The Japanese Beetle!
The Japanese Beetle! for March 29, 2004
Strips:  Archives | World Famous Comics
Goodies:  Desktop Patterns | How A Strip Is Made
Discussion:  Message Board
March 29, 2004
Had a good, productive weekend. And I probably won't have anything to add to that for a couple of days at least. Anyway, as a treat for you long-time readers, here's a quick guide to how a strip is made. Just a warning - it's full of large (200+K) image files that may download slowly.

Music: "Bring Me My Bride", A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

April 01, 2004
Okay, here's the strip for April 1st... Sorry it took so long. For some reason, I keep churning out strips like clockwork early in the week, but on Wednesdays I just can't bring myself to draw. Something will have to be done.

I also have most of a strip done for Friday, but I need to finish inking and scanning it. And before that, I need to rest my aching hand. So expect to see that as a double strip here around 6:00 AM or so, along with my thoughts on the Hellboy movie.

April 02, 2004
...and there's part two.

Anyway, as many of you probably know, I went to see a preview of the Hellboy movie on Tuesday. And, I'm sad to report that while it's not a bad movie, it's not a good movie either.

Part of the problem is that they've tried to cram too much into the movie. There's a handful of villains and about twice as many BPRD agents - the original Hellboy worked because it really only focused on three or four characters, who could be explored in some depth. Some of the film's characters are reduced to ciphers, especially the women - Liz Sherman doesn't do anything except get tormented by Rasputin, and Ilsa Haupstein is barely in the movie - she's just there so they have a female bad guy. At the end of the film, a whole bunch of new characters are introduced only to get killed off very quickly, and one of the main characters is completely ignored until after the credits.

Likewise, there are too many subplots. Agent Myers is stealing Hellboy's girlfriend! Hellboy is going to destroy the world! Hellboy is too rash and impulsive! Freaks have to stick together! Any one of those themes could make an interesting movie. But cramming them all into one film is just distracting. In the end, del Toro resorts to hammering home the central subplots with extraneous narration.

The actual plot is no great shakes, either. It relies too much on an omniscient villain who can predict the heroes' actions far in advance, which is always a bad sign. And the pacing is pretty bad - there are about two fight scenes too many, especially early on. For that matter, the second and third fight scenes are really almost identical - Hellboy fighting frog demons in the sewers and subway.

To its credit, the movie does look a lot like Hellboy. The colors, costuming and set design are very evocative, and Hellboy and Abe Sapien are special effects masterpieces. But while the movie captures the look of Hellboy it never really captures the feel of Hellboy. It's all too mundane and reality-based, as if Hellboy were just an exotic mutant on loan from the X-Men. The comics succeed partly by creating a wildly unreal world and drawing you into it; the movie tries to port the same characters into a more realistic world and fails.

Some of the acting is pretty good - Ron Perlman and Jeffrey Tambor do pretty well in their roles, as do David Hyde-Pierce and John Hurt. Other actors don't fare so well - Rupert Evans is unfortunately bland, and Selma Blair is practically unwatchable.

The movie does succeed at being a fairly decent action-adventure fick with horror overtones. So if you're in the mood to see some frog monsters blow up, it might not be a bad investment. Just realize that you're getting Blade II and not Hellboy.

Music: Bowling For Soup, "Emily"

The Japanese Beetle and all related characters are copyright ©1998-2004 by Dave "The Knave" White. All rights reserved. Any passing resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental except when it isn't. Really, we swear. Please don't sue us. Published on line by 741.5 Comics.