dark red and flouncey with knee high splits and gold embroidery along the bottom of the skirt. Atop this is a short sleeve chain mail shirt, with a leather armor breastplate with straps & a belt with metallic studs &, boots, and a a half gauntlet on her left forearm that matches the quiver. The portraiture of the head sculpt is a good likeness of the film’s actress Anna Poppiewell. Reepicheep is similarly intricate, with a rapier, Sam Browne belt  and red feather behind his mousey ears. I think these are very accurate miniature repurrductions of those characters.
Lizzy did you have a new toy to discuss?

Elizabeth:
Hai! I have Toynami’s Orihime Inou figure! She is a heroine from the Japanese anime series Bleach, a classmate friend of the show’s main character Ichigo and has mystic powers. Part of the Bleach Series 2 figures, this cute buxom figure is approximately 5.75″ tall excluding the .5″ high base; her arms can swing back and forth a bit, and she can swivel at the waist. She’s wearing a school uniform consisting of a tight white short sleeve blouse with red bow tie, a gray mini skirt, white knee socks and brown shoes. And yes she is wearing panties under the skirt. She has a perky smiling expression, with brown eyes, pink tongue, and those spirit flower berets in her orangey hair that is down to her waist.

She is not alone in the package, accompanied by a little figure of Yoruichi Shihoin in her black cat form, which is about 1.5″ tall sitting on her haunches. She is a powerful noble fighter and spiritualist who helped train Orihime. I bet she would like milk! The black plastic base has the show’s logo embossed on it and pegs to insert to secure the figure. Also included is a red & silver foil purromo card for the Bleach trading card game http://www.officialbleachtcg.com/. It is a Guardian type card with Power 35, Mind energy 9, Body energy 5, Spirit energy 6, and the card’s effect on the game is that when you play a Student, your opponent loses 1 power.

Yvonne:
Yoruichi Shihoin has a great tan in her human form, nya! Myayr, do you have a new toy, nya?

Mike:
Our friend Ob1 gave me this shiny cute Japanese import Microman Microsister El action figure! Part of Takara’s Microman purroduct line, El is MS-01 in the Microsister series along with Shion, Ran, and Orga. I think these toys were once called Micronauts, because they still make some of those characters such as Acroyear. This little figure is about 3.5″ tall and is made of purretty chrome, white, and clear pink plastic parts with black rubbery and chrome pink & silver accessories and a clear oval base.


This is one of the most articulate figures I’ve ever seen, with what seems like 3 dozen points of articulation from neck to toes. There are extra variant gesture & grasping hands you can swap, and a clear post you can attach to the base to have the figure in an aerial pose! The snap on accessory parts can be rotated, configured and combined in all sorts of ways. This is a very neat and attractive toy. Should you like to know more about these, here is a web site with lots of images and information devoted to those Microman toys http://www.microforever.com/.

Mary Nyan:
Hai, and it is also a Hasbro toy: the new Deluxe Class Transformers Animated Blackarachnia! For ages 5+ this Decipticon is a level 3 (of 4) advanced conversion Transformer toy that can change from robot to spider mode in about a dozen steps, simply diagrammed on the instruction sheet. She is rather attractive for an evil spider girl bot, purple and black with copper accents and a tiny gleam of red here ‘n there. She comes with a retractable grapple hook on a 4″ line in a snap on back pack, that auto reels when you push a button. She has a very posable, well-balanced supple curvilinear body, standing up nicely on two feet in robot mode with articulated flared ankles.

According to the notes on the back of the card, this tricky villain was originally a young reruit at Autobot Academy until accidentally marooned by her team on a hostile planet, There she mutated into a technorganic venemous creature, that can cast strong webs and drains Energon from machines. The spider mode is very sleek and wicked looking, but I would not recommend this toy for anyone who is arachnophobic. But if you are fan of the current Transformers series, this might be a toy you would enjoy. She will be displayed purroudly on the shelf next to my purrior Blackarachnia figure!

Yvonne:
I don’t think I know any spider girls, nya… although our fae friends do have insect like wings I guess that’s the closest, nya

Jeannie:
Insects and arachnids are not the same thing. (sip) I hope there’ll be a new Arcee figure.

