Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man

Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood webslinger is back in theatres this week with an animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Marvel Comics has been dominating movie screens for almost two decades now but considering that Marvel has been around for 79 years or so it has taken a very long time for Marvel to get their superheroes to the big screen. Spider-Man, who debuted in the comics in 1962, made it on to TV in the form of a cartoon in 1967. The shows theme song is still remembered today and while the animation was extremely limited the show is entertaining.
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Sunday Matinee: Stan Lee

Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95 on November 12. Stan Lee for many was the man who created Marvel Comics – which he did with a lot of help from co-creators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto (who also sadly passed away earlier this year).

When superhero comics first appeared in the late 1930s they took the world by storm but by the 1950s the genre was almost dead – only DC Comics were keeping the genre alive. Stan Lee started working for Timely Comics in 1939 for owner Martin Goodman as an office assistant. He would soon start writing back up stories for comics, he took the pen Stan Lee (his real name was Stanley Lieber) because he wanted to be a real writer and comics were looked down on.
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Fan Expo 2017

This belated post was original meant to be published back in May but Prairie Dog’s servers were getting upgraded or maintained or something and it has taken me forever to get back to getting this posted. In the time since there have been several other Fan Expo’s and Comic Cons. The big one San Diego took place in July and more recently the other weekend saw the big Toronto Fan Expo (by the same people who put on the one in Regina.)

Toronto had the likes of Tim Curry, Richard Dreyfuss and Kathleen Turner along with comic creators like Jim Lee, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Steve McNiven. This weekend will have the Sask Expo up in Saskatoon with Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow), John Rys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Cas Anway (The Expanse), Ruth Connell (Supernatural) and Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk). Voice actors Maurice Lamarche and Rob Paulsen (Pinky and the Brain) will also be there.
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Are You Reading Murray Geister: Paranormal Investigator? No? Get On It!

Panel from Murray Geister: Paranormal Investigator, by Dakota McFadzean.

Sometimes I suspect people don’t realize Prairie Dog (an oft taken-for-granted Regina treasure) is running maybe the most ambitious newspaper comic serial in North America right now. But we are, and let me tell you,  Dakota McFadzean’s excellent Murray Geister: Paranormal Investigator deserves far more attention than it gets (i.e., virtually none).

Murray Geister is the story of an aging ghost hunter who, unfortunately for him, is skeptical about the supernatural. Is an eerie noise coming from that hole in your wall? Murray’s going to rule out mice before he even begins to entertain the notion that your house is haunted. Yes, Geister wants to believe, but he’s not going to delude himself into seeing things that aren’t there.

Unfortunately, this really screws up his ability to make a living since his profession’s whole business model is ripping off the gullible.

The 57th installment of Murray Geister hits streets (and the Internet!) Thursday. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first 56 installments here. This is an amazing work of comics literature by a Regina-born-and-raised master cartoonist that’s published in two Saskatchewan newspapers (us and Planet S). It’s really quite something, and yet I get almost no feedback on it outside of our writers (all drooling fans).

What’s the deal? Does no one here “get” Murray Geister? If that’s the case, it’s frankly a little embarrassing for this city.

Sunday Matinee: Darwyn Cooke

sunday-matineeGoing to change things up a little today. One of my favourite comic book creators, Canadian-born cartoonist Darwyn Cooke, passed away yesterday at the age of 53 from cancer.

Cooke worked as a cartoonist off and on at the start of his career but nothing ever came of it. In 1990 he went into animation, working for Warner Bros. Animation as a storyboard artist for Batman: The Animated Series under Bruce Timm. He also storyboarded Superman: The Animated Series and animated the opening titles for Batman Beyond.

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Fan Expo Regina

The third annual celebration of comic, SF, anime, horror and other niche cultures goes at Canada Centre Building, Evraz Place on April 23-24.

In addition to all the different displays from local and travelling exhibitors tied to products in this area, not to mention all the fans who show up dressed like a favourite superhero or other character in these genres, the highlight of these expos is typically the celebrity guests. In this case, the guests include Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), James & Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins in Harry Potter), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies), Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom).

On April 23, Fan Expo Regina runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and on April 24 the hours are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information you can visit the Fan Expo Regina website.

Election 2015: My Official Endorsement

cdnelxncircleThis election, I’ve realized that federal politics are all about a futile quest for sincerity, gifts being randomly handed out to your supporters, and disappointment. That’s why I am endorsing The Great Pumpkin for Prime Minister. He’s the other big orange guy you really want to believe will be awesome when he arrives at the end of October but who always lets you down.

Vote for hope. Vote for the Great Pumpkin.


Fan Expo Regina

We [by we, I mean Steve, Aidan, Carl and perhaps one or two others] blogged the crap out of the inaugural version of this event last year. Things went so well for organizers that it was pretty much a no-brainer that a second Fan Expo would be held in 2015.

The event’s been bumped up a week compared to last year, when it was in early May. The 2015 Fan Expo Regina goes Saturday April 25 and Sunday April 26 at Canada Centre Building at Evraz Place.

You can find out more on the Fan Expo Regina website.  Celebrity guests include Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: Next Generation), Lawrence Gilliard (The Walking Dead), Shannen Doherty (Charmed), Margot Kidder (Superman) and Jeremy Bulloch (Star Wars, Dr. Who).

While the celebs get lots of attention, the real stars of the show are probably all the fans who show up in costumes celebrating their love of science-fiction, comics, anime, horror and other niche nerd cultures. As well, there’s always lots of writers, artists, illustrators and other content creators who have loyal fans of their own. And there’s no shortage of retailers too offering products tied to favourite shows, movies, books and characters.

On Saturday the expo runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., while on Sunday the hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Seth: Dominion

Dunlop (Seth)If you’re a fan of comics/graphic novels, Seth should be a familiar name to you. Born in Ontario in 1962, he’s been practicing as a cartoonist for a good 25 years now.

His best-known work is Palookaville, an ongoing series of graphic novels published by Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal that generally feature down-and-out characters trying to reconcile the past with their current circumstances. He’s also produced a mock autobiography called It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, and has also served as an illustrator on numerous other book and magazine projects.

Since 2007, Seth has worked on a project called Dominion that involves the building of models tied to a fictional city. As you’ll be able to read in our cover feature by Paul Constant which hits the streets April 16, the city he’s envisioned involves plenty of references to settler communities that sprang up across central Canada in the early 20th century.

On Friday April 17, Dominion (which Seth describes as a work-in-progress) will be featured in an exhibition at the Dunlop Art Gallery. Curated by Andrew Hunter, Dominion opens with an artist talk at 6 p.m., followed by a reception at 7 p.m. As well, on Monday June 1 at 7 p.m. there’s a screening of the NFB film Seth’s Dominion at the RPL Theatre.

Dominion will run at the the Dunlop until July 5. Pictured above, by the way, is a companion work by Seth called City Founder and Residents that will be up at Central Library for the duration of the exhibition (click to enlarge).

Spidey’s Coming Home

Spider-ManWell that was unexpected*. Sony has decided to  share Spider-Man with Marvel. The deal will let Sony continue to distribute, finance, own and have final creative control over Spidey but Marvel gets to use and make their own Spider-Man movies. Disgraced former head of Sony, Amy Pascal will co-produce the films with Marvel’s Kevin Fiege.

This is a big win for Marvel, who sold the movie rights to the character back in 1999 for $7 million dollars when the company was bankrupt and trying to get back on their feet. Sony’s made $4 billion on the franchise to date, so it’s gotten more than its money’s worth out of the deal. Marvel has already shuffled around their cinematic movie slate to make room for Spidey which means there’s a strong chance for ole Web Head to make an appearance in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.

A new movie is slated for July 28, 2017 and it’s sounds like a new actor for Spider-Man too. Andrew Garfield is out along with, I assume, Sony’s crappy plans for a Spidey cinematic universe that included a Sinister Six movie, an untitled female character movie and a Venom movie.

This news brings Marvel’s biggest character home and just leaves Fox hanging on to X-Men and Fantastic Four, and out of Marvel’s reaches.

I haven’t been a fan of Sony’s last two Spider-Man movies so this is very welcome. Hopefully things don’t get screwed up.

*Well, not really. Bit of a surprise to hear about it late on a Monday night though.

Je Suis Charlie

Yeah, I’m pretty pissed off right now. In fact, I was going to use my posting privileges to get on Dog Blog and put up a bunch of Charlie Hebdo covers to show my solidarity with those slain in Paris.

But then I had second thoughts.

It occurred to me that it’d be pretty irresponsible to post cartoons that so offended some Islamic extremists in France that it inspired them to shoot up the office of an alternative newspaper when I’m safely on the other side of the planet.

That’s what it’s come to. I decided to not risk posting some stupid cartoons on Dog Blog because I was worried about what that might open my pals in Regina up to.

I guess the gunmen won. Fuck you, gunmen.

Here, courtesy of Slate, are those Charlie Hebdo covers along with some handy commentary on them.

