athelind: (Default)
In a recent post and its associated comments, [ profile] thebitterguy complained:

... Canada doesn't fucking EXIST in the DCU ... Marvel at least had a team up here. DC didn't even give us a member of the Global Guardians.

Your Obedient Serpent intuited the obvious: since Shuster modeled Metropolis on Toronto, DCU Canada was obviously annexed by the DCU U.S. at some point in the 19th Century.

This explains where they put all those extra cities; they took all those funny Canadian names and replaced them with more prosaic, descriptive ones. "What the heck's a 'Vancouver'?" "It's a city on the coast." "Can't we just call it 'Coast City', then?"

It's not that DC doesn't have any Canadian heroes; it's that MOST of their heroes are Canadian!

athelind: (Default)

First Superman Comic Sells For Record $1 Million

I dread work this week; odds are far too high that at least one bozo will come in every night, all excited about this, and wanting to talk about comics and collectibles as "investments".

He won't want to buy things, per se. He'll want my advice. What should he look for? What should he buy? What's the best return on his money?

How can he make a quick buck?

Your Obedient Serpent is honestly sick to death of comic books, superheroes, and pop-culture ephemera, but he'd still rather deal with people who read and enjoy these things than someone who bumbles in asking questions so clueless they defy an answer, simply because he's heard about someone who made huge returns on stuff that he's always dismissed.

How can you make a quick buck in the comics market? You can't. It took seventy godsforsaken years of carefully babying a fragile bundle of crappy, high-acid paper, starring a character nobody in the industry thought would catch on, to get that ten-million-fold return on Action's 10¢ cover price, you idiot.

Resolved: I am going to do my damnedest to sell these sleazy fools every worthless piece of crap I've got in the store, every random Big Event Comic, and most especially, every High-End, Hard-Sided, Nitrogen-Filled Comic Preservation Device I can dig up.

Because that's the real answer to the question. How do you make a quick buck in comics? By selling crap to the gullible.

Barnum was right.

athelind: (Default)
Does anyone out there know how to open/convert/break down an .avb avatar file from the old, old Microsoft Comic Chat program? Way back in the Dark Ages, Malathar made a custom file for me, and I'd like to convert the various emotions and gestures into LiveJournal icons.

athelind: (Default)

A reference for [ profile] kolchis, in re: a conversation earlier today. (The formula in Panel 2 was the specific reference.)

Confirmed with actual census data.

athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent has no idea what he's gonna do to relax in the near future, because all the things he's frittered away his spare-and-not-so-spare time on over the years actively piss him off right now.

This is, in part, because he's frittered away so much of his life on them, and in part because, well, Busman's Holiday. One of his sources of stress is his low-paying retail job, selling all those time-consuming distractions.

athelind: (Default)
And now, everyone can stop the endless round of the same ol' Disney-Marvel mashup gags, because there's no way to top the awesome of this:

For those of you not in the loop, that's a take-off on the first on-panel appearance of Mary Jane Watson.

athelind: (Default)
The news in my last post has a lot of people worried about Marvel getting "Disneyfied". Funny, that hadn't really occurred to me.

I'd hate to see the intelligent, thoughtful storytelling of recent years compromised by a company who didn't respect the years of development and history of these characters. I'm not sure the store where I work could survive without merchandise aimed at the mature, sophisticated sensibilities of the modern comics audience.

I know, I know, when people hear "Disney", they still automatically think of the "wholesome" Mouse Factory of fifty years ago, as if the company had no idea how to tell exciting, entertaining action-adventure tales. But, seriously, folks: the modern Disney megalopoly has its tentacles in a lot more than happy, sappy, saccharine kiddie stuff. When I hear "Disney", I don't hear "Cartoon Company" anymore. I hear "Entertainment Powerhouse".

When I mentioned the effect this might have on the Marvel Studios movie series, it was almost entirely wondering if that side of the business would see a cash infusion that would re-accelerate the filming schedule (which has been pushed back a couple of times from the original plan of two big-name superhero pictures a year for three or four years).

Edit: [ profile] cpxbrex pointed out that Marvel owes its recent barrage of movies to "complex financing", and that this may have something to do with the acquisition deal.

A lot of folks, on the other claw, are worried about them somehow compromising the integrity of the properties.

Personally? I think that the megacorp that gave us movies like No Country for Old Men and Miracle at St. Anna won't bat an eye at Tony Stark's antics.

