Sunday, August 31, 2008

Air #1

G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker

Air is a new series that debuted a few weeks back from Vertigo, by the creative team behind last year's graphic novel Cairo - a work that was flawed, but showed a lot of promise from these artists. Air leaves behind the magical whimsy of Cairo (but not the suspension of disbelief, mind you) to concentrate on hot current issues in America. Like terrorism. The debut issue of this title introduces Blythe, a flight attendant with a fear of heights, as she's pulled into a web of warring parties that wish to prevent terrorism (maybe), by causing terrorism (probably) - or something like that. Anyways, Perker's art is looking nice here, above average for a Vertigo title, although it still looks very much like a Vertigo book from the first glance. There are some fun, interesting things set up for this book, and the cool ideas that were utilized throughout this debut issue were executed pretty spot-on. Unfortunately, the characters don't do much for me: I mean, come on, the overtly gay flight attendant best friend was completely unnecessary. But on the flip side, I was really enamoured by the romance between Blythe and the man of mystery that comes to sweep her off of her feet. It was sudden, but very fitting, and, well, he was a really charming character (the best of the bunch). I don't think this book has really lived up to the promise of the creators yet, but I think they're getting closer with this venture, and it could perhaps morph into something better further on.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Movies-and-More: September 2008

Here's the run-down of September release dates for films, music, DVDs and books, as well as my box office predictions and newly-released movie trailers.

In Theaters September 5th

Predictions: 1. Tropic Thunder ($8 million), 2. Bangkok Dangerous ($7.5 m), 3. Babylon A.D. ($6.5 m), 4. The Dark Knight ($6 m), 5. The House Bunny ($5 m)

In Theaters September 12th

Predictions: 1. Burn After Reading ($32 m), 2. Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys ($18 m), 3. Righteous Kill ($8 m), 4. Tropic Thunder ($6 m), 5. The Women ($5.5 m)

In Theaters September 19th

Predictions: 1. Igor ($23 m), 2. Burn After Reading ($18 m), 3. My Best Friend's Girl ($17 m). 4. Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys Together ($8 m), 4. Lakeview Terrace ($5.5 m)

In Theaters September 26th

Predictions: 1. Eagle Eye ($28 m), 2. Nights In Rodanthe ($15.5 m), 3. Igor ($15 m), 4. Burn After Reading ($11 m), 5. Blindness ($8 m)

New Trailer Debuts
.....Senior Year

You Other Entertainment Needs:

September 2nd
On DVD: Ballet Shoes, Cheers: Season Ten, Desperate Housewives: Season Four, The Ghost Whisperer: Season Three, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, The Office: Season Four, Supernatural: Season Three, Then She Found Me

On CD: Joshua Bell, The Chemical Brothers, New Kids on the Block, Olivia Newton-John, Marie Osmond, Brad Paisley, Brian Wilson, Young Jeezy

In Bookstores:
Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games
Eric Hunter's Eclipse (Warriors: Power of Three Series #4)
Brad Meltzer's The Book of Lies
Marilynne Robinson's Home
Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife

September 9th
On DVD: Baby Mama, The Forbidden Kingdom, Grey's Anatomy: Season Four, Smallville: Season Seven, Ugly Betty: Season Two

On CD: Joan Baez, Jim Brickman, Natalie Cole, Missy Elliot, Gym Class Heroes, LL Cool J, Patty Loveless, Metallica (Sept. 12th), Joan Osborne, Jessica Simpson, Robin Thicke

In Bookstores:
Jamie Lee Curtis's Big Words for Little People
Thomas L. Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded
Chuck Norris's Black Belt Patriotism: How To Reawaken America
Barack Obama's Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan
.....To Renew America's Promise
Rick Riordan's Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues Series #1)
Bob Schieffer's Bob Schieffer's America
Suzanne Somers's Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Medicine

September 16th
On DVD: 88 Minutes, Avatar the Last Airbender: Complete Book Three, Chuck: Season One, Deception, Made of Honor, Pushing Daisies: Season One, Snow Angels, Speed Racer, Torchwood: Season Two, Will & Grace: Season Eight, Young@ Heart

On CD: Blackcherry, Lindsay Buckingham, Renee Fleming, Jem, Ne-Yo, Nelly

In Bookstores:
Phillipa Gregory's The Other Queen
Brian Herbert's Paul of Dune
Garrison Keillor's Liberty
Phil McGraw's Real Life: Preparing
.....for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life
Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way To the Good Life
Christopher Paolini's Brisingr (Inheritance Cycle #3)
Ian Rankin's Exit Music
Phillip Roth's Indignation

September 23rd
On DVD: Boston Legal: Season Four, Brothers & Sisters: Season Two, Deception, Friday the 13th: The Series: Season One, Leatherheads, Run Fat Boy Run, Samantha Who: Season One, Sex and the City

On CD: David Gilmour, Kenny Loggins, Old Crow Medicine Show, Plain White T's, Pretenders, Pussycat Dolls
In Bookstores:
Maya Angelou's Letter To My Daughter
P.C. Cast's Untamed (House of Night Series #4)
Jenny McCarthy's Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism
.....Against All Odds
Bill O'Reilly: A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity: A Memoir
John Sandford's Heat Lightning
Alexander McCall Smith's The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday
Stuart Woods's Hot Mahogany

September 30th
On DVD: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Iron Man, My Name Is Earl: Season Three, My Three Sons: Season One Volume One, Numbers: Season Four, Popeye the Sailor Man (Volume 3): 1941-1943, Taxi to the Dark Side

On CD: Ben Folds, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Common, Linda Eder, Melissa Etheridge, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Kellie Pickler, Santana, James Taylor, T.I., Michelle, Williams, Lee Ann Womack

In Bookstores:
Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone and the Shadow
Terry Pratchett's Nation
Prince's 21 Nights
Alice Schroeder's The Snowball
Nicholas Sparks's The Lucky One

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In Stores 8/27

Here are the books with most potential shipping to comic shops tomorrow!!!

Pick of the Week

Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight HC - Dark Horse brings Chris Onstad's extremely popular, critically-hailed webcomic to print in this hardcover volume. I've never read Achewood before, but it looks like now's the time.