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Peanuts, the famous comic strip by American cartoonist Charles Schultz, first appeared in 1950. It ran for 50 years, ending its original run shortly before Schultz passed away in February 2000. In total, 17,897 strips were published, and the comic continues to live on in re-runs.

In 1967 this musical, with words and music by Clark Gesner, debuted  off-Broadway. Gary Burghoff, who later went on to play Radar O’Reilly in the hit 1970s TV show M*A*S*H, played the original Charlie Brown. It ran off-Broadway for four plus years before moving to Broadway for a short run in 1971. Since then, its been remounted several times, and touring companies have performed in many locations in North America and Europe.

With the holidays approaching, the Globe Theatre is presenting You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown as its annual Christmas musical. The production debuted on Nov. 15 and runs until Dec. 28. For more information and tickets visit the Globe’s website or call 306-525-6400.

To give you a taste of what the musical’s like, here’s a scene as performed on the 1999 Tony Awards:

Living Pictures 5

Living Pictures 2013I posted on the entry deadline  (Aug. 15) for this annual competition in late July. It’s hosted by the Dunlop Art Gallery, and this is the fifth year it’s been held. Recreating famous art works as living tableaux is the general theme, and each year there’s a special sub-theme.

Last year it was famous album covers (pictured above is Charis Muir’s interpretation of a 1967 album cover by artist Don Punchatz), and this year it’s Character Craze which refers to prominent characters from video games and other types of animation. With the growing popularity of comic culture in the city/province, there should be some pretty fertile ground for entrants to explore.

Living Pictures 5 will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 19 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Victoria Park. In case of rain, the event will shift to nearby Knox Metropolitan Church. Over $1750 in gift certificates and other prizes are up for grabs in various categories so it should be a fun event.

For more information visit the Dunlop’s website (scroll down to last item) or call 306-777-6044.

Living Pictures 5 Entry Deadline

Living Pictutres (oKeefe)Living Pictures  is a competition the Dunlop Art Gallery’s been holding for five years now where local artists and others with a bit of creative zip are invited to recreate famous art works as living tableaux. The example pictured above is by Kristen Smith and Kat Binns, and references Georgia O’Keefe’s 1935 painting Ram’s Skull, White Hollyhocks, Little Hills. 

Living Pictures 5 goes Aug. 19 in Victoria Park. Each year, in addition to the general focus on visual art, there’s a special theme. In 2013 it was album covers (see a sample after the jump by the Go Team which riffs on a 1970 Doors’ album). This year, the theme is Character Craze which relates to famous characters from video games and animation.

The deadline for registering to enter the competition, which includes over $1000 in gift certificates as prizes for winners in several different categories, including Fan Favourite, is Aug. 15. More information can be found by visiting the Dunlop’s website or calling 306-777-6044.

Continue reading “Living Pictures 5 Entry Deadline”

It’s Sorta Batman’s 75th Anniversary

84C_3631Celebrations are afoot for the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance in, um, May 1939… so wait, what? Well, never mind. For whatever reason today, DC Comics has declared today, July 23 to be Batman Day to celebrate three-quarters of a century of caped crusading. The Globe And Mail has a story here, while the Telegraph marks this somewhat peculiarly dated occasion with a list of 10 things you didn’t know about Batman. More importantly, comic book shops are having fun with cosplay and other shenanigans. I was down at ComicReaders south (4603 Albert St.) earlier today, where I met a seedy, stubbly version of Batman and his friends Robin and, um, Ghost Rider? I’m confused. Anyway, there was cake and pop and an opportunity to donate to Souls Harbour. And Darrol Hofmeister took some great photos. Here they are!





How are you guys celebrating Batman Day?

The Amazing Spider-Man’s Canadian FX Roots


Paul Giamatti as the Rhino in Park Avenue, before and after Imageworks doing.(Photos: Sony Pictures)
Paul Giamatti as the Rhino in Park Avenue, before and after Imageworks doing. (Photos: Sony Pictures Imageworks)



Audiences and critics’ may not be in agreement regarding The Amazing Spider-Man 2, yet almost everyone concurs on the excellence of the craftsmanship. The quality of the special effects is beyond reproach: Very few movies manage to destroy Times Square without making New York look like Cleveland (wink wink).

The Vancouver-based FX and animation company Sony Pictures Imageworks has been involved with the Spider-Man movies from the beginning (including the Sam Raimi trilogy). With every incarnation, Imageworks has corrected and improved the looks of live-action Spidey: His suit, web, movement and displacement. “Everything can always look more authentic” seems to be their motto.

