The Archer fan game is finished. I'll be getting it burned to a cart before too long, and I'll be all set for C2E2 in April. Now, I'm going to make a couple of games as gifts for myself for Christmas -- Neon Genesis Evangelion, and a Sailor Jupiter game.
That's funny. I don't believe this election anymore.
In 1979, the TV show Laverne And Shirley was riding high. And among those riding the wave were Micheal McKean and David Lander, who played comic foils Lenny and Squiggy on the show. During an episode about a talent show put on by employees of the brewery, the two appeared as a music duo called "Lenny And The Squigtones." This proved popular enough that McKean and Lander did a special "Lenny And The Squigtones" performance at the Roxy in Hollywood, which was recorded and released that year on Casablanca records. This odd footnote in music history was actually fraught with portent, as one of the credited band members on the album was one Nigel Tufnel, played by a Mister Christopher Guest.
A little while later, ABC had commissioned a pilot for a sketch comedy series from Rob Reiner. By this point, McKean and Guest had found a third compatriot for their antics, Harry Shearer. Writing a sketch with Rob Reiner, they created a parody promotional video for a song called "Rock And Roll Nightmare." Guest repurposed his Tufnel identity, McKean adopted the moniker of David St. Hubbins, and Shearer became Derek Smalls. This was the modest beginnings of the greatest band that never was, Spinal Tap.
In 1984, production began on one of the greatest comedy movies ever made, This Is Spinal Tap. Supposedly tracking the band as they attempted to break into and conquer the American music market, the movie took advantage of its set-up to lampoon ever major musical movement in rock and roll. Not only that, but the band became the Wile E. Coyote of music. Every conceivable thing that could go wrong did go wrong. The story of the disasterous tour was replete with prop and set malfunctions, getting lost beneath the stage before their biggest show, and a succession of drummers who dropped like flies. In fact, the movie was so well done and thought out that, according to legend, Rob Halford of Judas Priest gathered up all the roadies on the band's tour and demanded to know which one of them blabbed to the Spinal Tap crew.
(Side note: the band also appeared as the musical act on Saturday Night Live in 1984, when McKean and Guest had joined the cast.)
Since then, the band has become its own entity, even going so far as to play Wembley Stadium, proof that you've made it to the top. They released a new album back in 1992 called "Break Like The Wind," and went on tour. Their stop in Chicago was part of a triple bill that had them playing with Screaming Trees. Screaming Trees sucked, Spinal Tap was awesome, and all I could think was, "Attention, Screaming Trees -- you are being outperformed by a joke band!" In 1985, Ronnie James Dio started Hear 'n Aid, a sort of "We Are The World" with metal artists to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Dio invited Spinal Tap to be part of it. Only McKean and Shearer could make it, and they were treated to legends of metal like Dio, Halford, Don Dokken, Eric Bloom, Mickey Mars, Vince Neil, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ted Nugent, and more geeking out over meeting Spinal Tap and sharing their own stories of concert malfunctions and mishaps.
However, despite this rich legacy, the band still has real problems once in a while. And one of them has come rearing up, in the form of Harry Shearer, being repped by Peter Haviland at Ballard Spahr, suing French entertainment company Vivendi and StudioCanal. Filed today in a California federal court, he is seeking $125 mil in compensatory and punitive damages. How Vivendi wound up with Spinal Tap is a bit convoluted, having started at Embassy Pictures with the original film and landing at Vivendi after a series of transactions and acquisitions. Bottom line: Vivendi is the ultimate rights holder, and Shearer is seeking to change that (besides alleging Vivendi has abandoned trademarks related to the film, Shearer wants a declaration that his use of the Spinal Tap and Derek Smalls trademarks does not infringe on the trademark rights supposedly abandoned by Vivendi).
Among the things that happened in the intervening years, according to the lawsuit, were a $1.6 mil settlement from MGM Home Video over underreported home sales revenues. It also alleges failure to collect merchandising revenue, improper business expenses, and undocumented marketing and promotion "allegedly incurred years after the release totaling over $2.5 million." Shearer alleges that Vivendi has engaged in "anti-competitive and unfair business practices," and "willfully concealed and manipulated years of accountings to retain monies due and owing to plaintiff." To help back this up, the suit claims that, "according to Vivendi, the four creators' share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81. Between 1989 and 2006 total income from music sales was $98. Over the past two years, Vivendi has failed to provide basic accounting statements at all." Shearer wants those books opened and wants an explanation.