Other Noteworthy Releases

All-Star Superman (Volume 1) TP - Now in paperback!
Astounding Wolf-Man (Volume 1) TP
Barb Wire Omnibus (Volume 1) TP
Daredevil by Bendis Omnibus HC (Volume 1)
Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson (Volume 2) TP
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (of 2)
Metal Men HC
newuniversal: Conquerer
Runaways 3 #1
Secret Invasion: Spider-Man #1 (of 3)
She-Hulk (Volume 6): Jaded TP
Suicide Squad: From the Ashes TP
Terry Moore's Echo (Volume 1): Moon Lake TP
X-Men: The Complete Onslaught Epic (Volume 3) TP
Young Inhumans TP

Monday, August 25, 2008

Manga Monday: Shirley!

Shirley (Volume 1)
Kaoru Mori
My favorite manga last year was Kaoru Mori's Emma, so I was ecstatic when this new manga from Mori was announced from CMX. Shirley is a book of short stories, the first five of which center around a 13-year-old maid taken in by a kind single cafe owner. She's very hard-working and diligent, but she is a child after all, and has a lot to learn, and must act (and be treated) like a child from time to time. After this, we are treated to the tale of a child master who gains some insights while playing with his servant, the maid Nellie, who is obviously a prototype for the title character in Emma. The volume rounds out with "Mary Banks" about servants subjected to the pranks of their eccentric old master. All of these stories feature maids from Edwardian England, a subject that the creator is obviously fond of, as she meticulously researches them and illustrates them lushly and lovingly. Still, these early stories by Mori aren't as impressive as Emma, which admittedly took a few volumes to warm up to also, and kept getting better as it went along. It just takes longer serialized stories to make me care about a character enough to get a reaction from this sort of story, and the short bursts of story collected here aren't enough. I'm more excited to see more Emma from Kaoru Mori, which is coming next year, but beyond that, I'd like to see her grow beyond a subject that she has obviously grown very comfortable writing about. I don't mind if she wants to do more historical fiction pieces such as these, because she obviously crafts them very well, and I want Mori to do what she wants to do, but I would like something new from the creator, something to get me excited for her work all over again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Order (Volume 2): California Dreaming

Matt Fraction, Barry Kitson & Javier Saltares
I didn't quite like the second volume of The Order as much as I loved the first, but it's still very good, with plenty of unexpected things happening. I felt like the book was a little rushed toward the end, probably a result of its cancellation, but there was still a thrilling climax and satisfying final issue. I was also disappointed that Barry Kitson didn't draw the last two issues. I love Kitson's art (I was impressed with his recent stint on Wolverine: First Class as well) and Javier Saltares's art was jarring when it appeared. Two more issues and the book could have had a nice consistency through its finale...ah, well. I do think this series had a top-notch creative team. Matt Fraction is one of the best writers working in mainstream comics right now, and Barry Kitson's one of those artists I notice when he makes an appearance. It's too bad that the book was cancelled so soon, but perhaps we'll see more of The Order in the future. The book is nominated for "Best New Series" at the Harvey Awards at the end of September (presented at the Baltimore Comic-Con), so maybe a win will mean another chance for the book. If not, the characters will still be part of the Marvel Universe - we can only hope that they will be utilized by as capable hands as the ones involved with this book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bottomless Belly Button

Dash Shaw
Dash Shaw's acclaimed graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button clocks in at an enormous 720 pages. You wouldn't know it from reading it though - the book is utterly captivating, and the pages fly by, drawing you in like a good thriller. The story follows the reunion of the Loony family as three siblings' parents plan to get a divorce late in life. The book shifts from one member of the family's perspective to another, each with their own interesting issues (with the youngest brother drawn like a frog). At times funny, at times heavy-hearted, Bottomless Belly Button is drawn beautifully, and easily secures Shaw as an innovative young cartoonist to watch. There are definitely influences from other important creators in this work - Chris Ware, for one, although this book does remind me more of Craig Thompson's Blankets than anything I've read: It felt very realistic, and was able to fully capture the mood and feelings associated with a life-altering moment (although the moment here is the fallout of lost love, as opposed to a blossoming first love in Blankets), and is similarly paced. My favorite character within is the youngest "frog" brother, who isn't understood by his family, and is all but ignored for the most part. But he's content with being alone in his room until he meets a woman while staying at his parents, experimenting in sex and love at the same time as the love between his parents withers (although they do express their fondness for one other despite the divorce, in a really touching scene toward the end of the novel). I also like the oldest brother who searches the house he grew up in for some physical evidence for why his parents are divorcing, as he can't grasp them simply falling out of love with one another. He becomes very frenzied in his quest, and it gets pretty intense. I found the sister's story the most uninteresting, but she brought her daughter along with her, and the emotional young girl has some fun, awkward scenes. The people who get the least amount of time spent with them are the parents who are divorcing, but I think the short time we spend with them captures their personalities perfectly, and paints a full picture when combined with what the siblings say about them when they're out of the room. I rather came to admire them and their decision (especially with the difficulties both of them have in life) by the story's conclusion. I loved this book, and I believe it to be a serious contender for best graphic novel of the year. It's emotionally-charged, but also fast-paced, intriguing and very human.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Walking Dead (Volume 8):

Made To Suffer
Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Things that have been brewing for volumes finally come to a head in the latest collection of The Walking Dead. Collecting issues 43 through 48 of the popular zombie comic, Made To Suffer sees the big confrontation between Rick and his band of friends, and the villainous Governor who manipulates his small populace of survivors to do his bidding. At the end of volume seven, The Calm Before, we see an army barrelling in on Rick's safe prison, and the first chapter of volume eight goes over the events in the enemy camp between Rick's escape from their clutches and this new attack. After this one issue seen through the enemy's eyes, it's back to Rick and friends as they defend all that they've worked so hard to build against the treacherous invaders. By the end of the volume, all has changed and the book will never be the same. I think this is in the book's best interest. Things were getting a little safe, and subsequently, a little boring, up until the introduction of the Governor. With the way things shift by this volume's end, the series should get interesting again, perhaps moving away from the torture-porn of the last two dozen issues (which were fantastic, mind you) and move forward to some genuine horror. The zombies haven't seemed to be much of a threat for awhile, so I'd like to see them at the forefront of the pages again. It's interesting to see humans act more monstrous than the zombies, but...this is a zombie comic and I want to see some living dead! Adlard illustrates as competently as ever in a story with great action scenes and plenty of face time with long-time characters before...things hit the fan. I'm looking forward to see where Kirkman goes with the book following recent events. If the series thus far has been any indication, it should be one hell of a ride.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Stores 8/20

Here are the books with most potential, shipping to comic shops tomorrow!!!
Pick of the Week
Where Demented Wented: The Art and Comics of Rory Hayes - I was enamored with Rory Hayes's artwork during a gallery show in Chicago a few years ago (put together by Ivan Brunetti). It was beautiful and disturbing, and completely stole the show for me. Up until now, there was nowhere to get your hands on his work, but luckily, the unconquerable Dan Nadel and Glenn Bray put together this retrospective (the very first featuring this artist), with the best of Hayes's underground comics.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Abandoned Cars HC
Air #1
Art of Marc Silvestri Deluxe Edition HC
Delphine #3
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1 (of 5)
Herbie Archives (Volume 1) HC
The Killer #8 (of 10)
Mome (Volume 12) GN
Myspace Dark Horse Presents (Volume 1) TP - With Joss Whedon's
.....Sugar Shock!
Naoki Urasawa's Monster (Volume 16)
Punisher War Journal Classic (Volume 1) TP
The Red Star: Sword of Lies #3 (of 3) - This has been a long time
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (Volume 2) HC
Tales Designed To Thrizzle #4
Ultimate Spider-Man (Volume 20): And His Amazing Friends TP
Wolverine: Logan Premiere HC
X-Factor Special: Layla Miller
Youngblood (Volume 1): Focus Tested TP

Monday, August 18, 2008

Manga Monday: One Piece

One Piece (Volume 1): Romance Dawn
Eiichiro Oda
One Piece is an extremely popular manga that follows ambitious Monkey D. Luffy as he strives to become the King of Pirates, the tale beginning with his inspiration for becoming a pirate in his youth, when he befriended a group of pirates who anchored at his seaside hometown. During these early years, he ate the gum-gum fruit, and his body was made rubbery, so he's pretty much impervious to harm and can do some winding punches and more, but it's also made him unable to swim for life, as he would simply sink. This doesn't discourage him however, as he sets off on a small boat to gather a crew of pirates and search for the coveted "One Piece" treasure that many people seek during this golden age of piracy.
This book is great. Luffy is one of those happy-go-lucky characters that's hard to take very seriously, but his enthusiasm is infectious, which is probably why he attracts the people that he does. His adventures within this first volume mostly arrive accidentally, but he sets off with a purpose that doesn't seem too far-fetched for him to achieve as he grows, though the journey has been set up as being rather difficult to undertake. Oda seems to already be setting things up for future volumes, as people come in and out of Luffy's life, and battles are waged with cut throat (but completely one-dimensional) villains. One volume in, I can't imagine how this wouldn't captivate an audience, so it's no wonder that this volume I have is the seventh printing of the book. It's a great light-hearted action comedy told in an amazing cartoony style that suits its characters and the fun world that Oda is slowly building.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Love and Rockets: New Stories #1

Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez
The Hernandez Brothers's popular Love and Rockets series has relaunched in a new annual format, where the book can now be ordered through book stores in a nice trade paperback format - a good idea, as this type of thing seems to work very well for other artists such as Chris Ware. Unfortunately, this also means...we will only see this book once a year, which is a shame, but I do feel like The Hernandez Brothers's works generally read much better in long chunks of story anyway, so for me, this is ideal.
I believe Gilbert will be doing more Palomar stories in this book in the future, but he was originally planning on saving Palomar stories for original graphic novels, contributing other short stories to the Love and Rockets comic pamphlet. When this new format was announced however, it became a good place once again for the creator to bring Palomar back into the fold. But as is, with this debut issue of the third incarnation of Love and Rockets, we get several short stories from Gilbert - no Palomar this time around, but mostly weird science fiction tales, and one story he illustrates that is written by Mario Hernandez. But what I really enjoyed in this volume was Jaime's story that sort of bookends this collection, focusing on his character Penny Century who has been pining for superpowers for years, and has finally received her wish. This story is huge and epic, and beautifully illustrated, as is the usual for both of the brothers, but it's a fun superhero romp, the sort that you'd expect to see from Marvel or DC in a perfect world, but much stranger, and of much higher quality that we're used to.
Overall, great first volume of the new Love and Rockets. Some of Gilbert's stories were way out there and instantly forgettable, as is the case for Mario's story as well, but it was a pleasant reading experience. Gilbert's Palomar stuff is just far and away much better than the fun, whacky stories produced here, that I can't help but hope that he abandons these experimental stories altogether for exclusive Palomar material. The highlight of the book was easily Jaime's Penny Century story, which will be continued in next year's edition.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

25 Best Animated Films

Continuing my top 25 lists, I thought film should get a little love, and as I love animation, this was the first thing to come to mind. From bloody anime to Disney musicals, from computer generated to traditional cell animation, here are my favorite animated films...

1. Anastasia - 20th Century Fox released this fictional account of what happened to the lost princess Anastasia, taking an orphaned girl from the streets to St. Petersburg, Russia to Paris to face her destiny and find herself. The studio's first venture into animation, this movie has a fantastic story with a stupendous soundtrack, beautiful scenes and great dialogue, deserving of its place at the top of this list. Voices: Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer. 20th Century Fox: 1997.

2. Hercules - Disney's vision of the popular Greek myth is a very epic movie full of gods and demons featuring a naive hero out to prove himself. The sassy love interest Megara is a real treat, delivering some of the best lines in a movie ever. Voices: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods. Disney: 1997.

3. Beauty and the Beast - The only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at The Academy Awards, this movie has pretty much everything you want in a Disney film, including memorable songs, great character designs and a love story to end all love stories. The beast of a cursed castle must convince a girl to fall in love with him before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose, or he will remain a beast for all time. Voices: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury. Disney: 1991.

