New Complete Harry Potter Collection Much Cheaper

Harry Potter Hogwarts Collection

Two years ago, Warner Bros. released the Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection, a way to get all the movies in one big set. Then priced at $500, it sold out. Now, they’ve announced the Harry Potter Hogwarts Collection. If you were willing to wait two years, you now will pay $250 (or less) for basically the same content — without the pretty collectible packaging and artifacts. It makes sense for Warner to keep one of their showcase properties available, in an easier to ship and purchase form. You get all eight movies on Blu-ray, DVD, and UltraViolet digital copies.

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — plus an Extended Cut on Blu-ray
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — plus an Extended Cut on Blu-ray
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2 — plus 3D versions on Blu-ray

There’s also an eight-part documentary, “Creating the World of Harry Potter”, and a Blu-ray bonus disc, adding up to more than 45 hours of extra content. There’s a total of 31 discs, available April 29 — or now, at Amazon.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Collection

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Today Is Action Lab Day at Acme Comics in Greensboro, NC

I worked in Greensboro, NC, for a year a long while back, and Acme Comics was the shop that got me back into comics the second time. (It was the third time that took for life.) I’m impressed to see that they’re hosting Action Lab Entertainment today for a Fan Outreach Event.

Action Lab Acme Comics

They’re going beyond the usual sketches and signings (although those are scheduled, too) to provide some informative-sounding seminars, including a Writers Forum with Skyward creator Jeremy Dale and Ehmm Theory co-creator and writer Brockton McKinney; an Artists Forum with Dale and Ehmm Theory co-creator and artist Larkin Ford; and a Business Forum (covering intellectual property, social media marketing, and pitching a publisher) with Action Lab marketing director Kelly Dale and president Kevin Freeman. It begins today at 11 AM local time and runs until 5 PM.

I’d like to see more stores consider educational elements in addition to artist appearances. What a great idea!

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Spider-Man Spokesman for Earth Hour — Tonight!

Earth Hour is a global event to turn off lights for an hour as one of many ways to support the planet. It’s tonight, at 8:30 local time. This year, Spider-Man is a global ambassador to promote the event (and the upcoming movie, out May 2). Here are the film’s stars talking about the event:

Sony also put together a video on how The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is “the most eco-friendly blockbuster” in the studio’s history. The film had its own Eco Manager, the special effects and sets were constructed with reusability and environmental effects in mind, and recycling, conservation, and recognition programs were established.

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Wizard World Coming to Madison Next Year

Yay for website URL tweaking! Someone turned up the following at the Wizard World website:

Wizard World Wisconsin

If this comes true, Wizard World will be launching a convention in Madison, Wisconsin, February 6-8, 2015. Looks like they’re planning to charge $75 for weekend admission.

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Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery

Out this week was a new animated movie starring Scooby-Doo, his friends, and a whole bunch of WWE wrestlers: John Cena, Kane, The Miz (who, poor guy, just gets beat up on), Sin Cara, Brodus Clay, Triple H, AJ Lee, Mr. McMahon, and other cameos. The movie comes in a combo pack with Blu-ray, DVD, and UltraViolet copy, as shown here, or single-disc DVD.

Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery runs about an hour and a half. It starts when Shaggy and Scooby are playing a movement-based wrestling video game. Beating the game wins Scooby and four friends (how convenient!) a trip to WWE City, “a place dedicated to everything WWE”, and tickets to Wrestlemania. Scooby and Shaggy blackmail the rest of the gang into coming on the trip with them by showing photos of the many times they’ve been set up as bait to catch monsters. Velma hates the idea, but Fred wants to take photos, and Daphne develops a huge crush on Cena.

For those not as familiar with the wrestlers, it’s helpful that they either tend to talk about themselves in the third person or Shaggy adoringly announces their names when they appear. The animation is limited but watchable, with no obvious shortcuts, and overall, it’s goofy fun, particularly moments such as seeing Scooby in a wrestling mask.

