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Craig Zablo Posts

AVP: Starting to Believe

Posted in Horror, and Movies

I wasn’t on board with Alien vs Predator when I first heard about it.

It sounded pretty lame to me. Sort of like two little kids arguing about who would win between Hulk and SupermanRocky and RamboJason and Freddy

But I’ve got to admit, the more I see about Alien vs Predator, the cooler I think it might be. There’s a trailer on-line and it’s helping to make a believer out of me.

Watch it and maybe it’ll make one out of you.

AtlantaCon 2004 Report

Posted in Art, Comics, and Con Report

Last week Mike [my oldest son], John Beatty [my oldest buddy] and I drove up for AtlantaCon 2004. The con didn’t officially start until Saturday, but we decided to go up on Friday so we would be fresh in the morning when things kicked off.

Actually it was good that we went up on Friday since the con organizers set up a pre-show sketch session. For a $25 donation [which went to Jeff Jones] you could mingle with the artists who were doing really nice head sketches and more. Artists sketching included Phil Noto, Mike Kaluata, Adam Hughes, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Georges Jeanty, and many others. I’ve got to make special mention of a cool sketch “combo.” Georges did a nice head shot of “Captain America looking up into the distance” for one of the fans. Later the same fan returned. Adam Hughes had added a headshot of Bucky looking up in the same direction as Cap with the caption, “Uh, Cap… what are we looking at?” That just cracked me [and everyone else at the table] up.

Mike was making the rounds getting Hellboy sketches while I sat at a table with Big Beatty and Phil Noto who were both sketching. As the sun went down Phil moved to a better light source and his seat was taken by a rotating crew which included Kelsey Shannon, James Howell and others. The table got kind of rowdy as people came up asking Big Beatty for sketches and he determined whether or not it was for a “fetish collection.” It was really cool talking movies and comics and “stuff” with everyone at the table or passing by. A guy named “Little John” was gettting sketches and said that he checks out The StalloneZone and ZONE on a regular basis. How cool is that?

The session was supposed to end at 10:00 but went on until 11:00. The artists were really giving the fans their money’s worth. Special thanks to the Gaijin folks who didn’t even get to sit and eat a proper dinner before they were swamped by fans wanting sketches!

The next morning Mike, Beatty, and I met James Howell at the Waffle House for a hearty breakfast. Then it was off to the con! As we were walking in we saw John Higashi and Steven Lee arriving. Higashi was sporting his StalloneZone shirt!

Beatty and I went up to get our passes. Adam Hughes was there to get his as well. The guy giving out the passes asked Adam if he was an artist! Adam patiently said he was and proceeded to spell his name. No passes. The guy looked in a couple of different places. Still no passes. As Adam looked around for someone he knew [or at least knew him] I asked if the passes might be under Gaijin Studio. Adam asked the man and sure enough, they were. Adam then asked if there was a pass for Allison. Nope, but the man quickly made her one. Beatty and I picked up our passes and followed Adam into the show.

The artists were starting to set up. Most dealers were ready to go and fans were lined up waiting to get in. After a bit of looking Beatty found his table. Mike and I decided to check the place out. My goal was to get Stallone pieces from Jason Pearson, Tony Harris, and Brian Stelfreeze. Anything else would be gravy. A quick circuit of the con and I was able to learn that Jason Pearson had to cancel, Brian Bolland was running a few hours late [due to a flight problem], and other artists were just rolling in. A line was starting to form for Brian Bolland. I got in along with John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell and a few others.

I saw Tony Harris starting to set up the Jolly Roger display. The guys said they’d hold my spot so I could go down. There was already one guy in line and knowing that Tony is very slow I decided to take them up on their offer. I was there at #2. [Last year at Heroes I just missed getting my first Harris sketch — I was next on the list when Tony had to stop sketching so he could get ready for the charity painting session — and I didn’t want to face the same thing again.] Steven Lee was behind me. Things were looking good for both of us. When it was my turn to make a request I told Tony I wanted a Stallone piece. He remembered me from last year. Tony said he’d give it a shot.

Then it was over to the Gaijin booth. The whole gang was there Adam and Allison, Cully, Karl, Brian and Kelsey [who was wearing his StalloneZone shirt!]. Phil Noto was sketching there as well. Several fans were oogling a Brian Stelfreeze painting which was a beaut! I asked Brian if he had started a list and he hadn’t. I was first! When I told Brian I wanted him to do a Stallone piece he called out to Cully [who was sitting further down the way], “Hey Cully! I’m being called up to the big leagues!” LOL! Brian said he wanted to give Jack Carter a shot! Cool by me, as that would have been my choice for him as well.