4. The Little Mermaid - A mermaid longs to be human in this story that features a beautiful underwater world, featuring some of the most unforgettable characters in animation in an inspired story. This film kicked off a slew of top-notch animated movies from Disney (like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast), reinvigorating interest in the studio during what some consider a second golden era. Voices: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Buddy Hackett. Disney: 1989.

5. Howl's Moving Castle - Many may not agree with me here, but I think this is the best film from revered Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, featuring a woman at the wrong place at the wrong time, cursed by a witch into old age. She ends up working for the mysterious Howl in his castle as war brews around the world and they uncover a nefarious plot. Beautifully animated, as is all of Miyazaki's films, this is a magical movie. Voices (English Language): Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale, Billy Crystal. Studio Ghibli: 2005.

6. The Incredibles - A family of superheroes band together to fight a supervillain in a world of closeted superpowered people. Pixar's best film, this has a perfect balance of dynamic characters and action for a really super finished product. Inventive and fun. Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson. Pixar: 2004.

7. Kiki's Delivery Service - Before the eye-popping animation of Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke was a charming little film about a witch in training, Kiki. Together with her black cat, she ventures to the city to find her talent in life and wins the hearts of all she meets. Voices (English Language): Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence. Studio Ghibli: 1989.

8. Princess Mononoke - One of the first anime to be released to theaters in the United States, Princess Mononoke is considered one of Hayao Miyazaki's twin masterpieces with Spirited Away. The film follows a young man who wishes to uncover who or what is behind the cause of the demon that has infected him, and finds a young wild woman who lives among the wolves and protects the forest with her life. Insightful and gorgeous. Voices (English Language): Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson. Studio Ghibli: 1997.

9. Aladdin - A street rat stumbles upon a genie in a lamp and with it, tries to win the heart of a princess and fend off a power-hungry villian. Voices: Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Robin Williams. Disney: 1992.

10. Spirited Away - A sort of Japanese Alice In Wonderland, this childrens' story follows a young girl trapped in a strange spirit world that is both dangerous and wonderful. Utterly gorgeous, this is easily Hayao Miyazaki's most popular film. Voices (English Language): Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Susan Egan. Studio Ghibli: 2001.

11. Mulan - To save her elderly father from dying in battle, Mulan poses as a man to take his place when he is called to duty. Voices: Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy, Harvey Fierstein. Disney: 1998.

12. Shrek - The success of Shrek and Pixar films launched dozens of animated films with in-jokes aimed at the adult audience that brought their children to the theater, earning a new audience for animation, void of the musical element that was once assumed. Luckily, Shrek also happens to be very, very funny, poking fun at the fairy tale stereotypes identified with Disney. Voices: Michael Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy. DreamWorks: 2001.

13. My Neighbor Totoro - A movie for very young children, this is another Miyazaki film, following a family that's moved into a new house near spirits like the cuddly totoros. Voices (English Language): Dakota Fanning, Paul Butcher, Elle Fanning. Studio Ghibli: 1988.

14. Toy Story - The debut film of Pixar wowed audiences with its computer generated depiction of toys that come to life when humans leave the room. The animation company has been unstoppable since, and with good reason. Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts. Pixar: 1995.

15. Akira - The classic, violent anime based on the popular graphic novel features a boy with psychic powers. Voices: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Kyama. Streamline: 1989.

16. Monster House - This computer generated film is a little scary for the young ones. It follows a group of children who decide to put a stop to a house in their neighborhood that's eating people. Voices: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Mitchel Musso. Sony: 2006.

17. Cinderella - One of the classic Disney animated films in cell animation, this film is told with lush, full drawings - one of the few early Disney films to do so before they simplified things following Sleeping Beauty in 1959. Cinderella is about a step daughter who is forced into the role of maid to her family after her father's death, only to have a prince fall for her when she sneaks out to the ball. Voices: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton. Disney: 1950.
18. The Care Bears Movie - Things are simple in a universe where hate can be erradicated by fuzzy, different-colored bears with symbols on their tummies. In their first feature film, Tender Heart and the gang go up against a freaky green head in a book and meet their cousins! Voices: Mickey Rooney, Georgia Engel, Billie Mae Richards. Nelvana Limited: 1985.

19. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - While I have an affection for the third movie based on the amazing Batman: The Animated Series universe (Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman), Mask of the Phantasm is by far the most popular, scoring higher ratings on Rotten Tomatoes than any other Batman film (animated or live action) until this summer's The Dark Knight. Voices: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Mark Hamill. Warner Brothers: 1993.
20. Finding Nemo - Pixar had another hit with Finding Nemo, in which a cautious fish seeks his missing son through the wide, varied world of the ocean, meeting friend and foe alike on his voyage. Funny and beautiful. Voices: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Eric Bana. Pixar: 2003.
21. The Return of Jafar - This direct-to-video sequel is a gem among crappy Disney sequels, spawning another sequel (Aladdin and the King of Thieves) and an Aladdin television series on The Disney Channel. Voices: Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Gilbert Gottfried. Disney: 1994.
22. Toy Story 2 - The sequel to Pixar's first hit was just as vital as the original story, allowing for a third sequel which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2010. Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Kelsey Grammer. Pixar: 1999.
23. Ghost In the Shell - An important anime with stunning animation for its time, violent and intended for an adult audience, Ghost In the Shell is a science fiction film featuring robot assassins that has inspired special effects artists such as The Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix). Based on a manga property, it has had a successful sequel, a couple of animated television series, and video games based on its world. Voices (English Language): Christopher Joyce, Mimi Woods, Richard Epcar. Palm: 1995.

24. The Iron Giant - Brad Bird's (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) directoral debut, The Iron Giant takes place during The Cold War, and follows the friendship between a lonely boy and a giant robot. Voices: Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr. Warner Brothers: 1999.

