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§ Nice Art: Yes I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, rehydrating, playing Pokémon Go, eating food I like, lying down. That’s what us comics folk do at this time of year. But I’m back, and we’ve got feral hogs, because the world is just so dadblamed nutty that just reading a funny phrase like “30-50 feral hogs” is something to seize on to make us remember what it was like to laugh and lie down. Anyway, You can choose your favorite meme but I’ll go with Francesco Francavilla’s take as an Italian horror movie, which might just be the most appropriate version of all.

§ On a more serious note, Jeremy Sorese, the brilliant cartoonist behind Curveball, was injured in a nightmare assault: a mentally ill man pushed Sorese onto the subway tracks, breaking his hip and injuring his arm.  It happened at the Broadway-Lafayette station — a spot I’ve only been to about 1,000 times. A fund has been set up to help Sorese with his medical bills  and it’s already reached its goal, but I’m sure more would be appreciated.

§ In my big San Diego wrap-up I wondered who still gets sit down one-on-one interviews with casts. I guess Collider does, and more power to ’em!

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Image: Seaport San Diego

§ Speaking of San Diego, you think downtown is crazy now, get a load of this proposed SEA TOWER that would turn that sleepy old Seaport Village area into some kind of Ursula K. LeGuin fantasy land.

A jaw-dropping symbol of change for the bayfront area that makes up downtown’s Central Embarcadero, the 500-foot tower is being heralded by developer 1HWY1 as the architectural focal point of its massive $2.4 billion Seaport San Diego project. Its location, where the bay ends and Pacific Highway begins, makes it geographically significant as well.

The full redevelopment effort encompasses 70 acres of land and water along Harbor Drive and is currently in the initial planning stages. Its program envisions a total of 2,050 hotel rooms spread across different properties, including 385 rooms in the base of the tower. Also proposed is a 170,822-square-foot aquarium, a 110,247-square-foot event center, 261,411 square feet of retail space, and 159,454 of office space reserved for ocean research-related enterprises.

More than 2,000 more hotel rooms! None would go wanting in this proposed Minas San Diego setting.

Spectacular as it is, the tower faces many hurdles, including one former commissioner who calls it “a striking affront to coastal norms.” The California Coastal Commission has a policy against high rises on the coast — a policy that downtown San Diego is exempt from — but this tower would still stretch the boundaries of what’s allowed.

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Image: Manchester Pacific Gateway

§ And yet one more San Diego real estate note. Although the sea tower will probably never see fruition, there is another development underway along the waterfront, the long delayed Manchester Pacific Gateway,  a $1.5 billion development that will includes offices and — yes — hotel rooms, as the SD Union Trib reports:

The 3-million-square-foot project, which occupies eight city blocks, calls for multiple office towers, including a 17-story, 372,000-square-foot Navy headquarters; an 1,100-room convention hotel; a retail-lined “paseo;” and a museum on more than 12 acres south of Broadway between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive. Although Manchester, former publisher of the U-T, won a 99-year lease in 2006 to build out his project in return for building what will be a new $165 million Navy headquarters building, the mammoth development has been dogged by multiple lawsuits, which in turn made it almost impossible to obtain needed financing.

The project is owned by Doug Manchester who also owns the Hyatt. While expanding the convention center remains stalled for now, there is still plenty of building going on in downtown San Diego. I imagine that by the time SDCC 55 rolls around this will be the hot place to stay. And as a bonus, there is plenty of room for feral hogs to roam.

§ What is the deal with The Joker, Todd Phillips’ auteur-ish film about the killer clown? According to some insiders, a desire not to show any footage of the prestige film to fanfolks was behind Warner withdrawing from their traditional Saturday morning spot in Hall H. And given how it is being positioned, I can see why. With screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, it is clearly being slotted as a serious, prestige, Oscar calibre film. And now Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF, is starting to get that quality buzz going. In an interview about  TIFF with the Toronto Sun he had a lot to say about The Joker:

You mentioned Joker earlier. It’s going to be a Gala. Can you talk about the decision to give a comic book movie that prestigious screening slot?

First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived. But it has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then. It’s gritty in its look. It has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That’s why it’s a Gala.

Oh boy. While the trailer does give a bit of a vibe of Shakes the Clown as directed by Scorsese, on reflection, wasn’t Shakes the Clown already the clown movie that Scorsese might have made? This Joker definitely wanders around under the Manhattan Bridge and yells “Are you laughin’ at me?” while Rupert Pupkin looks on. And isn’t it time that superhero movies finally had a “a cinematic achievement on a high level” unlike all those other crappy movies that people quote and rewatch all the time?

Evidently, I still haven’t laid down enough to know what to make of this. I do know one thing: clowns makes people profoundly uncomfortable and the Joker is a clown. On a larger scale, after a bunch of enjoyable but puffy movies like Aquaman and Shazam, it’s time for the DC films to get dark and meaningful again, like when Christopher Nolan was the sheriff in town.

This is gonna be verrry interesting. The Joker opens on October 4.

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