While they’re visiting, the WWE championship belt, a gaudy creation of “solid gold … encrusted with gems and jewels” of course gets stolen. Scooby is blamed, and he and Shaggy have to wrestle as a last-ditch effort to clear his name. That allows for a slapstick training montage, but in keeping with standard Scooby-Doo stories, there’s also some kind of flame bear ghost monster terrorizing the area.

It’s basically a WWE ad guest-starring the Scooby gang, or a super-sized Scooby episode with a LOT of guest stars. It moves fast, though, and keeps one’s attention. One of my guest viewers gave it the faint praise “not as stupid as I thought it would be … entertaining at least.” And we laughed heartily at Scooby and Shaggy’s wrestling names (which I won’t spoil). It’s a good mystery, using the additional space available from the longer running time, and the WWE characters seem authentic, which makes it honorable for both franchises.

WWE and Scooby-Doo: Brodus Clay, Sin Cara, The Miz, AJ Lee, Stephanie McMahon, Scooby-Doo, Triple H, and Kane

Brodus Clay, Sin Cara, The Miz, AJ Lee, Stephanie McMahon, Scooby-Doo, Triple H, and Kane

Here are a few other random things I noted:

* The Scooby characters are a bit more self-aware than I’m used to, with Shaggy making jokes about them wearing the same outfits every day, and Daphne can be downright cranky until she goes gaga over John Cena.

* Old fans may find the voices not quite right (although Frank Welker is still voicing Fred and the dog). Specifically, Matthew Lillard’s Shaggy can be a bit too light and frenetic. He and Scooby are shown as slobbering fans of the WWE, which was a tad over-the-top for me.

* Fred sleeps on the couch in the boys’ cabin while Scooby’s in one of the two twin beds. Must be nice to be the star.

* I said “physics doesn’t work like that” a bunch of times, but it’s a cartoon.

* For the final WWE big show, I thought it notable that the fans shown watching at home are in two groups: a young boy and his parents, and a group of four women. Apparently all the guys go to see the show in person?

* This scene with Daphne and Velma never appeared, so clearly plans for the movie’s story changed over the last year and a half. Shame, not much was done with the girls at all in this final version.

Special Features

There are two. “Behind the Scenes With Scooby-Doo and the WWE Gang” (7 1/2 min) shows the real-life wrestlers explaining the movie and promoting the effort. It’s fun to compare them to their animated counterparts. You can see similar comments in this short promo video. Plus, Triple H hoists Scooby-Doo!

There’s also a full episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, “Wrestle Maniacs”, that runs 23 minutes. Unfortunately, since it’s unrestored, it looks absolutely horrible, as though it was pulled off fuzzy videotape several generations removed.

There are also ads for two DC movies, Justice League: War and the upcoming Son of Batman, as well as some Tom & Jerry thing. (The studio provided a review copy.)

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*What Did You Eat Yesterday? Book 1 — Recommended

For a long while, this has been my most-anticipated manga release, even when it looked like we’d never see it in English, due to its specialized subject matter. What Did You Eat Yesterday? is about two men who live together, one a lawyer and accomplished home cook, the other a hairdresser. They talk over their day while we see in glorious detail what they’re eating, as prepared by Shiro.

I wanted to see it so much that when a work colleague went to Japan, I requested he find the first volume, untranslated, for me. That’s it in the picture below, showing how the American version is slighter bigger, a nicer size in my opinion. (And everything’s bigger in the U.S.!) I’m really glad I can now understand what everyone’s saying … and cooking! I’m very thankful Vertical released it (their first Fumi Yoshinaga title).

What Did You Eat Yesterday? in English and Japanese

I adore Yoshinaga’s art style, how crisp and detailed it is, and how recognizable and emotional her figures are. And I love food manga, going in detail as to how people eat and prepare food in different cultures, so this was a great read for me. Particularly with how lovingly Yoshinaga draws the dishes.

Surprising, though, was how deep and emotional some of the stories were. Shiro’s mother urges him to come out to his co-workers, which he hasn’t done, but she’s clearly struggling with his sexuality, parroting what a support group has told her. The two men argue over how open to be about their relationship. One chapter teaches us both how to make strawberry jam and how important it is to be true to yourself (instead of hiding behind a beard). Another shows a client of Shiro’s, a male victim of domestic violence.

