Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mark Ryden video's been awhile since I've updated this blog! Well, I've been busy doing other stuff, and to be honest, unless I'm itching to write about something in particular, I'm usually more inspired to update my Björk blog (BjörkZine). I've also made a few videos, like this one built around the amazing paintings of Mark Ryden. For the most part, I was inspired by similar videos posted on YouTube that were backed with the totally wrong music -- music that utterly failed to capture to tone and texture of Ryden's imagery. I'm terrible at remembering song titles, but when listening to some music by The Gathering, this instrumental track struck me as being the perfect piece of music to buoy the mood of Ryden's work. I'm very pleased with the way it came out, and hope you like it, too.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Getting ready for Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE ?

by Mark Burbey

David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DRIVE was released in 2001, giving fans a sweet banquet of his uniquely dark brand of filmmaking, so infused with style and tone and mystery. It's been a five-year wait that's about to be answered with the release of his latest feature, INLAND EMPIRE. At nearly 3-hours in length and lots of great buzz about it being true to Lynch's oeuvre of deeply textured and multi-layered dream worlds, INLAND EMPIRE promises to prove that it was worth the wait. After the film's premiere earlier this month at the 63rd International Venice Film Festival, Lynch was awarded the Golden Lion Lifetime Acheivement Award.

Except for a couple of stills, and numerous reviews that have expressed predictably contrary opinions about the film, little else has been made public. A trailer has yet to be released and a U.S. release date has yet to be announced, but in lieu of that, here is a great little interview segment done in France around the time of the release of MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


by Mark Burbey

Heard some depressing news today. As recently as two weeks ago, ABC had green-lighted a second season of INVASION, the inventive and entertaining sci-fi series created and produced by Shaun Cassidy. Then, with no warning, ABC cancelled the series. The first season of INVASION quickly won a viewership of over 7 million fans. The average viewership for THE O.C. is a little over 6 million. If TV is a numbers game, it would stand to reason that THE O.C. would disappear and INVASION would survive, but INVASION is plainly a more expensive show to produce, so that could have weighed heavily in the decision to cancel it. Yet, if cost was a problem, why had the second season been green-lighted in the first place? Clearly the viewership was there, but comments on the IMDB website refer to a choice that had to be made between placing a new JJ Abrams show on the schedule (WHAT ABOUT BRIAN) or INVASION. Rumor is that ABC feels indebted to Abrams and went with WHAT ABOUT BRIAN, obviously a less expensive show to produce. Personally, despite my respect for JJ Abrams, I think WHAT ABOUT BRIAN is a real crapshoot. And if WHAT ABOUT BRIAN fails to find 6-7 million viewers in its first season and it winds up being cancelled, too, what a waste that will be.

If fans are shocked by the sudden and unexpected termination of INVASION, one can only imagine how the cast and producers must be feeling. INVASION wasn't just another show designed to sell another block of advertising; not entirely, anyway. In addition to being the perfect show to follow LOST in the Wednesday night line-up, the show was compelling and the characters were likeable, multifaceted and worthy of our emotional investment. While not without its flaws, INVASION was original enough and offered enough twists to render its minor blemishes all but undetectable. Each episode drove the storyline ever closer toward the inevitable invasion from which the series derived its title, and the first season finale left us with a whole new level of possibilities to look forward to.

nd now…what? The show may be cancelled, but it’s time for an invasion of our own. Many series have been saved by efforts made by the fans, namely petitions, letter-writing campaigns, and fund-raising to place ads in industry trade publications such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

The primary source for the petition, forums and other websites devoted to saving INVASION is (look for the link of the right side of this page).

Even if you never watched an episode of 7th HEAVEN, you couldn’t miss the hype for the final episode special. That show was headed to the boneyard, but some way, somehow, it’s found new life on the new CW Network (which will be combining/replacing WB/UPN in September). The same thing is possible for INVASION. Even if you watched the show only because it was the only other good thing on after LOST, please sign the petition at the SaveInvasion website.

If you do, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see lights in the sky once again.

