Blogs > Tuned in to Pop Culture

They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

'Parker' graphic novels library grows

Darwyn Cooke's successful run of "Parker" graphic novels recently hit No. 4 with the release of "Slayground."

Never heard of Parker? Actor Jason Statham played the character in the 2013 film "Parker," with Jennifer Lopez as did Mel Gibson in 1999's "Payback," although his character went by the name "Porter." The films are fun and get a recommend from this corner.

In 1962, Author Donald Westlake created Parker, a career criminal who only steals from those who can afford it and never murders anyone who doesn't deserve it, under the pseudonym Richard Stark. Westlake wrote more than 20 novels about Parker, and Cooke has followed up with a series of beautifully illustrated graphic novels, beginning with "The Hunter" in 2009.

Since then, Cooke followed up with "The Outfit" in 2010, "The Score" in 2012 and his most recent effort, "Slayground," released in December 2013.

Cooke is the writer and illustrator of the graphic novels, and the style is set in the 1960s. The artwork will win you over with each installment. "Slayground" is shortest of the Coo'e's collection - 97 pages to be exact, and it's the weakest of the four, but considering the strength of the previous three, it's a solid book nonetheless.

In "Slayground," Parker again finds himself in a bit of mess after a heist goes awry and he finds himself hiding out in an amusement park closed for the winter. Hijinks ensue, and there's never a dull moment with Parker.

If you're late following the exploits of "Parker," here's my recommendation: Pick up a copy of "The Hunter" (you won't be disappointed) and mix and match after that. Cooke is releasing an updated version of "The Hunter" with more illustrations on May 27, and plans on continuing Parker's adventures with future graphic novels.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 summer films I'm excited about

While moviegoers wait for the summer of 2015 (Star Wars VII, Avengers 2 anyone?), we'll have to nibble on 2014 appetizers. It might be an underrated collection of summer films after all is said and done.

As a group, it's not overly impressive, but there's a few that have a chance to impress. Here's a list by yours truly of five summer films to be excited about, from 5 to 1:

5. "22 Jump Street" (June 13) - The original, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as undercover cops who return to high school, was a laugh-a-minute riot. Both are back for "22," but the trick is if the duo reclaim the magic. Instead of high school, Tatum and Hill graduate to college. 

4. "Godzilla" (May 16) - The 1954 original was classic movie nostalgia, but the 1998 remake starring Matthew Broderick was unwatchable at times. This time, the classic Godzilla roar is back, and hopefully some of the magic of the original. The cast of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass, Kick Ass 2) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is interesting, but ultimately it will be the script and the King of the Monsters that will be the difference.

3. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (July 11) - It's predecessor, 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," was one of Hollywood's most pleasant surprises in years. It was excellent. "Dawn" takes place eight years after "Rises" as human survivors of a virus plan to rise up and defeat Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his simian army. Gary Oldman headlines the cast, and that's never a bad thing for a film.

2. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (May 2) - I liked, didn't love, the 2012 reboot with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, most because the origin storyline didn't deliver for me. Garfield and Stone are back, and we will be introduced to new Jamie Foxx (Electro) and Dane DeHaan, who appears to be the Green Goblin. Spider-Man is near to my heart since I was a youth, and that's mostly why TAS2 is No. 2 for me. I'm hopeful it delivers.

1. "Guardians of the Galaxy" (Aug. 1) - Admittedly, I know nothing about these Marvel characters, but I was instantly hooked by the trailer. It's strange-looking, but something tells me Marvel's magic touch will pull this off. Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana are the headliners, but there's a giant walking tree and gun-crazed raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. I'm in!

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo