Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blog Alert!

Did you know my dear friend, TV writer Gillian Horvath, has had her very own blog for several months now? I certainly didn't.

Because the cursed woman never tells me anything!

Seriously, it is, like Gillian herself, charming and entertaining. You can check it out here or by clicking on the newly-installed link to the right.

Drop on by over there and tell her I sent you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Where I'll Be at San Diego Comic-Con

With the big extravaganza mere days away now, I thought I'd give both of you who're interested a quick heads-up as to when and where you'll be able to find me amongst the vast multitudes at the Con this coming week. The schedule still isn't final, but at the moment, it looks like this.


11AM to 12PM - Rumor has it I'll be signing autographs over at the DC Booth.

The rest of the day I've got pretty much to myself to see the con and visit other people's panels.


11:55AM to 1PM - I'm told I'll be at The Watchmen panel in Hall H. I may only be asked to wave at folks from the audience, but that's still where I'm likely to be. This is to some degree unfortunate, because it overlaps with:

12:30PM to 2PM - As quickly as possible after the Watchmen panel, I'll race over to join "That '70s Panel" in room 8, where I'll be joining moderator Mark Evanier (who worked with Jack "King" Kirby on DC’s "Fourth World" books in the ’70s) and Comic-Con special guests Mike W. Barr (Camelot 3000, Batman), Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!), Mike Grell (Warlord, Green Arrow), Paul Gulacy (Master of Kung Fu, Sabre), Jim Starlin (Dreadstar, Captain Marvel), Joe Staton (Green Lantern, E-Man) and Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Frankenstein) in a frank discussion of what the hell we were thinking when we did all that back then. Then immediately after that panel...

2PM to 3PM - I'll be signing autographs with many of the fine folks from the previous panel out at the autographing area under the sails.

5PM to 6PM - Rumor again has it that I'll be back at the DC Booth signing my little heart out.

8PM to 11PM - You'll find me at the annual Eisner Awards, where I am not only a presenter, but also a nominee this year. Come on by and wish me luck and, if you listen real close, you'll probably be able to hear my knees knocking.


11:15AM to 12:30PM - If you play your cards right, you should be able to catch me at the always well-attended "Quick Draw" panel, hosted by the above-mentioned Mark Evanier and starring quick-draw cartoonists extraordinaire Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw! and Mike Peters. Wave as I go by.

1PM to 2PM - I'll be at the Shout! Factory booth (#3749) signing copies of the Swamp Thing DVD sets with the fine actor who portrayed Swampy in both TV and film, Dick Durock.

4:30PM to 5:20PM - I'll be back under the sails again, signing autographs until I have to leave for...

5:30PM to 6:30PM - The "Spotlight on Len Wein" panel to be held in room 8, where your humble blogger will be mercilessly cross-examined on his life and career by the apparently-omnipresent Mark Evanier.


1PM to 2PM - I expect to be doing my final signing at the DC Booth.

2:30PM to 4PM - You will find me in room 4, once again bravely leading a talented team of top professionals against a team of not-nearly-as-talented amateurs in the annual Pro/Fan Trivia Challenge. Come watch the Purple Pros, namely your humble blogger, ubergeek (and I mean that only in the most respectful way) and Boom! Studios' Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid, X-Men Animated writer Robert N. Skir and a top-secret guest panelist to be named probably minutes before the panel begins as we once again take on the fanboy Black Ink Irregulars in a to-the-death cage match that is certain to be whispered about for decades to come.

And that, at least at the moment, is my Comic-Con schedule for 2008. So, basically, if you've got something of mine you want autographed and it hasn't been signed by the end of the con, you have no one to blame but yourself.

See you on the con floor (possibly FLAT on the con floor by Sunday). We'll see.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tivo Alert!

Okay, while I'm busy breaking my arm patting myself on the back about the Entertainment Weekly mention and also talking about the forthcoming Dark Knight film (both of which I've done in the last few posts here), it occurs to me that I should probably also mention that those of you with DVRs or Tivo or any other sort of television-recording device might be inclined to set such mechanisms to record the History Channel tomorrow night, July 16th, at 9 PM for a one-hour special called Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight. It's a Special/Documentary that will delve into the mind and the mythos behind everybody's favorite pointy-eared vigilante.

I mention this because rumor has it that I am one of the many who was interviewed for this special and, if you play your cards right, you might even be able to see my smiling face a time or two during the hour commenting on my relationship with the Batman as well as telling the story behind my creation of the Caped Crusader's mentor and tech wizard Lucius Fox, played so wonderfully in the bat-films by the incomparable Morgan Freeman. The show will be rerun a number of times over the next week, so if you miss Wednesday night, there will be several other opportunities to catch it.

