Sign-Ups – Eight-Hour Warning

Aug. 23rd, 2017 10:05 am
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As promised, this is your last reminder: Sign-ups will be ending today, in about eight hours, at 6 PM EDT (10 PM GMT). This is your last chance to sign up for this challenge, but there is still just a little time left for you to join in the femslash. For details, please refer to the original sign-up post. Leave no femslash behind!

WIP Wednesday

Aug. 23rd, 2017 12:04 am
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What have you been working on this week, Eerie fans? Now's the time to spread the word about any fannish treats you've got cooking: a line of dialogue from an upcoming fic, linework for your latest art piece, the yarn colours for a new toy. Let us know in the comments!
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Get ready to fall in love with the world of Moonstruck.

Written by Grace Ellis (Lumberjanes) and illustrated by newcomer Shae Beagle, Moonstruck presents an inclusive fantasy world filled with LGBTQ characters who also happen to be centaurs, werewolves, and magicians. Main characters include Julie, a barista with a crush on a girl, a love of the Pleasant Mountain book series, and also the uncontrollable urge to turn into a werewolf when she gets upset. There’s also Chet, her gossipy centaur co-worker, and Lindi, a tough musician whose temper really flares when her snake-hair comes out.

Ahead of Moonstruck‘s debut this week, EW spoke with Ellis, Beagle, and editor Laurenn McCubbin about building this story and world (spoiler: it all started in a college class). Check that out below, along with an exclusive preview of Moonstruck #1. The issue hits stores Wednesday.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how did the idea for Moonstruck originally come together?
SHAE BEAGLE: The story originally started as a class at Columbus College of Art & Design called “Comics Practicum,” where 10 student artists and 10 professional writers get paired and work together on scripts. In my second year, I got paired with Grace. We worked together really well, our humor matched and Grace’s style of writing worked with my art. Laurenn is the professor of the class. She saw the story had potential and pitched it to Image.

LAURENN MCCUBBIN: When I was working with Grace and Shae, they were cute together and got along really well. It’s important that creators have that chemistry. I saw that, “Wow this is a whole world that has so much potential to be more.” So I helped them put together the pitch.

GRACE ELLIS: There’s always so much luck involved in comics. In this case, it was just really so much good luck all in a row.

There’s a lot going on in Moonstruck, blending fantasy elements with diverse characters. How do you explain the genre?

ELLIS: If you can think of a good name for the genre, we’ll steal it! I have a hard time explaining the tone. It all came out of the first five pages. I needed a twist and then a second twist within five pages. So it starts out seeming like they’re human, but then no they’re not — oh my god! Expanding it out into a full story, it made sense that was going to be a part of it. When it comes to sexuality or marked traits, I don’t think of them as trappings, they’re integral parts of your identity. So when I was thinking about these characters and how they experience the world, it became part of that. But at the same time, I am an idiot and I love to make dumb puns. That’s generally how we got to where we are.

MCCUBBIN: There’s a beautiful subtlety to how Grace integrates each mythological creature or monster with the personality of the person. So Julie’s the super reluctant werewolf who isn’t freaked out that she’s queer or Puerto Rican, she’s freaked out about this thing inside her she can’t control. Then there’s somebody like Lindi, who is a bully and kind of a jerk and can be terrifying (and that’s when the snakes come out). And then you’ve got Chet, who just absolutely loves being a centaur. They are someone who doesn’t morph. They are just that way all the time.

I love that we get an interlude inside Julie’s beloved Pleasant Mountain stories. Will there be more of that going forward, and what does it add to story?

ELLIS: It came out of thinking about the world and trying to expand the world. What is something I can do in this comic that I could only do in a comic? One answer is a story-within-story that is also a comic. The other piece was, what can we add in this comic that will teach us more about the characters, using a language readers understand? The Pleasant Mountain books are not a very subtle homage to The Babysitters’ Club, something readers will probably be familiar with. The story that is in the Pleasant Mountain pages is a reflection of the main story and reflects what’s happening elsewhere.

MCCUBBIN: Like Watchmen and “Tales of the Black Freighter!”

ELLIS: Yeah I actually reread Watchmen a little bit before I started on this and was like, “Can I do that? Let’s do it anyway.”

