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26. DC unveils “DC You” marketing campaign

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There had to be a reason the new West Coast Dc hired all those branding, licensing and content managers. It’s to create a new branding message and it is…”DC You.” Which sounds like it might be an insult but is really a way of saying that these comics are for YOU.

The new DCyou url is live, and here’s the ad campaign. SPOILERS!!!!

 

DC Entertainment revealed a bold new advertising campaign today titled “DC YOU.”  The campaign shines a spotlight on the New DC Universe (DCU) line of comic books, and reinforces the company’s commitment to creating a diverse offering of titles – something for everyone. 

“With the New DC Universe, there’s a story for every kind of DC Comics fan.  There’s a story for YOU,” stated Amit Desai, senior vice president of marketing and global franchise management, DC Entertainment.   “The DC Comics slate rolling out this summer truly offers a comic book for everyone and our new advertising campaign – DC YOU – celebrates this bold, new direction.”  

Beginning June 3, the new DCU will consist of 24 brand-new series as well as 25 on-going, best selling fan-favorite series, resulting in the most ambitious DC Comics lineup-to-date.   Celebrating the new direction of the DC Universe, the DC YOU advertising campaign will focus on four main themes:

  • Characters – DC Entertainment will highlight its iconic characters, like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as popular characters, such as Batgirl, Black Canary, Bizarro, Cyborg and Starfire.
  • Talent – The campaign will spotlight top writers and artists, as well as emerging fresh voices, who are on board to help create an expansive line of comics that appeals to a broad audience of fans.  Comic talent featured in the campaign include Batman’s Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Superman’s Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr., Justice League’s Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, Justice League of America’s Bryan Hitch, Black Canary’s Brendon Fletcher and Annie Wu, among many others.
  • Stories – The campaign will engage the readership, showcasing the diverse range of styles and genres as well as approaches to storytelling across the New DCU through various taglines, such as Are YOU ready to laugh?, Are YOU ready to hashtag this?, and Are YOU ready for the new awesome?
  • Fans – As the campaign name suggests, the New DCU is first and foremost about our fans and our commitment to creating great stories for all fans.  The campaign will celebrate life-long fans as well as those new to comics.  

DC YOU will appear in print inserts and ads across DC Entertainment’s physical and digital comic books beginning May 20. Digital ads featuring video content will begin airing June 3 across major online platforms.  

The campaign will come to life on the DC Comics website (DCComics.com/DCYOU) and multiple DC Comics social media channels will encourage fans to celebrate and share their DCU via hashtag #DCYOU.  And this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego(July 9-12) will bring DC YOU directly to fans in fun and engaging ways.

As part of DC YOU, DC Entertainment will also offer comic book retailers weekly promotional packs filled with collectible items inspired by the New DCU line of comic-books.  These items will include posters, masks, temporary tattoos, stickers and are sure to encourage fans to visit their local comic book shop each week.

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15 Comments on DC unveils “DC You” marketing campaign, last added: 5/22/2015
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27. Media notes: TRIPWIRE is back; Comicon.com is gone; and Hollywood Heroes debuts

A few things going on out there in nerd media land.

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§ Tripwire Magazine has relaunched their website. Spo far mostly Mad Max, which is no problemn, but comics sstuff on there too. Editor Joel Meadows writes

“We have created a website that we can be proud of and now that we have found a format that works, we shall be updating it regularly with interviews, reviews, columns and more. We’ll also be including audio and video content, making the most of an interactive website,” editor-in-chief Joel Meadows said.

“We have also brought some new faces on board for the website too. Our webmaster Leonard Sultana from podcast An Englishman in SDCC is bringing his web savvy to Tripwire to make it the best experience it can be.”

After the beta period, Tripwire has already given its visitors unique content on Mad Max: Fury Road, columns from Mike (Girl with All The Gifts, The Unwritten) Carey and Jasper Bark.

