…and, of course, everyone remembers that Tim Burton and Mark Wahlberg last collaborated with each other in 2001’s disastrous remake of Planet of the Apes.
Before I begin with this rant, let me say that I love Tim Burton and I love Johnny Depp. I think they are two of the most interesting and idiosyncratic artists working in Hollywood today.
That said, regarding their myriad of collaborations, I think Depp is the one who is going to walk away with his reputation in tact when it’s all over. Because, unlike Burton, he actually works with other people from time to time. He’s still a risk-taker. He’s still viable.
Meanwhile, Burton has been stuck in a loop for almost a decade. Big Fish was the last time Burton worked with anyone who wasn’t Johnny Depp and that was in 2003. He’s made 4 films since then and each of them feature Depp as a pasty, googlely-eyed weirdo.
I mean, it makes sense that Burton would continue to the well so many times. The formula works. When Burton and Depp last collaborated in 2007’s Sweeny Todd, it resulted in huge box office receipts and Oscar nominations. It’s hard to turn your back on that. I understand that.
My problem with the pairing is that Burton has branded himself as an inventive Hollywood outsider whose singular vision and creativity simply cannot be contained. But his track record reflects and artist who has become complacent and predictable. Not only is this exemplified by his partnership with Depp, but with his reliance on Helena Bonham Carter and Danny Elfman as well.
Certainly I understand the value of a director who prefers to work with specific artists. Scorsese had DeNiro (now, DiCaprio). Steve Spielberg uses John Williams’s music in nearly every movie he makes. These elements become part of a director’s style and help audiences to easily identify their work.
But when it comes to Burton, I don’t look forward to his movies anymore because they all feel exactly the same.
I think if you had told me Burton was going to do a version of Alice in Wonderland 10 years ago, I would have been over the moon. The subject matter fits perfectly inside his wheelhouse. What is Burton if not a modern-day equivalent to Lewis Carroll? A fanciful dandy bursting with imaginative visions trapped by insecurity? Burton has carried Carrol’s flag for a long, long time. There is no other living director that could possibly do Alice in Wonderland justice like Burton could.
But now, with so many “dark” and “twisted” fairy tales under his belt, I feel like Burton is incapable of bringing anything new to Alice in Wonderland. Certainly not to the extent that it could overcome what is probably most widely considered the strongest visual reference point for the book – that being Disney’s 1951 animated version. At least, that’s what I first think of when I first think of Alice in Wonderland.
At this point, any addition arguments I make would just be me circling back on myself. Like I said, I GET why Burton and Depp continue to work with each other. There’s clearly an audience for it and I understand why audiences would be invested in it. Who hasn’t felt like an outsider at some point in their lives? Burton and Depp speak to this explicitly.
All I’m saying is that Burton’s brand as an inventive film maker doesn’t really hold water under scrutiny because he makes the same movies over and over again.
So, in my opinion, he should either stop adapting the work of others and go back to telling original stories or he should work with different actors to at least create the ILLUSION that he’s branching out.
Because if you aren’t growing as an artist, what’s the point? If it’s just about the paycheck, you might as well be McG.
What are your thoughts about Alice in Wonderland? Are you looking forward to it? Am I wrong about Burton? Leave your comments below!
This is kind of unprecedented for me, but I’m going to go ahead and make the call right now – Wednesday’s comic is going to be late.
The reason for this is because I have a very important job interview on Wednesday and I don’t want to risk it by staying up late on Tuesday night working on the comic.
Normally, spending the evening working on the comic would not be an issue, but Tuesday night I also have my night class and won’t be home until late.
I’ve always made a point of having new comics here for you guys every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and you guys have rewarded me with your loyalty. For that, I can’t thank you enough.
But considering the long-term implications of this interview, I feel I can’t risk failing to bring my “A” game by staying up late Tuesday to work on a comic for Wednesday.
Wednesday’s comic will most likely be up on the site sometime later that evening. So I encourage you to check back later in the day.