MCCUBBIN: For each arc of the story, we’re gonna have a different artist do the Pleasant Mountain pages. For the first arc, it’s Kate Leth, whose style just fit it perfectly. I’m not going to spoil who the second artist is, but it’s gonna be awesome!

Although they’re different, something in this resembles Grace’s previous work on Lumberjanes. Maybe it’s the characters being comfortable with themselves and the general positive vibe. What would you say is the influence on Moonstruck, if any?

ELLIS: I agree with you. I’m glad that you agree. The biggest thing I learned working on Lumberjanes was the importance of planning ahead. If you go back and read the first volume of Lumberjanes, it is not what I would call coherent. It’s fun, but not very coherent. Moonstruck is extremely well thought-out. I know exactly where we’re going with this, so it’s a lot easier to plant evidence early on and leave stuff to bring up later. It feels a little older because I am older and I’m a better writer now. But there’s still the same kind of fun, it’s the same type of hijinks.

MCCUBBIN: Moonstruck is still a very all-ages book. It’s getting called YA. It can reach middle school through high school and college, and grown-ups.

ELLIS: I say the mythology jokes are for the adults, and the relationship stuff is for the kids and the adults.

We recently did a post about good inclusive LGBTQ comics to celebrate Pride Month, and we even included a preview of Moonstruck. What is the value of stories like this?

BEAGLE: Well, I think it’s important to have these stories that involve queer characters by queer creators that are not, at their core, a coming-out story. These characters are comfortable in their identities and have a life outside of that. I really enjoy that kind of story, and it’s great that we’re expanding on that and putting it out there.

MCCUBBIN: I wholeheartedly agree. It’s so important that there are other ways to experience queer characters that aren’t about trauma, that aren’t about the worst moment of a queer person’s life. That’s the only way audiences ever experience queer characters. The idea that we have to hear over and over about coming-out stories or getting beat up is silly. There are other aspects of queer characters’ lives, like just going to a café.

ELLIS: I just want to add that this is the kind of book that I want to read, if I were not also writing it. It’s nice to have something that’s sincere and warm added to the LGBTQ canon.

Sign-Ups – One-Day Warning

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:15 pm
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Almost time to ring the gong again! But we're not quite there yet. You've still got about twenty-four hours to sign up for this challenge before sign-ups close at 6 PM EDT (10 PM GMT) tomorrow (Wednesday, August 23). Details for signing up are still located at this post if you have any questions about how anything works for this step in the process.

If you haven't signed up, you've still got time. I'll be back tomorrow to give you all one last reminder before time is well and truly up. Until then, it's not too late!
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EXCLUSIVE: As we await Season Four of Z Nation to begin, I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with co-creator Karl Schaefer.

“It’s a man eat man world!”

Z Nation first aired Sept 12, 2014. It began as a low-budget series, with big dreams. Filmed in Spokane, Washington, they have a multifaceted arena to use. From mountains to woods to cityscapes, they are able to make us believe the characters are traveling across America. The show has taken fans by storm with a unique view of what a zombie apocalypse would look like, and kept us laughing along the way.

With Season 4 arriving next month, Z Nation co-creator Karl Schaefer paid a visit to 1428 Elm to talk with me about the Syfy series. You can read the entire exclusive interview below!

What was your inspiration for creating a zombie show with the humorous twist?

My inspiration for everything I write is real life. Real life mixes tragedy with humor, and some of the funniest things that happen occur in very dark times. We also determined from the beginning that humor was a necessary survival skill, and that people with no sense of humor would just curl up and die in the zombie apocalypse.

When you first decided to create Z Nation, did it start with Murphy’s character and build around him?

Z Nation began as a group of survivors going to California to find a vaccine. In writing the pilot, I decided to turn the “vaccine” into a human being who had the antibodies they needed for a vaccine. This made the characters’ mission important to the whole planet, not just themselves.

Had you planned from the start on creating new and unique zombie hybrids?

Yes. We wanted to be the anti-Walking Dead. They have the same slow zombies they had from the beginning. We wanted to mutate our zombies to keep the threat ever evolving. Where The Walking Dead is all about DREAD – you know something bad is coming and you wait three episodes for it to happen. We’re all about the unknown and surprise, we wanted the audience to not know what was around every corner.

