Netflix Sandman hires director

Via The Illuminerdi:

Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal Vertigo series Sandman has officially found its first director. The long-gestating series has, the Illuminerdi can confirm, signed director Toby Hayes to the series for an undisclosed number of episodes.

Toby Haynes is a veteran of sci-fi and horror: he directed multiple episodes of the Matt Smith incarnation of Doctor Who (including the genuinely epic Series 5 two-part finale, “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang”). He also helmed the Star Trek-inspired episode of Black Mirror, “USS Callister,” which focused on the avatars trapped in a sadistic bully’s game version of a sci-fi adventure series. That episode of Black Mirror, arguably one of the highlights of a very impressive show, ended up winning four Primetime Emmy Awards, which suggests Sandman is attracting some serious talent behind the camera.

The series, which is currently set for ten episodes with the streaming service and with plenty of room to grow, was developed alongside Gaiman by screenwriters David S. Goyer (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman). It’s being produced by WBTV, and is currently accepting self-auditions for the lead role of Morpheus. The series will largely follow the story of the source material and will (primarily) focus on Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming. Morpheus is one of the seven Endless – extremely powerful and abstract figures in the universe.

Constantine: The Soul Play


As the comic book world continues to take a foothold in the realm of popular entertainment, there may be an unfortunate casualty. The series Constantine has not been picked up for renewal, placing its future in deadly certainty.

Created as a supporting cast member of the monthly horror comic Swamp Thing, John Constantine quickly became a popular character. After a feature film dud starring Keanu Reeves that got so many facts about the street-level mage wrong that it’s barely worth calling Hellblazer, fans worried that they would never get to see their anti-hero in the flesh again. Just this year a weekly TV series was launched that faithfully adapted the style of the book under Moore, Delano, Ennis, Jenkins, Carey and Milligan (to name a few). The series isn’t perfect, but it’s very entertaining.

That said… Constantine may be off the air for good very soon. This is a shame as it offers something that Gotham, Arrow, Agents of SHIELD and The Flash do not, the horror angle. Part of what made the Vertigo series so popular was making the fantastic commonplace, something that the fan produced film below, ‘Soul Play’ nails perfectly. So well that it pleads the case for more Constantine on TV.

Listen up, TV execs. Don’t pass up a good thing.

Gary Friedrich loses costly Ghost Rider case to Marvel Comics

Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog developed Ghost Rider when Marvel Comics was hungry for new ideas. Combining the popular culture interests of stunt racing and black magic, the character was a massive hit during the 1970’s, while DC Comics experienced similar success with their supernatural hero Swamp Thing.

Ghost Rider dropped out of favor until Marvel Comics created a new version of the spirit of vengeance featuring the popular artwork of Mark Texiera. This prompted a resurgence of Ghost Rider involving spin-offs, variant covers, action figures and more. This too ran its course and after several attempts to bring him back again, Ghost Rider finally found a new following in the grindhouse-style comic by Jason Aaron (highly recommended).

In 2007, a feature film starring Nic Cage was released that again prompted plenty of merchandising from toys to clothing and video games. A rather dubious-looking sequel opens next week.

In the meantime, Gary Friedrich has claimed that he owned the creative rights to Ghost Rider. I had the good fortune to meet Gary at a convention in Charlotte, NC where he was selling a modest display of trade paperbacks, prints and what-not. Gary was pleasant and signed my copy of Essential Ghost Rider that he sold at cost.

Now backed by Disney, Marvel has won a lawsuit with Friedrich and is demanding $17 grand from the creator. This continues a precedence set in a similar lawsuit with Marv Wolfman over ownership of Blade. While this may be legally sound, it strikes me as underhanded and petty to not only refute Friedrich’s claim but also demand money from an elderly man who is basically penniless.

So if you happen to see the Ghost Rider film or buy a Ghost Rider comic book, you may want to float some dough over to Gary because he’ll need it (still looking for contact info).

The final judgement has been handed down in the long running Gary Friedrich vs Marvel (Ghost Rider) case, and now we know the full amount that Friedrich owes Marvel.  That’s right, Marvel, a company that stands to make millions of dollars from the upcoming Ghost Rider II movie, and is paying Nicholas Cage millions to portray a character that Friedrich created, now wants money from Friedrich – in specific $17,000.