Monday, December 19, 2005

David Lynch Reports the Weather (**VIDEO**)

by Mark Burbey

If you're a David Lynch fan, you're as much a fan of the man as you are of his films (Eraserhead, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, etc.). He's a unique individual who makes amazing films, and seems not at all as personally dark as the subject matter he embraces. The people who think he's just weird are the same people who think Bjork is just weird, failing to see the intelligence, the creativity, and the humor in their work.
Several years ago, Lynch launched a website ( where he could sell his wares, create short films, and have the occasional webchat with his fans. More recently, Lynch has been offering a daily weather report from his home/studio in Los Angeles:

If you're a big fan of both Lynch and L.A., it's doubly cool and certainly worthy of becoming a daily habit. Even Lynch's way of speaking is unique -- very deliberate, very regional (not sure if his accent is from his years in Philadelphia, or his native Montana, or neither), and unquestionably endearing. Fascinating also is the surrounding detritis visible within the frame -- spray bottles, plastic cups, a wall phone in a wooden box, his favorite coffee cup, and other common items of mystery. Lately he's been ending each report with a plug for his new DVD collection of Dumbland, the Flash animated series originally created for members of his website. At the end of one report, Lynch simply held the Dumbland DVD in front of him on the table he's always seated at, saying, "If you truly love someone, prove it." Nuff said in this season of giving.

Even better, though, was the line that accompanied his pitch of Dumbland in his Dec. 22nd, 2005 report: "If you think you're a worthless, ignorant piece of waste, this may be the kite you'll want to fly."

How many film directors make themselves available in such an original and entertaining fashion? None I can think of. Then again, David Lynch is like no other director living or dead, and nothing makes waking up in the morning better than a daily dose of Lynch.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Remembering John Lennon

by Mark Burbey

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of the John Lennon. If not for the insanity of Mark David Chapman, Lennon would today be 65 years old, and undoubtedly an elder statesman of modern music and alternative thought.

As a member of the Beatles, he came to fame and changed the world of music, but even more importantly, his life after the Beatles was one devoted to ending the madness of a world at war, not only between countries but between individuals.

The lyrics of "Imagine" say it all:

"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world..."

A radio talk show host in San Francisco this evening said that he worked at a station in the ‘70s that refused to play “Imagine” on the basis that it was offensive. They refused to play the song because it imagined a world without heaven, without religion, and the potential of offending god-fearing listeners eclipsed that of playing a great song with a great message. This level of ignorance and fear and lack of imagination was exactly what Lennon was trying to change. Who knows if, given a chance, Lennon could have turned the tide, but the world needs voices like his, and even though he’s gone, his voice remains.

And it’s of paramount importance that we remember, and imagine.

Shortly before his death in 1980, John Lennon said this
about the creation of “Imagine”:

"Well actually that should be credited as a Lennon/Ono
song, a lot of it - the lyric, the concept - came from Yoko, but
those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho and I sort
of omitted to mention her contribution, but it was right out of
'Grapefruit', her book, there's a whole pile of pieces about
imagine this and that and I have given her credit now long

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Passing of Louis Nye

by Mark Burbey

Celebrities die all the time, just like regular people. We hear about the death of an actor or actress or a musician or a writer or a politician and we either feel bad, don’t care, or experience déjà vu, thinking they’d died a long time ago. But someone died on October 10, 2005 and I genuinely felt sad upon hearing the news. Comedian Louis Nye died in his home from lung cancer, survived by a wife and son. The man was 92 years old, but he seemed more like 62. The reason I felt sad was because I grew up watching Louis Nye. As a kid of the ‘60s, I had the opportunity to watch The Steve Allen Show. The Beverly Hillbillies, The Munsters, and The Jackie Gleason Show, all of which were better whenever Louis Nye was in the cast. Most recently, he portrayed the father of Larry David’s agent, Jeff Green, on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and it was a revelation to see him on television again after so many years.

It’s difficult to describe the humor of Louis Nye. He had a gift for playing prissy characters and those that described as the “effete country-club snob Gordon Hathaway on The Steve Allen Show.” So much of his humor came from his delivery and his personality, and he was one of those comics who could pretty much make humor out of nothing.

Mark Evanier wrote a fine piece about Nye on his website, which I recommend reading. It talks of Louis Nye as not only a great comic actor, but as an admirable human being.