As I walked the convention I met up with fans that I usually only get to “talk” to via e-mail like Terry webmaster of ComicArt Community, Benno, Rich DeDominicis, Ken Danker of Monster Collectables and Scott Blacksher.

Scott Blacksher has a really cool “Astro-Zombies” Theme. We’ve exchanged a few e-mails over the past year. Scott came by the table and commissioned Beatty to do him an Astro-Zombie sketch.

I could tell that Beatty wasn’t feeling well [too much junk food on the ride up is our guess] but before the sketch was done, I thought that he’d recovered. John didn’t think so. He told Scott that he was sorry that the sketch wasn’t better and he could have it for free.

Scott was really surprised and said the sketch was fine, but Beatty refused to take any money and even said he’d try to come up with a better piece sometime in the future. Scott thanked Beatty and said that he had an autographed copy of “Mark of the Astro-Zombies” that Beatty could have. Big John passed the tape on to me since he knows that I’ve been wanting to see the movie and I’ll get to it before he ever does!

Finally Brian Bolland arrived! By this time Brian had a huge line of people waiting. With almost no time to even catch his breath, Brian began to take time with each fan. Some only wanted a chance to thank Brian for the wonderful work that he’s produced [and continues to produce]. Others were hoping for a sketch or even an opportunity to buy one of his prelims. When it was my time with Brian, I thanked him for providing me with many hours of pleasure, asked if he would autograph a book for a friend and pose for a picture with me. Brian was gracious and modest. He was a true pleasure to meet and I hope that he enjoyed meeting his fans as much as they enjoyed meeting him!

It was cool catching up with some artists that I hadn’t seen in a while. Dan Bereton and his lovely lady were there leading the celebration of the tenth anniversary of The Nocturnals. Eddie Powell and his wife had some really cool Goon t-shirts [James Howell got the last 2XL before me!], sketchbooks, and more. Gus Vasquez was there and promised to have my Stallone commission ready at Heroes. Gus said he’d do it that weekend, but I want him to take the time he’d like to do it “up right.”

Speaking of doing it up right, Sanford Greene has been turning out some great stuff lately. Sanford was sketching away, but did take some time to show us the latest book he’s putting together. It’s got a really hip look and should be a lot of fun once he gets it rolling. LeSean was also doing some work that really kicks butt. Hmmm… perhaps I’ll get them in the Stallone Gallery at some point. Andy Lee was there… and Jason Walker too!

I decided I would head over and see if Brian Stelfreeze had finished my Jack Carter commission. As I got closer to the Gaijin table, a couple of fans who know I collect Stallone pieces mentioned that they’d seen what Brian had done for me and that it totally kicked uh, butt. When I got there Brian was talking to another fan but I could see the completed piece! Man!! Brian had nailed it. His Jack Carter was one bad mofo. Going back to Brian‘s analogy of being called up to the “big leagues” — well, if that’s the case then Brian hit a grand slam the first time at bat. I couldn’t thank him enough for the piece. I did give him a StalloneZone t-shirt though.

I also gave shirts to Cully and Adam since they had completed Stallone sketches before I had the shirts and I didn’t want them to be left out. The cool thing is that some fans and pros are wearing the shirts to conventions [and not just to mow the grass]. At this point I’m totally out of shirts and I unfortunately ran out before getting one to Tony Harris [I thought we had put a couple back… but they got away].

Speaking of Tony Harris, I decided to check and see if he had finished my commission since Saturday was winding down. I was surprised to find that Tony hadn’t even finished the first sketch yet. Well… at least I was number 2 and Tony was confident that he’d be able to finish before we pulled out on Sunday at noon.

Rob Prior was set up doing some air brush paintings. Rob is quite an interesting guy. He’s worked in a number of artistic capactities in the comic and film industry. His most recent work has been on the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly TV shows. I’d heard that Rob was in the process of directing a movie called Shadowwalkers from a story that he’d created. Rob was nice enough to share the story and progress on getting the film made. If everything comes to pass we’re going to be in for a very cool couple of hours. The story is ripe for a multitude of venues from other movies to games to a tv series… but Rob is just concentrating on THIS movie now. Rob Prior‘s a guy to keep an eye on and I wish him continued success.