As a co-creator of the show, did you have a preconceived overview of each season and then leave it to other writers to bring them to life? Or do you give them specifics that must happen for each episode?

Before starting the show, I had a basic outline of where the first five seasons went, and what a possible finale might be. Each season when the writers get together I lay out a basic plan for the season, then all together as a group we break up each story and outline it in detail as a group. Then an individual writer goes off to do the first few drafts, then I rewrite the script to fit our locations and the casting in Spokane.

Did you envision going into the show that Z Nation would be the hit it is today?

Nobody expected us to be a hit. We’re the little show that could. We get higher ratings than shows with 10 times our budget.

I read that you have a five-year story arc and with its popularity has that changed along the way?

The show becomes its own thing that grows organically as all the different people, actors, crew, writers, and audience, add their own ideas and talent. I just try to keep it all going in the same direction, while being open to letting the show go where IT wants to go.

Have there been any thoughts of a spin-off show when Znation does come to an end?

Yes. We may do a spinoff about Black Summer.

All the fans are anxiously awaiting season 4 to start, can you give us any tidbits of what to expect?

It’s a season filled with mysteries. The heroes have a new mission, driven forward by a prophetic dream Warren has about the end of the world. The zombie virus has mutated again, and now zombies are nearly unkillable. They no longer die when you kill the brain, you have to completely destroy them. Plus we get to see more of Zona this season.

Thank you, Karl, for taking a moment out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for the fans. We are all looking forward to more zombie fun.

Thanks Theresa. Anytime.
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J.J. Abrams doesn’t waste his clout. The Star Wars: The Force Awakens director backs some talented filmmakers and even once oversaw a 4K restoration of the cult horror classic Phantasm. Abrams and Bad Robot did the restoration out of love for director Don Conscarelli’s work. Now, Abrams is collaborating with another filmmaker he admires, B-movie icon Larry Cohen, who directed It’s Alive and The Stuff. The two of them are developing an anthology series at the moment.

Below, learn more about the J.J. Abrams anthology series in the works.

Cohen has written and directed a ton of cult movies throughout his career. He wrote Maniac Cop, Return of the Magnificent Seven, and dozens of other movies over the years. His more recent credits include titles such as Phone Booth, Cellular, and Captivity. However, it’s Cohen’s bizarre and unique horror B-movies that have the most passionate followers, including Abrams. He even talks about Cohen’s movies in an upcoming documentary, King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, which also features Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Rick Baker, John Landis, and Tara Reid.

After spending time praising Cohen’s career, Abrams is going to help him add another project to his large body of work. During an interview with BrokeHorrorFan, Cohen revealed he’s written a cable series for Abrams and Bad Robot:

We’re working on a series now for cable with J.J. Abrams, who is a big fan of mine, and his company, Bad Robot. Each season would be 10 original one-hour Larry Cohen thrillers. We’ve got about two seasons already written, ready to be shot. If that happens, it’ll be a whole new renaissance, and there will be a lot of my material out in the world, and I’ll direct some of them.

Cohen wants to have a host to introduce each episode as well:

That’s what it’s going to be, a thriller anthology. I’m hoping to get somebody like Christopher Walken to be the host and introduce them in a comedic way.

They’re currently trying to sell the series to cable. Cohen, who tends to write fast, turned out the 10 episodes rather quickly. He plans on directing a couple of the episodes, too. Cohen thinks the show would make for a wonderful tribute to his work. He’d like there to be 10 more Larry Cohen films, which the show would make possible. He feels confident if anyone can make the series happen, it’s Bad Robot and Abrams.

It’s always great seeing Abrams using his sway for good. By helping to kickstart more Larry Cohen stories and by overseeing the remaster or Phantasm, he seems to be living a fan’s dream by helping to make the kind of movies and shows he wants to see and showing his heroes some love.
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As they drove through rural Alberta to a wedding in Wainwright, Lindsay Stamhuis and Aidan Hailes couldn’t help seeing and feeling reflections of Twin Peaks.

It helped that the two mega-fans were playing the soundtrack of the 1990-91 television series as they drove through Irma, Viking and into Wainwright, and buzzing with anticipation of the third season, which was beginning the next evening.

“There’s a diner and a gas station and maybe a cash-and-carry,” said Stamhuis about how the TV show has made rural Western Canada seem more exotic and less mundane than before they had seen the show.