Mary Nyan:
I’ve met cosplayers dressed as Marvel’s Spider-Woman and Spider-Girl!

Elizabeth:
There’s a Drow spider goddess named Lolth who appeared in the AD&D module Q1 Queen of the Demon Web Pit. She’s tough! Oh and there’s a big lady Spider Daedra in the video game Oblivion. She’s not as friendly as Kistrel spider in Neverwinter Nights though.

Mary Nyan:
(chomp)

Mike:
Hmm my spider sense is tingling… purrhaps it is time for another-

Lightning Round #5: Favorite Arachnid Girls!
(tags Myayr)

Mary Nyan:
Patty Duke as Valerie the were-spider in Curse of the Black Widow, Wicked City’s Spider Demoness, the Spider Queen in Sakuya Yokaiden, Shelob in The Lord of the Rings, and Blackarachnia.
Oh and in the Angel: After the Fall comic books there’s Spider the spider girl, whose real name is Maria! (tags Lizzy)

Elizabeth:
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Spider Woman 2 / Arachne (Julia Carpenter), Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin), Spider-Girl (Mayday Parker), Arana (Anya Corazon), Female Venom and Miss Arrow! (tags Jenjen)

Jeannie:
Blackarachnia, Jessica Drew, Web Woman (Kelly Webster), sometimes Insect Queen (Lana could also emulate arachnids); depending on how liberal we’re being with what qualifies for this topic, The Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Heroes for Hire’s new Tarantula (Maria Vasquez), and The Legion of Super Heroes’ Spider-Girl, although she is purretty much ‘spidery’ in name only, so named because her prehensile hair could function like webbing.  (tags Vonny)

Yvonne:
Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web, Miss Spider… Spider-Girl… and… Power Rangers’ Scorpina, nya! (tags Mike)

Mike:
Clan of the Cats’ Arachamorph Rei Hoshi! Well I must say, there were more results than I expected for that topic! Good one, girls!

Jeannie:
There were some spider yokai in Yoma- Curse of the Undead, but I cannot recall their gender.

Elizabeth:
Wasn’t the Power rangers villain Trakeena part Spider?

Yvonne:
No, although she was part bug, it was an insect part, nya. But, wasn’t there an evil girl early in InuYasha that used webs, nya?

Jeannie:
You’re thinking of Yura, and that was her hair!

Yvonne:
Ok, nya!

Elizabeth:
(wide mouthed long tongued cat yawn) Yawn yawn.  I think I need a catgirlnap, after all the soccer and food and discussions!

Jeannie:
I will second that.

Yvonne:
(the contagious yawn) Nyyyaaa… (smacks lips) nyow I’m sleepy too, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Where shall we nap? We could curl up here but I would purrfur a sunnier spot by the lake.

Elizabeth:
Hmm, we could go to the platform and sun ourselves there…

Mary Nyan:
(streeeetch) Does anyone have any lotion? I’m fresh out!

Jeannie:
Hai. It is the aloe sun block & bug repellent combo.

Yvonne:
That’s what I have. It doesn’t taste too bad either, nya!

(all four catgirls in unison):
TO THE LAKE!

(To our fashion concerned viewers, shedding their soccer attire as they scamper towards the shore to bask in the sunshine, reveals the catgirls’ string bikinis underneath: Vonny’s is a White Tonga, Lizzy’s is a Slate Blue Brazillian, Myayr’s is an Ultramarine Columbian, and Jenjen’s is a Blue Violet Lake Strapless Bandau.)

Mike:
I guess we’re done for now…!

The Cat Lady Sings…

Elizabeth:
(rubs the lotion on her tail) Well that’ll wrap it up for this edition of The Mew!

Jeannie:
If you have polite & sincere responses to our discussion- feel free to post them, purr-vided that your brief remarks are spam-free, not argumentative, and stay on-topic.

Yvonne:
Everybody out there remember to turn off your cell phone and not to talk, text message, or light it up during a movie in a theater, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Next month, more of our mewsual reviews, discussions, recommendationsand hopefully more of that peachy creamy cobbler and chocolate nummy drink!

Mike:
Well, there they go! Thanks for visiting, folks!

(all four sleepy catgirls in unison):
BAI BAI! nya!


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