Via Newsarama


New Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance trailer

Ghost Rider Vs. Blackout

A new trailer shows Ghost Rider in combat with Blackout, getting a rocket to the gut and sassing the bad guys. From the director of Crank, Gamer and Jonah Hex, it’s bound to be a high octane action flick.

Official press release from Marvel Entertainment:
Prepare for an all-new ride on the highway to Hell with the second “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” trailer!

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in the Rider’s next film, and you can check out a tiny preview of the insanity he has in store for you come February 17, 2012.

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” promises to bring you one of Marvel’s toughest anti-heroes like you’ve never seen him before in 3D.

Check out the full second trailer below, and keep it tuned to in the coming months as we countdown to the film’s release on February 17, 2012!

More on


Buy The Ghost Rider Omnibus by Jason Aaron

Karl Kesel’s Johnny Zombie Lurches Onto the Web!

Official press release below:

Karl Kesel— a writer and artist who has worked on many of Marvel and DC’s top titles, and come oh-so-close to winning a number of industry awards— launches his first creator-owned web comic on October 31, 2011. JOHNNY ZOMBIE debuts on his Mad Genius Comics site,

“I’ve wanted to do a zombie comic for many, many years,” Kesel said. “Excuse the pun, but I’m no Johnny-Zombie-come-lately to the living dead. I left in the middle of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead the first time I saw it in the late 70s, it creeped me out so much (I was a sheltered teen, okay?)— and then ended up in the front row to watch the original Dawn of the Dead during it’s opening weekend a few years later. Those experiences scarred me for life, I’m happy to say.

“About a year ago I wondered: could you do a zombie Christmas story? The two genres are so opposite— zombie stories have a core sense of hopelessness, and Christmas stories are all about hope. Almost instantly, however, an idea came to me. And I realized it was also a perfect story to feature a character that’d been kicking around in my head for a few years— Johnny Zombie.

“On one level, Johnny Zombie is the world’s biggest, baddest zombie fighter. His main weapons are a blue metal bat named ‘Babe’ (after Babe Ruth) and an armored glove he calls ‘Jawbreaker.’ His symbol is a kind of unsmiling smiley-face with a bullet hole in its forehead. And that stuff’s all very fun and very cool, but there’s a deeper level to the character, something going on below the surface, that I don’t want to say too much about. I want people to read the story and, hopefully, start to figure it out themselves.

“I actually pitched Johnny Zombie to a print publisher a few years back, but their “zombie slot” was filled, so they passed. That’s when I started eyeing the internet. I mean, the web’s the future of comics. And it’s probably the most exciting thing to happen to comics since… well, since the early days of the newspaper strips. Just like then, everyone’s making it up as they go along, trying to figure out how the pieces fit, what works and what doesn’t. I’ve told people I’m doing a web comic and they’re excited, sure, but the most exciting thing to me is how many of them say ‘I’ll add it to my list— I read so many web comics!’ These are people who don’t read “normal” comics— but they’re reading web comics!”

Kesel had been trying to figure out how to fit a web comic into his life for a number of years. “I’m not a fast worker, so don’t have a lot of free time to take on extra work. A web comic was always a ‘someday’ project.

“Then my wonderful wife Myrna and I decided to adopt a baby. That was the tipping point. It suddenly became about my legacy, and what I could leave behind for our son or daughter.”

Kesel named his site Mad Genius Comics (where he is “Using My Power For Good, Not evil. Mostly.”) because “I plan to do any number of characters and concepts at Mad Genius. Some of these comics will be drawn by others, some I’ll draw myself, and I wouldn’t rule out me drawing someone else’s story, but I’ll always own or co-own anything that appears on Mad Genius Comics. Remember— I’m doing this for the kid!”

Johnny Zombie’s first story is penciled by David Hahn, known for his art on BITE CLUB, SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE, MARVEL ADVENTURES: FANTASTIC FOUR, FRINGE, HERC, and ALL-NIGHTER. “I love David’s work, and knew his style had enough edge for a zombie story, but was also open enough to fit a Christmas story. And, selfishly speaking, I’ve always wanted to ink David, so this was one way to finally get that chance!” The story is colored by Grace Allison, a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design and one-time intern at Portland, Oregon’s Periscope Studio, where Kesel met her. “She’s got so much talent beyond coloring,” Kesel pointed out. “I’m lucky I got to work with her before the rest of the world discovered her.”