Twin Peaks was and is set in northeastern Washington state, “five miles south of the Canadian border, and twelve miles west of the state line,” but its evocation of small town realities feels true to much of the western Canadian and Alberta foothills small town reality.

“It’s a universal feeling,” said Stamhuis, who co-hosts the Bickering Peaks podcast along with fellow Edmontonian Hailes. 

The podcast explores the series to a great depth with more than 50 one-hour episodes going through the original two series and new ones coming out after each new season three episode is released.

“I think in any small town you’ll find those elements, (although) maybe not the supernatural portals to The Black Lodge.”

Twin Peaks has carried along a massive cult-like fan base for the 25 years since it was cancelled. At the time it was a revolutionary television series, the first to demonstrate that high quality, sophisticated and challenging drama could work on network television. 

Many credit Twin Peaks with giving birth to the “golden age of television,” which is still taking place.

While the show is officially set in the Rockies, many have noted that it doesn’t really feel that way. In many ways it feels like the foothills or boreal forest, and that probably reflects the origin of director David Lynch in Missoula, Montana, which is due south of Pincher Creek, Alta., and arguably more similar to Alberta than the Pacific Northwest or any other part of the United States.

“For a show called Twin Peaks, the mountains play a very small role,” said Hailes.

“Boreal forest. It’s closer to that,” said Stamhuis, who also said the show’s general mood of isolation and exposure inside a beautiful but menacing environment fits the western Canadian flatlands too.

“Anybody who’s driven down a highway through wheat fields (in summer) or grasslands in winter, there’s just an isolation or a loneliness,” said Stamhuis.

“Even though (in the show) it’s mountains and pine trees, there’s still a sense that this is a lonely landscape.”

The podcasters have found that evocative environment engaging, ever since they belatedly got sucked into Twin Peaks fandom in 2010. (Stamhuis was five years old when the series was first broadcast and sneakily watched while her parents thought she was sleeping, but was so disturbed by what she saw she didn’t re-engage for years.)

Both have farming pedigrees, with Hailes’ family having farmed and lived along Alberta’s Highway 14, and Stamhuis’ family farming for more than a century around Athabaska, Alta.

Like millions of others after the series first appeared, Twin Peaks has made small, remote towns seem like something more than places to zip by in a speeding car. 

And as the show’s rebirth after 25 years reignites public interest in ignored rural places, more cars may be slowing as they pass through these places, either north or south of the border, in forests and mountains or fields and plains.
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It's there when you enter the Red Room in "Twin Peaks." It's there when replicant-hunter Rick Deckard sits down at his piano in "Blade Runner." It's a lamp with a shade in the shape of Saturn, but it's also more than that. It's a glowing thread between the normalcy of my world, the shadowy, entwining secrets of "Twin Peaks" and the visionary future dystopia of "Blade Runner."

One prop unites two famous works, stretching across film and television and time. It may not be the exact same lamp, but it's definitely the same design.

My search for the art-deco Saturn lamp started with some googling, where I found the glass lamp is attributed to a maker that manufactured them for the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, though there are also some later reproductions floating around. Details on the lamp's origins are sketchy, but they came in various colors, included frosted clear, green and pink.

The lamps are rare and they can also be very expensive thanks to their notoriety within the "Twin Peaks" and "Blade Runner" fandoms, as well as with art deco and World's Fair memorabilia collectors. A recent listing for a replica lamp on eBay had a starting-bid price of $645 (£495 AU$830). That priced me right out of the market.

I resigned myself to never owning a Saturn lamp, instead focusing on other bits of "Twin Peaks" decor. And then in June, I stumbled on a Reddit post in the "Twin Peaks" group from a user named Richy_T, titled "The Lamp from another place." The post included a photo of a glowing Saturn lamp and a link to the Thingiverse 3D-printing files to make your own. My Saturn lamp quest reignited like our long-lost Agent Cooper's love for a damn fine cup of coffee.

The lamp's history, pop-culture connections and relatively simple shapes are what attracted Richy_T to the project. Richy_T used OpenSCAD software to build the shapes. "So it was mostly a case of trying to get the dimensions from a fairly low-resolution picture of it and then transforming that into the cylinders, spheres and toruses that the lamp deconstructs into. It's not especially challenging but it definitely helps to have developed a knack," Richy_T tells CNET.