Here's where it gets tricky, though -- Eddie Murphy once famously said that any deal you made where you took a cut of the net instead of the gross was a "monkey deal," that you had to be as stupid as a monkey to take it. In the original deal with Embassy, Reiner, McKean, Guest, and Shearer, not realizing what was going to happen, agreed to 40% of the net receipts.
And this is where Hollywood accounting comes into play (anyone else remember how the movie versions of Forrest Gump and Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix were alleged to have not made any money?). And there's an additional wrinkle to this, something known in the business as "straightlining," or not properly managing the flow of payments through their subsidiaries, which has become a problem in this age of vertically-oriented companies. The complaint alleges that Vivendi was "cross-collateralizing unsuccessful films bundled with TIST in their accounting." Shearer also alleges that, while a brewery was able to file a trademark on "Spinal Tap" without a challenge from Vivendi, Shearer himself has been prohibited from reprising his famous character on copyright grounds.
All this adds up to Shearer's gambit of invoking the Copyright Act's termination provisions. They allow authors to cancel grants and retain rights after 35 years (which means McCartney could potentially get the Beatles catalog back if he sticks around long enough). This means that Vivendi et al. would lose the rights to everything Spinal Tap in 2019.
Keep an eye on the papers, folks. This is going to get interesting.....
Susan Aceron Gray, who was the voice of Sailor Pluto on the original Cloverway dubs of Sailor Moon S and SuperS, has died. She was 44.
I want you to think about that for a moment -- 44. One year younger than me. What got her was the Big C. Nasopharyngeal cancer.
She has a number of videos on her YouTube channel that I just don't have the heart to watch or link to right now. Her family was supportive. She was loved. And it just wasn't enough.
May we see you at the Gates Of Time, Miss Aceron.
I don't like being a fair weather fan. Whenever the Chicago Blackhawks start their championship runs, I always sit out. Friends will try to welcome me in, and tell me that everyone is welcome to their party. But I will decline, because I am not a hockey fan. I take shots at bandwagoners all the time, and that would be me joining those ranks. So I wish them a good time and I go on about my business.
However, in the case of the Hawks, I sit out because I am not engaged with the team unless they are on my radar. The Chicago Cubs, however, I refuse to root for. I don't have a problem with the team, I'm glad they are doing so well, and Joe Madden seems to have his head on straight. But I will not be a Cub fan now or ever.
Because I hate the Cub fans.
Because of how they treated one individual.
For those that don't know, this is the Most Wanted Man In Chicago. His name is Steve Bartman, a financial consultant from Chicago.
Here's the Cliffs Notes -- before the 2003 season started, the Cubs hired Dusty Baker to be their coach. As usually happens when the Cubs hired a new coach with actual pedigree, the first season resulted in a playoff run (and then they would miss the next season, and the season after that, they would tank and the coach would get the thumb. Time would eventually show Baker following the exact same professional curve). According to legend, the Cubs are a cursed team, doomed to never win a World Series. But things were looking good, and the Cubs made it to a divisional playoff series against the Florida Marlins.
The night was October 14. Chicago was leading the series 3-2. Eighth inning, the score was 3-0 Cubs, Marlins at bat, one out. Juan Pierre was on second base, Luis Castillo was up to bat. Castillo chipped a foul ball towards the left field stands. Moises Alou was trying to run it down. He jumped up to catch the ball, but a bunch of fans in the stands reached out to grab it as well. It bounced out of the grip of one fan and landed in the unlucky hands of Bartman.
Alou lost his shit. He threw his glove and yelled for the umpire to call fan interference. The ump refused, saying the ball had passed the plane of the wall and it was fine for the fan to catch it. Meanwhile, Fox Sports, who was televising the game, repeatedly showed Bartman and his location. People watching home called their friends in the stands (Wrigley Field had no Jumbotron or other such device at the time) and the crowd. Got. Ugly. To the point where Bartman was escorted from the building under a police guard and needed protection for a few days when idiot Cub fans doxxed him and posted his home address and phone number on MLB message boards.
The Cubs, meanwhile, completely collapsed. After that failed catch, only two outs from the end of the inning and one man on base and a 3-0 lead, promptly choked, giving up eight runs and letting Florida tie the series. The next night, the Cubs choked again, taking a game where they were up 5-3 and wound up losing 9-6. And despite the fact that the Cubs lost the game because of their own incompetence, fans continued to point to Bartman as "the first domino" that sank the entire series.
