Sunday, October 23, 2016
News broke yesterday that British comic book artist Steve Dillon passed away suddenly at the age of 54 in New York City. The news certainly came as a shock to the comic world, and definitely came as a major shock to me personally. The artwork of Steve Dillon has meant a lot to me over the years, and it wouldn't be out of line to call his work iconic.
I first got a taste of Dillon's artwork when I discovered the Vertigo books Hellblazer and in particular Preacher. I had taken a lot of time away from comics in my teens, mostly because I was sick of superheroes and the same old shit issue after issue. I discovered Preacher first, and thanks to Garth Ennis' maniacal storytelling combined with Dillon's blend of gritty realism and cartoonish mayhem helped make Preacher one of my all time favorite comic books in the history of fucking ever.
His earlier work on Hellblazer, also with Ennis (who was a frequent collaborator), was just as special. I knew about the series and John Constantine previously, but I had never paid it much mind until I got my hands on Ennis and Dillon's work. So I guess I have Dillon to thank for getting me into what turned out to be probably my all time favorite comic book character as well now that I think about it.
I stuck with Ennis and Dillon when they rebooted The Punisher for Marvel years later, a character that Dillon would often find himself drawing and working on even if Ennis wouldn't be involved in it in a number of various series'. Over the years, Dillon would do a lot of Marvel work, including Wolverine Origins, Bullseye: Greatest Hits, Daredevil VS Bullseye, Ultimate X-Men, Thunderbolts, and more. Before that, Dillon cut his teeth on a number of well-known British comics, most notably Doctor Who Magazine and 2000 A.D. (the Judge Dredd-starring magazine), as well as Warrior and Rogue Trooper.
Rest in peace Steve Dillon, you will be missed.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Back in the late 70s, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and their merry crew of misfits journeyed into the woods to make a movie that wasn't a porno. The end result was the original Evil Dead, which would have its original premiere in 1981; a ferocious and unrelenting horror film that came out of nowhere and took the world by storm. Unlike most films of its ilk, the original Evil Dead wasn't just a commercial success, but a critical one as well. As we all know, the surprise success of the film led to a whole franchise being born, with Evil Dead 2 in 1987, Army of the Darkness in 1992, a remake in 2013, the Ash VS Evil Dead TV show that debuted last year, and tons of merchandise, comics, video games, and more besides.
Looking back on it, that's 35 years of Evil Dead, and honestly who would have thought that the film would have resonated the way it did, let alone become a massive cult phenomenon. It's funny watching the original Evil Dead nowadays, mostly because the film itself is so damn brutal compared to everything that would come in the future. The Evil Dead franchise is known for being nasty, but pretty damn funny too (mostly thanks to the slapstick silliness of Army of Darkness). What a lot of people seem to forget is that the original Evil Dead is an unforgivably nasty little horror film that grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go. We got a slight reminder of this when the 2013 remake came out, which also pulled no punches and packed on even more gore than the original. The original film though was made on a bare-bones budget in horrid conditions, and the pure unforgiving ferocity that it displays would never be matched by any sequel or remake.
Evil Dead the film, and the franchise as a whole, has managed to say relevant 35 years later because of the unforgettable impact it had upon the horror world when it was first released. Even from 1992 on when the franchise was dormant, it still retained a more than solid following. In the late 90s/early 2000s with the advent of DVD, Anchor Bay re-released the film for new generations to discover, and that's exactly what happened.
Let's all be thankful to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and everyone else involved in bringing Evil Dead to life. The world is a better place with Ash and the Deadites in it.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
It was announced earlier this week that the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner will be titled Blade Runner 2049. Considering the original film took place in 2019, that means this film will be set 30 years later, mostly likely to accommodate the fact that Harrison Ford is now old as fuck. I’ve talked before about how I’m not a fan of this idea at all, mostly because the original film manages to stand on its own (in particular the director’s cut and newer “final cut” which removes the bullshit happy ending and leaves everything open ended…which is pretty much perfect). So of course we’re getting a sequel that no one was asking for just for the sake of getting a few more nostalgia dollars out of an old property that people still revere.
The real issue I have with the concept of Blade Runner 2049 however is the fact that we are seeing basically old man Deckard. Why is this you ask? Well, the age old idea that Deckard is in fact a replicant. This idea was presented very subtly in the film, but everyone from Ford to Ridley Scott has pretty much said that yes, Deckard is indeed a replicant. It didn’t quite take a rocket scientist to figure that out to begin with, but the idea of an old Deckard pretty much means that he’s human. Replicants supposedly have short life spans, or termination dates, that span a couple to a few years. Maybe they’ll keep Deckard a replicant but have a bit of throwaway dialogue explaining that he’s a special one with no termination date? Or maybe Scott will be “na mate, we were just pulling your legs in 1982 about all that, he’s human”.
Blade Runner is a special film, in fact, it’s a visionary film. It was way ahead of its time in terms of aesthetic and theme, and even though it didn’t make much of a splash when it was first released, it managed to resonate with audiences for decades. It’s one of the best films of the 80s in general; one of the best science fiction films ever made, and is probably Ridley Scott’s finest film together with Alien. It doesn’t need a sequel and never has. I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of a sequel/spin-off that focused on new characters in the same universe, and instead leave Deckard’s fate a mystery. Alas, that’s not what’s happening.
So here we are folks, there’s a new Blade Runner film coming, whether we want it or not. Fuck this noise.