Shiro’s partner, more flamboyant than he is, provides a good deal of humor, as when he’s trying to flirt with Shiro and the more straight-laced lawyer responds, “Oh, sorry! I just can’t do American queer talk.” Kenji’s easy-going attitude serves him well at the salon where he works, where he’s given all the difficult customers. I also adored how Shiro made a friend, when he and Kayoko decided to split a watermelon because it was such a good deal at the supermarket.

But back to the cooking! Shiro thinks through what he’s doing in such a way that his meals could be followed by a reader — if you have access to speciality ingredients like kombu, burdock, konjac, and shirodashi. And if you’re comfortable without specific measurements. You have to cook to taste, which requires more connection to the ingredients and process.

My favorite aspect of the meal is how Shiro makes lots of little dishes. Part of his character is how bargain-conscious he is, and the way he cooks, with several vegetable dishes and using meat more for flavor than as a “main course”, is both healthier and less costly. Although as a co-worker points out early on, “It might sound run of the mill at first, but I’d bet he’s spending a pretty penny on ingredients and seasonings!” She’s overstating it (and she also finds his good looks past forty “creepy”, which seems distinctly uncharitable), but variety does require spending some time searching for all the details. One story discusses eating more veggies to make sure the two eat less rice, which keeps them slender and looking better than straight men, who let themselves go once they settle down.

Some of the terms are untranslated, I suspect because using their names is more realistic than trying to describe them in phrases for a culture that isn’t familiar with them. I found it helpful to have the internet while reading so I could look up wakame, zha cai, nikujaga, and similar. I thought I knew a little bit about Japanese food names, but this certainly expanded my vocabulary!

At least it’s more plausible than Yoshinaga’s other food book, Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! Since that one’s about restaurants in Japan, I’ll likely never see them. This one’s about home cooking, so with help from a specialty grocery, I could try some of these meals, or at least be inspired by the motivations behind them. I admired Shiro’s statement, as he puts a meal on the table, “being able to bask in a sense of accomplishment equal to settling a case at work, and every day no less, is what makes cooking dinner great.”

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CCS Adds MFA in Applied Cartooning

Center for Cartoon Studies logo

The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in White River Junction, Vermont, has announced a new MFA track in Applied Cartooning. It’s a two-year program “designed to help students develop exceptional visual communication skills and apply those skills in fields outside of traditional publishing.” Examples given include “developing grade school curriculum that meets Common Core standards, using comics to promote healthcare in developing nations, developing a comics workshops for veterans, and creating visual mission statements for businesses and organizations.” It sounds like a neat way to expand views of what cartooning can be as well as prepare students for a wider variety of careers.

Said CCS cofounder and director James Sturm, “I am seeing an increasing number of young cartoonists who are as interested in using their skills in a broader, more socially active context as they are in holing up and focusing exclusively on a graphic novel.”

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MoCCA Fest Announces Programming, Reserved Ticket Plan

MoCCA Fest is two weeks away, so the programming is now available for Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6.

Charlie Brown Macy's Parade balloon

New this year is a reservation ticket system for two showcase events, since space is limited. If you want to see “Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse in Conversation” or “Art Spiegelman and Joost Swarte in Conversation” (each 90 minutes), you need to reserve a free ticket on the website, “with any remaining seating to be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.” Smart idea.

(I know it’s difficult to put a panel schedule together, what with planning a comprehensive set of events and getting commitments from participants, but I do wish shows would make event lists available more than two weeks before a show. I had to book plane tickets a month out to keep them affordable, and I would have made different plans if the information was available, since there’s a panel on Sunday I would have really liked to have seen.)

Also now available is a huge list of exhibitors as well as a very special guest: the Charlie Brown balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! It will be flying inside the show’s Armory location. What an odd and interesting idea! It’s always neat to see an indy-focused show make sure to include events to attract all ages.

One event I will be sure to attend is the annual women-only Drink and Draw Like a Lady party, Friday night. It’s an inspiring event! That site also has a gallery of past invites, featuring some dynamite art by some great artists.

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