Bartman, to his credit, has never capitalized on any of this. He continues to work as a financial consultant, and has refused interviews or trying to leverage his unwanted fame. Last year, during the Cubs' surprising playoff run, fans tried to organize a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 to get him a ticket to the wild card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. They were about halfway to the goal when Bartman contacted them and politely declined -- the money went to Alzheimer's research instead. Bartman says he has never returned to Wrigley, and who can blame him.
And despite even the Chicago Cubs themselves saying Bartman had nothing to do with them pissing the series down their leg, Chicagoans to this day will insist that Bartman killed their magical season and they are willing to beat him up if they see him. Even more galling is some fans saying that, if the Cubs go all the way this year, they'll forgive Bartman. In other words, his future is completely out of his hands, and they won't let him be because of things like "human decency," but because their team wins the World Series, and if they don't, they will still harbor their murderous thoughts.
I refuse to associate with people who believe they have the right to bully and threaten someone who did something they would do (and not even the one who was originally going for the ball) just because their team lost. I have no problem with the Cubs. But their fans can go to Hell.
Today? He's gone.
Gary Reed was 60 years old, and if he had any problems indicating his time was almost up, no one knew it. Reed is known to us indie comic fans as the man behind Caliber Press. Caliber championed creator rights and creator ownership, but unlike certain other publishers that claim to support such things, Caliber walked the walk. To the point where, as the comic market began the great constriction that has put it firmly back in the superhero ghetto, Caliber couldn't afford to stay in operation. But Reed managed to revive it last year, partnering with other media companies to help increase exposure and opportunities for those who got onboard. I had talked with him at C2E2, and we agreed to stay in touch and maybe something of mine would find a home there.
Time's up, Peter.
Caliber took on people who believed in their art, and the list of graduates from the label is incredible. James O'Barr. Ed Brubaker. Jim Calafiore. Mike Carey. Brian Bendis. Guy Davis. David Mack. Reed is even his own graduate, having created Saint Germaine, Baker Street, and the indie classic Deadworld. I never knew him to not have time to talk to anyone, even a nobody like me.
Rest in peace, Mister Reed. May we continue your legacy.
...okay, you're right, Ford Mustangs cannot drive in a straight line.
The Nintendo Entertainment System, a.k.a. the Famicom in Japan, debuted there in 1983 and the US in 1985. New software was made for the system until 1994 in the US and Japan (the last official release in the US is Wario's Woods, while Japan's last release is Adventure Island IV). In Europe, the system kept getting new games until 1995 (the last release there was The Lion King). The first appearance of Sailor Moon in a video game is Nakayoshi To Isho, which was released in Japan in 1993.
With one exception, not one single Sailor Moon game has been officially released outside of Japan. The one exception is Sailor Moon - La Luna Splende, which saw a European release. Not one Sailor Moon game has ever been released in the US.
Atari's last game for the Atari 2600 in the US was Moto Rodeo, released in 1990. It's unclear what the last game for the 7800 was, but 1990 was the last year for any releases, and on January 1, 1992, Atari ceased all publication (although some titles were still being developed until May 1993).
No, these aren't random thoughts. You will see in due time....
"As far as the movies, there are two. Both Ronan The Accuser and Groot were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Dick Ayers also helped create Groot."
...and there goes my tax return. So long, friend, I had hoped we'd be together longer.
And the first thing it says is that this C2E2 will be the last appearance at C2E2 for Stan Lee.
This is a surprise, given that Reed's NYCC was to be the last time Lee moved too far from his base of operations in California. So there seems to be one last trip across the country in him.
Longtime readers know I have very mixed emotions regarding Lee and his history with Jack Kirby. Also, I wasn't much of a mainstream comic reader, so a lot of the cultural impact he had on others with his creations like Spider-Man and such flew right by me. But the guy is 91 years old. I'm frankly amazed he's still around.
I hadn't really considered getting his signature before. But now, there is something that would be nice. My Deadpool game for the XBox 360 currently sports four sigs -- Fabian Nicieza (co-creator, Deadpool and Domino), Chris Claremont (co-creator, Rogue, Genoshia, Nathan Summers as Cable, Psylocke, Sinister, Arclight, Vertigo, Blockbuster (2nd), and the Marauders), Michael Golden (co-creator, Rogue, Blockbuster (2nd), and Vertigo), and Nolan North (voice of Deadpool in the game). How would Stan Lee fit into things, other than being the public face of Marvel? Co-creator of the X-Men, the Blackbird, and the Sentinels. So he would be an intersting addition to the collection, and given how he charges in the $100 range for a sig, it would fit in. Although it would be a bit pricey -- remember, I have people sign both the game cover and the disc itself. So either I better make sure I get my tax return in time or PeeGee's having ramen for dinner for a while.
