Monday, February 26, 2007

Eks-citement! I'm Bonafied!

"Street Level Avengers versus Traffic That Fights Back!"--posted by "cvain" on the Newsarama Message Boards in response to the announcement of an Avengers/Transformers mini-series. The Controversy starts here!

Greetings, my minions!

I come bearing the most tasty of news that I will now pelt at you in a chronologically correct, bulleted fashion:

--Orlando's Mega Con was fun. Daryn and I met comic book pros (not the hooker kind), we drank beer, and contemplated the complexities of the human condition at a TGIF.

--My first "real" interview with an industry professional, that I conducted while in Orlando, was published on Newsarama. Read it here. Mike Carey is awesome--check out his site.

--I apparently did a good enough job with Mike Carey's interview that Newsarama is considering paying me to indulge in all my sexy dorkiness. CHA-CHING!

--I interviewed Steve Niles last week. IF Newsarama doesn't run the feature--I will feature it somewhere else (see next pellet)!

--"Rally 'Round the Family with a Pocket Full of Shells!!!" Shotgun Reviews gets a new look and several new writers--INCLUDING YOURS TRULY! That's right, now not only can you hate reading the shape of my font on the Eks Factor; you can also go here--!

--I'm also writing a pretty awesome article featuring the band A-Ha. Yes, the guys that sang "Take on Me" a million years ago. They are actually one of the hottest acts in Europe and they have been FOR YEARS. They are really much better than what we think, as slaves to the US Music Industry, so I hope you give that a read. I'm going to interview their biggest American Fan, Chuck Rassmussin.

--Look for the new Best Shots this morning around 10AM EST. I think it'll be one of my best reviews ever--803 Studio's anthology book, Sequential Suicide: Rottingwood Road and Powers #23. Plus, I give my two cents on Aunt May catching MJ's bullet in the newest issue of Amazing Spider-Man.

--In the works: I got confirmation from Jimmy Palmiotti tonight. I will interview him and discuss Jonah Hex and a ton of his other projects he has going on--including his thoughts on the creative process and writing comics outside the superhero genre!

Awesome, huh? Yeah I thought so too. Well, I finished up a few DVDs--here are a few quick thoughts.

Art School Confidential was great. I totally love the mockery of pretentious art students most of all. Plus, the cast is just pitch perfect--their look is so natural. John Malkovich is the perfect cast for a sexually ambiguous, art school professor and I get all befuddled in the cockles of my heart when Sophia Myles is on the screen--methinks she's all that and some black tar heroin. I give it 4 out of a total of 5 possible Picasso love-slaves under the age of 18.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
should be a documentary watched by every person who considers themselves a modern "movie snob". Kirby Dick's film had me scared and laughing all at the same time. We are all slaves to the the major corporations of the U.S. and this film sets you up on a path of truthiness and discovery. Check it out--a documentary that's fun and full of Hollywood conspiracy...and Kevin Smith is in it too! I give it the shape of a triangle as an abstract rating that can be interpreted objectively.

Watching The Science of Sleep very soon...just wasn't in the mood after I saw Hannibal Rising which was pretty good. So good that I bought the Hannibal Collection--maybe I'll break those down on Shotgun...hmmm, pondersome.

Don't laugh but I'm going out to buy the new Justin Timberlake CD tomorrow. I'm owning up to the fact that I like this guy's music by openly purchasing it in a Target somewhere in the U.S. (see I'm still embarassed enough to not tell you where in the U.S.) I have to support musicians I actually like--this guy isn't such a raging bag of douche after all--well, I never knew if he was in the first place, I only assumed. Tsk, tsk...

Well, I'm off to ponder some more writing projects and to watch "Hannibal".

If you love me, you'll go to Shotgun and register for our Message Boards, if not then I hope you get shingles or scabbies--your choice!

