Black Sails and Crossbones: Two more pirate TV series in development

Because Port Royal, Pyrates, and The Republic of Pirates aren’t enough, there are two more pirate TV shows on the horizon. First, Michael Bay is working on Black Sails, a Treasure Island prequel for Starz. There are a couple of troublesome ingredients in that recipe, but okay.

Meanwhile, NBC has ordered ten episodes of a show called Crossbones. According to the AV Club, it’s about “Blackbeard and the undercover assassin who was sent to bring him to justice, only to discover that pirates are actually kind of fun.” Even without Michael Bay, it seems.

Hmm. Cross-referencing this news with the earlier announcements, I notice that The Republic of Pirates was also being developed for NBC and would feature Blackbeard as well as other historical pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Without having any inside information, I’m guessing that someone figured out they could develop their own pirate show without paying royalties for the Republic of Pirates name. Sort of like Once Upon a Time did with Fables. I’m okay with that (Crossbones is a cooler name, for starters), but it probably does mean that – if they all make it to TV – we’re looking at four pirate shows and not five. I’m okay with that too so long as Bonny and Read make it into one of them.

Happy Birthday to me, part two (or, Comics are awesome and I love my friends)

Ben Zmith draws the hilarious and awesome Rooster Jack comics. Turns out, he also draws an amazing birthday card featuring my favorite chicken-handed fantasy hero. Thanks again, Ben!

I’m seriously humbled and awed by all the love I’ve gotten today: here on the blog, through Facebook and Twitter, on the phone, and in person. Thanks to everyone for a fantastic birthday.

Happy Birthday, Star Wars

Because of what it led to, I sometimes forget how much Star Wars inspired me as a kid. And I don’t mean the Star Wars franchise, I mean Star Wars, the movie that came out on this day in 1977. The franchise is “what it led to” and that’s the part I’ve had to figure out how to deal with.

I hate the “Episode IV: A New Hope” title that got added to the name of the first film much later, because it takes my favorite movie of all time and reduces it to just another cog in the Star Wars merchandising machine. Yes, technically, The Empire Strikes Back is a better movie. It looks better and it’s thematically richer and c’mon: Lando Calrissian. But because of the cliffhanger ending, I can’t appreciate it by itself without thinking about all the stuff that followed it: Sy Snootles and Boba Fett’s lame death and Ewoks and the Skywalker Twins. Over time, I’ve drawn the circle of my Star Wars love tighter and tighter around the first movie.

It’s not that I hate the others; not even the prequels. They’re fine for what they are. It’s just that as the Star Wars universe expands, the impact of that first film diminishes. I don’t love them like I love that first movie. In fact, I’ve grown to think of them as non-canonical. I wish I’d known I had that option when I was 13 and rebelling against the idea that Darth Vader is Luke’s dad. I still think that’s a bogus story development.

Vader has some really cool moments in Empire, but I can’t forget that that movie cuts Vader’s coolness factor in half by giving us a peek of him without his helmet, and then halves it again by planting the seeds for his redemption. Vader in Star Wars is the greatest movie villain of all time with unlimited potential. Vader after Empire is a sloppy character on an even messier journey.

By thinking of all the sequels and prequels as non-canonical, I can enjoy the many, many parts of them I like without letting the parts I don’t pollute my feelings for the original movie. Because man, that movie. It sounds like an exaggeration to say that it changed my life, but I think maybe that’s an accurate statement. It’s certainly true in the sense that Star Wars cracked my imagination wide open and made me want to tell my own stories in a ridiculously futile attempt to create something half as cool. It’s sad that I don’t always remember that, so when I do remember, it makes me very protective of the film.

From one point of view, sure, it belongs to George Lucas and he can do whatever he wants to it. But from another point of view, it’s all mine because of what it means to me personally. I don’t have to let what came later change that.

King Kong Tweets (and the LXB confesses!)

This week’s League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment is a little out of my – er – league. It’s a fun idea (Take a peek at a fictional character’s social media account. What would his or her Twitter feed or Facebook page look like?) and I’ve seen it done really well on Fakebook, but constructing one of my own would require more time than I have this week. Instead, I’ll point you toward Brian’s (Cool and Collected) awesome and hilarious King Kong Twitter account. It’s a thing of beauty and I hope he keeps it going for a long, long time.

In other LXB news, the League has made its geek confessions and there are some shockers. Like people who’ve never seen an episode of Star Trek, don’t like Pixar (any Pixar), and love the New Monkees. To which I say: Vive la diffĂ©rence.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

SpringCon and fur bikinis

If I wait until I download the pictures from my camera, my SpringCon report will never happen, so here are a couple I snagged with my iPod on Saturday. The one above is right before the show and David’s stapling his copies of Hulkasaurus. You can also see a Transformer (we make it fight Godzilla on the table) and the pile of candy the convention always has waiting for creators. That’s Darla Ecklund in the background, but more on her in a minute.

David sold three copies of his comic before the show even started (and he continued to outsell me the whole show). The first sale was to the awesome Sam Hiti. Sam is extremely supportive of young artists and for several years has had a protege or two at his table. They’ve left the nest now, but Sam’s enthusiasm for David and his book show that he still has a huge heart for kids who cartoon.

Saturday morning was very busy and the line to get into the show was enormous even a couple of hours after we opened. The crowd thinned out a little as the day progressed, but it never got small. There were always lots of people around and even when my table was slow, there was plenty of people-watching to do. Sunday’s line wasn’t quite as long, but it was still impressive and the show buzzed and hummed all weekend.

I sat between my friends Grant Gould and Darla Ecklund. Grant always draws a crowd to his table with his great Star Wars art and his awesome sketchbook covers. Darla had a great show too and was working on some samples for an upcoming pirate festival she’s going to in Wisconsin. She and a writer friend will have a table where Darla will sketch you as a pirate on a special card and her friend will write an excerpt from your “legend” on the back. It’s a cool idea and even though her friend wasn’t at SpringCon, I asked Darla to draw me.

I didn’t sell a ton of comics, but everything I had for actual sale was material that’s been out for a while. I did give away all of my Artist Alley preview ashcans, so that (and David’s experience with his book) made the show successful for me.

Well, that and that I met Bill Willingham without turning into a slackjawed fool. He signed the first two Fables collections for me and I think I managed to not be awkward as I pointed out that I wrote one of the review quotes on the back of Volume 2. He was awesome.

The only disappointment about the show was that Jessica Hickman couldn’t make it. One of her cats was ill and needed care, so Jess took care of that. But our friend Uko Smith, who drove in from Ohio, and I were able to catch up with her after the show on Sunday and grab some Mexican food. One of the things that always makes a show for me is sitting next to Jess and laughing as we brainstorm crazy ideas for future projects. We didn’t get to do that at the convention this year, but we sure did it at dinner. Jess, Uko, and I came up with a great idea with the working title Fur Bikini. That’s all I can say about it now, except that Jess went home afterwards and – inspired by the project – drew this.

And that’s all you need to know.