• Tag Archives autobiography
  • Canister X Book Review #4: The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera by Mike Philbin

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    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera
    by Mike Philbin
    3 out of 5

    For over a decade Hertzan Chimera terrorized the online writing world both with his brutal brand of fiction and his brutal personality. That was until August 2004, when Mike Philbin, Chimera’s secret identity, killed off the fictional writer and decided to write under his real name. Which leads us to The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera, Philbin’s much-delayed autobiography on his literary creation.

    In short, The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera is basically divided up into two halves, the first being a history on Chimera and how he came to be, the last being a series of interviews where Chimera acts as both interviewer and interviewee.

    The reason this reviewer picked up the book was more so not because I was a fan of Chimera’s work—I had only read a handful of short stories; I will state that based on what I read, I enjoyed Chimera’s writing and was more than impressed with his insane amount of creativity—but because I was interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at what most would consider a demented psyche. But I was only partially satisfied in my quest. The first half of the book gave insight into Chimera’s childhood, who he was and how he came to be, which was interesting but wasn’t really explored in the detail I had hoped. After each section I was left wanting a little bit more. But this is also coming from a guy who enjoys long-winded fiction and detailed explanations so it could be just me.

    The latter half, the interviews, left me cold, I’m afraid. The ones where Chimera himself was being interviewed were fine and had a place in the book, but the ones where he was interviewer read more like filler than needed information. As I read the interviews, one of the biggest things I kept waiting/hoping for was an explanation for Chimera’s distaste with the current state of horror and, more importantly, his hatred for the mass market press. Though these were explained, they were explained briefly and I was hoping for something more in depth, a more thorough argument about horror being a lost art and all that’s left is cookie cutter fiction.

    On the whole, I would recommend this book to those looking for a glimpse into the mind of Chimera and what made him tick. What I am looking forward to, however, is where Mike Philbin is headed now that he’s free of Chimera and is able to just be himself without always putting on a show. That, of course, is the secret to any great writing: honesty.

    Soon Philbin will have his day.


  • Canister X Movie Review #92: Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood (2009)

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    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood (2009)
    Written by Zack Snyder and Alex Tse
    Directed by Daniel DelPurgatorio and Mike Smith
    Runtime 26 min.
    4 out of 5

    The DVD contains two features: Tales of the Black Freighter, an animated adaptation of that oh-so-bloody pirate comic embedded in the overall Watchmen strip (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), and Under the Hood, a TV show interview with Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie) about his bestselling, tell-all autobiography regarding his time as the original Nite-Owl during the first superhero boom of the late ’30s/early ’40s.

     

    Tales of the Black Freighter was remarkable, grisly, and just plain cool. Even if you don’t like pirate stories, it’s guaranteed you’ll dig this. It’s a story about survival, the need to save others and the consequences of choosing that path, and what might happen to a man who becomes so obsessed with an ideal that he runs the risk of distorting reality completely.

     

    Under the Hood was equally well done. Done as a “look back” magazine television show—complete with commercial breaks using products from the Watchmen graphic novel—it explores the origin of the superhero fraternity through the very realistic eyes and humble spirit of Hollis Mason. You forget that it’s fiction quite easily and the segment also has that nostalgic feel of the Watchmen movie.

     

    Also included is the very cool motion comic of the first chapter of the Watchmen graphic novel. This was just plain cool and the animation was far more than I expected. Thought I was only going to get a few sliding frames ala some anime segments but instead got a lot of animation for each panel of the graphic novel. In fact, this segment alone sold me on getting the whole graphic novel animated DVD. Likewise, you also get a behind-the-scenes featurette on the back stories that are Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood and what they mean to the overall Watchmen experience.

    The reason I gave it four stars instead of five is solely because five stars means I’ve been blown away and, well, the Watchmen theatrical film already did that and this isn’t quite as good. It’s my hope, however, that on the Watchmen director’s cut they splice in Tales of the Black Freighter as shown above. Very cool. They shot all the newsstand scenes with the kid reading the comic book for it anyway so might as well use them.

    Recommended.