Monday, July 27, 2009

Emily's musings on her first San Diego Comic-Con

Well, my daughter survived her first Comic-Con experience -- in fact, I think it's safe to say she really enjoyed herself, and so did her roommate Colleen, who attended Comic-Con with Em. I asked Em to write up something about their trip, and this is what she sent me, along with all of the photos. -- PL

The Wrath of Con

After months of planning and anticipation, our journey to our very first Comic-Con began very early Thursday morning. We left LA around 2 am, and with hardly anyone on the road, made it to San Diego a little after 4. Since we had been following Twitter updates about the Con, we were not totally shocked to see a line wrapping around Hall H when we arrived at the Convention Hall around quarter to 5 in the morning.

Almost a thousand people were already in line for the Friday New Moon panel: Some were sleeping on air mattresses, some had miniature flashlights and copies of the Twilight books...we even saw one party that had brought their own hookah to the line.

Three Starbucks trips later, we got into another line to get our Thursday badges. This one wrapped around the convention center and extended down the edge of the marina.

Finally, around 11 am, we were herded into Hall H and found seats around the middle of the hall, although there were still two more panels to watch before the New Moon panel began at 1:45. The Disney 3-D20panel showed clips from A Christmas Carol and Tron, but of course the most exciting moment was when Tim Burton surprised the audience by bringing Johnny Depp onstage during the Alice in Wonderland panel. When the Summit Entertainment panel brought the cast and director of New Moon onstage around 2, the screams were deafening.

Even though we were sleep deprived and had been waiting for almost ten hours, I have to say, the clips they showed definitely made it more than worth the wait! It was fun seeing the cast, and listening to their thoughts on the movies, but the clips were really the amazing part. Instead of just showing a trailer or some random part, they showed full clips of two pivotal scenes from the movie. Can't wait to see the movie in November!

After the panel, we checked into our hotel and had dinner with the Mirage team before getting some much-needed rest.

On Friday afternoon, we headed back to the convention center for the TMNT Panel. Thankfully we didn't have to camp out for hours to get in this time, but it really put things in perspective for me to see so many fans lined up for the panel, much like we had the day before. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd was amazing, and all of the panelists (Gary Richardson, Kevin Eastman, Steve Barron, Scott Mednick, Galen Walker, Matt Leunig, and Llyod Goldfine) did a great job! I even got a little teary-eyed when they first started playing the music and the interview clips came on screen.

Of course, Friday night was the big TMNT 25 party and debut screening of "Turtles Forever". I have to echo everything my dad wrote about the movie in his previous entry... it really was amazing!

Saturday and Sunday were spent mostly wandering around the Exhibit hall...I still don't think we saw everything! We were tempted to buy the Twilight dolls, but resisted in favor of two old school TMNT posters which we will frame for our apartment ("Leonardo Leads" and "Raphael: Cool but Crude") and two t-shirts, a TMNT "Drug Free is the Way to Be" and a "It's Clobberin' Time" with the Thing.

Overall, it was a great, crazy weekend. San Diego is beautiful, and the Convention was ridiculous and so much fun... hopefully we will be back next year, now that we are officially Con veterans. It was great to see the Mirage crew, and to meet all of the many other people who have worked on the Ninja Turtles in all their various forms. And of course, it was a pleasure to meet some of the fans as well!

-Emily & Colleen

Here are some more photos from Em and Colleen's first Comic-Con:

Em with the "Turtle Documentary" crew

Em with Stan Sakai

Colleen and Em with Ernie Reyes, Jr.

Mirage dudes with Turtles

Em and Colleen with Turtles

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Watch out!

While my Mirage compatriots bask in the adulation of thousands of fans amidst the delerious cacophony of Comicon's great halls, and enjoy sampling the exotic delights of sunny San Diego, I must perforce content myself with humbler fare... such as a late afternoon ride through the hills of Franklin County, feeling the clean, cool air as I ride my motorcycle through lengthening shadows.

I was on one of my favorite rides -- coming home the slow way from a late lunch (early dinner?) at McCusker's in Shelburne Falls. I was not expecting to see this:

Of course, I did slow down. I didn't see any turtles, however... I suppose they had all already made it across the road. -- PL

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ride with Bruce

I had the great pleasure of a visit from my brother Bruce this past weekend -- he rode up on his new Victory Vision Tour (he'd traded in his beloved Gold Wing). I was a bit concerned that the weather wasn't going to cooperate, but we lucked out and got two beautiful days to ride. On one of those days, we took a blast up Mt. Greylock, enjoying the newly-paved access road.

There were some lovely clouds to be seen that day, and here's a panoramic view of some of them from the summit of Greylock, looking east. -- PL

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Movie news: John Fusco!