So, as you can tell from the heavily documented list above, it is almost a sure thing that I'll get his sig on the game. The question is, should I do anything else? There's Spider-Man on the Atari 2600, for example. Lots of games. Maybe my Deadpool movie, which featured the first Stan Lee appearance I genuinely cheered instead of rolling my eyes at. How involved was he in with the characters from Guadians Of The Galaxy? What Marvel comic would constitute the prize of that collection?
A lot to think about. Because, there's already two comic book names involved in the game I can never get -- King Kirby and Herb Trimpe, co-creator of Psylocke and the first to draw Wolverine for publication. They've passed on. And after seeing C. Martin Coker die this week, I no longer think there will be more opportunities with Lee.
(For the curious, the other sigs to chase for the Deadpool game as far as the comic book industry goes are John Romita Jr. (co-creator of the Marauders and Arc Light), Marc Silvestri (co-creator, Sinister), Roy Thomas and Len Wein and John Romita Sr. (Wolverine, obviously), Rick Leonardi (Genoshia), Louise Simonson (co-creator, Cable), Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin (Death), and of course, Liefeld himself.)
So, apparently, next week's Amazing Spider-Man #18 will have something to do with The Superior Spider-Man and will be written by Dan "Mr. Personality" Slott.
I think I'll be taking a little break from the comic book fandom for a bit.....
This would be like if Warner Bros. declared the Joel Shumacher Batman And Robin to be canon but nothing else.
So, what exactly happened? Well, apparently, last Thursday, GameJolt got a C&D from Nintendo. GameJolt is a site that hosts fangame projects, and they were ordered to shut down 562 -- count 'em, 562! -- fan games hosted on the site for trademark violation among other things, like profiting off of Nintendo's IP (for those of you wondering about fangames being a labor of love done for free, GameJolt gives you the option for revenue sharing on ads that run as the game loads and on the game pages, with creators looking at a potential cut of 30%, so it's not like Nintendo is wrong in their assertion here).
Now, Nintendo is in their rights here, and in fact, they have a sort of requirement to be hard asses about this. Copyright is actually rather flexible on the part of rights holders, but trademark? If you do not rigidly enforce your trademark, it weakens and you can lose it. And given the sheer amount of name recognition Nintendo's properties have, from Mario to Metroid to Pokemon to Zelda, you can see why they aren't inclined to let it weaken in the slightest. In fact, depending on circumstances, Nintendo can actually be relatively decent about this stuff. For example, an animator decided to make a StarFox fan animated series. Nintendo hit him with a DMCA, because they were making their own StarFox animated series to go out with StarFox Zero. However, Nintendo isn't trying to stop the project. He can still continue with it, he just can't call it StarFox is all. Likewise, one of the games that dodged the massive purge on GameJolt is Escape From Lavender Town, which despite being a Pokemon adventure, doesn't use Pokemon in the title and makes its existence a lot less intricate. (This is part of the reason I'm not sure if I'm ever going to make that Officer Jenny fangame for the Atari.)
Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again -- it's Nintendo's stuff. Not mine, not yours, their's. And if they decide to enforce their rights, for whatever reason or no reason, they can. I'll tell you the truth, everyone should have seen this coming. Nintendo is behind the 8 ball here, and they need the NX to be a smash. They are preparing a massive blitz with any property they have (I'm wondering if we'll see Captain N put in an appearance), and they don't want competition. Just look at Star Trek -- Axanar: people were saying that the preview and trailer looked better than the Star Trek Beyond trailer and people were more excited for it. Paramount would be competing with the fandom it needs to make this work and Alec Peters was acting like a puke (it could have split the fandom over the direction and overall themes of Trek), so out came the ban hammer. Nintendo has a lot of plans, almost none public, so they are keeping the decks clear. And dare I say, Nintendo is actually being pretty lenient here. They could be suing for cash or ruining careers here, but they aren't. They are just stopping everyone from distributing their programs and apps through GameJolt. They can still recover their code. They can still modify it -- Pokemon Uranium is going to keep updating its program for the 1.5 million people who already downloaded it, but they will not be distributing the base game anymore, although you can easily find it on the torrents if you trust that crowd (I don't). So given the absolute ruin Nintendo can create to the fan community, all they are really doing is going, "Me, first." Count your blessings.