25. Grave of the Fireflies - A powerful, critically-acclaimed anime that takes place at the end of World War II, where two young children fight to survive amid famine and indifference. Voices: Tsutomu Tatumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara. Studio Ghibli: 1988.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide

Gene Kannenberg Jr.
Gene Kannenberg Jr.'s new guide to graphic novels is broken out into ten chapters, each focusing on a different area of comics. Initially, each chapter of the book begins with the top ten comics in said category, and then proceeds to list the best of the rest. I was really happy to see that Kannenberg did not break out manga or international material into their own categories, but rather puts them on equal footing with American comics in areas from "Adventure" to "Non-Fiction." The other areas he includes are: "Crime/Mystery," "Fantasy," "General Fiction," "Horror," "Humor," "Science Fiction," "Superheroes" and "War." While I understand why he did specific breakouts as he did, especially in terms of using this as a reference guide to easily find the sort of books a reader would be interested in, it doesn't work as well as it could have. For instance, the "Superheroes" section is given just as much room to highlight titles as a category like "Non-Fiction," when superhero comics have many more titles devoted to its genre, leaving many important titles out, such as Grant Morrison's New X-Men. Meanwhile, "Non-Fiction" contains three works by Marjane Satrapi, the only "essential" one being Persepolis, yet Chicken with Plums and Embroideries get space over something more deserving. Same with the "War" category. While there are a good amount of books focusing on war, there are books included in the subject that seemed out of place, like they were fluffing the category a bit, titles like Artesia, which would probably be more comfortable in "Fantasy," or Golgo 13, which...I can't even explain that one...
Despite these choices in the book's format, there were plenty of good choices made for what to include in this book. I was thrilled to see some excellent but often overlooked books like Elektra: Assassin, The Chuckling Whatsit and Kamandi, but I also wonder about some of the inclusions... Batman: Hush one of the ten best superhero graphic novels? Really? And The Death of Superman? Is that essential at all? What about some of the titles that were noticeably absent? Shanower's Adventures In Oz? The Luna Brothers's Ultra? Yotsuba&? Little Orphan Annie? Sloth? X-Men: Days of Future Past? What about Fort Thunder artists? John Porcellino? You could nit-pick about particulars forever, I suppose, but how does one choose Robot Dreams over Shortcomings? And I guess I don't understand the need to single out a specific volume of Cerebus or Tezuka's Phoenix instead of just generally recommending the series.
But I don't want to be too hard on the details of the book, because overall, this is a good guide that could point many people toward some A-grade material, with a handy little "Further Reading" included with the review and plot of each and every book. It's just great that something like this exists. I bought it and I plan to utilize it plenty in the future. But it's not perfect. It's not complete, like Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide. Kannerberg had to pick and choose and some of his tastes came through that are going to be counter to other people's. This had to have been an intimidating endeavor, and overall, it was quite the success.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Stores 8/13

Picking out the books with the most potential to hit comic shops tomorrow... Kind of a slow week...
Pick of the Week
500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide - Gene Kannenberg Jr.'s guide to graphic novels may not be perfect, but it's about time something like this exists. Watch for my review tomorrow...
Other Noteworthy Releases
Atomic Robo: Dogs of War
.....#1 (of 5)
Clockwork Girl HC
Disappearance Diary GN
League of Extraordinary
.....Gentlemen: The Black
.....Dossier: The Absolute Edition HC
New Exiles (Volume 1): New Life New Gambit TP
New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection (Book 2) TP
Secret Invasion #5 (of 8)
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1 (of 4)
Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (of 3)
Secret Invasion: X-Men #1 (of 4)
Simon Dark: What Simon Does TP
Thunderbolts by Warren Ellis (Volume 2): Caged Animals
.....Premiere HC
X-Men Origins: Jean Grey

Monday, August 11, 2008

Manga Monday: Passion

Passion (Volume 1)
Shinobu Gotoh & Shoko Takaku
Most yaoi manga are brimming with emotion, as they're aimed at a female audience, but Passion is oddly full of unlikeable characters who like to play games with little to no substance behind their pretty faces. The main thrust of the story finds Hikaru lusting over his high school teacher (Shima), ten years his senior, to the point of forcing himself on him. But Shima likes the idea of Hikaru, and wants to "play" lovers through the end of Hikaru's time at school. This involves coercing Hikaru to get his grades up for a date, and cruelly, having Hikaru rush to meet him inconveniently, only to spend a few minutes with him before he leaves him in a daze. Shima's an ass, no matter how many soft, half-smile gazes he sends the reader's direction. Hikaru's not much better, as the only quality we see of the student is his eagerness to please Shima. Void of much emotion, I really don't care where the characters end up, or the journey they're taking to get there. The secondary plot of Shima's ex-lover attempting to win back his affections is equally as uninteresting, with an even shallower character, who happens to be the thrust of faculty room gossip. Passion also contains some of the least impressive art I've seen in manga for awhile, leaving me feeling cold on a visual level as well. Despite the title, this book leaves little to feel passionate about whatsoever.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

25 Best Dance/Club Songs

I'm going to be doing quite a few of these lists. I was inspired by Entertainment Weekly's recent issue of lists that named "modern classics" of music, film, literature and television (among other things) of the last 25 years, so I want to weigh in on some of the things I love, and maybe expose people to some new stuff. First up, I'm going to list my favorite dance songs. Now this is real dance music that's played in dance clubs, not The Electric Slide and the YMCA that deejays play at wedding receptions so grandma can participate. This is modern classic dance music that gets people in the mood to move and get up on those dance blocks. Or something. Anyways, I don't have a preference for house mixes, unless noted.

1. Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay - The classic dance song. When the opening notes ring out, crowds ring out in cheers. It doesn't get better than how this song can get people going.

2. Nobody's Supposed To Be Here by Deborah Cox - A song that starts out a little slower and builds and builds to a perfect dancy climax.

3. Sexual (Li Da Di) by Amber - Amber and Kylie are kind of neck and neck for the face of dance music, but Amber has a real track record of danceable hits in the US, this being the best.

4. Can't Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue - Kylie's breakout hit that reintroduced her to the states, this slow dance number is sultry and, well, hard to get out of your head.

5. It's Not Right But It's Okay (Thunderpuss Mix Edit) by Whitney Houston - Whitney can rock it when she wants.

6. Hung Up by Madonna - Borrowing a hook from ABBA, Madonna spins a hot track, proving she's still got it.

7. Around the World (La La La La La) by ATC - Very Euro, but utterly fun.

8. Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65 - Also very Euro, this is the only male vocal to make my list. The ladies just know how to rock it...