It’s sad that he’s gone, but his legacy is long and hilarious.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Golden Age of Fanzines Lives On

by Mark Burbey

A couple of writing assignments have kept me from working on my blog, but they’re done, so I’m back.

As a comic book fan who was lucky enough to be around during the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was likewise in the right place at the right time for the golden age of fanzines. Bill Schelly wrote a great book on that period and the fanzines it produced – called THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMIC FANDOM. Choices ran the gamut from the amateur fanzines that were as charming as they were crude, to the zines that bordered on professional publications. The best fanzines included EC-oriented zines SQUA TRONT and SPA FON, zines that analyzed comics as an art form such as GRAPHIC STORY MAGAZINE, and strip zines like STAR-STUDDED COMICS and Wally Wood’s groundbreaking WITZEND, and adzines like the ROCKET’S BLAST COMICOLLECTOR. With the exception of WITZEND, these fanzines were published on an irregular basis by fans who published for the love of it. By the ’80s, the era of fanzines had pretty much run its course, but today we have collector-aimed magazines like COMIC BOOK ARTIST and ALTER EGO that feel like the fanzines of old, but are produced by professional publishers who can maintain regular schedules.

Harking back to the days of old, however, are publishers driven by the sheer love of comics and the desire to share that passion between the pages of a narrowly focused fanzine. One such fanzine is CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT. Published by Michael Ambrose, CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT thoroughly embraces the output of an often disparaged (and defunct) publisher that saw its best days in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Charlton Comics is best known as the company that Steve Ditko settled in with after leaving Marvel Comics at the height of his tenures on Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. In addition to drawing a slew of stories in every possible genre for Charlton’s sundry anthology titles, Ditko drew CAPTAIN ATOM, wrote and drew a revised version of the BLUE BEETLE, and created and wrote THE QUESTION, a mainstream-palatable version of his Objectivist mouth-piece, Mr. A. Charlton is also fondly remember for a variety of ghost/mystery comics that regular published the work of great talents such as Tom Sutton, Wayne Howard, Mike Zeck, Don Newton, Joe Staton, Pete Morisi, Pat Boyette, and if you looked hard enough, a rare appearance by Alex Toth. For me, Charlton is the company that published comics unlike those from Marvel and DC. The ghost comics were, by far, superior to DC’s mystery comics. Sure, there would be the occasional story or cover by Kaluta, Wrightson, Toth, etc., but the bulk of DC horror comics were illustrated by South American artists who were certainly skilled and prolific, but they were boring. And the stories, by and large, were formulaic. Charlton’s ghost comics were a real kick. Charlton generally let the artists do whatever they wanted to do. We’re not talking underground comix kind of freedom, but mainstream horror ghost stories freedom. Tom Sutton, who was as good a writer as he was an artist, would get a twisted idea into his head, translate that into a good horror yarn, draw it up, send it to Charlton, and they’d publish it. Ditko, on the other hand, drew the scripts that were sent to him, but the majority of these scripts were written by Joe Gill, a workhorse who could write a solid story sooner than the rest of us could make a sandwich.

If you look down your nose at Charlton – don’t. And if you haven’t checked out CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT – do. Ambrose has published four issues so far, and is hard at work on the fifth. Issue #1 was a tribute the late Pat Boyette, and #2 was kind of a potpourri issue with Charlton history (including rare photos of the Charlton offices and printing plant), more Pat Boyette stuff, and an interview with Bill Black. Issue #3 was dedicated to the late and undeniably great Tom Sutton, and #4 was dedicated to the also late but definitely worthy Pat Morisi.

Contributors so far have included Bill Pearson, Bill Schelly, Ron Frantz, Jim Amash, Bhob Stewart, Alex Toth, Robin Snyder, Steve Skeates, Joe Gill, Don Mangus, Nicola Cuti, Batton Lash, and many others. I’ve contributed to the last two issues, and have just finished an article for #5, but I’d be a fan of CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT regardless.

All four issues can either be purchased from your favorite comic shop, from mail order guys like Bud Plant, or directly from publisher Mike Ambrose.

Charlton Spotlight Homepage

Bjork Zine!

The Gathering

Comic Relief!

Bjork Zine!