Thursday, January 31, 2008

History Repeating

With Lost at long last returning to TV tonight, I think it's time for a quick recap of what has gone before. The following video pretty much speaks for itself.

Thanks to my good buddy Bob Skir for the heads up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crass Commercialism

Well, at the suggestion and urging of several of you Gentle Readers (not to mention that of my lovely wife Christine), I have succumbed to the inevitable and added a link to just below my blog archives to the right. If you're ever interested in purchasing anything I happen to mention here, like the various upcoming and ongoing DC or Marvel trade paperback collections that contain my work, or any of the DVDs upon which you'll find interviews or commentary from me, like the apparently hard-to-find new Swamp Thing: The Series collection I mentioned Monday, or frankly anything else that might chance to strike your fancy, whether it relates to me or not, you can now click on said link to order the items and I'll see a few pennies from the sale that will help me defray the costs of producing this here blog.

What I find most ironic about that is that, should you purchase any of the Marvel material, I'll see more from your linking to it here than I will from Marvel itself. It may not be justice, but it does tend to give me the giggles.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Son of Shameless Self-Promotion Time

This Tuesday, a wonderful company called Shout! Factory will be releasing the first two seasons of Swamp Thing: The Series on DVD. These are the first 22 of the 72 episodes produced for the series. They are complete and, for the first time, assembled in the order in which they were meant to be seen, rather than the order in which they were originally broadcast on the USA Network. This, of course, means that for those of you who watched the series when it first aired and were wondering what the heck was going on, now you'll finally know. This boxed set also contains an interview with the talented actor Dick Durock, who portrayed Swampy in every episode of the series and both feature films as well. And, as an added bonus (well, some of you may think it's a bonus) there's also an interview with your humble blogger, where I expound at length on Swamp Thing's origins and his impact on Western Civilization.

Here (if I've finally figured out how to do this) is a little video sampling...

I'm always thrilled for anyone to read or watch my work, but this particular release makes me especially happy. Unlike any and all of my Marvel stories and characters, I see royalties when any of my DC characters appear in other media. So, should you decide to buy this collection, a few cents of your purchase will ultimately see their way to me.

But, more than that, Swamp Thing: The Series is a lot of fun. Pick up this DVD collection at your local store or order it online from the Shout! Factory by clicking here and let me know if you don't agree.

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled blog...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wedded Blitz

Last evening, my lovely wife Christine and I attended the long-awaited and much-anticipated wedding of our dear friends, "Beat the Geeks" star/music producer Andy Zax and his intended, the enchanting actress/photographer/designer Lisa Jane Persky, both of whom we've mentioned here often before. To say the wedding was spectacular would be an understatement. The bride was resplendent in a white gown she herself designed. The groom was his usual droll, articulate self. Both sets of parent were beaming. And the room was riddled with celebrities too numerous to name, though I ought to name a few.

Sitting at our table were old friends J. Keith van Straaten and Jim Newman, host and director respectively of the mightily-missed What's My Line - Live on Stage. J. Keith also served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening and did his usual splendid job of it. At the next table over was my beloved buddy Harlan Ellison and his sainted wife Susan, and across the room I noticed Beat the Geeks movie expert Marc Edward Heuck. The ceremony itself was presided over by Chief Justice of California and longtime Zax family friend, the Honorable (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) Ronald M. George.

But it really wasn't the celebrities that made the evening special. It was the wonderful sense of humor which pervaded the entire affair.

When we first arrived at the reception and ordered a refreshment from the bar, we noticed the silver embossed cocktail napkins which read:

"Andy's Mom asked us
if we wanted
customized cocktail napkins
and we said "Okay."


When we sat for the ceremony, there was a carefully folded program card on each seat. On the first page, under an illustration of two fingers locked together in those old Chinese handcuffs we played with as children and the words MATRIMONIAL BOND was the name, date and location of the wedding. On the second page, printed over an illustration of two wedding bands, was the Cast of Characters (in order of appearance), which proceeded to list the musicians (who, btw, were The Moog Cookbook, in their first public performance since 1997) and the aforementioned officiant. On the third page, printed over an illustration of a large wood screw was the following warning:
Not here at all:
(Lisa and Andy apologize in advance for any disappointment)
No maid of honor. No best man. No flower girl. No ring bearer. No bridesmaids. No bridesmaids' dresses. No Groomsmen. No ushers. No children's choir. No marching band. No dramatic reading. No laser light show. No doves erupting from a box.
And especially:
No special guest appearance by Durward Kirby.