By now, you may have already heard about or read the news in "Variety" about the writer chosen for the new TMNT movie project, John Fusco. Here's the official release:


Veteran Hollywood Scribe to Write Screenplay for Film Scheduled for 2011 Release

Los Angeles, CA (July 21, 2009) — TMNT Productions, in association with Mirage Studios, has signed veteran screenwriter John Fusco to create the script for the upcoming live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical film targeted for release in 2011. Fusco joins the creative team with producers Scott Mednick (“300,” “Superman Returns”) and Galen Walker (“TMNT”) to re-tell the origin story of the legendary foursome of the characters co-created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

Fusco brings a unique perspective to the classic property, with credits ranging from the original “Young Guns” and its sequel to "Hidalgo" and last year's "The Forbidden Kingdom" starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan. He also recently completed the script for a contemporary version of the classic "Seven Samurai" for The Weinstein Company.

In addition to his film industry credits, Fusco brings years of martial arts training and inspiration to the new screenplay. His interest in Korean martial arts began at age 12, and his passion continues today through ongoing study of Shaolin Kung Fu as well as the history and culture behind these ancient practices.

"It is always exciting when you can come aboard a project that bridges the worlds of what you do with what you love,” said Fusco. “I have always been a fan of the Turtles and the world of martial arts is my lifelong passion. I look forward to this great opportunity."

“John brings to our team the perfect blend of talent, expertise and enthusiasm for the property and the genre,” said Mednick. "We are committed to bringing to the screen a vital, vibrant and contemporary effort that is the next chapter in this venerable franchise."

“Working with the original comics created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman will allow both the new and first generations of fans to experience the Turtles in a whole new light,” said Walker. “Tapping into the rich of history of these heroic and loved brethren should prove to be a phenomenal collaborative adventure for us all.”

“From the first stages of planning this movie, we were committed to finding a group of the most passionate, creative and experienced individuals, who appreciated the history and myth of the TMNT, to craft a new vision of the Turtles for Mirage to share with current fans and to captivate a whole new generation,” said Gary Richardson CEO, Mirage Studios.

Announcement of Fusco’s role comes as the Turtles’ 25th Anniversary “Shell-ebration” culminates its cross-country tour at San Diego Comic-Con where Fusco, Mednick and Walker will join Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman and Steve Barron (director of the original 1990's film) and others on a panel to discuss the project and the history of the property on Friday, July 24.

Peter Laird, Gary Richardson, Frederick Fierst, Eric Crown and Napoleon Smith III will serve as executive producers of the film. The project is being funded through Lightbox Productions, LLC.

4Kids Entertainment, master licensing agency for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property, will handle all licensing activity on TMNT movie-related merchandise.

Additional information is available on the and Websites.


About Mirage Studios
Mirage Studios, Inc. is part of The Mirage Group, a group of companies located in Northampton, Massachusetts that owns, manages, nurtures and protects the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property.

About 4Kids Entertainment
Master licensing agent for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: KDE), is a global organization devoted to the creation, development, production, broadcasting, distribution, licensing and manufacturing of children’s entertainment products, with U.S. headquarters in New York City, regional offices for its trading card business in San Diego, California and international offices in London and Hong Kong.

Additional information is available on the corporate Website and at the game station site."

I'm happy that we can finally, officially release this information. I met John for the first time around the middle of last month -- he drove down to Northampton, and Galen Walker and Scott Mednick flew out from California, to meet with me and Gary at the Mirage offices. I was impressed with John -- he's a cool guy with a lot of intelligence and energy... and he has good kung-fu! I'm looking forward to getting into story discussions with him.

Here's a small panorama built from a few photos I snapped at that first meeting, in the Mirage Studios conference room. I wonder what point Galen is making so energetically...? -- PL

(From left to right: Galen, Scott, John, Gary.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emily "Shellebrates"!

My daughter, who is planning to attend the San Diego Comicon this year, also had the opportunity to go to one of the "Shellebration" TMNT tour bus 25th anniversary events with some of her friends this past weekend. Here's her report from the scene, taken from an email to me:

"On Saturday afternoon, Golden Apple Comics on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles hosted one of the final stops of the TMNT tour bus for the 25th anniversary "Shell-abration." We figured it was a must see event. I arrived with Nell, Steph, and Lainy around 6PM, when the event seemed to be winding down a bit. The bus was parked outside, where we posed with Leonardo. Inside, fans were lined up to meet with Kevin, and the store had free pizza and Turtle green Kool-Aid.

In these pictures I'm posing with Kevin Eastman...

...and Stephan from

I also met Michael Hill, the former creative director of Mirage, who said he had met me when I was little. Inside the bus, there was various memorabilia from the comic books, tv show, and movies. This picture is me at the entrance of the bus, with your photo and biography, as well as what I think are covers from the first comic book.

