More Than a Ghost of a Chance
(This Stripped column originally appeared in the January 15-21, 1998, Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)
by Beth Hannan Rimmels
Return with us now to the not-so-distant future for another thrilling installment in our never-ending quest to tip you to the best of what's coming up in '98:
The hardcover edition of Fantagraphics' Ghost World is sold out, but a mass-market softcover will be released in March to feed the interest in the Dan Clowes (Eightball) opus, which has been compared to Maus and The Watchmen as a landmark graphic novel. Perhaps even more important is the fact that Danny DeVito's Jersey Pictures, which produced Get Shorty and Pulp Fiction, has optioned Ghost World. It will be directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb) and based on a screenplay by Clowes and Zwigoff. Unlike most comic book-based films, this one has a modest $9 million budget. Zwigoff hopes to begin filming shortly. Shows how you can save money without superheroes.
Fantagraphics' spokesman Eric Reynolds did not mince words in explaining why he felt the Ghost World film was important not only for his company, but for the entire industry: "Typically, when you hear about comics being made into film or other medium, the natural impulse is to sigh with resignation," he said. "After years of having Batman, The Crow, The Mask and other crap like that serve as comics' ambassadors to the public consciousness, I'm absolutely thrilled to think that here's a movie based on a comic that might actually bring some long overdue respect to our chosen medium. This is certainly not something that the general public would expect from a comic book."
I liked the original Crow movie, though I had a serious problem with the premise changing from a random act of violence to being retribution for attempts to improve a neighborhood. What kind of example does that set? Yes, many of the details changed and the film did not quite have James O'Barr's lyrical raw pain, but overall it captured the spirit of the story. But I also agree with Reynolds' point. For someone who knows nothing about the original comic book — or who only has a limited understanding of the types of comics available today — The Crow can appear to be just another violent, supernatural tale of revenge. Anything that can expand the average person's impression of comics has my vote.
n On the movie tie-in front: Dark Horse will release Godzilla: Age of Monsters on Feb. 18, several months prior to the release of the big-budget remake of everyone's favorite Tokyo-stomping, fire-breathing reptile. The 272-page book ($17.95) features a variety of writers and artists telling giant-lizard stories that range from fun to terrifying. Dark Horse also has an original Lost in Space miniseries in the works.
n Harris Comics has scheduled a Vampirella/Painkiller Jane one-shot crossover this spring by writers Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn. Art will be by Rick Leonardi and Jimmy Palmiotti, the regular team for Painkiller Jane. Joe Quesada will do the cover. The Vampirella monthly comic will go on hiatus for that one month.
Harris also has on tap its first hardcover book, a collection of the Vampirella: Blood Lust miniseries written by James Robinson (Golden Age) and painted by Joe Jusko that features a brand-new epilogue. This deluxe edition is scheduled for April, with a tentative $39.95 retail price. A special signed and numbered edition is also being considered.
n Coming up at DC and its various imprints: Mark Waid returns to The Flash after a break to work on a major plotline for the Scarlet Speedster...More anthology series like Weird War Tales (loved Eric Shanower's samurai story) are in the works, including Gangland and Weird Romance...a Paul Pope Vertigo project Heavy Liquid... a Vertigo project by Lydia Lunch and Ted McKeever...and The Minx, a new, ongoing Vertigo series about a woman, fashion and a monkey god, by Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips.
Column © 1998 Long Island Voice. Artwork © 1998 Harris Comics.