Thanks again for your support and understanding!
So here’s the comic from Wednesday that I owe you. If you were keeping up with the blog, you’ll know the reason the comic was delayed was due to a job interview I wanted to prepare for. I also wanted to make sure I got the proper amount of sleep.
I’m pretty sure most of you don’t know what my schedule is like. Frankly, you don’t need to know because it’s boring and self-serving to share it. But in this case, I’ll make an exception because I want you to understand.
Typically, I produce the comic the evening before it goes live on the site. Sometimes I’ll be able to get ahead of it a little by doing the pencils and inks over my lunch hour at my day job. But when I get home, it usually isn’t until after 8:00 that we manage to get Henry and Pearl settled down for the night. When you consider the everyday household chores that need to be done after that, there’s actually a very small window that I can work on the comic.
On Tuesday nights, I have night classes, so that window is even smaller. Instead of beating myself up trying to get a comic done for Wednesday, I thought it made more sense to prepare for my interview and get a good night’s sleep.
I didn’t receive any complaints and you guys have been more than supportive, so thank you. I just wanted to explain because, well, I felt like I owed you at least that much.
As for the job interview… How did it go? Frankly, I thought it went great. It really couldn’t have gone any better.
I don’t want to get into details because I don’t want to jinx it. Plus, as a rule, I don’t like to talk about work-related things online. You can’t be too careful.
Let’s just say it went very well and I’ll let you know how things turn out. Thanks for your patience and understanding. Now, let’s talk about the comic!
I was really pounding my head against the wall on this one because I didn’t know how to build on what I had established with Monday’s comic. Complicating matters, I came up with a great idea for a comic that I could use on Friday. So I was kind of caught between and a hard place.
I have to admit I was surprised by the feedback I received on Monday’s comic in the comments area. I expected some push back from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fans. That’s fine. What I didn’t expect where the people who were saying “Thank you! I’ve felt this way about Burton and Depp for years, but couldn’t find the words.” That’s kind of a weird feeling.
I try to address certain truths with my humor. After all, what generally makes something funny is when several people recognize the same truth that they don’t typically address. The ol’ “He’s saying what we’re all thinking!” formula. I aim for that, but it manifests itself in the relationship humor I explore with Tom and Cami. Usually it doesn’t crop up in this kind of commentary about actors or directors. So it caught me a little off guard.
It sparked a debate, though – which I like. But I felt like if Tom was going to take the “anti” Burton/Depp stance, Jared needed to be the counter balance.
And, so, I did some research.
Check out this Wiki of director/actor collaborations. It’s mind-boggling. Some of them get tossed out because the pairings worked together on a string of sequels. Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford, for example. But some of these partnerships appear very genuine.
Of course, my complaint with Burton and Depp isn’t that they’ve collaborated so many times. Just that there is a sameness to what they’ve produced. But, being fair, can I really argue that John Ford and John Wayne didn’t do the same thing? Or Scorsese and DeNiro, for that matter. It’s food for thought.
Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed today’s comic. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to leave your comments below.
Until then, be sure to come back tomorrow for a brand new comic!
Pop culture savvy readers should have no trouble recognizing The Simpsons reference in today’s comic. It’s Homer’s revolutionary makeup gun from episode 5F21 – “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace!”
Do I like The Simpsons? Um, yeah. Like, a lot.
I know it’s kind of shameless to lift a joke like this, but I can’t look at Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter and think of anything else. The makeup is so scatter-shot and sloppy. It looks like he visited a nursing home and told the ladies to “go wild” giving him a makeover.
I know this is kind of stupid, but the vacancy in Depp’s stare as afforded to him by those contact lenses really bugs me. Yeah, I get that he’s supposed to be, y’know, insane. So a little vacancy is appropriate. But what usually makes Depp’s characters interesting to me is that they either know they’re insane and play into it or they know they’re insane and don’t care. His characters have a foundation of intelligence that elevates them a little bit.