 

§ My alma mater Comicon.com as new, as yet secret owners, and they’ve jettisoned all the old comments and message boards and the Pulse and the Beat and a ton of other history of the internet stuff. The links go to the Wayback Machine because nothing lasts forever in the cold November rain. Comicon.com launched back in the 90s run by Rick Veitch and Steve Conley and was a true pioneer of the comics website. But now it’s going to be something else, and I’m curious to see what they’ll use that admittedly awesome URL for. Farewell, Comicon.com

§ One of the biggest movie scoopers around, Umberto Gonzalez, has left Latino Review, and partnered with Daniel Alter to launch a transmedia site called Heroic Hollywood. It’s rare to see anyone striking out on their own like this nowadays—Latino Review was sold and El Mayimbe, as he’s known, couldn’t come to terms with them—but movie scoops might be the one area where it works. While the site is still nascent, Gonzalez has been tearing it up with DC and Marvel leaks on his Instagram account.

#Repost @heroichollywood ・・・ HEROIC HOLLYWOOD EXCLUSIVE! HOT #BatmanvSuperman promo art 2/2

A photo posted by Umberto Gonzalez (@umbertogonzalez) on

#Repost @heroichollywood ・・・ HEROIC HOLLYWOOD EXCLUSIVE! HOT #BatmanvSuperman promo art 1/2

A photo posted by Umberto Gonzalez (@umbertogonzalez) on

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28. Disclaimer review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Renée Knight's debut thriller, Disclaimer, just out in the US.

       Do other languages not have a word for that front matter-boilerplate so common in English-language fiction publications ? The French opted to title this book Révélée -- fitting the story, but not this particular point -- while the Germans took that bizarre course of substituting a different English word: they're bringing the novel out as: Deadline. Which really doesn't work anywhere near as well.

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29. All the Secret Wars News You Can Handle from the last 48 Hours

Even without an issue of Secret Wars proper this week, the news coming out of Marvel regarding the event has been overwhelming. Get a snack and relax as we inform you on all the big new coming from the publisher about the event from the last two days — it’s kind of a lot!

1. Get ready for the ‘THE FINAL WAR.’

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This morning CBR debuted the brand new new solicits for the publisher where Thanos stands in what seems to be the pit introduced in Secret Wars #2 with a solicit reading reading: THE FINAL WAR! I think this Alex Ross cover has my attention…

2. Something is happening…8 Months Later?

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AS IF that wasn’t enough for you, Marvel also announced on Newsarama yesterday that their books after Secret Wars are picking up a full 8 months after the big event! It’s interesting to hear that Marvel is billing 8 months as their mysterious number. Fans already got a taste of the Marvel Universe 8 Months Later with the Free Comic Book Day Avengers story. Sneaky! The House of Ideas went onto to state that A-Force and Weirdworld are continuing after the event (AWESOME!) Maestro, Mrs. Deadpool & The Howling Commandos, and Uncanny Inhumans will all be part of the new Marvel Universe (reboot?) So let’s look for the reboot publishing initiative in Fall 2015.

3. Uncanny X-Men #600 Delayed!

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Uncanny X-Men #600 has been delayed until AFTER Secret Wars. That’s huge news as Marvel has been seeding some massive plot developments for Cyclops in Secret Wars that need to be addressed in Bendis-written titles eventually! Uncanny X-Men #600 has been delayed into October, and it is the last X-Men title written by Bendis.

The author commented on the story through Tumblr: the Internet is half lying to you. It is not shipping in October because I am a massive spastic fuck up. it was bumped until after secret wars for editorial and commercial reasons. not my call. this was marvel. but they have their reasons.

4. Mike Zeck is getting an Artist’s Edition with a Secret Wars reprint.

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Finally, the extremely important 80’s Marvel artist Mike Zeck known for a little story entitled Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt, and an obscure comic called Secret Wars first published in 1984 is getting an Artist’s Edition featuring his Marvel work called: Mike Zeck’s Classic Marvel Stories: Artist’s Edition.