On the fourth page, printed over an illustration of a pair of Groucho glasses, was a list of the people walking down the aisle.

When we arrived at the dinner table, the neatly-folded million-thread-count satin napkin at each place setting was wrapped in a piece of natural tree bark that enclosed a sprig of lavender and a kazoo. Beneath it was one of Lisa's marvelous Iris Blue Hand Fans, designed specifically for the occasion, and a printed menu which included a footnote that stated: "The happy couple freely admit that, were it not for the demands and expectations of the occasion as well as their great feelings of empathy and compassion towards their assembled friends and family, they would have been just as happy to serve up several thousand pigs-in-blankets and then skip directly to dessert." Instead, the menu consisted of an appetizer, a salad, a choice or either Filet Mignon or some sort of fish or this completely fictional third option:

Partkargens Havlevat on Rinastered Toasts Points,
Fescue-Infused Agar-Agar,
Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part 2), and Canned Vole
(which, another footnote warned us, might contain nuts).

The wonderful wedding cake was topped, let's just call it an armored-dillo as was depicted on some old Emerson, Lake & Palmer album near and dear to Lisa's heart.

The after-dinner entertainment was led by a young man whose name at the moment sadly escapes me, who played accordion and as near as I can tell attempted to lead the audience in a singalong of old Polish drinking songs (though I could be wrong about that last part; when the accordion appeared, I fled the room).

In the back of the room, there was one of those old-fashioned photo booths that produce a four-shot strip of film. Guests were encouraged to have their pictures taken, which could then be pasted into a book of memories for Lisa and Andy. We, of course, happily complied.

As each guest left for the evening, they were given a bag of bagels and cream cheese to help get them through Sunday morning and a copy of today's New York Times that includes an announcement of the wedding, and which strikes me as pretty impressive. When Christine and I were married 16 years ago, I think the event might have rated a mention in the local Pennysaver.

And that, it appears, concludes my first report from the social front, which leaves me with just this to say:

Lisa and Andy, may your days together give you both as much joy and love as you have always given us. Let's do lunch when you get back from the honeymoon, okay? We miss ya, you crazy kids.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Think I Might Buy Stock in Dramamine

Just got back from seeing an early show of the new monster movie Cloverfield with my good buddy, Bob Skir. The picture is everything the advertising promises; thrilling, frightening, frenetic. It's also, if you happen to suffer -- as I sometimes do -- from a little motion sickness, a pretty good way to help you heave your cookies. The entire film is supposedly shot on someone's handheld camcorder and the constant, relentless jangling motion not only makes the action sometimes hard to follow, but is also ultimately quite nauseating. By the time I was two thirds of the way through the film, I found I could not look at the screen without becoming lightheaded, dizzy, and downright queasy. I spent several minutes looking down at my feet while listening to the action so as not to spew my breakfast all over my buddy Bob.

Fortunately, the filmmakers -- director Matt Reeves (his first feature), screenwriter Drew Goddard (scripter for Buffy, Angel, and Alias), and executive producer JJ Abrams (of Alias, Lost, and the upcoming new Star Trek feature fame) -- seem to realize this and, as a result, the entire movie, sans credits, clocks in at only about 75 minutes. So by the time you're ready to blow, so to speak, the picture is already over. Apparently, I'm by no means the first to suffer this phenomenon, since the usher stopped us on our way into the theater to warn us about the motion sickness problem, and advise us on how best to handle ourselves should the oopsies occur.

Still, if you have a stronger equilibrium than mine (which isn't difficult), Cloverfield is well worth your time. It's a new take on an old genre and, if you go on an empty stomach, I promise you'll get your money's worth.