From what I’ve seen of Depp’s performance in the trailers and commercials indicates to me that it’s basically him prancing around, hooting and hollering for the length of the movie. There’s no substance.
I guess that’s my problem with Alice in Wonderland in general. I’ve never been a fan of the material. What is fun or interesting about portraying insanity in a way that is untethered to real-life circumstances. It’s silly for the sake of being silly.
I read Owen Gleiberman’s review in Entertainment Weekly and I thought he hit on a particular truth. “Once Alice tumbles into Wonderland, everyone she meets is, if not certifiable, then a blithely self-absorbed, nattering crackpot-narcissist. The book is a visionary satire of the newly emerging modern world, in which everyone is really babbling to no one but themselves. The challenge of adapting Alice in Wonderland is this: How do you create relationships, a story, a purpose out of a tale whose prime purpose is not to have one?”
I guess I’m skeptical that Burton and Depp can assign any significance to the material beyond the visual punch.
I’ve likely beat this dead horse into dust by this point, so I’ll hang it up for now. If anyone here sees Alice in Wonderland, I’d love to hear your opinons. You can leave them in the comments section below!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Hey, guys. Sorry that the comic is late. But after live-blogging the Oscars last night, I sat down to work on today’s comic and started feeling terrible. I was light-headed and started seeing flashcubes like a migraine was coming on. I decided to rack out early to prevent totally wrecking myself.
I woke up this morning still not 100%, but functional. I went to work thinking I could plow through it before working on the comic over my lunch hour. I didn’t make it. I felt so terrible, I had to leave work early to go home and rest.
I thought I could still salvage today’s comic this evening before I realized that I left all of my drawing materials at my desk. So, even though I’m feeling better now, there’s no comic today. Just this Oscar roundup.
I’m not happy. This is the second deadline I’ve blown in a week and there’s no excuse for it except maybe “Real Life” is starting to catch up with me. It sucks not to have a comic ready after the biggest night in movies all year. At the very least, I hope you enjoy this recap.
Anyway, my apologies again. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
So, as we know, the Oscars were last night. For me, they were a wildly uneven affair. I thought co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were curiously M.I.A. considering how much ABC pushed them forward as a comedy duo unlike any other in their advertising. Having Neil Patrick Harris open the show with a bombastic music number – while entertaining – seemed out of place, as well. Shouldn’t – y’know – the hosts open the show?
I feel like I don’t have a lot to say about the winners themselves. There weren’t really a lot of upsets last night. There was a bit of a question mark hanging over whether or not The Hurt Locker or Avatar would take Best Picture, but I think The Hurt Locker set the tone for the show early on by snagging awards for Best Sound, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay. When they picked up the award for Best Editing later in the night, I knew it was in the bag. Films that win Best Editing usually end up winning Best Picture.
It was certainly a triumph to see Kathryn Bigelow win Best Director. She looked positively gobsmacked when she emerged on stage moments later to claim her award for Best Picture. Considering her ex-husband was James Cameron, the reward must have been that much sweeter.
It’s easy to be excited for Bigelow considering this historical context of her win as the first female director to be recognized by the Academy in this way. But among the other major categories, I can’t muster up much enthusiasm.
Jeff Bridges winning Best Actor for Crazy Heart was expected and long-deserved. Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds has been sewn up since last summer. Same for Mo’Nique winning Best Supporting Actress for Precious.
I don’t if you can say that Sandra Bullock was the most deserving for her Best Actress win in The Blind Side. I felt like the Academy was maybe responding more to the box office success of that film than her performance in particular. When Bullock asked “Did I really earn this, or did I wear you all down?” I bristled. Because it implies that she’s been giving great performances for years and has been overlooked. I know she was making an attempt at humor, but when compared to Jeff Bridges who actually HAS been delivering excellent performances for years and had been overlooked, it seemed shallow.