The author said the following about working on the original Secret Wars with Jim Shooter via this comment with CBR: I didn’t think much about that at the outset, but when issues started hitting comics outlets, it became evident that it was “a big deal with a lot of attention!” Deadline pressures and other elements made the work less enjoyable than some other projects but [it was] definitely worthwhile in the end. “Secret Wars” totally succeeded in bringing attention to Marvel comics via the series and the toy tie-ins. I always hear from fans at conventions that it was “Secret Wars” that prompted them to start reading comics. Very gratifying.

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30. The third Walking Dead Compendium is coming in October

Your shelves have been buckling for years under the weight of the first two Walking Dead compendiums — compact volumes offering more than 40 issues and 1000 pages of the famed comics series for $60 each. Talk about a license to print money—the first two compendia have been constant bestsellers, with thousands and thousands of copies in print, and creator Robert Kirkman and artists Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano have earned all those royalties.

And now they are doing it again with The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 3 which goes on sale on October 13—just in time for the new season of the Walking Dead TV show. Fire up the money bin!

This edition will sell for $59.99 and include issues #97-144. That’s Negan, Alexandria and the loss of some much loved characters. It’s primo material and everyone is going to want a copy.

You can preorder THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM THREE (ISBN: 978-1-63215-456-9) now at your local comic shop, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com.

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31. On minding your social media manners and hot takes

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The priceless Deb Aoki has created yet another masterful Storify called Twitter for Comics Creators – Do’s & Don’ts and rather than embed here, it just go read it. But here’s the nut graph:

Be someone who gives/shares information and ideas, makes people laugh, makes them think, gives them exposure to a point of view that they may not have considered before. Be a friend and you’ll make friends — this is true in Twitter and in “real life.”


Basically what the compilation is about is how tweeting at people to retweet your kickstarter or your comic book to someone you don’t know just doesn’t work. And nether does setting up a twitter account just to promote your book. That’s now how social media works. You have to build up good will and cred and then people will be happy to help out, but you have to make a foundation for that good will first.

Basically a lot of people are annoyed by the blind-side request, as shown in the tweets Deb quotes in her storify. I’m not annoyed exactly but it’s just “one more thing.” Like most people, I try to do good things and help out where I can, and I have a low level nagging sense of letting people down all the time, but meaningless retweets don’t help me or you.

Doing it the hard way does pay off. To cite just one example, I “met” Henry Barajas through interacting through Twitter and eventually he started writing for the site, and we’re now good friends IRL. But it took time. Twitter is a firehose not a Britta filter, and building up good will is a process not an event.

That reminds me of something else that I’ve had in my drafts for a while. In addition to requests for retweets I often get “urgent notifications” on social media as stories break with “WHY AREN”T YOU COVERING THIS RIGHT NOW???!??!??!!!” The specific event that tipped me over the edge was during C2E2. On opening day on Friday there was a teeny tiny kerfuffle when one of the exhibitors (let’s call them Madison) posted on FB that his booth had been vandalized. This led to many calls for an investigation, outrage and one well-meaning website wrote a whole piece calling it an example of “disrespect for the medium.” While I was tempted to join in the outcry, another FB post by a veteran convention goer (let’s call them Dakota) also happened to pop up that complained about how Global Experience Specialists, the set-up company for the heavily unionized McCormack Place are “literally THE WORST conference services company in the U.S.” I’m told that palettes were delivered to the wrong booths, tables and chairs got mixed up and other things that made set-up a pain in the ass.

Anyway, seeing these in close conjunction and examining the picture of the ruined table, it wasn’t too hard to figure out what had happened. And indeed after a bit of outrage and outcry, “Madison” rather sheepishly admitted that probably a forklift had just knocked into the table. If you’ve ever been on the floor of a con pre or post working hours, you know that convention center workers seem to think the show floor is for forklifts what a dune is to a buggy or a mountain to a bike, and knocking things over isn’t out of the question—in fact I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more.

