Personal blog for writer/editor/publisher Renee Witterstaetter-- film and publishing professional as well as agent to actors, media guests, writers and artists via Pros & Cons Celebrity Booking AND Eva Ink Artist Group. Owner of the virtual experience site: happyspacePOPcon.com. In this blog, Renee will post missives and observances for entertainment, as well as keep followers updated on the creative endeavors of both herself and her associates at Pros & Cons and Eva Ink.
Welcome to our blog!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Golden Masterclass in Storytelling News!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Golden and Witterstaetter Join Virginia Comic-Con--Golden named "GOH"
Richmond-- Virginia IS for lovers...of G.I. Joe and Michael Golden artwork that is-- as Golden and his biographer and publisher, Renee Witterstaetter, sign on as a surprise last-minute guests for next weekends Virginia Comic-Con, slated for November 21-22, 2009, with Golden taking a "Guest of Honor" nod to boot!
Golden, a fan favorite for his work on "Micronauts," "G.I.Joe," Batman, Dr. Strange, X-Men, Avengers, and "The 'Nam," among many other projects, has just been added to the line-up just this week, and is a natural for the event's G.I. Joe theme, considering his groundbreaking work on that series.
This will also mark the artist's first appearance in Virginia, in fact. And, to celebrate the fact, Michael will have some special prints and books for the occasion.
During his career, Golden has been an editor at DC Comics as well as senior art director at Marvel Comics, and has worked on numerous movie production projects, including some currently in development.
His art has been the focus of gallery shows in places as diverse as New York, Gijon, Barcelona, Antwerp and Brussels, and his class on storytelling has been conducted in countries including Spain, Brussels, Canada, the United States and China. Golden’s recent work can be seen on the covers of "Heroes for Hire," "Exiles," "Demon’s Regret," "Uncanny X-Men," and Spiderman, among many others. Vanguard Production’s recently released top-selling art retrospective “Excess: The Art of Michael Golden,” written by Renee Witterstaetter, has sold out and has gone into a second printing. This year will also see the release of Golden’s new sketchbook, “MORE Heroes and Villains,” from Eva Ink Publishing-a perfect match for last year’s “Heroes and Villains” sketchbook. (Soon to followed by the sketchbooks, "Dangerous Curves," and "Bad Dog.")
Joining Golden and Witterstaetter in Virginia will be Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Alex Saviuk (Spiderman), Chris Claremont (X-Men), Bill Tucci (Sgt. Rock), Chuck Dixon (Birds of Prey), Kelly Yates (Doctor Who), Jim Calafiore (Exiles), John Gallagher (Buzzboy), Steve Conley (Astounding Space Thrills), Eric Wolfe-Hanson (G.I. Joe), Rick Ketchum (Runaways), James Kuhoric (Army of Darkness), our own J.C. Vaughn (24), Mike McKone (Amazing Spider-Man), Reilly Brown (Cable), Dan Parent (Archie), Randy Green (Witchbalde), Andy Smith (Red Sonja), Steve Bird (Blue Beetle), Rick Spears (Teenagers from Mars), James Callahan (Strange Detective Tales), Louis Small, Jr. (Vampirella), Brian Shearer (Gravyboy), Kevin Sharpe (G.I. Joe), Budd Root (Cavewoman), and Zuda Comics winner Adam Lucas (Goldilock).
Admission is $10 for adults to the November 21-22, 2009 show at the Crowne Plaza West, 6532 W Broad Street in Richmond, VA, but it will be free to anyone in full costume, children, folks with student ID and people with military ID. It will also be free to members of the press.
For more information on Michael Golden, his commission and appearances, contact email@example.com, or check out his facebook listing at:
For more information on the Virginia Comic-Con go to: http://www.vacomicon.com
And Now Something for my Spanish Friends!