“I’m not expecting to get rich off Mad Genius,” Kesel laughed. “I’d be thrilled— and pretty surprised— to just break even! I’m following the ‘Iron Man Business Plan’— exist in obscurity for 40 years, then have a hugely successful Hollywood movie made and become an overnight sensation. Anything happens faster than that is icing on the cake!”

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance trailer

Ghost Rider is a cult icon comic book hero, more familiar to fans for his image than the actual comic books in which he appeared. A confluence of cultural trends of the 1970’s, Ghost Rider was an unholy mutant child of Kiss and Evel Knievel. Battling strange villains, Johnny Blaze faded from the comic book world but remained ingrained in the pop culture subconscious, leading to a feature film.

The first movie stuck quite closely to the comic book plot-wise, even including obscure characters such as ‘the Caretaker’ played by Sam Elliott. Co-starring Peter Fonda as Mephisto and Eva Mendes as love interest Roxy, the movie was critically panned but earned a healthy 45 Million in its February opening weekend. There’s obviously a fan base for this kind of movie and with the buzz around the Avengers, Spider-Man and Batman still around, why not make another?

When the first Ghost Rider was released, Cage stated that he was interested in a second Ghost Rider film and wanted to explore Johnny Blaze embracing his curse, turning to booze and oblivion rather than moping about in angst. Nic Cage is a self-professed comic book fan so devoted to the medium that he changed his name after hero for hire Luke Cage. Known for his troubled finances and outlandish behavior, his portrayal of Johnny Blaze was a quirky Elvis impersonator type with a childlike innocence and maverick charm. It deviated from the comic book persona greatly, but for me it made the film enjoyable. The only slow parts ironically consisted of the flaming demonic rider sequences.

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the same team behind the Crank films who were pulled from the diabolical Jonah Hex movie which was later taken up by Jimmy Hayward of Horton Hears A Who! fame) , the sequel to the 2007 film will of course ramp up the action, over the top excitement and bizarre comedy, such as hellfire/pee. David Goyer (screenwriter of the first Ghost Rider, all three Blade films, Batman Begins, the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises) has returned to pen the script and it’s a grindhouse doozy.

The sequel will see Cage return to the role of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, but this time he will be drafted by Idris Elba, playing a drunken monk, into protecting a child from a villain with satanic resources and insider knowledge of Blaze’s curse. Christopher Lambert of Highlander fame will co-star as a sword-wielding monk fighting alongside Blaze against the supervillain Blackout. Many details are unclear, but the trailer indicates that it could be a fun ride.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is scheduled for release on the 17th of February, 2012.

Ghost Rider signs a deal with the studio

Ghost Rider burns all over again in Spirit of Vengeance

The dark avenging demon of the roads, Ghost Rider enjoyed a cult hit status in the 1970’s. When stunt rider Johnny Blaze made a deal with the devil to save his adoptive father, he soon discovered that the demonic one is not known for his good bargains and became the prison for a rebellious soul, Zarathos. When Blaze was near an act of evil, he transformed into the Ghost Rider, a flaming skeletal being on a flame-addled bike. Combining black magic, stunt motorcycling and horror, it remains a touchstone of the comic book ‘bronze age.’ only to be revived in the 1990’s when a new vessel for the demonic spirit of vengeance was found in Danny Ketch.

In 2007, a feature film version of Ghost Rider was released, directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil). It’s a mixed bag that takes liberties with some details while remaining dedicated to the source material in other places. A disjointed film, it is actually held together by Nic Cage’s larger than life mutant love-child of an Elvis impersonator and Evel Knievel. While Ghost Rider as a character is dull, the CGi effects are actually quite good, but the plot could have been stronger. Even so it’s worth a viewing with a few friends, cheap beer and pricey pizza.

Shortly after the first film hit the shelves on DVD, Cage was already talking about a sequel. The theme of denying the demon, refraining from alcohol and trying to be a noble hero would be replaced with a raucous and wild Johnny Blaze guzzling Jim Beam and embracing his alter ego.

The more details that leaked out, the more it sounded like the Jason Aaron run on the monthly comic, a wild and hyper-violent series with gun-toting nuns and a war in heaven. Sadly, it seems that Cage is more influenced by the Garth Ennis mini-series that preceded Aaron’s work. A thinly veiled continuation of themes borrowed from his work on Preacher, the less said about Ennis’ Ghost Rider the better.

