16 February 2010

LOGAN'S RUN: Journey...or Destination? PLUS: William F. Nolan Signs in Portland Tomorrow!!

"Sometime in the 23rd century...the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside..." 

If those words strangely compel you to slip into a skin-tight black jumpsuit and go for a jog like the one we just got back from, then you're either a fan of Logan's Run or just really, really weird.  Oddly enough, either notion's appropriate, considering that Logan's Run creator William F. Nolan's idea for the 1967 novel he co-wrote came from a presentation he gave for Twilight Zone writer Charles Beaumont's science fiction class at UCLA in 1963.

Nearly fifty years later, Nolan's protagonist Logan is poised for not just a new 'run,' but potentially a marathon.   One leg of this futuristic race will happen just 24 hours from now, when Portland-based comics retailer Things From Another World (TFAW) hosts a special in-store event with Nolan himself.  If you're in the area, abbracadabbling your way over to TFAW's Portland location to meet the legendary science fiction author and geek his signature would be a very worthy way to spend the afternoon, we think.  Get your directions to TFAW and the event's 411 right HERE.
While Nolan and co-author George Clayton Johnson's milestone science fiction novel was published while Star Trek was airing on television,  Logan's Run's influence on science fiction  was most directly felt thanks to the 1976 MGM movie adaptation starring Michael York. The  movie version did alter several facets of the book before it was brought to the big screen, but the essence remained the same.  The story follows the adventures of Logan 3, a “Sandman” charged with hunting those who flee rather than surrender themselves to “sleep.” A jewel embedded in each person's hand at birth changes colors every seven years, marking the stages of life, until it turns black after 21 years -- one's lastday. As Logan himself nears the completion of his allotted years, he begins to hear whispers of a place called Sanctuary where runners can escape the Sandmen and the obligation of Sleep. Logan resolves to use his lastday to find Sanctuary and destroy it... but of course doubts cloud the way.

The movie's popularity also spawned a short-lived Logan's Run television series, an ongoing comic strip published in the United Kingdom, and an equally short-lived comic book series published in 1977 by Marvel Comics here at home.  (Logan's Run was also attempted unsuccessfully a few years later by former publisher Malibu Comics).

But now Nolan and Logan's Run are back in comics - and going strong.  Although Nolan himself was a comic book writer by trade, having worked before his novel years for Whitman Comics, a division of Walt Disney, writing Mickey Mouse stories, he's not the chief scribe behind Logan's latest comic incarnation. Instead, he's licensed his creation to Vancouver, Washington-based Bluewater Productions, who developed the idea for a new the ongoing series, Logan's Run: Lastday, written by Paul J. Salamoff with art by Daniel Gete.

Lastday's first issue hit shelves in late 2009, but what ever additions to the post-apocalyptic world of  Logan's Run the comic may make, it's Daniel Gete's new costume designs for the series - like the new look for the stormtrooper-esque Sandmen - that are of particularly important to Nolan.

Under his arrangement with Bluewater, Nolan has approval of all story and design elements for the new Logan's Run series.  While many creators would want such an agreement to ensure  their visions aren't somehow terribly disfigured by other creators, Nolan's control is of greater significance.

While he hasn't directly stated why the 'look' of his new Logan's Run comic is so important, Nolan did tell Comic Book Resources last summer that part of his reason to get Logan back in the the fan boy public eye was to push Warner Bros along on their much-delayed Logan's Run movie remake.  Warner's optioned Logan's Run twelve years ago, with seven writers and four directors having been attached to the project since. More recently, Joel Silver has been named as the film's producer, but Logan's Run is just one of a dozen-plus films Silver appears to have on his plate for the next several years. Even so, and with Bluewater's help,  Nolan's trying his best to 're-energize' Logan's Run so that the race his character began a half-century ago will finally find a suitable finish line.  

Bluewater Productions has built most of their comics lines around properties like Logan's Run.  Aside from their biographically-slanted titles Female Force and Political Power, their most popular books include Ray Harryhausen Presents, William Shatner Presents, Vincent Price Presents, and Legend Film's Plan 9 From Outer Space.   So, for Logan's Run to find new and deserved life in comic book form - especially at Bluewater Productions - is a fitting realization for an older yet still-resonant science fiction property.

Yet unlike their other creator-licensed titles (with the possible exception of William Shatner's), Nolan's involvement with comic books seems primarily motivated by his feature film aspirations.  To us, this brings up an entirely new matter of debate - namely, comic books not being an end unto themselves, but simply as a potential marketing vehicle that exists only as material for an eventual Hollywood pitch.

It's the hope of any creator - writer or artist - that their work might one day reach today's highest pinnacle of media success and become the next summer blockbuster, but few (Radical Publishing's The Last Days of American Crime being one) have been positioned like Nolan's new Logan's Run series.  Despite the intentions and the comic's purpose for Nolan, a comic book's purpose is to entertain -- and to the extent Salamoff and Gete's Last Day does, we think, should be the sole reason to support the series or judge it by.  Beyond that, our jury's still out, and only two things are certain. (1) You can bet your Nike's that we'll be returning to this topic in a later blog and (2) if there's any good reason to find yourself at Things From Another World's event with William F. Nolan tomorrow, it'd be to address this very question with the author himself.

If we're not on the blog tomorrow, you'll know exactly where we are. 
Our love of science fiction and graphic design's wave of minimalism meant we had to share this fantastically redesigned Logan's Run movie poster by Tom Muller.  Muller included the piece as part of the Now Showing exhibition at London's Cosh Gallery. Although it ain't cheap, Muller's Logan's Run has been made available as a 50 cm x 70 cm Giclée print on Da Vinci Archival Art Paper in a limited edition of 25 , offered by Wear It With Pride on their site HERE.  And you can check out more of Muller's sweet designs on his website, HERE.

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