As the show was winding down Kelsey and I were laughing about the hacki-sack game that he got into at MegaCon. Before you could say hacki- Kelsey, Mike and Big Beatty started up a game. Soon Brian was involved… then Cully… and things were rockin’. I don’t know if watching Beatty keep missing with his kicks or Mike‘s doublekicks had us laughing more. The game was called when the janitors were ready to turn off the ligjhts. [At least it seemed that late!]

John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell, Jason Walker, Big Beatty, Mike, and I [along with another six or eight people] decided to have dinner at Road House. The meal lasted literally for over two hours as we all laughed and told “war stories” of conventions and art collecting. After everyone had ordered and some of us had even started to get our food the waitress came back to tell John Higashi that they were out of baked potatoes.

John was pretty disappointed, but not as disappointed as Big Beatty when he was told they were out of club sandwiches! Higashi opted for the onions [don’t ask]. Anyway… John‘s picking at his steak mumbling that he would have really liked his potatoe when the waitress brings out baked patatoes to others! Finally she comes back by [John‘s finished his steak by now] and she says, “Oh, we’ve got potatoes now.” John [looking sad] says, “No, that’s ok… I’m finished now.” “But sir, would you like your onions brought out?” John hung his head even lower and said, “No thanks. I’m finished.”

Now you might think that a man who was sad about not getting 1/3 of his meal would not be the target of teasing. But if you do think that way, then you don’t know Big Beatty. Beatty started in with riffs about Higashi being the infamous Johnny StarWarz [‘dat’s right StarWarz with a “Z”] and we were all off to the races. Before too long we had Johnny‘s “gang sign” [making a “J” and a “W” with the fingers on each hand], Johnny pimping out his rental car, making deals for commissions and then his homies bringing up “da cash,” Johnny wearing a Death Star medalian for his bling… and on and on and on.

When we finally left the restaurant it was after 10:30… and we were beat. So it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep… The next morning Mike and I headed back to the Waffle House where we crossed paths with John Higashi, James Howell and Steven Lee. Then on to the convention.

Beatty and I were hanging at his table talking to the folks from Cute Girl Demographics who had the next table. Kelsey came by and hung out for a while. Ya just gotta love Kelsey [even if he did spill coffee on Mike]! After a bit I decided to go down and check on Tony Harris‘ progress. It’s always a good feeling to hear someone tell you how cool your piece is before you get to see it and that’s exactly what happened as I approached Tony‘s table.

Tony had really created a beautiful piece. This is the same guy who told me he had problems with doing a likeness! Man, his Stallone is dead on. Tony always turns out a great sketch and this one was exceptional. Big Beatty thinks it’s the best in my collection. And getting any compliment from Beatty is as rare as Higashi getting a baked potatoe at Road House.

I couldn’t belive my luck. I was able to get both Brian Stelfreeze and Tony Harris to do Stallone pieces for me… and they both nailed him. Life is good!

As much as I wanted to stay, I knew that we needed to head back to Daytona since we all had work or school the next day. [And in my case I had both since I’m a middle school administrator.] We made a final pass of the convention floor and said our good byes.

We’d had a great time… and are already counting the days untl Heroes!

Bring on Riddick

Posted in Movies

The more I see about The Riddick Chronicles the more excited I become. As I said in my last ZONE update, I was worried when the storyline first appeared. All of these different races, an intergalactic war, and Riddick becoming the “One” who can end it. It sounded too derivative… and too big.

Now that I’ve heard more about the storyline and have started to see production photos, I say, Bring it on!

Riddick Looking Better and Better

Posted in Movies

Pitch Black is one of my favorite movies. Vin Diesel and writer/director David Twohy created Riddick, one of the coolest characters to hit the screen in years. I was hyped when I heard that there’d be at least one more movie with Diesel as Riddick written & directed by Twohy.

The trailer for The Chronicles of Riddick surprised me. I knew that Twohy and Diesel were going for something huge, but I still was surprised at the scope of their plans. I’ll admit I was a little worried, but more than willing to go along.

Now that advance reviews are coming in I really can’t wait to see this film. I think that we’re going to be in for the kind of surprises that Pitch Black gave us.

And that’s a very good thing.

Neal Adams’ Batman

Posted in Art, and Comics

Yesterday I told you about Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo‘s Batman: Broken City graphic novel. Since many of you are Batman fans, I thought that you might be interested in two other graphic novels featuring Batman and with art by Neal Adams.