Go, or it's your liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Listening to: Talking Heads, a mixture of their Greatest Hits and some live downloads the MP3 Fairy gave me.
Reading: Arkham Asylum from DC Comics, by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean
Watching: If you don't know, then you didn't read, @$$hole.
Plans for tomorrow: Playing "Human Slide" with my daughter, Katie :)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Eks-cuse me, I'm busy.

"If you wanna smear mud on your ass, smear mud on your ass, just be honest about it. Look Gene, I've never told anyone this before, but I can suck my own dick, and I do it a lot." --Can of Vegetables, Hot Wet American Summer

Sorry I haven't posted--I'm almost not as frequent as I would like to be. This weekend I'll be posting my feelings on some DVDs:

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Art School Confidential
The Science of Sleep

Next week, expect to see a ton of reviews over at Newsarama on Best Shots. I'll be featuring:

Loveless #15
SHAZAM! The Monster Society of Evil #1
X-Men Annual #1
The Irredeemable Ant-Man #5

I'll also take a short, "pellet"-sized shot at:
Uncanny X-Men #483
Jonah Hex #16
Incredible Hulk #103
New Avengers #27
Spider-Man: Reign #3

Also, I might throw in a review of the new Hellboy: Swords of Storms direct to DVD cartoon.

I've been busy...and pages from my graphic novel may start appearing in semi-completed form either here on the blog or over at my ComicSpace page. Talk to me people!

If there's anything you'd like to find out about a big chunk of the indy comics scene--nows your chance to ask me--I'm heading to Mega Con in Orlando next week to cover it for Newsarama and to network--send me a mail or post any questions you may have.

Back to work!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Eks-clah-may-shun point--Movie Spoilers Ahead!

“Would you like a portion?” –an audience member at An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder

So I just finished a viewing of this season’s off-beat action/adventure bullet-fest, Smoking Aces, and I have to say—I was so happy with this movie until the last 8 minutes. Yes, it is one of those high octane flicks with over-the-top celebrations of violence that rivals Rodriguez’s Desperado, the stylishness of Ritchie’s Snatch and the disjointed, causality collision of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction—a true beast of a modern action movie. Joe Carnahan’s film stylishly threw me around the theater with smoking muzzles flaring, chunks of human flesh, and absolutely lovable killers—lovable.

And then the other shoe drops with a nightmarish clicking of reality’s heels. As the movie unravels, the “catch” begs the watcher on into a soft dramatic turn?!? WTF, my friends.

To front load you a little detail regarding my pre-existing knowledge of this flick:
Jimmy Palmiotti had posted a bulletin on MySpace shying people away from going to see Smoking Aces. Since his warning was so vague and subjective, I e-mailed him—wanting a more acceptable reason to NOT SEE the movie. I asked him to sum up the movie, one writer to another, with a sentence. Here is what he replied with: (unedited, unabashed)

"steve, wasnt boring...was ambitious, but the main story was weak...the idea kind of lame and it came off like a bad mad mad world with hit men. the last 5 minutes is so out there and stupid as well.....that said, see it if you like any of the actors, but know its crap going in. for me, it was dissapointing "--Jimmy Palmiotti

This message was just enough to make me want to see it—I mean, I pretend to be this super objective guy; a guy who has an open mind and wants to share in the wonders of the world. You can stop laughing now; I just wanted to see why he hated it so much. So I went in with very little reservation; because, the previews had sold me to this movie in early December. I took it for what it was—as a diesel-ed out action movie. I was entertained. Props to the kids I work with at Longhorn—they all enjoyed the movie with one thing in mind: the ending will make or break the movie for you. So I waited...

...and I, too, was disappointed.
Ryan Reynold’s Agent Messner appears to be the only character who circumnavigates the mind field of causal disaster without losing a limb—he narrowly avoids every killer, every bullet, and every life altering moment but appears “damaged” the most by loss of his partner Agent Carruthers played by Ray Liotta. He then confronts his senior officer, Stanley Locke, played by Andy Garcia—who has a lousy southern accent, by the way—and unravels the mystery of Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven) and his feud with mob boss, Primo Sparazza.