Edit: Since none of the other comics blogs I read have mentioned this at all, I've combined the last two posts into a single post on my comics blog, Kirby Dots & Ditko Ribbons. Scooped! You are all so totally scooped! Like Raisin Bran, you're scooped!
athelind: (Default)
That headline again:

Disney. Buys. Marvel.

Tempting as it is to just follow that with "'Nuff said", I have to wonder....
  • How will this affect Marvel Sudios and their ambitious "Avengers Cycle" movie plans?
  • Will Disney cancel the Gemstone Comics license, and start releasing Disney titles using Marvel's production and banner?
  • Conversely, will that matter if both companies continue to ignore newstand and grocery store distribution in favor of the hard-core fandom's boutique market?
  • What does this mean for Kingdom Hearts and Capcom vs. Marvel?
  • Will there be an even more vigorous crackdown on Marvel fanfic and games with "Character Creators" that let you "duplicate Marvel intellectual property", like City of Heroes and Champions Online?
  • Will Howard return to his original character design? Will he turn out to hail from Duckburg? Will he lose his pants?

If this doesn't fall through, it'll bring a symmetry to the comics world: both major comics companies will be owned by massive global media juggernauts.

Strange days indeed.

athelind: (Default)
This made me laugh out loud:

I may have to print it out and post it at work.

Speaking as a long-time fan of the Green Lanterns, who's read the book(s) through all the ups and downs since 1970 or so, this multi-year arc that Geoff Johns has been writing is the Best Damned Run Of Green Lantern ever, one of the best things DC has done in the last decade, and Blackest Night is shaping up to be the "Final Crisis" that Final Crisis wasn't.

Honestly, it's a big part of why I still bother with superhero comics.

After, what, five years of non-stop Big Events and Red Skies Crossovers from both major companies, after a year of working in a comic store, and after my Fanfic Epiphany from a couple of years ago, I've come very close to burning out on commercialized adolescent power fantasies.

But Johns is good, and Blackest Night is not so much an Editorially-Mandated MegaCrossover as it is the logical climax of the story he's been telling for the last five years.

Still and nonetheless... "They turned Green Lanterns into Care Bears" is spit-take-worthy.

athelind: (Default)
I meant to post this when it first showed up, but...

This is actually the first indication I've had that the stuttery, spazzy, laggy video I get from YouTube and its ilk isn't just due to my ancient 2003-era motherboard and underpowered video card.

athelind: (Default)
As some of you may recall, I have a Blogger account, reserved, in theory, to be my soapbox for ranting about pop culture in general and comic books in particular. I originally established it with the intent of participating more fully in the "comics blogosphere".* Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. Due to the inconvenience of the interface** and the pressure of Treating This Like A Column instead of whipping out a stream-of-consciousness LJ entry, I didn't use it much -- but I also found myself making fewer LiveJournal entries about comics, because I felt I had to "save" them for Kirby Dots & Ditko Ribbons.

*Translation: all the cool kids had one.
**Translation: a password too long and complex to log in consistently.

So, just as an experiment, I'm going to start whipping up comic-related posts on LJ, and cross-posting them to KDDR. The movie and TV posts you're used to seeing under "The Hoard Potato" header may follow, as well.

Here we go:

The other day, working at the comic shop, I had a conversation with one of my teenaged customers about the early years of Batman. and he reiterated something I've heard for decades. Jules Feiffer groused about it in The Great Comic Book Heroes, insisting that he'd felt this way since childhood, so the complaint's been around pretty much as long as the character.

It's the idea that the introduction of Robin the Boy Wonder was a Bad Idea and Ruined The Whole Batman Concept.

After reading the first few volumes of The Batman Chronicles, however, I think it's just the opposite.

Before Robin, "The Bat-Man" was just another pulp character.

Oh, those early stories are nice, tight little packages of action and suspense, just like the pulps that inspired them -- but there's the key. They were just like the pulps that inspired them; a bit more compressed, perhaps, and with the exotic appeal of the new medium, but the protagonist was interchangeable with any of the lesser mystery men of the Street & Smith line.

Unoriginal, undistinguished; a guy in a bat costume with (eventually) boomerang. He didn't have the intricate network and multifarious identities of The Shadow; he didn't have the small army of geniuses that followed Doc Savage; he didn't even have the exotic Old California setting of Zorro, the character he really most resembled in those early years.