At the San Diego Comic Con, a lack of heavy hitters such as Batman and Superman meant that lesser known superhero flicks could fill in the void, such as Ghost Rider.

Via i09:

Just because Nicholas Cage is still playing damned stuntman Johnny Blaze in the new Ghost Rider movie doesn’t mean that we should expect the family-friendly character from the first film. We’ve seen a Ghost Rider who’s more demon than superhero.

Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were on hand at Comic-Con, and told us how eager they were to get their Crank-weathered hands on the much maligned Ghost Rider and move him from the superhero genre into horror.

“He’s one of the most badass characters of all time,” Taylor noted. “He’s not really a superhero. He’s more like a horror character. His superpower is that he sucks out your soul. That’s horrifying.”

Cage described the Ghost Rider from the first movie as something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale, more something for kids. Cage actually provides the movement for the Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, something he did not do in the first film, and said he is happy to “embrace the nightmare aspect of the character.”

Although the first image we got of this new Ghost Rider were the legs of his glittery black stuntman pants, Neveldine and Taylor have amped up the Rider’s scary side. The Ghost Rider is now a charred skeleton, with flames constantly bursting from his body, his jacket bubbling with tar. Where the empty-eyed skull was sometimes campy in the first movie, here it is pretty nightmarish — even more so when the Rider spews fire from his mouth. There was, however, a moment of strange levity: a child character asks Johnny Blaze what happens when the Ghost Rider has to pee. Cue the Ghost Rider, his back to the camera, pissing flames.

At the Spirit of Vengeance press conference, Nick Cage further explained that “weirdness” is one of the defining traits he could bring to the Ghost Rider films. Elaborated Cage:

“The interesting story is when I was trying to think with Brian and Mark about how the Ghost Rider could move […] I was thinking about kind of finding something really “weird” […] I looked up in the dictionary that the word literally means “to turn.” “Weird” literally means “to turn around.” […] It was like trying to design a body language from another dimension.”

Idris Elba and Nic Cage at SDCC2011

Idris Elba plays Ghost Rider’s sidekick Moreau, a role the directors described as “a French drunk monk, the first French black alcoholic priest in [movie] history.” Elba also conquered his fear of motorcycles simply to play such a bad-ass role: “When I was 19, I fell off a motorcycle and never wanted to get on to one again…until this movie.”

Neveldine and Taylor explained that they really didn’t take the first movie into account — and they didn’t draw from Ghost Rider’s more superheroic tales — but the directors did cite the darker tone of Garth Ennis’ run as an inspiration.

Via FirstShowing:

Straight from the pages of Empire comes the first three photos introducing us to the new Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, directed by Crank’s Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor. Yes, Nicolas Cage is back as Johnny Blaze, but even more importantly, he’s back as Ghost Rider, the badass demon from hell. If you didn’t hear, the Comic-Con footage impressed all of us, but don’t worry, this will kick ass. “We didn’t really consider the first movie, at all, in making this. We just wanted to make a great movie, on its own terms.”

Idris Elba also stars in this along with Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds as the Devil, and Johnny Whitworth as the villain Blackout (not pictured). Now you know what I’m talking about regarding Ghost Rider having a flaming head almost the entire movie, not just a few scenes like in the first. “This version, we wanted to give people what we think comic book fans really want to see with Ghost Rider. It is darker and more intense. He is from a nightmare. He will scare the hell out of you,” Taylor told Collider. Sony/Columbia is releasing Spirit of Vengeance in theaters February 17th, 2012 next year.

First look at the Ghost Rider from the sequel Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider Omnibus

Essential Ghost Rider, Vol. 4

Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Classic - Volume 1

Nic Cage on Ghost Rider sequel and a darker Johnny Blaze

A cult comic book character from Marvel’s Bronze Age, Ghost Rider debuted on the big screen in Mark Steven Johnson’s (Daredevil) 2007 film. Three years later, he’s making a come back, albeit a darker one in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

The comic book character Johnny Blaze created by Roy Thomas & Gary Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog was a troubled youth looking to save his adoptive father from death’s door. By making a pact with the Devil, he saved his step-father from cancer only to see him die in a fiery crash. That’s what you get when you make deals with the Devil, I guess. To make matters worse, Blaze became the human host for the demon Zartathos, an unruly denizen of Hell who was causing trouble in the underworld. Whenever Blaze was near evil forces during the evening he would transform into a nightmarish vision of Hell as the Ghost Rider and strike vengeance on the wicked.

