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The Cages get into that voodoo spirit

July 31, 2007|Jevon Phillips | Times Staff Writer

He's portrayed a comic book character ("Ghost Rider") and a writer ("Adaptation"), and now he's taking his kid along for a new adventure that combines the two roles.

Nicolas Cage and his son, Weston, 16, are the latest in a long line of celebrities delving into the pages of the comic book industry. Rosario Dawson, directors John Woo and Guy Ritchie, Cyndi Margolis, Rob Zombie, Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) and, most recently, porn star Jenna Jameson are just a few of the celebrities who have either created or lent their name (or likeness) to a comic book property. Hollywood writers-creators such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon are also helping to blur the line between the film and comic book mediums.

Backstage during the pop culture convention that ran Thursday through Sunday in San Diego, Cage spoke about his longtime obsession with comics and working with his son to produce their new comic book, "Voodoo Child."

"I've always enjoyed comics as an art form. If you have an idea, and you want to get it out there to the people -- create a comic book," Cage said. "It was exciting to work with Weston on this. We trust each other and we have a mutual respect for each other, and you need that when working on any project."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday August 02, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Bejeweled weaponry: An article in Tuesday's Calendar section about Comic-Con collectibles misspelled the name of the cartoon character from "ThunderCats": It is Lion-O, not Lionel.

The Cages' comic book centers on an interracial adolescent boy resurrected a hundred years after being killed in a hate crime in New Orleans. The book touches on issues of racism, religion and even post-Katrina politics.

The main character, Gabriel, becomes a super(natural) hero, though he is, according to writer Mike Carey, "a living shadow." Plans are in motion to bring the comic book to the big screen as soon as possible, under the banner of Cage's Saturn Films.

Spotlight on a comic character

Judd Apatow, the mayor of comedy, wants the world to know about stand-up comedian Charlyne Yi. Why else invite Yi onstage for Sony's "Superbad" panel in front of a room full of 6,000 fans and media? She's not even in "Superbad."

And unless the personal practices of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank were the inspiration, being "Superbad" costar Michael Cera's girlfriend alone wouldn't seem relevant enough to earn Yi a spot on the overflow dais, alongside Apatow regulars Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, producer Shauna Robertson and newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse. (Although Yi did have a memorable part as a stoner in Apatow's "Knocked Up.")

Her surprise appearance must be because Yi is gut-bustingly funny, and Comic-Con's massive Hall H is the perfect venue, not only to launch new movies but also new stars. And Apatow is nothing if not loyal to his comedy coterie.

But unlike the hot, straight-woman foils Apatow usually casts against his slobby leads, Yi is straight out of Apatow's "geeks rule" school of comedy, with her dark glasses, shy smile, bewildered stares and awkward snorts.

Only helping to grease the wheels of Yi's often-speechless, spastic comedy on Saturday was a rich rotation of Cera's swanning female fans who made marriage proposals and offered reproductive services during a side-splitting Q&A.

After each absurd Cera fan question, Apatow -- the embodiment of a stern camp counselor, mixed with a little Bill Murray as Herman Blume in "Rushmore" -- would toss it over to Cera's real-life girlfriend and say, "What do you think about that?"

She stammered, smiled and choked on her words like an eighth-grade algebra whiz tossed into a parliamentary debate. Her guffawing, wide-eyed surprise and garbled innocence flipped the room every time.

It was as if Apatow was the cannon, Yi was the human cannonball, the crowd was their net and they landed every launch. (Cera wasn't too shabby on the spot either.)

BET as a source for ... animation?

Black Entertainment Television is not known as a popular source for animated programs, but the network is trying to change that with releases it unveiled over the weekend that will feature the voices of actors Vin Diesel and Orlando Jones.

Announced last year, Diesel's "Hannibal the Conqueror," the story of the African king of Carthage famous for crossing the Alps with a herd of elephants, has a release date of February 2008.

And "BUFU," an animated sketch comedy show, comes from the minds of comedian Jones and "Everybody Hates Chris" creator Ali LeRoi.

With a slate of 16 new shows coming out on varying dates, BET President of Entertainment Reginald Hudlin says the network is set to release "the biggest array of black programming ever."

In the market for collectibles

The media coverage of Comic-Con focuses on the Hollywood stories and costumed fans, but for most fans it's the ultimate bazaar of the bizarre and the name of the game is shopping. Here are some of curious items spotted on the merchant floor:

• Life-sized bust of Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800, $550. It shows our honorable governor but with half the flesh on his face blown off, revealing his cyborg skull and a glowing red eye.

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