It’s a fun flick—I liked it but felt filled with morbid stupidity for staying for the denouement—it has to be one of the worst pay-offs since…well, Marvel Comics’ Civil War isn’t over yet, is it?
You catch my drift. If you go see “Smoking Aces”—do as follows: Get up as soon as you see Ryan Reynolds walk into a hospital, exit the theater, and let some of your life and movie-going experiences have some unanswered questions. The end really ruins the flick and leaves you with a terrible taste in your mouth.

So, this week’s reviews are in at the ‘Rama—I cover Wolverine #50 very closely with short reviews of Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #3; Doctor Strange: the Oath #4 and a pretty scathing rant on Civil War: The Return—featuring what has to be one of the most poorly written 12 page filler stories I’ve read that returns Captain Mar-Vell to the Marvel Universe.

I had a field day today; I happened upon one of my favorite movies in the DVD section of Target—Wet Hot American Summer, the best mockery of the old school “Summer Camp” flicks that inhabited the late 70’s and early 80’s due to the huge success of the Meatballs and its subsequent franchise spawning. I also bought the New Line Platinum Series version of “Boogie Nights” for a whopping twelve dollars—being the total “Criterion DVD” whore that I am. To round out my purchase I got my hands on “This Film is Not Yet Rated’ by Kirby Dick. This documentary is an exposé on the most influential censor in the country, the MPAA film ratings board; it features a bevy of directors from John Waters to Matt Parker and Kevin Smith—awesome!

I’ll be sure to let you know more after I’m done. Be sure to comment if you feel the need—this week’s mission:

Tell me what you have going on in the Pop Culture department:

1. What are you listening to?
2. What are you reading?
3. What upcoming movie do you want to see?
4. What’s the last DVD you bought?
5. Playing any videogames?

Talk to me people! Let’s talk about stuff that makes us crazy and entertained. Two weeks ‘til Mega Con—woo hoo! I'm going to blog nightly after each day at Mega Con--to let everyone know how I suck at breaking into the comic industry! YAY!

Love you, mean it.

Listening to: The Police, some Foo Fighters, Incubus, and STP--nice roaring mix.
Reading: Too many books to list, I need to pick one finish it and so on and so forth...
Movie I want to see: the new Lecter flick, his formative years...what DID he "cut his teeth on"?
DVD's I bought: Read my blog, they are all there. My wallet is weightless.
Videogamery: Um, I need to level my Blood Elf Paladin after I finish this.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Eks-ellent Night To Watch The Colbert Report

Quote of the Week: "Bill, if you're a character--then what am I?"--final remark made to Bill O'Reilly by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

Smell that? That smell, my dear friends, is the smell of Colbert's delicious victory over Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. I detest this man almost as much as I hate mayonnaise. I wanted to post a recording of tonights "Report" on here so every last one of you could truly enjoy watching O'Reilly hate himself for agreeing to be on a show that truly serves the average American with succinct political satire.

Anyone that knows me, will tell you that I'm a pretty fair guy--my politics are much like an "ala carte" lunch menu, in that I have varying beliefs, depending on what exactly we're talking about--from capital punishment (which I support) to social welfare and reform (which I have reservations about but I know is necessary). Much like Comedy Central, I am counting down the days until Barack Obama announces his candidacy for President in 2008.

Getting back to Stephen Colbert--he and John Stewart are what I can honestly call the closest thing I have to 'heroes'. They represent the voice of America that isn't blind-eyed and bleating. I can say with some confidence that our momma's didn't raise any fools in this generation--we're pretty politically savvy and I hope that this really is exemplified in the coming Presidential election.

I have to out myself--I didn't vote last time around; the fact that South Park could so easily sum up what I thought about the two candidates--a douche bag and a turd sandwich left me so fouled up internally that I chose to abstain. I was summarily called to task, being that I strongly advocate registering to vote and actually voting even at the local level, by someone very close to me who I had chided in the past for not voting. You know who you are--you were right, as usual. Please register to vote--you do count.