9. This Is Your Night by Amber - Amber's debut dance hit from the 90's is still just as great as when it first came out.

10. Breathe On Me by Britney Spears - Never officially released, this song nonetheless reared its head in dance clubs across the country with its suggestive lyrics.

11. In A Dream by Rockell - This was included in the first "Fired Up!" CD that boasted some of the best dance songs around, and while it took awhile to grow on me, it's easily earned its place on this list.

12. Creep by Dannii Minogue - "Neon Nights" may be the best dance CD of the past decade. This song from Kylie's sister is the best track.

13. Ecstasy by ATB - A little piano is mixed into this song, making it a little more interesting than the usual dance songs. Plus, simple hook, but very effective.

14. Something by Lasgo - A minor dance song, this one caught my ear when I heard it all of maybe twice on the radio. But definitely worth seeking out.

15. Never (Johnny Budz Breaks Remix) by Roc Project featuring Tina Arena - I loved Tina Arena's "Ask Me" CD, where she scored a minor hit with "Chains," but this song, a little slower than most dance songs, had me obsessed for months. Great layered sounds.

16. Toxic by Britney Spears - The song we all know and love, written by Cathy Dennis, a dance diva from the early 90's who had hits like "(Touch Me) All Night Long."

17. Don't Cha by Pussycat Dolls - The little moans and sexiness of this song make it a force to reckoned with on the dance floor.

18. Ooh La La by Goldfrapp -Dark and sultry, this song has people swaying whether they want to or not. Hypnotic.

19. Waiting For Tonight by Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo can bust a move, and this one has everyone following her lead.

20. Don't Call Me Baby by Madison Avenue - Sassy and fun, the attitude behind this beat demands attention.

21. I'm A Slave For You by Britney Spears - Try not to dirty-dance to this one.

22. Do You Miss Me by Jocelyn Enriquez - Like "This Is Your Night," this is an older song, but listen to it, and it doesn't sound dated whatsoever.

23. Yes by Amber - Her last big single, I know she was disappointed that it didn't get radio play because of the racy lyrics, but it was still a hit at the clubs.

24. Everything I Wanted (Xenomania 12" Mix) by Dannii Minogue - One of Dannii's older songs from the UK, this was never released in the US, and it's a damn good song. Though hardly anyone has heard of her stateside, Dannii has as long of a career as her sister Kylie - decades long. This is available on a greatest hits remix CD, along with another great dance song All I Wanna Do.

25. Cry For You by September - A catchy-as-hell song that was hard to track down since the prominent lyrics are "You'll Never See Me Again!" It was worth the effort to find it though.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Previews: October '08 Comics

Here are the highlights from Previews Catalogue for books shipping to comic shops in October!

Checker Book Publishing Group

Sojourn Omnibus (Volume 1) - I was a huge Crossgen fan, so this is ridiculously appealing to me. 584 pages of fine genre comics.

Dark Horse

Harvey Comics Classics (Volume 5): The Harvey Girls - Continuing the wonderful project that has seen Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richy Rich, among others, reprinted to beautiful results, Dark Horse reprints comics featuring the popular girls of Harvey Comics, including Little Audrey, Little Dot and Little Lotta.

Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch - Mike Mignola finally returns to Hellboy after three years to write and draw this one-shot.

DC Comics

The Ferryman #1-2 (of 5) - Marc Andreyko (Manhunter) begins a new mini-series with Jonathan Wayshak on art. Not too sure about the details, but if Andreyko's on the job, it's at least in good hands.

JLA/Avengers TP - I'm surprised that this hasn't been collected before, but here it is. Two superteams unite.

Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves #1-2 - is October. And you have to admit that that title outdoes Aliens vs. Predators.
Top Ten: Season Two #1 (of 4) - Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Alan Moore may have put his finishing touches on his America's Best Comics line, but DC has never respected him enough to let his creations be. Ah, well. Gene Ha's on art, which is good news, and he was responsible for the eye-popping Top Ten: The Forty-Niners art.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #1 (of 5) - A new mini-series featuring the sultry hero, with a beautiful Josh Middleton cover for the first issue, written by G. Willow Wilson of Vertigo's Cairo and upcoming Air.

Drawn & Quarterly

Acme Novelty Library (Volume 19) HC - More Chris Ware awesomeness. More Rusty Brown.

Dynamite Entertainment

Battlefields: The Night Witches #1 - A new series written by Garth Ennis (art by Russ Braun) that follows women bomber pilots who flew over the Eastern front in the night in flimsy wooden planes.
IDW Publishing

Grant Morrison's Doctor Who #1 (of 2) - Who knew? Grant Morrison wrote some Doctor Who comics in the 80's, collected now by IDW in two issues.

Presidential Material Flipbook - Comic biographies of the presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. Weird.

Image Comics

Impaler (Volume 1) TP - This was a really overlooked horror series that I'm glad is restarting in December. To get new readers up to speed, here's a collection of the issues released, plus three parts unseen before now.

Marvel Comics

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse, Book One #1 (of 5) - Man, that's a mouthful. The adaptation of Laurell K. Hamilton's successful adult vampire novels continues with the second book in her series.

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2) - Some mini-series spinning out of the core X-title, written by Warren Ellis, penciled by Alan Davis and Adi Granov.

Captain America: White #1 (of 6) - Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale continue their "color" mini-series with Captain America.

Hulk (Volume 1): Red Hulk Premiere HC - There's some weird shit going down with the Hulk.

Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (of 4) - The Marvel Zombies return and this time they're threatening the honest-to-god Marvel Universe! Unfortunately this series is without Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips...

Sky Doll Premiere HC - An exceptional series. The first book to come out of Marvel's Soleil partnership gets collected!

Thor: The Truth of History #1 - Alan Davis writes and draws this adventure featuring The God of Thunder in Ancient Egypt.

War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 - War Machine takes over Iron Man's title, probably in preparation for a certain movie in the works, much in the same fashion the Hercules took over Hulk's book.

X-Men: Original Sin #1 - A new crossover featuring Wolverine begins with this one-shot!

Young Avengers Presents TP - Six chapters featuring different characters of the Young Avengers, by different creators, all collected here. Some big names attached to this project.