Oh, BTW, in case you might be interested, despite some arbitrary effort to try to make it fit, the title Cloverfield means absolutely nothing to the film. I have a feeling it was originally just one of those cover titles -- like Blue Harvest for the first Star Wars film or Rita's First Kiss for the upcoming The Dark Knight -- designed to dissuade potential gawkers, that stuck when nobody involved in the movie could think of a better title.

You gotta love show biz.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion Time

If you happen by your local comics shop this afternoon, might I suggest you pick up a copy of Simpsons Comics #138, written by your humble blogger and illustrated by the talented Carlos Valenti. The story's called "Tsunami, Tsunami, Baloney" and it may just be the most complicated story I've ever plotted (as well as , I hope, one of the funniest).

I had intended to embed a copy of the issue's cover here for your edification but, as usual, something ain't functioning properly here in blogger land, so you'll just have to take my word for it, it's cool.

Anyway, if you buy the issue (and I sincerely hope you do), could you drop me a line here and let me know what you thought of it? I've asked this of you in the past and, to date, nobody has ever actually done that.

And, frankly, it's starting to make me a little paranoid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How The Batman Saved My Life...Again!

So there I was yesterday afternoon, on my way out the door to head over to my local Citibank, when I notice my mail has arrived and, with it, the lovely letter from DC Comics informing me of the honor the National Parks Department has bestowed upon my mini-series, Batman: Nevermore. I am so thrilled by the news that I feel I have to share it immediately and rush back inside to promptly post the letter to this here blog (see previous post). As a result, I arrive at my bank fully an hour later than I had originally intended to, only to find the local Police there, in the process of taking down a lot of yellow crime scene tape that had been blocking access to the bank's entrance. When I asked one of the officers what was going on, he calmly informed me that the bank had been robbed during the past hour and they were just finishing their investigation. Fortunately, though, no one had been hurt.

And there you have it. Near as I can tell, had I not stopped to blog about the Batman, I would have instead found myself smack in the middle of a bank robbery where, knowing my big mouth, I might very well have changed the outcome to the negative. The Batman saved my life...again.

Clearly, somebody is trying to tell me I should be blogging more often.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quoth The Raven...

Hey, I just received the following letter from Jack Mahan, Executive Director, Editorial Administration, over at DC Comics, and thought I'd share it with all of you. The letter reads as follows:
Hello, Len -

In a move that surely signals the comics industry's growing dominance over -- and eventual eradication of -- traditional prose literature, the National Parks Service has added the cover of your Batman: Nevermore "Elseworlds" special to the permanent collection at the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA, which is located at Poe's only surviving home in the city. We're quite pleased with its inclusion and we hope you will be, too! If you're interested in visiting some time to see it for yourself, you can check all the information for the site at

Jack Mahan
Of course, I'd be interested, and I hope some of you will be as well. Of all the things I've written over the past decade, this Batman/Poe mini-series is arguably the work of which I'm most proud. I thank the National Parks Service for this honor and I hope you'll get around to checking out both the site and the story some time soon. Now all it takes is for DC to finally collect Batman: Nevermore in a trade paperback.

If you've got nothing better to do this afternoon, why not write to DC and suggest it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Sixty-Four Cent Question

So I'm sitting at my desk this afternoon, writing the introduction for the first Un-Men trade paperback, due out from DC/Vertigo this April and featuring those wonderfully bizarre creatures created by Bernie Wrightson and myself way back in the second issue of Swamp Thing, when the phone rings. On the other end is my dear old friend, longtime Superman scribe and current Democratic candidate for Congress in California's 24th District, Elliot S! Maggin (and, yes, the exclamation point is intentional).

"Can you do me a favor?" asks Elliot. "If it's possible," I reply. "What's up?"

"I need you to settle an argument I've been having with one of my co-workers for almost two years now," says Elliot, "Just answer me this one simple question."

"I'll try," I say, "I'm no political pundit by any means, but I'll do the best I can. What's the question?"

Elliot pauses for a moment, then in all sincerity asks, "In a fight between Superman and Batman, who would win?"

This, Gentle Readers, what what my life has been reduced to. Apparently, I am now the final arbiter of the ultimate fan geek argument. >sigh< And I used to have such potential.

By the way, for those of you desperate to know the answer, and Elliot completely agrees with me on this, the winner would always be the Batman.