Neal Adams is the artist who redefined Batman from the kooky tv character to the realistic dark knight that could truly “strike fear into the hearts of evil doers.”

There are currently two hardcovers [Batman Illustrated Volume 1 and Batman Illustrated Volume 2] featuring Neal‘s work and they are a bit pricey, however with the discount offered by Amazon, they’re worth the price of admission.

40 Years Later and Still Trippin’

Posted in TV

After nearly forty years, they’re coming back for one more show!

That’s right! Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, and Carl Reiner, stars of the original “Dick Van Dyke Show” have reunited for the show’s “159th Episode,” which will air May 11th on CBS. Series regulars Larry Mathews (Richie) and Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie Helper) will also return. Sadly, Morey Amsterdam, who played Buddy, died in 1996.

Although the “Dick Van Dyke Show” remains a favorite, the last original episode appeared in 1966! That will all change when the new episode airs on May 11th. In the new episode, Rob, who’s still married to Laura, gets a phone call from his old boss, Alan Brady who wants Rob and Sally to write his eulogy.

Ray Ramano (Everybody Loves Raymond) will host the episode which will feature clips from the original “Dick Van Dyke Show” episodes.

Who knows, maybe if this new episode is well received, they’ll come back in another 40 years and do another!

Exorcist: The Beginning – Trio

Posted in Horror, and Movies

Producers of Exorcist: The Beginning are going to release two completely different versions of the horror prequel on DVD! That’s right, both the original version which was directed by Paul Shrader as well as the totally reshot version by Renny Harlin which will be released to theaters later this summer will be available when the dvd is released.

The production company didn’t care at all for the footage turned in by original director Paul Schrader who had created “a creepy psychological thriller sans the gore.” So Renny Harlin was brought in to reshoot the entire movie. Harlin recast roles and went to work. Harlin‘s version will hit big screens later this year.

The cool thing is that fans will get to see both versions once the dvd is released. And I’ll be willing to bet that a good portion of fans will prefer the version that was never released to theaters!

100 Bullets Team Take on Batman

Posted in Art, and Comics

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo made their claim to fame [and rightly so] with the classic comic series 100 Bullets. If you ever wondered what they could do with an icon like Batman then wonder no more.

Azzarello and Rizzo‘s Batman Broken City is being collected as a 144 page hardcover and trade paperback. Want to know more? Ok, how’s this sound…

“A woman’s body is found in the Gotham Landfill, and as Batman delves into the case, he reflects on the dark city that he made his home. He knows – or thinks he knows – who the killer is, but when the truth is revealed, the Dark Knight might not even know who he is anymore.”

If you’re a fan of Azzarello, Rizzo, or Batman, then you ought to give this one a look!

Detective Zablo

Posted in Comics

From time to time, I’ve been lucky to have friends who have drawn me or placed my name in comic books that they’re working on. Mike Zeck and John Beatty put me in Captain America and The Punisher. Jerry Ordway put me in Superman. Bob McLeod stuck me on a wanted poster. My latest appearance comes courtesy of Nick Northey and Jeff Austin in the current issue [124] of Femforce from AC Comics. I show up as war hero Detective Zablo.

Who knows where I may show up next… but odds are it’ll be here in a ZONE update!

Double the Zombie Pleasure…

Posted in Horror, Movies, and Zombies

Two new zombie movies are starting to get some good buzz and may be worth a look.

The first is called Shaun of the Dead [gotta love that title!] which is a comedy from the UK. It looks like a lot of fun!

The second is called Undead. Man, I’m still not sure what to make of this one. I watched the trailer… and I’m still not sure what to make of this one…

I, Robot’s New Trailer

Posted in Movies

The new trailer for I, Robot  is now online and it kicks major butt.

I had an interest in the movie since Will Smith [Bad Boys II] seems to pick good projects [not counting Wild, Wild West of course], it’s based on the classic short story collection by Isaac Asimov, and being helmed by director Alex Proyas [Dark City, The Crow].

I really like the feel of this trailer. If the movie can match it we’re in for a great couple of hours.

No Moore on Walking Dead

Posted in Art, Comics, Horror, and Zombies

“Is it going to be as good?”

My current favorite regularly published comic is The Walking Dead. Writer, Robert Kirkman, and artist Tony Moore have created a great comic. Each issue has been more than worth the price of admission and the series continues to get better and better.

Sadly, Tony has decided to move on after issue six.

The good news is that Charlie Adlard [X-Files, White Death, Astronauts In Trouble] is taking over the art chores and looks to be an excellent choice.