I don't have a 3D printer and the original lamps are nearly a foot (30 centimeters) tall, which makes them too big for a lot of hobbyist-level printers. First, I checked with online 3D-printing service providers, but then turned my eye to local options where I found Jacob Ondra, CEO of Sandia3D in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ondra was happy to take on the strange request of printing off a Saturn-shaped lamp replica. He says the most challenging print he's ever done was a life-size human body model that required nearly 1,000 printing hours, so the lamp was pretty straightforward.

I went to pick up the lamp and Ondra handed it to me in a box containing the base and the two-part planet shade. I peered at it. "It's a lot smaller than I expected," I told him. And it was. I had mis-read the specs on the 3D plans. Unphased, Ondra said it was no problem to scale it up and reprint it to match the size of the originals. About a week later, I picked up the new lamp, the "Twin Peaks" theme playing in my head.

Sandia3D printed the final lamp with an Ultimaker 3 printer that could handle the size of the pieces. It's made from a crystal-clear plastic filament from FilamentOne that comes out with a frosted effect, which was exactly the look I wanted to mimic from the original glass lamps.

I ordered a set of small green LED string lights online. If you happen to have an electrician around the house (or enjoy soldering), then this next step is easy. I attached the bottom of the Saturn piece to the base, secured it with hose washers, threaded the string lights up into the sphere and let the electrician attach a new, longer cord onto the string-light controller. The top goes on with double-sided sticky tape and a little silver paint brings out the accents.

I fired up the lamp on a Sunday, shortly before a new episode of the 2017 return of "Twin Peaks" on Showtime. It glowed a bright green as familiar characters flitted across the screen.

Prop collecting and making is about connection. It's about having a piece of a fictional universe that brings you closer to that world. The Saturn lamp is a slice of "Twin Peaks" and "Blade Runner" made real. It's best when seen from the corner of your eye, where its frosted green glow hints at both a neon-soaked sci-fi future and an otherworldly place where spirits speak in backward riddles.

Gremlins 3?

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:36 pm
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After Gremlins 2 turned the original film on its head – with Leonard Maltin reviewing Gremlins 1 in the movie and Gremlins overtaking the projection booth until Hulk Hogan stops them – it seemed to be the last word on the franchise. Decades later, talk of Gremlins 3 is finally real and original screenwriter Chris Columbus has written a script.

Speaking with /Film about the festival hit Patti Cake$, which he produced, Columbus said his script asks a question which may have been on fans’ minds since the original: if all the gremlins come from getting Gizmo wet and feeding his mogwai offspring after midnight, should Gizmo be eliminated?

“Very good observation,” Columbus said. “That comes up in the movie, certainly.”

That raises a number of ethical issues. Gizmo himself has done nothing wrong. It’s human negligence that allows him to get soaked and lets the mischievous mogwai transform. Still, even Columbus thinks cute and loving Gizmo might not be worth the risk.

“I think it probably is a good idea to be honest with you,” Columbus said. “Too many people are dying.”

Columbus says his script returns to the macabre tone of the original film, whose monster murders were so intense that it, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, pressured the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating. Gremlins 2 was rated PG-13

“I’m really proud of the script,” Columbus said. “It is as twisted and dark as anything, so we’ll see. It’s always a budgetary conversation when we’re going to shoot it. I wanted to go back to the really twisted sensibility of the first movie. I found that was a very easy place for me to fall back into and start writing again so hopefully we’ll see that movie soon.”

Gremlins fans are also worried that a new film would use CGI gremlins in place of the puppets. Columbus assured fans the film would still use puppets, but visual effects could make puppetry easier to achieve than it was in 1984.

“Oh, without a doubt, minimal CGI,” Columbus said. “CGI will enable us to remove wires and make the puppeteers lives a little easier. It was brutal. It was like a marathon every night for those guys. In the bar scene alone there were 18 [or] 20 people behind the bar. No one had any space to move. It was just hellish for those guys so CGI will simplify that a little bit but it’s all puppets.”

Gremlins 3 is now in development at Warner Brothers. Come back on Thursday for our full interview with Columbus on his production company Maiden Voyage, discovering new talent, and looking back at his own career.
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