That said, I thought she gave the best, most emotional speech of the night. She really is America’s Sweetheart. It’s hard to hate her. She’s just been stuck in so many ridiculous romantic comedies over the years, its difficult to imagine her in another context. Hopefully her win last night will afford her the opportunity to be a little more selective with her roles. I mean, what other actor wins a Razzie and an Oscar in the same weekend?
Something that stuck out to me last night was the lack of musical performances for the compositions nominated in the Best Original Song category. Cami figured out that the reason why was because they needed the extra time to introduce each of the 10 Best Picture nominees over the course of the evening.
The economy of time made sense to me until we reached the the Best Original Score category late in the show. At first I was confused when a phalanx of dancers performed flips and high kicks to the score for Sherlock Holmes. But I was positively enraged when one of the dancers inexplicably started doing THE ROBOT to Michael Giacchino’s score for Up.
Giacchino’s score was the heart of Up and a well-deserved win for the composer last night. “Ellie’s Theme” not only serves as the centerpiece that plays behind the “Married Life” montage that emotionally devastated so many of us, but Giacchino expertly weaves it through the rest of the score. So any callback to that piece immediately takes us back to that moment in the film and connects the dots between the motivations behind Carl’s journey and the emotions he’s trying to bury. Having a guy dance THE ROBOT to this music seemed beyond offensive to me.
I mean, I don’t typically get this worked up over the Best Original Score category, but the dancing was by far the tackiest and most jarring piece of an off-balance telecast. If you want someone to blame, point your finger at show producer Adam Shankman. Who, shockingly, is also a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. Ugh. Let’s hope that Shankman isn’t invited to produce next year.
At this point, I feel like if I say any more about the Oscars, I’ll start talking in circles. So why don’t you let me know what you thought of the show and the winners. Leave your comments below and we’ll get a conversation started!
Tom and Cami probably should have thrown that television out the window a decade ago. 2010 and they’re still using rabbit ears? Get with the program!
I will admit that today’s comic would have had more impact if it were paired with the Oscar recap that I penned on Monday. But you guys know the circumstances of why THAT didn’t happen.
That said, I couldn’t let the idea of this comic go. I still wanted to go forward with it rather than not leave a record within the comic’s continuity that the 82nd Annual Academy Awards had happened.
Although, looking at the media landscape 3 days later, it almost feels like it didn’t. I continue to be amazed by how fast the media and our culture synthesize and process these events. By now, Sunday night’s broadcast is old, old, OLD news. I’m not seeing anyone talk about them now.
Maybe it’s the media. Maybe it’s the culture. Maybe it’s just that there wasn’t anything that memorable about the broadcast. Except that’s not true when you consider that crazy lady with the bozo haircut that interrupted Best Documentary Short winner Roger Ross Williams.
People had their fun with it, I guess. The late night hosts ran a couple parodies that I saw. But they’re not talking about it any more. I don’t know. How could you expect them too and have them still be relevant?
Certainly something no one is talking about 3 days later is Katheryn Bigelow’s win for Best Director. Considering she’s the first woman to be recognized with the honor, you’d think it would be a bigger deal.
Remember when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Best Actor and Best Actress? It seems like we were talking about that for a while before the sturm and drang subsided. Maybe Bigelow doesn’t want to make as big a deal about it. Maybe she’s limiting her accessibility. Or maybe it’s just not that big of a deal. It probably shouldn’t be. More women should be nominated. More women should win. Heck, more women should be out there directing! Calling attention to the “First Female Director To Win An Oscar” probably makes the idea of the honor less commonplace than it should be.
All I know is that being sidelined with a migraine this week has thrown me off-pace from what I REALLY want to talk about – The new Iron Man 2 trailer.
Believe me – Come Friday, I will have A LOT to say about it. Be sure to be here for that!
Until then, danke schoen.
I was sitting around and thinking a little bit and want to get your feedback. I’m curious as to your thoughts about the Theater Hopper “community” and if I’m doing enough to promote it or make it more visible.
