Cast and Creator Talk About Spartacus: Vengeance

Before the premiere of Spartacus: Vengeance tonight on Starz, I took part in roundtable conversations with the show's creator and co-executive producer Steven S. DeKnight (a veteran of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Smallville and Dollhouse) and members of the returning cast to talk about new leading man Liam McIntyre, their characters arcs for the coming season, and tease hints of fans can look forward to. I've seen the first episode and it's intense. Longtime fans won't be disappointed.

R.I.P. Theo Angelopoulos

I was sad to read this morning that Theo Angelopoulos died.

I first heard of the Greek filmmaker when his 1995 film Ulysses' Gaze which starred Harvey Keitel won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. It's not the easiest film in the world. For many it's too slow. Angelopoulos films his tales with long takes, slow pans and it's fascinating to watch the way his gaze lingers on events, the way the past and memory interacts with the present. Films like Landscape in the Mist, Eternity and a Day, The Weeping Meadow are beautiful and haunted.

There's a line from Ulysses Gaze: The first thing god created was the journey. Then came doubt and nostalgia. The film was important for me as a viewer. It was that rare work where it was the story of an individual, the story of a region, the story of an artform and in another sense a very universal tale. It was strange and chilling, the metaphors and imagery perhaps lessening some of the pain that the lessons delivered.

His work was considered poetic and dream-like but it was that way for a reason. The fog of memory and uncertainty hangs over our lives and on history as a whole. We are all exiles, if not from our homelands, then from the past. There is no real ending to our journeys. The past always looks better than the present, but we can't get a good look at it. The future is uncertain.

Ulysses' Gaze was about in part about a filmmaker returning to Greece after years away traveling across the Balkans hunting for three reels of film from the Manakis Brothers who were filmmakers and photographers in the early 20th Century. In that sense, there's something poetic about Angelopoulos leaving behind reels of film, unfinished.


Katrina Law talks Spartacus: Vengeance

I spoke with the actress Katrina Law last week about her role as Mira in Spartacus: Vengeance and we spoke about character dynamics, I tried to obtain some plot spoilers and she spoke about being the only woman surrounded by men in loincloths

Stan Goldberg on Marvel, Archie, The Simpsons and The Three Stooges

I spoke with the cartoonist Stan Goldberg, a man who's been working in comics since he was a teenager but remains best known for the four decades he spent working at Archie Comics. He also drew humor and teen comics for many other publishers, worked as a colorist for Timely an Marvel Comics, drew a recent issue of The Simpsons comics and is drawing new Three Stooges comics coming out starting in March.

Derek Kirk Kim

I spoke with Derek Kirk Kim about the reprint of his short novel Same Difference, his webcomic Tune and his webseries Mythomania, the challenge of writing and drawing a comic, and what he does in his free time. (we obviously didn't talk about his free time)

Trina Robbins on Lily Renee

I'm on record as admiring the hell out of Trina Robbins. A writer, artist, and historian remains a force in comics. Her new book, Lily Renee: Escape Artist tells the story of Lily Renee who grew up in Vienna, escaped the Nazis on the kindertransport, worked in a British hospital during the Blitz, escaped to New York to become a Golden Age comics artist. All before she turned 17. And in comics she was able to fight the Nazis she had escaped on paper. It's an amazing story. And it's always a pleasure to talk with Trina.

Michel Gagne on Simon and Kirby's romance

I spoke with artist and animator Michel Gagne whose new project was assembling a restoring old Simon and Kirby romance comics for a new book out from Fantagraphics.

Max Allan Collins Returns to Perdition

Max Allan Collins is one of those writers who to me has always seemed to be everywhere. Part of this is simply because he writes multiple books each and every year. In 2011 he wrote or co-wrote more than half a dozen. Two of them were books he completed that were started by his friend and mentor, the late Mickey Spillane. One book was his most recent Nathan Heller book, this one about the death of Marilyn Monroe. Another was Return to Perdition, which brings to a close the series he began with Road to Perdition, the graphic novel that was turned into the award-winning film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

It was a thrill to talk with Collins. We spoke for over an hour about dozens of topics. That's what happens something when you've read dozens of books by the person you're interviewing. Some interviews are a thrill because you've known the person's work for years and this was one of them. A true pleasure.

An odd post script. I conducted the interview in December while sitting on the indoor porch of my parents' house, enjoying the fact that it's this warm this late in the year. In the middle of the interview, a red-tailed hawk landed in the yard. Very strange. CT can be dull, but sometimes, you never know what's going to happen next.

Moritat pokes fun, makes his interviewer laugh, threatens to kill his colorist

Last week an interview I conducted with the cartoonist Moritat went online. He's an artist whose work I've admired for years and I can't claim that the interview was entirely successful. It's a bit odd. And truthfully I'm uncertain whether he actually replied in an honest and forthright manner about anything I asked (including his name) but I have to admit that it makes for interesting reading. So you may or may not learn anything about how Moritat thinks or works, but if you're a comics fan, you will be entertained.