athelind: (clobberin' time)
One of the comic-related blogs that I peruse regularly is also art-related: Superhero of the Month. They have a pretty straightforward shtick: each month, they pick a superhero, and invite the art community to reinterpret that character with new costume designs and, occasionally, revamped backgrounds. The contest is usually sponsored by some comic book shop, and the prizes tend to be graphic novels featuring the character in question.

It's a concept that's produced some really impressive and thoughtful looks at iconic characters, and it's one that depends heavily on fair use, remix culture, and the principles of the transformative works movement.

So what in the world possessed them to shill for a copyright-maximalist marketeer and his hollow, vapid t-shirt logo "superhero"?

Here's the guy who's the subject of the December 2011 contest: NOTES (or possibly N.O.T.E.S.), flagshill for the innovatively-named Superhero EnterprisesTM.

"NOTES" is our most powerful science fiction superhero and a highly-skilled leader in music technology, whose mission is to enhance and transform the experience of making and editing electronic music.

"N.O.T.E.S." distinctively offers solution(s) to the global fight against illicit downloading and counterfeiting, as the consequences of digital piracy online and in the streets....have continued to threaten the U.S. economy, jeopardize public safety, and undermine the livelihood of our domestic entertainment industries.

Comic book superheroes are supposed to provide role models that are potentially used by children in developing self images. N.O.T.E.S. symbolizes these qualities of high moral character, courage, generosity, and honor of a noble spirit.


That's right, kids: he fights those eeeeeeeevil downloaders! He's a valiant defender of the profit margin and traditional distribution models!

The blog also offers a link to the eventless "origin story" for NOTES, in which Our Hero defeats a couple of shoplifters with ... um ... look, all snarkiness aside, but it really reads like his music is so crappy that they go into convulsions. There may be more pages that haven't been posted yet; it certainly reads that way, and the "origin" offers no explanation as to how he got these powers of amazing musical dysentery.

I've perused the rest of the site, and it just gets worse. The fake street 'tide, the obvious memetic targeting toward the metaculturally naive—he's like Joe Camel for anti-downloading. There's nothing about actual story here; he's Pure Product, No By-Product. Sure, Marvel-Disney and DC-Warner exploit their properties mercilessly these days, and yes, Joe and Jerry's concept sketches included sketches of product labels adorned with their mythical muscleman, but NOTES is designed to be merchandised first and foremost. They come right out and say it: he was the logo for their music production company first, then they decided to spin him off into a "superhero". He got t-shirts and sneakers (and an art contest!) before his first comic was ever released. They describe him themselves as "the trendiest superhero in the universe."

Higher praise no mutant could ask.

And what fabulous prizes await the artists who can best capture this Champion of Commercialism?

1st Place: Opportunity to write/illustrate a two-page short story featuring NOTES to be featured on Superhero Enterprises' Tumblr and DeviantArt pages, and a NOTES T-shirt.


Semantic Analysis: Draw us free art to make our IP look cool and popular, and we'll let you do more free art to promote our brand!

Your Obedient Serpent was sore tempted to post a comment along these lines on the SotM blog announcement, but honestly, that's flat-out trolling—especially since the comment list on every SotM entry is headed with a "don't be rude" disclaimer.

I should note, however, that the contest parameters themselves state: "What we'll be looking for is an illustration that best exemplifies what you believe NOTES stands for."

Oh my. Do be careful what you wish for.

My medium of choice, alas, is prose, and thus not appropriate for the contest.

I think it would be a fine thing, however, if the more artistically-inclined provided the blog with entries that showed exactly what they believe NOTES stands for.

As Uncle Howard used to say ... Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down.


athelind: (Default)

The Line Is Drawn #30



That first one, with Steel and Hardware (who were introduced in the same year), really underscores how visually interesting and distinctive Hardware's armor is ... and Steel's, alas, isn't.

(I hate linking to forum-y sites like this one. I hope this link is still good in five years.)


(I need an icon of Icon, just to be recursive.)
athelind: (Eye: RCA Magic Eye)
I seem to be the last person to know this, but Bob Basset, the Russian leatherworker who does those magnificent dragon bags and masks and those equally-impressive cyberpunk/steampunk/forcepunk gasmask-helmet-things, has a LiveJournal feed, so you can see the cool stuff he's cranking out a couple of times a week.

Be advised: Basset also does the occasional BDSM-related gear—he's a leatherworker, after all*—so you might want to filter the feed if you read LJ at work.

For those not familiar with his work:

This is a messenger bag.



*Egregious Stereotype.
athelind: (cronkite)
I was in a black mood yesterday, and posted some deliberately inflammatory things in this journal.

Some of what I posted was frankly contrafactual, and does not hold up even to a cursory examination of the evidence.


A Retraction and a Correction Follow: )

This was an ignorant, insulting mistake that promulgated misinformation about a group that receives a great deal of abuse, and I apologize.


athelind: (flames)
Yes, I get it. We all have the right to be assholes.

That doesn't mean we have an obligation to be assholes.


Maybe I wouldn't be in such a foul mood this week if I didn't keep posting flamebait.
athelind: (cronkite)
"Draw Mohammad Day" offends me, despite the fact that I read Gods Playing Poker, which depicts Mohammad in every single strip.

GPP is irreverent and snarky, but it isn't in the least mean-spirited, and this "crusade" most certainly is.

(Of course, it's in "defense" of one of the most mean-spirited shows in U.S. television history, so yeah.)

This little stunt offends me because it's not just aimed at the Fundamentalists; this is a deliberate slap at moderate and progressive Muslims, as well (not that many of the Draw Mohammed Day crowd actually bother to acknowledge that there's a difference). It's a wide-sweeping smackdown of an entire group, and it's saying the same damned thing that the real offenders keep saying: "all of them hate all of us."

Gods damn it, people. how hard is it to grasp? If you're really opposed to an ideology, don't let its adherents frame the argument.

I'm not saying "don't do this". I'm not saying "it shouldn't be allowed". I am saying that we need to examine the motives and sincerity behind it. So much of the output is a tedious repetition of hackneyed Prophet-As-Terrorist memes that it's hard to see it as a statement of "artistic freedom".

If this were really about "free speech", we'd be following it with "Draw Christ Getting Raped In The Nail-Holes Day".


Wow. I think that's the most Regrettably Appropriate use of the word "crusade" I've invoked in a long time.
athelind: (green hills of earth)

Hugo Awards Logo Contest



Although the rocket atop the Hugo Award has been one of the most visible signs of excellence in science fiction and fantasy for more than fifty years, there has never been an official logo to designate works as Hugo Award nominees or winners. The World Science Fiction Society now aims to change that by soliciting designs for such a logo, with the winning design to be the official logo suitable for use in the publishing and film/television industries.



Lifted pretty much verbatim from [livejournal.com profile] snobahr. RAAR!
athelind: (Default)

Hugo Awards Logo Contest



Although the rocket atop the Hugo Award has been one of the most visible signs of excellence in science fiction and fantasy for more than fifty years, there has never been an official logo to designate works as Hugo Award nominees or winners. The World Science Fiction Society now aims to change that by soliciting designs for such a logo, with the winning design to be the official logo suitable for use in the publishing and film/television industries.



Lifted pretty much verbatim from [livejournal.com profile] snobahr. RAAR!

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