It was only after the introduction of Robin that Batman really started to come into his own, started to develop his own distinctive motif and theme, started to evolve what could rightfully be known as a mythology. Even Miller recognized that, when The Dark Knight Returns has Bruce reminiscing that Dick named The Batmobile -- "a kid's name."

Before Robin, he was just Zorro in New York. Not The Shadow, mind you; despite what the revisionists of the latter day would have you think, the obsessed devotion to the War On Crime wasn't a major part of the character in those pre-Robin days. Bruce Wayne's effete disaffection with everything around him was misdirection, no doubt, but nonetheless, those early stories convey the impression that, on some level, he put on the costume to fight crime because he was bored.1

It's tempting to assume that Robin just happened to be introduced at the same time as the elements that make Batman so distinctly Batman, but I don't think so. I think that the new character dynamic of the duo was a key factor that shaped a truly mythic character.

Before Robin, Bruce had a social life. Bruce had a fiancée. The Batman was something Bruce Wayne did. It wasn't yet who he was... until he took on a partner.

With a confidante, someone who knew both sides of his life, Robinson, Finger and Kane could let Bruce Wayne immerse himself in the role of Batman.

The conventional interpretation is that the introduction of the brightly-clad wise-cracking kid sidekick was a distraction that pulled the Batman away from his Holy Mission. If you really sit down and read the stories, though, the opposite is more the case. The idea that everything Bruce Wayne does is really just to serve the needs and goals of his alter-ego only emerges post-Robin.

The modern Batman, the revisionist Batman, the grim, obsessed avenger, lurking in the shadows, devoting his entire life to his personal War, is intriguing today only because he's an anachronistic example of a once-profligate phylum. In that time, in that place, he would never have stood out enough become the iconic archetype that we know today -- if he had ever really existed in that form back then.

It's not Superman who's the last survivor of a lost race.

1This is not, in itself, an unacceptable motivation for a fictional crimefighter; Sherlock Holmes got a great deal of mileage from it.

athelind: (Default)
You know, I never quite believed in the Bat Signal. Sure, I've seen searchlights shining on cloud layers, but the idea that you could see a silhouette of something placed over the light, and see it so clearly, seemed like pure fancy.

I was, evidently, incorrect:

In New York City in the early 1890s, nighttime clouds served as projection screens for giant ads. A 3,000-pound lamp atop Joseph Pulitzer's World building beamed text and figures from the news or from sponsors onto the clouds; the messages were visible as far away as New Jersey and Long Island.

The same technique was used in the '30s, in England.

Gotham City is generally considered a fictionalized New York, of course.

athelind: (Default)

Mallett just crammed so much about pop culture, high culture, and transformative art into four panels that I'm nigh-speechless.

Just as a single example: Hollywood gets lambasted for "running out of ideas" whenever they remake an old movie or adapt a TV show, but I don't think I've ever heard the same accusation when we see Yet Another Movie about King Arthur, Robin Hood, or Sherlock Holmes.

athelind: (Default)
I'm still processing it. I'm seeing it again tomorrow, with [ profile] quelonzia; expect a full review some time this weekend.

athelind: (Default)
Yes, I've already got advanced tickets -- for both Friday and Saturday mornings. I have tomorrow off, but [ profile] quelonzia doesn't.

(I work in a comic store -- can I write this off my taxes as a job-related expense?)

As I may have mentioned, we're approaching this movie experimentally. I read Watchmen when it first came out, as individual, monthly issues punctuated by occasional delays (which is a slightly different experience than reading it for the first time in collected form). Quel, on the other claw, hasn't read it at all -- and since all the hype started last summer, I've been deliberately (and with her knowledge) steering her away from any of the promo material that might reveal plot points.

Our intent is to see if the movie works for both a devoted fan intimately familiar with the story, and a new viewer seeing it for the first time.

Please note that I spent 20 years hoping that this movie wouldn't be made, and insisting that a decent adaptation couldn't be made -- right up up until last summer's previews in front of The Dark Knight. Between the promo material I've seen and the feedback I've gotten from those who have been lucky enough to catch sneak previews, I am now Cautiously Optimistic.

Before I actually see the movie with my own eyes, however, I thought I'd make a few observations.