So now that I've "done my part"--let's get back on track. I really am dying to see Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth which opens to a limited release tomorrow. I actually spent a couple of really cool hours with Mr. Del Toro a few years ago at the San Diego Comic Con--he's quite an avid toy collector. His movie looks breathtakingly eerie and the noir-ish film quality gives it a really thick visual texture--you want a bowl full of this movie, trust me.

Next week on the 'Rama, I plan on reviewing Spiderman: Reign by Kaare Andrews--try to imagine Spiderman getting the "Dark Knight Returns" treatment and away we go! I'm loving it so far and you'll be able to tell in my review because of how deep I really get to dig into this book. Also, look for a pellet review of Exiles #90 and something else--I don't know yet, it was a week of not so hot books...

Did you get a look at the new street thug level New Avengers? Not that I mind Power Man and Iron Fist finally getting their due--but Wolverine and Spiderman do NOT (repeat DO NOT) need to be on a team book--together at that! Echo has potential as a deaf Taskmaster type and Spiderwoman is still (sort of) putting butts in seats--I think her popularity was about as tenuous as Marvel's mid-70's nostalgia resurgence...she's just not 3-dimensional enough to hold this much water. Ronin's back and I don't care; I'm sure either Captain America or Clint Barton will be behind the mask this time around--which will be good considering these two guys are the only real Avengers out of the whole bunch. Which most certainly leaves me with my last and least favortie choice for the team--Dr. Strange. Don't get me wrong, I love this character...but not on this team of Avengers written by this written by this writer--no way, no how. I just don't buy this book keeping it's stitches together--everyone on this team is pulling in a different direction--I see even LESS AVENGING going on than the previous NEW incarnation.

Well, it's late--this was supposed to just be a segue into a bigger badder Eks Factor over the weekend--and it still is so I hope you enjoyed this mini one.

Remember to vote!

Listening to: Nothing--it's too late for even music to sound any good.
Reading: Twisted Toyfare Theater Collected #8, you will piss yourself when you see a toy Hulk doll poop in a jacuzzi.
DVD to watch: I want that new Iron Man cartoon it looks fun.
Plans for Friday: Maybe I'll go see a movie or two. The Last King of Scotland and The Good German open this weekend. Yeah, make that a definite two movies this weekend.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Don't Look Now But You've Been Eks'd!

Quote of the day: "No, I said this award goes out to the performer with the biggest posse, Madonna."--Family Guy

Greetings minions! I decided to post an impromptu "howdy-do". It's been a fruitful couple of weeks in my new job reviewing books at the 'Rama. However, it seems that my reviews are either really liked or attacked with extreme prejudice--oddly, I prefer the role of villain so it amuses me to no end that some of these guys attack my critiques with such fervor. I feel like if I'm inciting them to set my house on fire; meaning: I'm doing a good job. Time will tell.

Bigger news! Last week, you guys saw that I interviewed Steve Niles of 30 Days of Night. Again, I want to thank Steve--he was very easy to approach and talk to. Well, this week I set out to find my next industry pro to pester into doing a little 5 question mock interview with me electronically. I contacted three guys:

  1. Warren Ellis -- who is " lightning" with the debut of the new Thunderbolts #110 today and notoriously a busy man. I think he thinks I stalk him through MySpace. Maybe a little, I might. Okay, I do.
  2. Jimmy Palmiotti -- I answered a "bulletin" for regarding advice on a tattoo for Painkiller Jane's ass. He replied back--a true rarity response because, apparently, my idea was funny. So I mailed him back, since he's half of the writing team on one of my favorite books, Jonah Hex.
  3. David Yardin -- He's the guy who did the amazing artwork for the What If...Deadly Genesis issue from Marvel Comics. I mailed him to let him know that I was a fan and he replied (lightning struck me twice in one week guys) and told me that he and David Hine (the guy who wrote the issue) had read my review and they were grateful. He's super willing to return the favor--excellent!
So who do you think I went with? Well, it gets better. I e-mail Troy and basically tell him that Yardin is willing to do the blog so I get this crazy idea that I should interview David Yardin for Newsarama--because this guy deserves to be recognized. I haven't felt this way about anyone's pencils since Alpha Flight #51, which is Jim Lee's first Marvel work. It would be kind of cool to be the guy that interviews an up and coming artist and then he makes it big--because I helped out a little. Stay tuned as this develops and check out David Yardin's website.