«Los superhéroes, como los boxeadores, deben ser los mejores»
«Los cómics no dejan de ser una pequeña película en una dimensión»
RENEE WITTERSTAETTER EDITORA DE LA MARVEL Gijón, Víctor GUILLOT
Renee Witterstaetter nació en el estado de Texas. Fue cronista de boxeo para el «Dallas Morning News», pero su carrera profesional ha destacado como gran editora para la Marvel con «Silver Surfer» o «Conan el Bárbaro». Ha sido la gran maestra de convertir al papel exitosas series de televisión como «Xena», «Hércules» o «Expediente X». Ayer habló para LA NUEVA ESPAÑA.
-Es difícil encontrar una mujer cronista de boxeo que asuma con valentía y eficacia este género periodístico. ¿Cómo fue esa etapa juvenil en el periodismo y cómo influyó después en su trabajo como editora de cómics de superhéroes?
-De pequeña yo era lo que vulgarmente se llama «un marimacho». Me crié junto a mis dos hermanos mayores, que vivían para el boxeo, la doma de caballos y el rodeo. Llegué al periodismo de boxeo gracias a mi profesor de Literatura. Él era un especialista de Shakespeare y también periodista de boxeo y fue quien me animó a continuar en ese mundo. Tuve la oportunidad de entrevistar a Tyson, Foreman o Hollifield. Al igual que este profesor era especialista de Shakespeare, boxeador y periodista, me gustaba extraer la historia personal de los boxeadores, a través de reportajes que abundaban en su vida fuera del ring, ofreciendo una visión del boxeo nueva.
-El boxeo y los superhéroes mantienen una vida dual. En el primer caso, la lucha se mueve por reglas, hay sufrimiento, pero es un sufrimiento limpio. Las puñaladas se las encuentra uno fuera del cuadrilátero. Con los superhéroes sucede lo mismo.
-Estoy completamente de acuerdo. Cuando comencé a leer cómics resultaban atractivos porque los personajes eran muy humanos, con problemas de la vida cotidiana, y al mismo tiempo, debían ejercer la responsabilidad de sus poderes. La dualidad se da en el caso de los deportistas que, como los boxeadores, se han convertido en héroes. No son superhéroes, pero sí personas ordinarias puestas en situaciones extraordinarias que han tenido que conseguir una fuerza extra para llegar a la cima. Un boxeador es un elegido que han escogido por su capacidad en el combate. Se sienten obligados a ser los mejores, casi como superhéroes. Cuando Stan Lee creó los cómics Marvel, entendía que los lectores necesitaban identificarse con los personajes apelando a su lado humano. Eso es lo que yo intenté hacer con mis reportajes.
-Del mismo modo que hay una literatura de boxeo, pienso en F. X. Toole, o Conan Doyle, y también un cine de boxeo: Houston o Eastwood, resulta extraño que no haya un cómic de boxeo.
-El boxeo es un destilado de la vida real y la condición humana y su lucha desempeñada día a día. El espectador, en ese sentido, se siente identificado con el boxeador. Con «Spartan X», el personaje no es un boxeador, pero sí un luchador de artes marciales que, a través de su físico, consigue superar la adversidad. Pienso también en «Dare Devil», cuyo padre fue un boxeador al que le fue arrebatado el éxito y pienso en la película «El niño» de Chaplin. La metáfora del boxeo se aplica al cómic de un modo tangencial.
-Menciona el cómic «Spartan X», el primer caso en el que un actor se convierte en un héroe de cómic, en este caso Jackie Chan.
-La primera película de Jackie Chan que vi, «Operación Cóndor» fue de joven en Chinatown, Nueva York. Quedé hipnotizada porque me pareció que era un superhéroe en carne y hueso. Cuando llegué a casa tuve un sueño muy vívido en el cual me veía a mí misma haciendo un cómic sobre Jackie Chan sentada junto a él. En aquel momento, trabajaba como editora en Marvel junto a mi jefe, al que le gustaban las artes marciales. Le propuse hacer un cómic sobre Chan e inmediatamente después estuve en Hong Kong buscando al actor. La idea a Chang le pareció maravillosa. Ahora estamos trabajando en un volumen que reúna todos los números. He escrito su biografía y un estudio de sus películas. Aquel cómic contribuyó a que Jackie Chan fuera conocido en los EE UU.
