- Posted by Johanna on December 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm
- Category: Movies/TV
The official trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is now available, highlighting dazzling special effects, a message for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) from his dead father, a gorgeous Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a vengeful Electro (Jamie Foxx), and an emo Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). Not really visible is Paul Giamatti playing the Rhino, but I’m curious to see how that’s done.
The movie opens May 2, 2014. (Disclaimer: I work for a division of Sony, although not the theatrical entertainment arm.)
- Posted by Johanna on December 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm
- Category: Books and Prose
Comics Buyer’s Guide, the long-running fan newspaper (later magazine) ceased publication abruptly earlier this year with issue #1699. Since the decision to stop the magazine came after that issue had gone to press, there was no acknowledgment of the end of the era in the publication itself.
Now, comic history magazine Alter Ego is seeking to remedy that. Publisher TwoMorrows has announced that Alter Ego #122 (out next Wednesday) will be “a tribute to the late, great Comics Buyer’s Guide, offering CBG‘s founders and past contributors a chance to pay their respects to the long-running news/adzine.” Says John Morrow, “[Editor] Roy [Thomas] rounded up almost all of the columnists I remember from my days reading TBG/CBG, including Mark Evanier, Tony Isabella, Peter David, Fred Hembeck, John Lustig, plus founder Alan Light and his second-in-command Murray Bishoff, as well as Maggie Thompson and Brent Frankenhoff, who were all delighted to have a chance to give it a proper send-off.” I’m going to be sure to read this issue, because it sounds like a lovely farewell.
- Posted by Johanna on December 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm
- Category: Animation
Starting later this month, TIFF Cinematheque (an offshoot of the Toronto International Film Festival) will be presenting Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli, a retrospective featuring 18 movies from the influential Japanese studio.
From December 13 to January 3, the exhibited films range from the best-known (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke) to the infrequently shown (Only Yesterday, The Ocean Waves) and include the rarely-screened Grave of the Fireflies (about surviving a World War II bombing) and the newer From up on Poppy Hill. According to the press release, “audiences will have the chance to experience many of the films in two versions: in their original language with English subtitles, and star-studded dubbed versions voiced by high-profile talent”. Tickets for the general public go on sale next Wednesday, December 11.
- Posted by Johanna on December 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm
- Category: KC
KC’s latest Westfield column, in honor of the just-passed Turkey Day, remembers Tenzil Kem, Matter-Eater Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Learn about why he became a politician and what the plans were for his gender-swapping!
- Posted by Johanna on December 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Nikki Roddy
- PUBLISHER: Zest Books; $12.99 US
It’s a listicle in a book! So why buy it? Because you can’t take the internet into the bathtub, which is the kind of environment perfect for this type of pick-up-and-put-down flip-through reading, which I found great light entertainment.
The subtitle, “Lousy Life Lessons From 50 Teen Movies”, is accurate. Each of the 50 movies included gets two pages with a snarky plot summary, a key quote from the film, a picture, and usually a joke quiz, usually with an answer along the lines of “All of the above. Being an egotistical jerk never felt so good.”
Of the 50 films, 15 are from the 80s, 15 from the 90s (of which 7 are from 1999 alone), and 16 from the 2000s. The remaining four are the grandaddy Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, Carrie, and Grease. It’s a shame that the beach party films were left out, since there’s some real weirdness in there, but since the target audience seems to be today’s teens, they probably didn’t want to include too many oldies, only the best-known.
I’ve seen everything covered in the book except for a handful. The ones I’ve missed seeing are the horror flicks (A Nightmare on Elm Street, I Know What You Did Last Summer — although strangely, I’ve seen Jennifer’s Body, also included), Love Don’t Cost a Thing (although since I’ve seen its source material, Can’t Buy Me Love, which wasn’t included, I’ve come close), The Hot Chick (a teen movie? really?), Whatever It Takes, High School Musical, Youth in Revolt, and the forgettable Fired Up!. 42 out of 50 is a pretty good ratio, a solid B, which might be why I enjoyed this book so much.
The publisher provided a review copy and has posted sample pages.