I had the chance to hang out with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 senior visual effects supervisor, Jerome Chen, the digital effects supervisor, David Smith, and the animation supervisor, David Schaub. Chen was nominated for an Oscar for Stuart Little. Smith was also up for an Academy Award thanks to his work in Alice in Wonderland.

Main photography for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took five months, while post production lasted nearly eight. Unlike most movies today, TASM 2 was shot in film, not digitally (in the words of Jerome Chen, “it’s just beautiful”). Visual effects were finished in March, just two months ahead opening day.

According to the digital FX supervisor, David Smith, the film tried to merge the fantastical with the physical: “What works in comics doesn’t necessarily work in movies. Every pose has a purpose and must be motivated by an action behind.” Here is the reasoning behind the special FX work in the movie. Continue reading “The Amazing Spider-Man’s Canadian FX Roots”

9 Free Comics That Will Make You Go Holy Moley!

Mouse Guard Free ComicHappy Star Wars Day, everybody! Hope you spent your Sunday May The Fourthing it at Fan Expo, buying up anime merch and puzzling over the incongruence of the Grey Cup being the guest of honour.

Seriously gang, is there nowhere in this town you can escape the taint of football?

I opted out of going because I’m feeling a little under the weather and because my only real motivation for showing up would have been to maybe get a chance to corner Kevin Sorbo and interrogate him over that God’s Not Dead bullshit.

As hilarious as that might have been, I didn’t really care enough to bother.

I did, however, drag my carcass to this weekend’s other great nerd event: Free Comic Book Day! My kids and I brought home a pretty impressive stack of free reads which I’m going to review below in case you ever find yourself wondering which all-ages comics are worth picking up and which not so much.

Here they are, in order from my most favourite to my least favourite…

1. Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories (Archaia Press): As you can see from the pic above, Archaia put out a hardcover anthology for Free Comic Book Day. This is the second time they’ve done that and once again it’s a beautiful piece of work. All the comics they feature are well illustrated and worth a read but the stand out is, no surprise, the short story that opens the volume, David Petersen’s “Mouse Guard: The Tale of the Axe Trio.”

Continue reading “9 Free Comics That Will Make You Go Holy Moley!”

Win Tickets To Fan Expo Regina!

Deanna TroiHey! Prairie Dog is ridiculously pleased to be giving away tickets to this weekend’s Fan Expo Regina! You can win one of four pairs of Sunday passes over on our Facebook page!  But if that’s not enough for you, we’ve saved our best ticket packages for Dog Blog readers!

Here’s what we’re giving away:

ONE (1) SATURDAY FAMILY PACK! Day passes for two adults; two children and VIP seating VIP seating at The Walking Dead IronE Singleton Q&A Panel

ONE (1) SUNDAY FAMILY PACK! Sunday day passes for two adults; two children and VIP seating at Star Wars RayPark Q&A Panel!


That’s a total of FOUR (4) prizes for FOUR (4) lucky winners! Woo!

Want to win one of these three prizes? Make up a Regina superhero or supervillain! Describe them to us in the comments — their name, costume and powers! Also, tell us which prize package you’re entering for! We’ll pick four winners at random.


Contest closes at 3:30. GO!

UPDATE: I will e-mail winners (at the e-mail address you logged in with) after 3:30. PLEASE be ready to e-mail me back ASAP!

Nominees Announced

clearing the plains HIGH RES COLOURThe nominees for the 2014 Saskatchewan Book Awards were announced today. The awards will be held in Regina at Conexus Arts Centre on April 26. The guest speaker will be author Warren Cariou who will be speaking on the subject “Stories as Strong as the Stones: Aboriginal Voices & Writings.”

Thirteen awards will be handed out at the gala — ten tied to writing and three to publishing. The nominees were culled from 80 different titles that were submitted to SBA jurors for consideration.

Leading the way with six nominations is University of Regina academic James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press). We spoke with Daschuk about his book, which recounts the tragic history of colonization and settlement in the Canadian prairies, as part of our National Aboriginal Day coverage in our June 13 issue. Here’s the article.

Another book that found favour with judges was Bernie Flaman’s thought-provoking look at Saskatchewan’s recent architectural history Architecture of Saskatchewan: A Visual Journey, 1930-2011 (University of Regina Press) which received three nominations including Book of the Year. Flaman’s book launched in Regina last April, and we ran this interview with him in our April 18 issue.

You can find a complete list of 2014 Saskatchewan Book Award nominees here.  But one other title that jumped out was Jeet Heer’s In Love With Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventure in Comics with Art Spiegelman. It’s up for the Non-Fiction Award, and in our October 3 issue Vanda Schmockel did an interview with Heer.