-Otros personajes como Xena o Hércules llegan al cómic después de triunfar originalmente como una serie de televisión. Supongo que habrá una serie de limitaciones en la edición que hacen difícil que triunfe.
-Los cómics no dejan de ser una película en una sola dimensión. Como editora estoy encargada de contratar al dibujante, al guionista. Soy la productora de esa película y por lo tanto un control de cómo se va a contar esa idea y ese personaje. Para mí, que un personaje proceda de la televisión no es difícil, porque viene de un lenguaje visual, como lo es también el cómic. El problema más burocrático son las licencias y la imagen de un personaje que está asociado a un actor. Muchos actores tienen derecho de aprobación sobre su imagen. Nos ha sucedido con Hércules o El Zorro. Todo lo que se dibuje sobre su imagen requiere la aprobación de Antonio Banderas.
-Relanzar una figura como She-Hulk, la versión femenina de La Masa, no deja de ser algo complicado, puede ser finalmente una réplica femenina sin mayor trascendencia. Sin embargo no ha sido así.
-Lo que primero busqué fue un artista con una visión particular, impactante. Llamé a John Byrne. Teníamos la misma idea del personaje. Lo que decidimos con She-Hulk fue que tuviera una dirección distinta, y en este caso fue el humor, hasta el punto que logró una personalidad propia. Con personajes tan definidos como Lobezno o Superman, aunque tengan una historia concreta, siempre se pueden contar historias buenas. Es una dificultad, pero yo lo veo como un reto:contar una buena historia.
-Está preparando una antología de entrevistas con los grandes autores del cómic. ¿Qué nos puede adelantar?.
-El DVD se llamará «Creator cronicles». Se trata de conversaciones que intentan conservar la historia del cómic desde sus inicios hasta la actualidad. El primer vídeo es con el maestro George Pérez, y le seguirán otros. Relacionándolo con el principio de esta entrevista, no me interesa sólo hablar de un dibujante, sino también de su vida.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Jackie Chan, King of Kung Fu Comedy!--Quotes from Witterstaetter
LONDON, England (CNN) -- He's the butt-kicking, karate-chopping, kung fu superstar who rose from nowhere to conquer Hollywood in a spectacularly visual style.
Action star Jackie Chan celebrates winning Best Actor at the 25th China Golden Rooster in 2005
With his compact but wiry 5-foot, 9-inch frame, Jackie Chan seems to pale into insignificance when compared with muscle-bound Hollywood tough guys such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
But combining extraordinary athleticism and an acrobatic style, Chan could probably take them both on in a fight and emerge victorious.
Best known to western audiences as star of the Rush Hour trilogy, Chan is a prolific actor who has made more than 100 films spanning three decades.
But success did not come easy for Chan, who made a string of flops in the early 1970s in Asia.
He struggled for years to break out of the shadow of Bruce Lee, the undisputed kung fu king of the time -- even appearing as a stuntman in two of Lee's films.
But in 1978, Chan landed his first hit in Asia with "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow." This was quickly followed by "Drunken Master," which catapulted him to fame, and he suddenly became one of the highest-paid actors in the industry.
Chan is credited with creating a new film art form, with his comedic take on martial arts, reminiscent of Buster Keaton's slapstick style.
"He totally reinvented Hong Kong cinema," said Renee Witterstaetter, author of "Dying For Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan."
"He created a new film art form, mixing humor with martial arts," Witterstaetter said. "It was so different and unique."
Although a household name in his native Hong Kong and most of Asia, Hollywood seemed largely oblivious to his talents.
It was not until 1994 when he made "Rumble in the Bronx," which grossed $10 million in its opening weekend and made it to number one at the U.S. box office, that Chan finally cracked Hollywood.