And, if you like this special, then you'll certainly want to set your machine to record the follow-up special Batman Tech on the History Channel next Monday, July 21st, at 9 PM, which will discuss...well, pretty much what the title describes. I'm supposed to be on that special as well, so by the end of next weekend, between the two specials and all my appearances as a Special Guest at the San Diego Comic-Con, you'll all be pretty darned sick of looking at me.

Seriously though, if you do record the specials and I am on them as promised, drop me a line and let me know what you thought, wouldja? You know how insecure I am.

Check your local listings for correct time and channel.

Okay, I'm Blushing

Is it vainglorious of me to be pleased as the proverbial punch that, in last week's Entertainment Weekly, visionary film director Guillermo Del Toro (Chronos, Hellboy, the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth, and the current mind-blowing Hellboy II: The Golden Army) listed as his number one influence in becoming a director the Swamp Thing comic run by the impossibly-talented Bernie Wrightson and your Humble Blogger, mentioning the two of us by name, even.

Well, is it?

A Semi-Urgent Call For Your Help

Hey, all. As many of you already know, for the past few decades, I've been Captain of the Pro team at the Pro/Fan Trivia Challenge that is held annually at the San Diego Comic-Con. I'll post my rather-busy schedule (since I'm a Special Guest this year) later this week once it's firmly settled, but in the meantime, I give to you the following plea from the Captain of the Fan team, the knowledgeable Tom Galloway, who wrote:
This year's San Diego Pro/Fan Trivia will have Len Wein, Mark Waid, Robert Skir, and an exciting mystery player yet to be named going up against Tom Galloway, Terence Chua, David Oakes, and John Sardegna, with the questions being asked by Peter David. We're still looking for questions for it, with this year's theme being "Young Heroes". Specifically, we're looking for questions about characters college-aged or below, from stories published from 1956-1986 (essentially the Silver Age and Pre-Crisis). For example, Superboy, Supergirl, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Robin, Teen Titans, Spider-Man, Human Torch, the original X-Men and Kitty Pryde, Rick Jones, etc.. For each Legion question you send, we request that you also send in at least one non-Legion question, as we don't want an excessively Legion dominated set of questions.

There are two types of questions in the match, toss-ups and bonuses. You should mark your questions with what type you think they are. Toss-ups can only be answered by individuals, while the full team can consult on the latter. The latter can thus (and should) be both harder and perhaps a bit more complex in terms of a correct answer. In general, questions requiring more than one answer ("Name seven of the villains who appeared in the story about Reed and Sue's wedding") should be bonuses, not toss-ups.

Ideally, I think 90% of toss-ups should be answered correctly, while around 50-70% of bonuses should.

Questions should not ask for issue numbers (they can be included in the question, but try for more descriptive set-ups than just "Who was the villain in Forbush-Man #3?") or creators. We're interested in story content. Also, unless it was fairly memorable, please don't write questions on the order of "In Superboy #158, Lex Luthor revealed a particular fondness for what Martian dessert?" where this was never mentioned again outside of that one panel.

For a record of 2003's match, including all questions and whether and who answered them correctly, see:

I'll just note that ones I think were probably too easy were Tossup #10, Bonus #11, and Bonus #13. Ones I think were probably too hard were Tossups 2, 8, and 20.

Finally, if possible, try to add a bit of style to the questions, so they're not of very basic forms like "What's the Top's real name?" "Who fought Forbush-Man in Forbush-Man #1?", etc. I like Tossups 3 and 14 from the 2003 match in this regard.

Questions should be sent to

The match'll be Sunday the 27th, 2:30, in Room 4.
And if you understood all of that, you should probably be on the team instead of me, Still, if there's any way for any of you Gentle Readers out there to lend us a hand, 'twould be more than appreciated, 'twould be a downright blessing.

Thanks in advance for being as geeky as we are.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How the World Has Changed

Once upon a time, back before the invention of either fire or the sandwich, if a movie studio wanted to promote its upcoming releases, there were really very few avenues through which to do it.

There were, of course, those wonderfully cheesy trailers that would run in the theaters themselves: "SEE Clark Cable burn down Atlanta all by his lonesome! HEAR Ethel Merman make all the dogs within a thousand mile radius howl in despair! WITNESS a spectacle the likes of which you have never seen since the last time you saw a spectacle like this! BEHOLD Bette Davis' eyes, Betty Grable's legs, Betty Bacall's basso profundo voice, and Betty Boop's breathtaking boo-boop-be-doop! SEE 'The Attack of the Rutabagas That Want to Sell You Amway Products' next week in this very theatre!"

God, I miss those old-fashioned promos! >sigh< But I digress.