Starring Nic Cage as Blaze, the character on screen was more of a mixture of Evel Knievel and Elvis Presley. The 2007 movie adapted the comic book fairly closely aside from a few alterations and even name checked the previous Ghost Riders of the old west, Carter Slade. The film was a moderate success but as Nic Cage was such a devoted comic book fan (actually changing his last name after Power Man, Luke Cage), there was always the strong possibility of a sequel.

Via IO9:

How will the next Ghost Rider movie be different, now that the directors of theCrank movies are on board? In our exclusive interview, star Nic Cage tells us to expect crazy stunts, sarcasm, and a darker, weirder Johnny Blaze.

We’re very excited for the new Ghost Rider film, where will the audience find (your character) Johnny Blaze in the next film?

He’s become a lot more sarcastic, now that his head has been ignited. Unlike the first one where he was trying to keep it at bay. Now he’s been living with the Ghost Rider for some time, there’s a lot more irony with the character. His outlook isn’t as quite naive as it once was. And also I’m very excited about what we’re getting up to with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor [the directors], they are very original in terms of their film making. Mark is doing things I’ve never seen a director do before — filming on roller blades, hanging on wires — it’s like a stunt man, camera operator and director all in one. Brian Taylor is really so knowledgeable about film. In the same conversation, in the same sentence even, I can talk about Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom and then go into Ishirô Honda’s The War of the Gargantuas. He’s the reason why I’m playing the Ghost Rider as well. He really was an advocate of that, and inspired me to take that on. As a result of that we’re getting into some really abstract stuff that I think will mess with people’s minds. I’m really looking forward to it.

Nic Cage explains how Ghost Rider 2 will "mess with people's minds"

Those two are exceptionally original. How else are they changing the tone of the first film, is it even similar to the original?

It is a completely different film. The first one, which I won’t denigrate — I liked the first one, but it was almost like a fairy tale. Almost like a Disney fairy tale interpretation of Faust. This one is completely re-conceived, it’s not even connected to the first one, it’s a different origin sequence. But I think it will be a brand new experience. It has more adrenaline involved in the film making process itself, and in the movie when you see it. Again, I think the stuff we’re able to get into with Ghost Rider is going to be a lot more abstract and not like anything you’ve seen before. So I’m very excited by it.

I’ve read that you’re a big manga and comic book fan, especially with your work in Astro Boy and Ghost Rider. What comics are you reading right now?

I was getting back into reading some of the Man-Thing, which was something that Stan Lee made in the 70s. It became kind of a classic monster character that I liked. [I’m] trying to go back and look at some of the old comics [Jack] Kirby comics like The Demon. There’s another one, his interpretation of 2001 was interesting, real creative stuff. Also Marvel’s interpretation of Dracula, and I’m looking through the old Ghost Riders.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is scheduled for a February 17, 2012 street date.

Recommended, the Ghost Rider Omnibus:



Weird War Halloween

Chris Sims over at his Super Invincible Blog has drafted up a reminder of one DC Comics’ oddest comics, an issue of Weird War Tales in which the Creature Commandos use the old Trojan Horse trick to gain access to Hitler’s stronghold.

This needs to be read to be believed:

I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m not all that familiar with the team. Why? Because the Creature Commandos represent one of the greatest gaps in quality between concept and execution in the history of comics. I mean really, on the one hand, they’re monsters fighting Nazis, but on the other, well, one of them is named “Velcro.” And he’s a vampire.

Velcro the Vampire.


And the rest of the team doesn’t really hold up either: You’ve got Dr. Medusa (who inhaled some vaguely sciencey fumes that turned her hair into snakes), werewolf Warren Griffith, “Lucky” Taylor (described as being a “mute” Frankenstein’s Monster despite the fact that he mumbles to himself off and on throughout the story), and they’re all bossed around by Lt. Shrieve, who is not a monster in the traditional sense, but manages to fit right in by being a total and complete dick.

So yeah, as we’ve all no doubt learned from Dave Campbell, even a character named “Dr. Medusa” can’t save this one from tanking pretty hard in its bid to become the finest of all Monster Versus Nazi Action Epics.

In my time as a comics reader, I’ve seen covers promising to shatter my senses and melt my mind, but before I grabbed this one, I’d never seen one that promised me HITLER WOULD FREAK OUT.

Read the entire entry here:, bookmark the site and enjoy.