Overall, it was a fun afternoon, and I got to get my first picture with Leonardo (my favorite turtle) since I was a few months old, when he held me on the set of the first movie.

It was fun to experience the Turtles through the eyes of a "fan" and also to be around so many fans for whom the Turtles mean so much. Looking forward to Comic Con!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

DN-01, all dressed up

You may recall a previous post on this blog in which I talked about the new Honda DN-01 motorcycle that I bought this year. I thought it was a great bike -- and loved its fully-automatic HFT (Human Friendly Transmission). The bike was a bit let down by its impracticality -- its small windshield hardly blocked any breeze, and except for a tiny nook under the seat which might have fit a sandwich, it had no storage space.

Well, as you can see by this photo, I have addressed these two issues, and now I love this bike.

Thanks to Jim Lawson, who a couple of months ago turned me on to the aftermarket catalog "Twisted Throttle", I discovered that there was hard luggage -- both saddlebags and a top trunk -- and a bigger windshield available for the DN-01. I ordered all of these things right away, and got them within a few weeks. My friend Ed installed the bags and their requisite mounting hardware (I was thinking of trying to do it myself, but the more I looked at the instructions, the more I saw disaster in the making), and they work great -- they look good and hold a lot.

I decided to install the windshield myself, and I managed to get it done (although, as in any project requiring the removal and then reinstallation of large pieces of complicated bodywork, there were a few nail-biting moments) with only three fasteners left over... and everything seems to work okay, so may those fasteners aren't TOO critical.

The windshield definitely does a better job of protecting the rider from windblast, but I wish it were a few inches higher -- right now I get a lot of breeze directed at the top third of my helmet, which can be distracting. Still, I like it better than the stock unit.

I highly recommend these modifications for anyone with a DN-01. -- PL

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blast from the Past #208: Art lovers

This is another one of my C'thulhu-themed drawings, which, while undated, is very likely from around the same time as the one I posted as BftP #205.

This piece was actually inspired by a photograph I saw in an issue of "National Geographic" of two middle-aged woman looking at art in a museum. The poses, gestures and expressions just seemed perfect for this composition... so I swiped them! -- PL

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blast from the Past #207: Dinosaur Disco

Here's another dinosaur-themed drawing from the distant past -- 1978. I'm pretty sure this was not done to make money, but rather just for fun.

This piece contains one of the few examples of my hand-drawn lettering with which I was actually satisfied. -- PL

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blast from the Past #206: Dinosaur birthday card art

Back when I was trying to make it as a self-employed illustrator, in the pre-TMNT years, one of the ideas I had for making money was to create, print and try to sell a variety of cards for different occasions. For several years, I employed my used book store as the primary venue for this attempt... which didn't really work -- I think I sold a few dozen cards. Not a terribly successful venture, but it was fun.

I am pretty sure these two designs were done for this purpose, though it is also possible that I drew them for friends' or family members' birthdays. Or I could have used the art for both things. In any event, they were enjoyable to draw. -- PL

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blast from the Past #205: Cthulhu

Since my high school days, I have been a fan of the work of H.P. Lovecraft and his "C'thulhu Mythos" stories especially. This is a drawing I did back in 1977, just for fun, illustrating what I thought a small statuette of the dreaded Elder God might look like.

I think the words on the fragment of paper in the drawing are from a Lovecraft poem.

Trivia note: I've left this photo uncropped so that the edges of the paper on which I drew this piece are visible -- it's another one of the pieces of packing material I found back then to supplement my meager supply of drawing paper. -- PL

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blast from the Past #204: "Calendar of the Gods" cover

Back in 1987, my brother Don and I self-published this calendar project. Each month featured an illustration by me of a particular mythological deity, inspired by legends from around the world. Don did most of the research and also contributed some border designs and a text piece on each deity. I think we printed a couple hundred of these (couldn't afford to do more) and tried to sell them, without much success.

This is my cover art for the calendar, which I did during my "love of crosshatch and stippling" phase. -- PL

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nature in Northampton

One of the things I like most about the Northampton area is how quickly you can move from the busy center of town to quiet, beautiful natural areas... such as this one:

I shot the photos which make up this panoramic view on a small road called Old Springfield Road, which runs past the Oxbow on the Connecticut River. It's part of one of my favorite short bicycle rides -- favored mostly because it is so quiet (very few cars) and lovely. And it's just a tad over a mile away from the exact center of downtown Northampton. (Lloyd Goldfine and I went this way on bicycles when he came up to visit a few days ago.) Parts of this route take you through some shady woods alternating with broad, sunny fields on a dirt road. Lately, I've been seeing quite a few little rabbits along this way. -- PL