If you'll notice I've posted a few blogs worth checking out over here--->

I've gotten to know the Reverend and Caleb through the Best Shots Team and let me tell you, their blogs are bad ass and mine is but monkey feces smeared on the inside of a cave wall in comparison. Geoff Klock's blog is something special, however. This guy and I have a lot in common--he's a poet with a penchant for the sequential beast, much like myself and my buddy Shannon Canne (see I plugged you.) His blog makes me feel like my brain is significantly inferior to his brain--its a must for the intellectually gifted. Feel free to make new friends through blogs, I have.

Getting back to the 'Rama--feel free to post any kind of opinion you have on the message boards over there regarding Best Shots. It is totally okay if you don't like my review--it's obviously better if you do because well, I won't have to kill you.

There are two extra editions of Best Shots to be on the look out for. One is a "Best of 2006" edition and the other is just a straight up "Bonus" edition because apparently we shooters are all the most omnivorous readers on the planet. My "Best of..." is being referred to as "The Bizarro Worst/Best of 2006", I cover:

  1. "The Bizarro Worst Graphic Novel I Didn't Read" -- Pride of Baghdad from Veritgo by Brian K. Vaughn & Niko Henrichon
  2. "The Bizarro Worst Series I Didn't Read" -- Jonah Hex from DC by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray with Various Talented Artists
  3. "The Bizarro Worst Single Issue I Didn't Read" -- Dr. Strange: The Oath #1 from Marvel by Brian K. Vaughn, Marcos Martin, & Alvaro Lopez
  4. "The Bizarro Best Comic I Wish I Had Read" -- Heroes for Hire #1 from Marvel by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Billy Tucci, & Tom Palmer
Definitely check that "Best of..." edition of Best Shots it should be out tomorrow. I'm about to call it a day--I'm going to bag and board about 200 comics I've let sit and pile up--fun stuff. Hope everyone has a great weekend--see you in the funny pages!


Listening to: The Pixies Greatest Hits, thanks Koben!
Reading: Toyfare #115--Adam Tracey is apparently a binge drinker at work!
DVD to watch: Still watching D&D cartoons!!!
Plans for Thursday: Eh, I gotta work--waiting tables isn't fun anymore.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Setting Sail for Destination Eks!

Quote of the day: "Are we about to get it on? Because I'm as hard as a diamond in an ice storm right now."--Ricky Bobby, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"


Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Eks Factor. Through some maneuvering, I got the day off. I was so tired that I fell asleep on my buddy Kirk's floor--probably looking very much like a beached whale--well, a Killer Whale, because if I was going to be any kind of whale--a Killer one it be! The newest reviews starring the Best Shots Crew will be up at the 'Rama on Monday morning around 9 a.m.-ish. This upcoming week I've decided to tackle:

Incredible Hulk #102 and 52 #35

The Hulk review is my "most brutal" review yet and 52 is more of a story re-cap with some analysis and I might do some mini features (or "pellets" the Best Shots Crew call them) on:

Uncanny X-Men #482
Front Line #10
Jonah Hex #15

Besides those books, I also purchased:
Civil War #6
newuniversal #2
Fantastic Four: The End #4
The Irredeemable Ant-Man #4
Powers #22
Front Line #10
All Star Superman #6
Amazing Spiderman #537
Manhunter #27 (the REAL Blue Beetle was on the cover--discuss.)
Exiles #89

Yes, I know it was a HUGE week--NEXT week is totally lightweight:
52 #36
Green Arrow #70
Justice Society of America #2
Friendly, Neighborhood Spider-Man #16
New Excalibur #15
Thunderbolts #110 (Variant Cover, of course)
Wolverine: Origins #10 (Arthur Suydam cover)

Looks like less than 30 bucks for me next week. Feel free to post up what you're reading or buying from week to week and discuss, discuss, discuss.