Soon big-budget hits such as the "Rush Hour" series and "Shanghai Noon," followed.
"Rush Hour" was Chan's first movie to break $100 million at the U.S. box office, earning $141 million, according to the box office tracking Web site, Box Office Mojo. "Rush Hour 2" made $226 million and "Rush Hour 3" has earned $137 million so far.
His current cinematic venture sees him paired with longtime friend Jet Li in "The Forbidden Kingdom" in their first movie collaboration. Set in a mythic, ancient China, it is described as "The Wizard of Oz with lots of martial arts."
The martial arts dream team have already seen "Kingdom" debut at No. 1 with $20.9 million in ticket sales last weekend, but Chan says the reason it took him so long to work with Jet Li is because he didn't like the Hollywood scripts they were initially offered.
Chan, 54, is also quite candid about the fact that he doesn't like most of the Hollywood films he has made. He revealed to CNN: "I didn't really like 'Rush Hour.' In America, everyone likes 'Rush Hour,' but in Asia nobody likes it.
"They like talking too much in America but in Asia they like to fight more in the films."
After the film wrapped in 1998, he wrote on his Web site: "When we finished filming, I was very disappointed because it was a movie I didn't appreciate and I did not like the action scenes involved.
"I felt the style of action was too Americanized and I didn't understand the American humor."
Chan has certainly come a long way from his impoverished childhood in Hong Kong, where the story has it that his parents were so poor, they nearly sold him to a British doctor for less than $100.
However, his parents instead enrolled him at the China Drama Academy, a talent school of hard knocks with a draconian regime that included training in music, acrobatics and martial arts that lasted 18 hours a day. Beatings were commonplace.
Children were made to perform headstands for hours on end and Chan describes being forced to run, arms outstretched, carrying two full cups of water, with strict instructions not to spill a drop. With his parents now living in Australia, Chan stayed at the school for ten years and was adopted by his Master.
Undoubtedly, the academy's grueling regime would later stand Chan in good stead, turning him into an incredibly driven and disciplined stuntman turned actor, who always choreographs and performs his own stunts.
As a consequence, no insurance company will underwrite Chan's productions, which are legendary for his death-defying super stunts. They include water-skiing barefoot behind a speeding hovercraft, jumping off a building and swinging from a hot air balloon.
Chan holds the Guinness World Record for "Most Stunts By A Living Actor."
He also holds the record for the most number of takes for a single shot in a film, having shot over 2900 retakes for a complex scene involving a badminton game in "Dragon Lord."
Unsurprisingly, Chan has suffered a litany of injuries in the course of his film career. Over the years, he has dislocated his pelvis and broken his fingers, toes, nose, both cheekbones, hips, sternum, neck and ribs on numerous occasions.
When filming "Police Story" in 1985, he suffered second-degree burns to his hands and palms after sliding 100 feet down a pole festooned in Christmas lights.
Many of the injuries have appeared, in eye-watering viewing, as outtakes or bloopers during the closing credits of his films.
But in 1986, he came close to death while filming "Armor of God," when he fell 45 feet from a tree and fractured his skull, leaving a permanent hole in his head.
Chan explained to CNN's TalkAsia host, Anjali Rao that he never insists on doing his own stunts. It's just the way things are done in Hong Kong.
"Making a film in Hong Kong in the old days was not like Hollywood," he says.
"We didn't have protection like elbow pads and we didn't have the knowledge about safety. I had to risk my life jumping from building to building."
Chan is a one-man movie-making machine. He has his own production and distribution company -- Jackie Chan Emperor Movies -- and controls all aspects of the movie-making process, from casting to directing, producing, screenwriting, choreographing and stunt coordinating. He even has his own stunt team and casting agency.
His director on the Rush Hour series, Brett Ratner told CNN's The Screening Room that Chan's versatility gives him the edge over other martial arts stars like Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
"Jackie is the most gifted actor of the three because he has the most range. Bruce Lee is a legendary performer and martial artist, but I don't think he is as funny as Jackie Chan.
