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Site of the Week – ComicMix

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Who knew that screen legend Paul Newman once starred in a comic book movie? It was Road to Perdition, which also starred Tom Hanks and was based on a graphic novel by Max Allen Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. Not only have comic books become increasingly popular source material for Hollywood films, but there’s been a lot more crossover from comic book creators and artists into the movie world. And how can the curious reader/viewer stay up-to-date on all the action — and get intelligent comic book news and even actual comics to boot? The answer is ComicMix, a site started in 2006 by Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman and Brian Alvey, who bill themselves as “longtime comic professionals, fans, early adopters and computer nerds.”

As the name says, it’s a mix. “We do a little bit of everything. Not
only do we do comics, but we also cover comics news. We cover a lot of
commentary about the field itself. And we try to also cover all the
different types of comics and related stuff that’s out there,” says
Hauman, the site’s vice president, operations and production manager,
who read his first comics at the age of three. ComicMix has
run about a dozen different series — from science fiction and fantasy
to biography and horror and other genres — such as GrimJack, the main
character of a comic book first published in 1984 now serialized on the
site in GrimJack: The Manx Cat. They’ve used GrimJack “to
tell any type of story we can get away with,” Hauman notes, and it’s a
good example of the site’s goal of featuring “cutting-edge” comics that
don’t just rehash what’s already been done. Coming at the end of
October is a series by the actor Mark Ryan (Transformers, The Prestige) called The Pilgrim
— a “World War Two horror espionage that goes up to the present day,”
according to Hauman. Also upcoming is a new series by Timothy Truman,
who’s best known for the GrimJack, Scout and Hawkworld comics.

The site sees jumps in traffic when its posts intersect with
real-world happenings. One of the most popular was a post detailing the
favorite superhero of erstwhile presidential candidate Ron Paul (back
when he was still in the race), including the specific comic book story
and issue: Baruch Wane, aka Batman, in The Batman Chronicles. Columnist Dennis O’Neil — who wrote some of the most famous Green Lantern stories — scored big too with a post explaining the Green Lantern
Theory of Geopolitics (in response to a political blogger who
referenced the theory in relation to the Bush administration). Lists
are also a favorite, like “The Worst Movies Adapted From Comic Books”
(think Ghost Rider and Catwoman) and “11 Batman Stories to Read Before Watching The Dark Knight.”

The crossover between the comics and Hollywood seems like an epidemic. Changeling,
a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie that’s
coming out later this fall, was written by J. Michael Straczynski, who
created Babylon 5 but got his start writing comic books like Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. Comic book artists like Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce heavily influenced The Matrix when they were hired to help create the movie’s look. And check out the promotional posters for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (due out next year) with their shot-for-shot similarity to posters from the original comic book series (all detailed in a ComicMix
post, naturally). Comic books are so often mined for movies because
“they’re incredible visual storytelling devices. It happens to be a
storytelling medium that incorporates a lot of pictures,” Hauman
explains, and “the special effects have finally gotten to a point where
you can show a convincing Spider-Man on-screen.”

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