Goddammit, why do we keep losing the good ones?!?
Things PeeGee learned at Wizard World Chicago -- IDW artist Sam Ellis, who works on Adventure Time, is also the lead character designer for Archer.
Ellis will be at C2E2 next April. I showed him my Sailor Moon game and asked, if I made an Archer game for the Atari, would he sign it? He said yes.
So my mission is clear....
Ever since the Batman -- The Killing Joke movie showed us Batman and Batgirl getting it on, my enthusiasm for the Caped Crusader has plummeted like a Kayne West album in its second week. I was ready to trash every last bit of Batman memoribia I have, but I eventually decided to wait until I calmed down from the squick. So I have been placing extraneous Batman stuff aside until I decide once and for all if I can keep being a fan or if I don't want it anymore.
That said, there are a few things that will remain in my collection. My Batman video games, obviously. The first two movies in the Nolan trilogy (sorry, I didn't like Dark Knight Rises). A few other things here and there, and certain comic books. For example, Justice League #5 (September 1987). This is the infamous "One Punch" issue. I hate Guy Gardner. I think he's a total asshole and his existence not only doesn't make sense in the Green Lantern continuity, but it's insulting to the concept of superheroes, and I will argue those points to the death. So when Guy decided to challenge Batman to a fistfight, that one image, of Batman dropping him like a sack of flour with one punch, was something I had been wishing for for ages. The first time I saw it, I just stared at the page, realizing my dreams had come true. I know Keith Giffen, the writer, said it was a throwaway joke, but it was something the readers had been aching to see, and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle.
(Side note: this also means I keep Justice League Of America Vol 2 #0. In that issue, it is revealed that Black Canary took a picture of the unconscious Guy Gardner and faxed it to Wonder Woman. The issue features a scene where Wonder Woman and Superman are grilling Batman for details of the "fight" and loving every minute of it, to the point where they ask Batman to re-enact the fight and he gladly does so. The Caped Crusader, dour and grim and withdrawn, is actually bragging about fucking Guy Gardner up and Wondy and Supes were just eating it up. And I don't blame them one little bit.)
So, like I said, there are certain key issues that I will be holding on to no matter what, although I do note that they all come from before Batsy's roll in the hay with his metaphorical daughter. The original Court Of Owls story? That stays. No Man's Land? Never getting rid of that, it's one of my favorite Batman stories of all time. But it's not just the epic stuff. There is one issue that, due to a personal bias, I will never get rid of, because, like Batman actually bragging about something for a change, this one is a little throwaway detail that, the more you think about it, the better it gets.
The issue in question is Justice League Of America #27 (1999). In it, there is a scene in a restaraunt. The Martian Manhunter has disguised himself as a Japanese woman (CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! MARTIANS ARE INSENSITIVE!) for a meeting with Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. Here's the page that is fraught with portent:
For those of you wondering what the hell Bruce is on about, the Martain Manhunter has adopted the alias of Hino Rei, a.k.a. Sailor Mars.
Batman reads and/or watches Sailor Moon.
And now, I want a picture of a Batman cosplayer holding my signed Sailor Moon video game....
Who explains sexual harassment to you and me...Sexual Harassment Batman....
Don't say that! Don't touch there!
Don't be nasty, says the silly bear!
He's come to teach you right and wrong...Sexual Harassement Batman!
Is there ANYTHING people won't bitch about?!?
As everyone knows, Illinois is facing a budget shortfall. The gov and the state leg are locked in a stupid dick measuring contest, keeping funds from a lot of government agencies in this state. So where to find money without increasing taxes, especially during an election year?
How about pot?
Today, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill that has decriminalized small amounts of weed. If you are caught with 10 grams or less, you don't get arrested, you simply get fined a ticket up to $200. This makes Illinois the 17th state to enact such legislation.
The key to the debate was what constituted a "harmless" amount of weed. 10 grams was seen as an acceptable limit, the equivalent of a BAL. The bill passed with bipartisan support, probably after seeing how things went in Cook County -- a few years ago, they also decriminalized small amounts of pot, and it's been very good for their budget.
Let taht be a lesson to you -- if you can't have faith in people to do what is right, have faith in their greed.