So, as promised, I am going to provide you with my little "mini-interview" with Steve Niles, creator of 30 Days of Night--which is being made into a film as we speak, directed by Sam Raimi. Steve was nice enough to answer some little odds and ends for my meager little blog, I like to call it, "Steve meets a more important and famous Steve" or "Oh look, our little baby is all grows up...":

Eks: In my recent review of your book, Criminal Macabre #1 from Dark Horse, I mentioned that some of the imagery was disturbing enough to make me want to sleep with the lights on. What makes you sleep with the light on?

Niles: Zombies lumbering around in the yard.

Eks: No kidding, my friends make fun of my Zombie fixation--because you never know, right? What was the first movie/book/other that set you on your path as a writer? How old were you?

Niles: I was around eleven or twelve. I'd been reading comics my whole life but it was when I read Richard Matheson's I am Legend I realized I wanted to be a writer.

[Short note: If you don't know who Richard Matheson is, click here.]

Eks: What genres or characters would you interested in tackling outside of what you're working on?

Niles: Well, I've done horror, comedy, kid's stuff and superhero. I suppose I'd like to try a straight hard-boiled character--something along the lines of Cal McDonald
[lead character in Criminal Macabre] but without the monsters. I'd also like to do more Science Fiction at some point.

Eks: With the return of Westerns and Romance comics faring so well, what mainstream horror icons seem ripe for revitalization? Who would you call "dibs" on?

Niles: If there weren't so many of them already out there, I'd love to write an on-going Frankenstein series.

Eks: Yeah, the Christopher Lee version from "The Curse of Frankenstein" still gives me the creeps. What's the valuable lesson you had to learn the hard way in your career as a writer?

Niles: To never give up. I almost did a couple of times and now, looking back, I'm very happy I didn't. I kept writing regardless of getting published right away.

I just want to thank Steve Niles one last time for letting me talk to him, if you can pick up Criminal Macabre #1 at your local comic store--it's a lot of fun.

I think that's going to wrap things up for me today--check back from time to time, I may post little things to ruminate over. Feel free to post your remarks or if you happen to be someone from the industry wanting a book reviewed specifically for Best Shots give me an e-mail at!

Thanks again for checking out the Eks Factor!

Listening to: Josh play World of Warcraft, the sounds of battle are making me bloodthirsty!
Reading: Fantastic Four: The End #4 by Alan Davis from Marvel Comics.
DVD to watch: Dungeons and Dragons: The Complete Animated Series
Plans for the day: WoWing it up with my boys. Happy early birthday Betsy!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The "Eks" Marks the Spot

Welcome to the "The Eks Factor", I'm Steve Ekstrom--writer and Pop Culture enthusiast. This blog will contain bi-weekly columns reviewing comics; occasional short interviews with comic industry professionals; commentary on professional wrestling; news about action figures; and an occasional movie, CD, or DVD review. I am currently a member of the "Best Shots" crew on Newsarama reviewing comics on a weekly basis. I am working on a graphic novel for publication within the next year so DO NOT be surprised if I fall a little behind on this Blog. I welcome anyone who appreciates the necessity for open forum and has a discerning, critical eye for any of the mediums discussed here at "The Eks Factor"--enjoy!

Hopefully, my first edition of the Eks Factor will feature an interview with Steve Niles, author of "30 Days of Night" and "Criminal Macabre".

See you soon!

Steve Ekstrom

Listening to: a ceiling fan (people are sleeping)
Reading: "World Wrestling Insanity: The Decline and Fall of a Family Empire" by James Guttman
DVD to watch: A Scanner Darkly
Plans for the day: Comics, Comics, and more Comics!