Still, until we see the issue, one has to wonder…

Seinfeld & Superman

Posted in Comics, and Trivia

I’ve talked up a lot of cool things on the ZONE over the years. Movies, tv shows, comics, novels, artists, writers, websites… but until today I’ve never recommended a comercial.

But this isn’t just any commercial and it’s unlike any commercial.

It’s Jerry Seinfeld and Superman [yes, Superman!] for American Express. It’s cute and funny and made specifically for the web.

I’m looking forward to more of these… and don’t worry, if there as good as this one, I’ll be sure to tell you about ’em.

“Hellboy” Opens This Week!

Posted in Comics, and Movies

One of the many movies that ZONErs have been looking forward to opens this week. That’s right, Hellboy comes blasting into theaters across the country this Friday.

Chud.com has a nice interview with Hellboy director, Guillermo Del Toro, who talks about changes he had to make to get Hellboy to the screen, why he sees Hellboy as an emotional teenager, and much more.

Ron Pearlman gets the interview treatment over at JoBlow.com. Pearlman talks about Guillermo, the hardships of playing Hellboy, what his next project will be and more.

If this movie is half as good as the comics, then we’re in for a real treat!

Everyone Loves Remender & Beatty

Posted in Art, and Comics

As many of you know, John Beatty‘s next comics project is inking Rick Remender‘s pencils for a two issue run on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic.

I know, I know. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?! If you’re like me you’re probably aware of the Turtle phenonomen but are thinking why would I want to read a comic about a bunch of mutant ninja turtles.

Well, I could tell you because the book looks great. I could tell you that Rick and John really outdid themselves on this run. That you can tell that they were jazzin’ off the way their work was coming together. That Rick and John really make a great team… and I hope that they work together again soon. That I’m ordering the two issues and I have NEVER bought a turtle book before. I could tell you all of these things and they would be true… but some of you may think, “Aw… Z‘s just saying all of these great things because John’s his best friend.”

So… here’s what comic pros are saying…

Rick Remender and John Beatty are the best thing to happen to the turtles since Simon Bisley. It’s so refreshing to see a team come on to an old favorite and bring life to it in a way that makes it seem completely new. Dynamic angles, fantastic expressions, bold confident inks… the Turtles have rarely looked better. I’ve already seen the stuff and I’m dying to get my hands on a copy! –Robert Kirkman [Walking Dead, Invincible]

[On a side note, as regular ZONE readers know, The Walking Dead is my favorite regularly published comic these days. You should check IT out too!]

Rick and John have worked hard to give the reader their moneys worth on this TMNT extravaganza. Packed with monsters, violence, mysticism and incredible detailed artwork, this book has everything but color. But who needs it with pages to be so drenched with blacks and nice grey tones? The Turtles are coming back. Sandpaper your fingers and grab on to the shell.”
Bill Wray [Ren and Stimpy, Hellboy Jr.]

Wow. Remender and Beatty‘s pleasingly bold and crunchy work on the series has turned my head – …it more than delivers the punch.” – Dan Brereton [creator of the Nocturnals]

“Not since the glory days of the original black and white series by Eastman and Laird have the Ninja Turtles looked so damn good! Remender, Beatty, and Cohn have managed to capture the same kinetic flair and energy that made this such a unique comic when it hit the stands all those years ago.” – Jim Mahfood [Stupid Comics, Grrl Scouts, 40oz Collected]

” Another young penciling tyro enters the fray. If he weren’t a pal, I’d have to have his fingers busted. Remender is a triple treat! Not content to just be a great inker…no, animator…no,
writer…no…wait! That’s four things! Remender busts out with some great moody action penciling, polished to a fine edge by Mr. Beatty‘s crisp inking and toned nicely by Mr. Cohn. Good comics!”
Mike Manley [Draw Magazine, Batman, Samurai Jack]

“A true rarity… a meticulously crafted comic that also oozes exuberance. These guys are clearly having fun with the turtles, and it shows on every page.”
Ande Parks [Green Arrow, Superman]

So there you have it. Testimonials from pros. You’ve seen the preview art. You know I’m a fan of Rick Remender‘s work. Beatty is da man. Now it’s up to you. If you like what you’ve seen and read, then be sure to tell your local comics retailer to order you a copy.

If you do order a copy , you’ll be making a lot of people happy… Rick, John, your comic shop owner, the publishers of TMNT and most of all, hopefully you!