"Jackie can be funny, he can be dramatic, he can do the action and the stunts, he can direct, edit, shoot. He is also a stunt coordinator so he is everything wrapped into one."
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Monday, November 9, 2009
Another Brick in the Wall!
Germany--It was shortly after leaving DC, only a few months into my job at Marvel, and my writing partner from Texas, Dr. Lawrence McNamee made an offer I couldn't refuse--a trip to Germany to cover the Passionspiel in Oberammergau...
In short, what you need to know about the Passionspiel is that the whole little Bavarian town, not too far from Munich, invests itself into creating the most elaborate Passion Play on record--the whole town seems to be part of it from the "Virgin Mary" down to the sheep. It really is a spectacle....
Doc had been here before. But not for the Passionspiel. It was something called World War II.
Doc had an amazing past...part of which was being a pugilist in his younger years growing up in the coal mining town of Pittsburgh, part of which was being a translator in Germany during the Nuremberg Trials, being Lindbergh's translator when he was in Germany, interrogating people like Mesherschmidt... in short, he had an amazing life. I'm not even getting into his years of being a Shakespeare professor and German teacher.
During those years in Germany during and after the war, he made many friends--German and otherwise. In fact, the lady we stayed with in Oberammergau was Eliza Krietmeir, a renowned children's illustrator and artist at the time. Doc first met her when she was less than 10 years old, after the war, when he was investigating in the town for evidence for Nuremberg. Her family befriended him--shared their coffee, chocolate, and hospitality with him--the first two like gold in post war Germany, you have to understand. Doc never forgot them. Long after the war was over, for nearly a decade, he would send care packages to Eliza's family--chocolate, coffee--you get the idea.
Eliza never forgot it. In fact, she told me that it was his kindness in part that helped them survive. That she might not have if not for him. It was amazing seeing the two of them sitting on the carved wooden bench of her Bavarian chalet...talking about old times...
Berlin was just as amazing to me. What I remember most on first arriving there via train from Bavaria, were the flea markets everywhere--most black market--most selling Russian military goods. I picked up a great leather case that I later gave Michael Golden, and an amazing knife...and the usual military emblems, etc...whatever could be sold, WAS being sold, and folks from the former east and west mingled amongst the treasure.
At what use to be that border between east and west, Doc's old friend Bernard met us with his car... it was a rare occasion for him as well. For decades, he could not even afford a car, or wasn't given the option to buy one when he could.. much less ever cross the border. Bernard took us to his home, where his wife prepared a lunch of meat and cheese for us--they were so proud of these staple items...something they hardly ever were able to give guests in the past.
Hearing them talk about the pre- fall days was eye opening--lines around the block to buy tomatoes, 10 year waits to buy a car, people separated from their families for years with hardly any way to communicate...the joy of people running across the border when the wall came down...
It certainly did make me appreciate my country...the things we take for granted every day, the amount of things we waste that are like treasure to someone in a less affluent situation. Which is probably the lesson Doc wanted me to learn when he gave me the assignment, now that I think of it.
He was always that way. Mentor to the end.
I still see him, even though he's been gone several years now. The dry witt, the mischievous glint in his eye, the rumpled clothes that could do with a good pressing, the ever present Pittsburgh Pirate hat...the one George Foreman teased him about all the time on our boxing assignments...and I thank him for this particular singular experience.
Sometimes we only look back at these times in our lives with REAL clarity when we are older. The sadness of youth, and the advantage of age, if you will... But, looking back now, I know clearly that this moment in MY history, coinciding with this particular VERY important moment in history, really did make me appreciate even more my friend Doc. His open-mindedness, his service in the war, his ability to forge bridges over cultural gaps and establish lasting friendships based on nothing but the fact that we are all part of...well... humanity!
There are lessons to be learned there...
Borders and fences and ideology aside, THAT is what is important in the end.