First, a prediction: at least one idiot reviewer will say something snarky about how the whole "superheroes coming back after being outlawed" is a ripoff of The Incredibles.

Now, a thesis: no matter how good a job Snyder did, the movie is not going to be "everything the graphic novel was". It can't be -- because the original was as much about the form and medium of comics as it was about the deconstruction of the superhero genre. This is, by my readings, the main thing that Mr. Moore keeps griping about.

Personally, I'll be satisfied if the most superficial level, the murder mystery/conspiracy, plays out acceptably. This is all it will take for me to classify it as Successful Entertainment.

If it actually does manage to play as an examination of the underlying premises of the superhero genre, as well, I'll be very happy indeed.

This, as an aside, is why I didn't complain about the liberties taken with the costumes (particularly Dreiberg's). If it's going to even attempt to make the same kind of metacommentary that the original did, it's going to have to address the recent spate of superhero movies, not superhero comics. To do that, it will have to use the visual vocabulary of the superhero cinema.

And yes, this includes, in some cases, latex armor that makes a mediocre physique look buff.

Look for more after I've seen the movie itself.

athelind: (Default)
Remember my post about the Real-Life Arkham Asylum, in Danvers, Massachusetts, which was being turned into luxury condominiums?

Well, last week's issue of Batman Confidential was the final chapter in Yet Another Retelling of the Dark Knight's first encounter with the Joker -- or rather, in this case, what happened after the Joker was in police custody. After causing multiple deaths while in custody, under guard, and in chains, including the death of at least one judge, the authorities were at a loss with what to do with this pasty-skinned sociopath. They couldn't put him in with the mainstream prison population, and they couldn't remand him to conventional psychiatric care.

As Gordon and the D.A. (a pre-acid Harvey Dent, I believe) were having this conversation, a television in the background showed a news story about a certain old hospital being converted into condominiums.

One of them says, in disbelief, "Can you believe this? Didn't they used to experiment on patients there? Who the hell would want to live there?"

On the next page, it's announced that the state has used eminent domain to reclaim the property, which was going to become a special facility for extremely dangerous psychiatric cases.

athelind: (Default)
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I'm with [ profile] paka on this -- is there really any choice besides Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters?

The occasional Sentinel attack would be kind of obnoxious, but, with luck, I could get through my four years between mansion explosions.

athelind: (Default)
In an obscure comment on TV Tropes, I read a rumor that part of Fox's motivation in the Watchmen suit may be to leverage Warner into finally clearing up the DVD rights tangle on the Adam West Batman series.

If this gets resolved with "We'll let you release Watchmen if you let us release Batman on DVD", that's a win/win in my book, and Fox might actually be forgiven their trespasses on the comics community.

Bear in mind the source -- this is an unattributed wiki comment about a rumor. I'm not even sure if there are rights issues with Digital Distribution of Dozier's Dynamic Duo: the Movie based on the series has been out in several editions over the years.

athelind: (Default)
Today's Keenspot Newsbox links to a strip called Sorcery 101, with an image of a vampire character, glaring at a bloody razor, and a caption reading "80 years of practice doesn't help reflectionless shaving."

The image described; let's see how long it stays linkable

Your Obedient Serpent shaves, by preference, in the shower, sans mirror, and has done so since finally abandoning his electric razor almost a decade ago.

Not only do I rarely cut myself, but I maintain a neatly-trimmed goatee. You can do a lot by kinesthetic sense and just feeling your face to find any spots you've missed. I'm sure that blind people quickly develop the same skills. The idea that the lack of a reflection would be such a handicap in shaving even after eight decades struck me as sufficiently absurd as to warrent a comment.

athelind: (Default)

...I think a lot of us would cheerfully do that to 2008.

Here's looking forward to 2009... though that won't really begin until January 20th.
athelind: (Default)

Judge rules in favor of Fox's frivolous Watchmen lawsuit.

The movie won't hit the March release date, if we even see it this year.

[ profile] jdarkwulf notes that Fux waited until the movie was far enough along to start showing "flashy, FX-laden trailers" before they filed suit -- which isn't quite true, since they filed in February, but I do agree that the waited long enough to demonstrate "bad faith" to the court.

I say we march on the Fox studios, and leave them a smoking ruin.

Or find an inside man who can hack their computer systems and leave them in a smoking ruin.

So long as a smoking ruin is involved, I'm happy.

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