Nocturnal Conspiracies: Nineteen Dreams GN - A new work by the European artist behind the fantastic autobiographical work Epileptic, David B.!

Pantheon Books

Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist As a Young %@&*! HC - Art Spiegelman returns! This autobiographical work explores the comics medium and how he was shaped by it.

Raw Junior LLC

Jack and the Box GN - And...Art Spiegelman again! This time, a children's comic!

Top Shelf Productions

Sulk (Volume 1): Bighead & Friends GN - Jeffrey Brown begins a new graphic novel series.

Vertical Inc

Black Jack (Volume 1) TP - While comic shops can get hardcover exclusive editions of Osama Tezuka's Black Jack through Previews a little earlier than these softcover editions, there's only a month delay to collect the series in this format and it's $8 cheaper... Although the hardcovers have the added benefit of 20-page unpublished stories by Tezuka. Weigh the pros and cons, I guess.

Virgin Comics

Telling Stories With Color - Eisner-winning colorist Laura Martin (Astonishing X-Men) provides insight into her craft in this book.

Yale University Press

An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories (Volume 2) HC - The second volume of Ivan Brunetti's comic anthology!


Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman In Japan - I had the privelidge of hearing Chip Kidd talk about this book at Comic-Con this year, and am really looking forward to the awesomeness that this promises. Available in hardcover and softcover.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Bond of Saint Marcel #1 (of 6)

Jennifer Quintenz & Christian Gossett

The Bond of Saint Marcel is a new mini-series from two members of Team Red Star, the faces behind the acclaimed Eisner-nominated science fiction comic series The Red Star (Gossett, the creator of The Red Star, does art on this book, while Quintenz writes). The Red Star's always stood out because of its art, and while it works wonders in The Red Star's industrial world of skyfurnaces and war-ravaged battlegrounds, it leaves a tad to be desired in a human story such as this one, where the characters come off looking a little cold. But that being said, the art is still very nice. And the story is a great one (the screenplay by Quintenz has not surprisingly already been snatched up by the studio behind The Strangers). Young rebellious Katherine Johnstone descends from a rich and powerful family who were vital in fending off the British during The Revolutionary War, but they accomplished this through occult means, having bound a vampire against his will to a ring to serve its bearer. It was only intended to be used until the war was over, but the family grew greedy and it seems that it's been with them these hundreds of years, where it has finally fallen into the hands of Katherine on the eve of a vampire attack on her family. Things are still being set up in the book, but because I've read solicitations, I know that Katherine forms an uneasy alliance with this vampire guardian and things kind of go from there. It sounds like a great book, and if the fiery protagonist and perfect pacing are any indication, this is going to shape up into one hell of a genre work. The debut issue hits comic shops tomorrow.

In Stores 8/6

Here are the books shipping to comic shops on Wednesday, with the most potential for awesomeness...
Pick of the Week
Okko: The Cycle of Earth #1 (of 4) - It looks like Archaia Studios Press is over their short publishing hiatus, because a whole slew of books is coming out this week from the publisher, including new issues of The Sisterhood (which I picked up in San Diego and it was awesome) and the acclaimed The Killer. They're also releasing the debut issues of the twelve issue mini-series Titanium Rain and the new mini from the team behind The Red Star, The Bond of Saint Marcel. But what I'm most excited about is the beginning of the latest Okko mini-series, Okko: The Cycle of Earth. I loved the first book in the series from French artist Hub, Okko: The Cycle of Water, and was a little bummed that the new one was pushed back. But here it is! Prepare to be awed!
Other Noteworthy Releases
Amazing Spider-Man Family #1
Army@Love: The Art of War #1 (of 6)
The Authority #1
The Bond of Saint Marcel #1 (of 6)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #17
Creepy Archives HC
DMZ (Volume 5): The Hidden War TP
Fathom #1
Final Crisis #3 (of 7)
The Mask Omnibus (Volume 1) TP
NYX: No Way Home #1 (of 6)
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank Premiere HC
Showcase Presents: House of Secrets (Volume 1) TP
Spider-Man J (Volume 1): Japanese Knights TP
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: Season Two #1 (of 5)
Titanium Rain #1 (of 12)
Venom: Dark Origin #1 (of 5)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Manga Monday: Cowa!

Cowa! (Volume 1)
Akira Toriyama

Cowa! is a new young readers manga from the creator of the popular Dragon Ball Z, Akira Toriyama. The story follows a young half-vampire, half-werekoala named Paifu, who gets into mischief with his friends, mainly Jose the ghost (who farts when he gets startled) and bully monster Arpon (who must be the best at everything and considers himself Paifu's rival). Together, they live in a monster village in the country called Batwing Ridge, a secluded area where they don't see many humans, save the new mysterious man who has settled down nearby, who's rumored to be a murderer. The first chapter of the book, "Paifu Goes On an Errand," is a fine self-contained introduction to the series, where Toriyama sets up most of the main elements of the story to the reader, like how Paifu turns into a werekoala when confronted with a cross. Following this, the bulk of the rest of this first volume follows the young monsters' quest to retrieve medicine for the monsters of Batwing Ridge, many of whom have come down with the deadly monster flu. Cowa! is a really cute series, funny and energetic with a lot of imagination. I love the designs for the settings throughout the book, from the jack-o-lantern houses in Batwing Ridge to the witch's cave atop Horned-Owl Mountain, not to mention the cute character designs Toriyama's come up with for all of the monsters. The cartooning overall is pretty impressive, making this a great book for readers young and old.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cold Heat Special #4

Frank Santoro & Jim Rugg
This was a treat. I loved Cold Heat Special #1 from last year (it was one of my favorite comics of the year), so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this one as well. Like with the first special, Cold Heat creator Frank Santoro teams up with a different artist to tell a story surrounding protagonist Castle, in the strange world she lives in. This time around, Jim Rugg co-writes the story and illustrates the issue for a fantastic final product. This special comes in a newspaper-style black-and-white comic with big panels to showcase the fantastic art. It's chalk-full of disturbing and bizarre images in a dream-like story that has Castle moving between a fast food diner during a rainstorm and a beautiful landscape of farmland and lazy hills. It's a pretty short story, but it became one of those books that I read really slowly to savor the atmosphere and art. What I'm trying to say here is Cold Heat Special #4 is immensely enjoyable and I highly recommend it. One certainly doesn't have to read the specials before this or any issues of the regular Cold Heat comic to understand it, as this serves as a great introduction to the sensibility of Santoro's world, and the specials are all self-contained from what I saw. After having devoured these specials to such satisfying results, I'm really looking forward to the Cold Heat collection coming this fall. It should be 240 pages of awesomeness. But this will tide me over until then, and I believe I saw a Cold Heat Special #5 at Comic-Con too...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Uncanny X-Men #500

Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Greg Land & Terry Dodson

I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the first issue of Warren Ellis’s stint on the X-Men flagship title Astonishing X-Men, so I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the new issue of secondary x-title Uncanny X-Men, which marks not only the 500th issue of the book, but sees Matt Fraction coming on to co-write with Brubaker (who has been writing the book for awhile now, starting with the mediocre The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire story arc). The two have collaborated before to some very nice results and this seems to be the case for the new pairing as well. Greg Land and Terry Dodson illustrate the issue, and there lies my biggest complaint. I don't mind so much the photo-referenced look of Greg Land's art like many people do, but what I do find quite distracting is when the art changes between two artists throughout an issue. It's bad enough when a storyarc can't be by a single artist, but not even an issue? That makes for kind of a rocky start. Constantly, pencils shift from Land to Dodson jarringly. I can only hope that future of the series see more consistency in this regard. But I like the story and the characters as they're introduced, even though I'm not familiar with all of them, like Pixie, who has a small scene at the end. It's nice to see the gang beating on Magneto and acknowledging things that are going on to the mutants at large, and discussing their move to San Francisco. Uncanny X-Men and X-Men have been in the shadows of the core x-title for too long - it's exciting to see one of them finally step up in quality to give Astonishing a run for its money.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Movies-and-More: August 2008

Once again, I’m running down August release dates for films, music, DVDs and books, as well as my box office predictions and newly-released movie trailers.

In Theater August 1st
Frozen River (Click for trailer)
Swing Vote

Predictions: 1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($37 million), 2. The Dark Knight ($35 m), 3. Step Brothers ($13 m), 4. Mamma Mia! ($10 m), 5. Swing Vote ($8.5 m)

In Theaters August 8th
Beer For My Horses
Hell Ride

Pineapple Express
(On Wednesday August 6th)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (On Wednesday August 6th)

Predictions: 1. Pineapple Express ($31 m), 2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($16 m), 3. The Dark Knight ($ 15 m), 4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 ($14 m), 5. Hell Ride ($11 m)

In Theaters August 15th
Henry Poole Is Here
Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Tropic Thunder
(On Wednesday August 13th)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Predictions: 1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars ($78 m), 2. Tropic Thunder ($24 m), 3. Pineapple Express ($18 m), 4. Mirrors ($13 m), 5. The Dark Knight ($10 m)

In Theaters August 22nd
Crossing Over
Death Race
Fly Me To the Moon - 3D
The House Bunny
The Longshots
The Rocker
(On Wednesday August 20th)

Predictions: 1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars ($40 m), 2. Crossing Over ($17 m), 3. Tropic Thunder ($14 m), 4. The Longshots ($13 m), 5. Death Race ($9 m)

In Theaters August 29th
Babylon A.D.
Disaster Movie
Hamlet 2
(On Wednesday August 27th)

Predictions: 1. Babylon A.D. ($28 m), 2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars ($24 m), 3. Hamlet 2 ($13 m), 4. Crossing Over ($12 m), 5. Traitor ($10 m)

New Trailer Debuts:
Burn after Reading
The City of Ember

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Legend of Zelda
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
The Princess and the Frog
Terminator: Salvation
Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys
What Just Happened?

Your other entertainment needs:
August 5th:
On DVD: Ben 10: Season Four, The Counterfeiters, Family Ties: Season Four, Get Smart: Season One, Nim’s Island

On CD: Brazilian Girls, The Laurie Berkner Band, Carla Bruni, Sarah McLachlan, Ne-Yo, Randy Newman, Santana

In Bookstores:
Robin Cook’s Foreign Body
Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle
Stephen Frey’s Forced Out
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron
Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn (On August 2nd)

August 12th:
On DVD: The American Mall, Caroline In the City: Season One, The Love Boat: Season One: Volume Two, Prison Break: Season Three, Smart People, South Park: Season Eleven, That Girl: Season Four, The Wire: Season Five

On CD: Jonas Brothers, Star Wars: The Clone Wars OST, T.I., Michelle Williams

In Bookstores:
Sandra Brown’s Smoke Screen
Ernest Drake’s Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Creatures
Faye Kellerman’s The Mercedes Coffin
Anne Rivers Siddons’s Off Season

August 19th:
On DVD: Camp Rock, Dexter: Season Two, Gossip Girl: Season One, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, House: Season Four, Life Before Her Eyes, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, Prom Night, Street Kings, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles: Season One, The Small Black Room (Criterion Collection)

On CD: The Cheetah Girls, The Dandy Warhols, The Duhks, Ice Cube, George Jones, Amy MacDonald, Nelly, Staind, Loudon Wainwright III

In Bookstore:
Paul Auster’s Man In the Dark
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Being Elizabeth
Jack Higgins’s Rough Justice
Sean Williams’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

August 26th:
On DVD: Entourage: Season Four, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Made of Honor, Redbelt, NCIS: Season Five, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, One Tree Hill: Season Five, The Shield: Season Six, What Happens In Vegas, Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden?

On CD: Blues Traveler, Jonatha Brooke, The Game, Gypsy: NBCR, B.B. King, Slipknot, The Verve, Young Jeezy

In Bookstores:
Terry Brooks’s The Gypsy Morph
Harlan Coben’s Fade Away
Dick Francis’s Silks
Michael Moore’s Mike’s Election Guide
Kathy Reichs’s Devil Bones

Alright - that’s August for you in a nutshell. I leave you with posters of Red Sonja, starring Rose McGowan and a poster for the new HBO series True Blood, from the creators of Six Feet under, as well as an ad from its viral campaign.