There were also billboards to promote the film, sometimes stunning posters on the walls of construction sites or on the sides of bus stations, newspaper ads and, I suppose, radio spots (though I really don't recall hearing about too many of those).

Then came television and the rise of the talk show and suddenly you would find the stars of upcoming features making the rounds of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin and Arsenio Hall and their now seemingly infinite successors to chat about behind-the-scenes happenings on the set and the truly wonderful time you were going to have when you raced to the theater to see their new films. It's almost gotten to be predictable. If you see Orlando Bloom on with Regis and Kelly in the early morning to promote Pirates of the Caribbean IV: We'll Keep Making Them as Long as you Keep Paying to See Them, you're not likely to lose money by betting that you'll be seeing him on The View, then David Letterman, then Conan O'Brien, pretty much in that order, all in the same day, followed by appearances on Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, then Craig Ferguson on the opposite coast the next day. If it's the right kind of movie, the stars may well also show up to chat with Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and even possibly Keith Olbermann along the way. Frankly, the ones who really impress me are the ones who do Regis in the morning, then Leno that same night since the shows are shot 3000 miles apart. Hell, I suppose if you're Mike Meyers or Adam Sandler and you think it'll get a dozen extra tushes into the seats, you might even show up on Sunrise Sermonette. (Is that even still on?)

Movie promotion has taken off in extraordinary ways. These days, it isn't surprising to see entire city buses given over to selling some new film with advertising that literally covers the bus. I particularly liked the buses that sold Horton Hears a Who recently, with an image of a giant Horton apparently crushing the poor bus, and I still talk about the black-and-white banner ad that ran along the sides of local buses a year or two back that said simply, "YIPPEEKIYAY, MO--" and the words JOHN 6:13 down in the corner as a way of promoting the then-upcoming Live Free or Die Hard.

Then, of course, Al Gore (as some less-than-sincere pundits would have us believe) invented the Internet a while back, and promotion became a whole new ballgame. Now, with the help of my friend Harry Knowles, head honcho of, and heaven alone knows how many others, the era of guerrilla advertising is upon us.

For months now, I've been receiving regular emails from such sites as, which allowed me to follow the race for Gotham City District Attorney and even download bumper stickers and buttons in support of Harvey, and, which kept me apprised of The Joker's various insane doings. And now, on the eve of the much-anticipated release of The Dark Knight, I must commend you all to, and in particular the several episodes of the news program Gotham Tonight which gives you a whole lot of back story that plays directly into the film itself. It's film promotion of the highest order, and is absolutely well worth your valuable time. Trust me, this film is complex on levels you will not believe.

The future of movie advertising is here, people, and, sweet chuckling Jesus, is it fun.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

He's Everywhere, He's Everywhere

Faithful fan Ken Hommel, the manager of program scheduling for NBC Universal, wrote to alert me to the following, and I thought I ought to share that same info with all you Gentle Readers out there in Blogland.
I wanted to let you know that the early Swamp Thing series episodes from 1990 will be airing as a two hour movie on CHILLER beginning this Friday night. Later episodes are also airing on! CHILLER is one of the NBC Universal Emerging Networks primarily airing on DirecTV and Dish Network so far. I don't know if the episodes were stitched together for the USA premiere or for foreign use, but when it became available, I thought it was a great addition to our "Summer Camp" Friday movie line-up!
Wow! Thanks, Ken. Add that to the fact that the first two seasons of the Swamp Thing series are already available on DVD (with a special interview with your humble blogger included) and the third season of the series is set to drop this coming Tuesday, July 15, its seems like you can't turn around these days without stumbling over everyone's favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man. I have neither DirecTV nor Dish Network but here's a heads up for those of you who do.

Check it out if you get the chance and let me know what you think, okay?

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Well, I'm finally back from the better part of a week in wonderful Minneapolis, where I attended once again one of the best conventions I've ever been to, CONvergence. It's a convention put on by dedicated people who go to extraordinary lengths simply to put on a convention that everyone will enjoy. And, boy howdy, did we ever enjoy it. I would like to extend a special thank-you to my official Con liaison, Mark Tempel, and his lovely wife, Mandy, as well as to Jody, Anton, Melissa, and all the rest of the fine folks whose only goal, it seems, was to make sure everybody at CONvergence was having as good a time as they were.

Next year, the con will be held, as usual, over the July 4th weekend. If you've got nothing else planned -- and, frankly, even if you do -- I cannot suggest more strongly that you spend the weekend at CONvergence. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

As ever, my buddy Mark Evanier has all sorts of posts and videos and Lord knows what else from the con up on his blog. Go click on the link to Mark's blog at the right and you'll get only the slightest taste of the merriment awaiting you.