- Posted by Johanna on December 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Ryan Estrada has posted a quick-and-dirty post on how to make an ebook of your webcomic. He covers putting together a PDF or CBZ and setting up a gumroad sales page. Then he goes on to cover why someone might buy work already available free online.
What if you make it and nobody buys it? First of all, waaah. That took like 12 1/2 seconds, total. If even one reader wants an ebook of your work, it’s worth the time investment. And let me tell you something: I buy PDFs all the time. I buy PDFs of comics available in their entirety free online all the time.
I’d add that most all comic work is available online already, so providing an option allows you to possibly gather some income, instead of none.
- Posted by Johanna on December 4, 2013 at 8:31 am
- Category: Shopping Guide
Today, there are a number of great releases scheduled to appear at your local comic shop. I’m highlighting some notable titles worth paying attention to.
Rainbow in the Dark: The Complete Saga (Comfort and Adam, $29.99) is an action-packed adventure about a girl, tired of her boring, black-and-white life, who discovers a much more colorful community that fights monsters, unseen by the normals. Since this is comics, the colors are more than just metaphor. The themes, of consumerism keeping us unthinking drones and creativity “awakening” us, are typical, but the action is told with energy and verve.
The first collection of Ghosted (Image Comics, $9.99) is out at a bargain price. The story combines a crime caper with supernatural violence and plenty of double-crosses as Jackson Winters is busted from prison to capture a ghost for a crazy rich man. It was the cast, a mixed group of skeptics and lowlifes, con artists and mystics, that most interested me.
There are also a couple of books aimed at particular audiences. Dark Horse has released CBLDF Presents Manga Introduction Challenges And Best Practices ($15.99), a helpful guide to the popular comics translated from Japan. It’s been produced in conjunction with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in order to inform retailers, librarians, and parents about the various genres and terms relating to manga. It’s easy to read and packed with information.
A little further afield is The Geek’s Guide to Dating (Quirk Books, $14.95), an advice book illustrated with 8-bit art. It’s aimed at boys, and sometimes the geek content overwhelms the dating help, but the suggestions are helpful, if basic.
Classic Comic Collections From Fantagraphics: Donald Duck’s Christmas on Bear Mountain, Mickey Mouse’s Robin Hood, and Barnaby
- Posted by Johanna on December 3, 2013 at 7:55 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Fantagraphics
As we reach the end of another year, I find this season an excellent time to read collections of classic comic strips. For one reason, as the year passes, I find myself looking back as often as I look forward, and historical strips remind me of the impermanence of existence … and yet, some things are remembered. Or rediscovered.
For another, comic strips from years past often provide purer, less ambiguous forms of entertainment, which is refreshing when stressed by family and cultural holiday expectations. For a third, a quiet way to relax indoors and read something good is welcome during the cold winter days.
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Christmas on Bear Mountain
by Carl Barks, $28.99 US
Another end of the year, another Christmas-themed Donald Duck collection. This time, it’s historically significant — since the title story is Uncle Scrooge’s first appearance. (His second appearance is in the most recent Donald Duck volume, The Old Castle’s Secret, released this past summer.) In his introduction, Scrooge lives down to his name, sending his nephew Donald and his nephews to a mountain cabin stocked with food and presents only to scare him with a fake bear attack to test how brave he is. It’s a silly story with an artificial premise, but the cartooning is excellent in the many chases and shocked reactions, and ultimately, it’s kind of heart-warming.
The book has a great mix of one-pagers and longer stories, all published from 1947-1948. In various tales Donald attempts to win a gardening contest, follows a treasure map, performs magic tricks, faces off with door-to-door salesmen, gets all mixed up over a dance contest, and tries to become a fireman. They’re full of good, old-fashioned fun and humor, capturing activities from a simpler time leavened with great lumps of imagination and creativity as the stories sprawl in unexpected ways.
Unfortunately, that simpler time also indulged in stereotypes, as when Donald visits the “Volcano Valley” of Volcanovia, where the whole country wears sombreros and serapes, calls people “senor”, and sleeps all the time because everyone is so lazy. In Donald’s “Adventure Down Under”, he hunts kangaroo and gets kidnapped by pidgin-speaking “wild bushmen”. Otherwise, the adventure is exciting and the coloring terrific. I particularly liked “Ghost of the Grotto”, where Dewey gets kidnapped by an armored ghost while the guys are out seaweed-gathering on a ship.