Long-time readers remember the THorum community. I’ve tried to relaunch it a couple of times, but I’ve decided to give up the ghost. You can’t put lightning in a bottle twice.
That’s not to say that I’ve given up on community-building altogether. We have a stable of regular posters who leave their thoughts and opinions in the comments section of the blog. I just wonder if I’m doing enough to promote that? Maybe someone who doesn’t read the blog has an opinion about the comic, but no outlet to express it. Maybe they’re not seeing the “COMMENT” link at the bottom of each blog post.
I don’t know. I just wanted to do a little brainstorming, kick around a few ideas and see what you guys thought.
What can I do to attract more people to the comments section and are there additional avenues toward community-building that I haven’t explored?
I don’t know how you guys were raised, but when you have a television telling you things you don’t want to hear, you toss it out the window.
When you have a friend telling you things you don’t want to hear, well, same goes…
I really wish I could have talked about the new Iron Man 2 trailer sooner. I think after my extended run of Iron Man comics in 2008, people have come to associate me with the franchise very closely. People expect that I will have something to say about it. And, well, I do.
But first, here’s the trailer in all it’s glory (in the unlikely event that you haven’t seen it yet.)
Okay, first thoughts? SUITCASE ARMOR?!?!? YESSSSSS!!!
Seriously, folks, if you’re not a fan of Iron Man, you don’t know what a big deal that is. For years, Tony Stark was known to travel with a briefcase that contained the boots, gauntlets and helmet of his armor. He wore a chest piece under his clothes and his arms and legs would then be covered by a pliable mesh that would then harden when the armor was sealed.
It was totally impractical and goofy considering A.) You’d never be able to fit a helmet, two gauntlet and two boots into a standard-sized briefcase and B.) Wouldn’t people see the ridges of the chest piece sticking out through Stark’s shirt? But you went with it because, you know, it was a comic book.
The producers of the movie took a somewhat silly concept and made it alarmingly practical. Instead of the armor being inside the briefcase (or, in this instance, suitcase) they made the SUITCASE ITSELF the armor?! Friggin’ brilliant. Why someone at Marvel didn’t figure that one out years ago is beyond me. You gotta think there are some old school Iron Man scribes slapping their foreheads over that one! I can’t wait to see this new armor in action.
I know that geeking out over the suitcase armor seems like a very specific thing to concentrate on. But to me, it’s indicative of the care and affection the producers have for the character. They didn’t need to throw in the suitcase armor. If they wanted to throw a shout-out to the geeks, they could have thrown in the Stealth Armor or maybe the torso of a Hulkbuster Stark is working on in his garage. Whatever.
But to include the suitcase armor, give it prominence in an action sequence AND make it practical? That’s special. And, giving it the red and silver color scheme of the Silver Centurion armor was a nice touch, too.
As for the rest of the trailer, I think it’s expertly cut together and certainly generates a lot of excitement. But I’m concerned that it establishes too much of a narrative flow. Watching it, I kind of got the sense I knew how the story was going to shake out. I hope they can squeeze in a few more surprises, but I’m starting to become concerned that I might have to enter “lock-down mode” a little early. Iron Man 2 doesn’t come out until May 7. That’s going to be a long time to wait!
Of course, I have all of the new Iron Man 2 merchandise to keep me company until then. I have a problem, people. How bad is it? I saw a circular for Toys R’ Us in the newspaper on Sunday that said new Iron Man 2 toys were on sale and I went over my lunch hour on Tuesday to pick up a bunch of new figures. I’ll have to take a picture. They’re pretty sweet. In fact, I should take a picture of my office sometime. It’s littered with Iron Man figures. Probably 50 or more. It’s sick.
I KNOW you guys have an opinion about the new trailer. So let’s open up the conversation in the comments area below. Tell me what you think of the Iron Man 2 trailer. Fire away!