There are story notes on the tales in the back, many of which are quite insightful. Unfortunately, the notes for “Volcano Valley” are the worst in the book. When the writer isn’t merely summarizing the story we’ve already read, he’s justifying the caricature accents and stating (without proof) that “Barks intended nothing… to be culturally derogatory.” Perhaps, but it’d be nice to know why I’m supposed to believe that. The other notes are much better, providing new insight into the tales. On the whole, an entertaining package, with one or two caveats.
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Volume 2: Robin Hood Rides Again
by Floyd Gottfredson, $29.99 US
Gottfredson’s color Sunday comic strips from January 1936 through December 1938 are here collected. This will be the final volume of his Sunday work, since after this period, he gave up the job to focus on the daily strip.
As in the first volume, there are exceptional extras putting this work in context. The introductions are helpful in understanding the connections to the film cartoon Mickey, which were numerous.
Stories here include “Mickey’s Rival” (about Mortimer Mouse competing for Minnie’s hand), the Robin Hood adventure of the title, “Sheriff of Nugget Gulch” (a mistaken-identity Western involving mining for gold), some winter snow follies with the nephews, “Service With a Smile” (in which Mickey runs a gas station with Goofy, who drives him crazy), an adaptation of the “Brave Little Tailor” cartoon, and a variety of single-shot comedy gags, many of which co-star Goofy. Also included are later (dating between 1956 and 1976) fill-in strips Gottfredson did during Mickey’s “suburban dad” period (with some odd character designs) and other non-Mickey Disney work of his, adapting some of the movies.
Barnaby Volume 1
by Crockett Johnson, $35 US
The author of the wonderfully imaginative Harold and the Purple Crayon brings that creativity to the comic strip during World War II. This first volume contains comics from April 1942 through the end of 1943.
Barnaby is a typical boy who’s visited by the world’s strangest Fairy Godfather. Mr. O’Malley wears a hat and trenchcoat and is never seen without his cigar (which he calls his magic wand). It’s unclear, at times, whether he’s really a magical creature, a con artist, or a figment of Barnaby’s imagination (which would have to be rather odd to dream up this guy).
Johnson’s work is immediately visually distinctive, from the typeset text to his spare, clean-line style. It’s part of the modernist trend of the time, but its clarity keeps it readable and relevant today. There’s an odd conflict at the heart of the strip, between practicality and flights of fancy, as seen by how, early on, when Barnaby is trying to tell his parents about his new friend, Dad responds, “Try not to dream anymore, son.” That tension suits readers, who likely know, as Dad continues, “Nobody believes in pixies any more, son,” but maybe want to hope for something to disrupt daily life anyway.
Which happens soon enough, as O’Malley sets off the air raid sirens and keeps raiding the icebox and catches spies with the aid of a Nazi parrot and rounds up iron for a scrap metal drive, all while Barnaby’s parents worry about his “imaginary friend”. There’s an Ogre and Gus the ghost and a trip to the child psychologist and a new neighbor girl named Jane who gets very confused between what her parents tell her about seeing things and what she sees. My favorite is Gorgon the talking dog who, in one set of strips, starts teaching himself tricks.
O’Malley is a windbag who makes himself out as more than he is, and his tricks often leave Barnaby to take the blame for the garage blowing up, for example, but somehow, it all works out all right in the end. Barnaby’s good-natured, even-handed survival is inspiring, and O’Malley is worth having around just to make things more interesting. A wonderful read with humor that stems from the tension between suburban expectations and a yearning for a more creative, magical way of living.
Barnaby Volume 1 also contains information on how Johnson developed the strip (by Philip Nel, author of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature), an appreciation of his style by Jeet Heer, Dorothy Parker’s “Mash Note to Crockett Johnson”, and a set of annotations to inform the modern reader of the historical and literary references in the comic.
(The publisher provided review copies.)