The rest of the show went pretty smoothly, but there was a new Fire Marshall, who took a close look at some booths and told “Dakota” that boxes couldn’t be stored behind their booth, which is as anyone who has been to a con knows, where people store their boxes. Despite these issues, Dakota had a great and enjoyable C2E2, with a lot of business conducted at the show. So basically everyone had a happy ending.

But I didn’t write about the vandalized booth. When I get an outraged call-out I don’t always cover it immediately. While in many instances it’s because I ran out of time (that happens a lot these days), in other instances it’s because the inciting post or incident just didn’t pass my sniff test. I can think of at least two times where I got called out to write about something even though I could tell that what people thought happened wasn’t the whole story, and while I posted something about what seemed to have happened, the truth was something else entirely. And I regret that and won’t do it again.

While it isn’t good for traffic to resist jumping on social media bandwagons with a “hot take,” after more than a decade of writing on the internet, I am here to tell you something very shocking: not everything you read on the internet is true. I certainly don’t do a good enough job of investigating the truth behind the headlines, but I’ll continue to at least attempt to offer a little more insight. And that takes a lot of time.

Now this doesn’t mean don’t send news tips. Please send more of them! But my goal here is to deal in information not as it happens pictures of boxes on the floor. Like I said, I don’t do a great job of it, but it’s the goal. So now you know.

5 Comments on On minding your social media manners and hot takes, last added: 5/22/2015
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32. Do we choose what we believe?

Descartes divided the mind up into two faculties: intellect and will. The intellect gathers up data from the world and presents the mind with various potential beliefs that it might endorse; the will then chooses which of them to endorse. We can look at the evidence for or against a particular belief, but the final choice about what to believe remains a matter of choice. This raises the question of the 'ethics of belief,' the title of an essay by the mathematician William K. Clifford, in which he argued that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.'

The post Do we choose what we believe? appeared first on OUPblog.

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33. Where was Christopher Columbus really from?

Of the many controversies surrounding the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus, who died on this day 510 years ago, one of the most intriguing but least discussed questions is his true country of origin. For reasons lost in time, Columbus has been identified with unquestioned consistency as an Italian of humble beginnings from the Republic of Genoa. Yet in over 536 existing pages of his letters and documents, not once does the famous explorer claim to have come from Genoa.

The post Where was Christopher Columbus really from? appeared first on OUPblog.

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34. A sugar & sweets music mixtape

Incorporating the idea of sweetness in songs is nothing new to the music industry. Ubiquitous terms like "sugar" and "honey" are used in ways of both endearment and condescension, love and disdain. Among the (probably) hundreds of songs about sweets, Aaron Gilbreath, essayist and journalist from Portland, Oregon, curated a list of 50 songs, which is included in The Oxford Companion of Sugar and Sweets.

The post A sugar & sweets music mixtape appeared first on OUPblog.

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35. Review: Avengers–themed Aged White Cheddar Pirate’s Booty

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Just to show that I cannot escape marketing or branding, a few weeks ago I received some PR about limited edition bags of Pirate’s Booty cheese snacks that feature The Avengers on them, because cheese snacks are the new shawarma. Just in time for the movie. I got to corresponding with the PR person, and well, soon a giant FedEx box full of Pirate’s Booty arrived at Stately Beat Manor.

I’m told that “Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar is a deliciously baked (never fried) snack made from puffed rice and corn, and blended with real aged white cheddar cheese. Made without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, it is a snack that kids and parents agree on. Additionally, it is gluten-free and has 0 grams of trans fat per serving.” So basically these are healthy-ish cheese puffs. So here’s my review:

I love Pirate’s Booty! The cheese flavor, described as aged white cheddar, is natural and sharp, and the texture is light and crispy. I’ve been eating these as an afternoon (or sometimes midnight) snack since the box arrived. I will be sad when the box is empty. I guess these are not on my low-glycemic diet, but the portions are very modest in each bag so it wasn’t a Hulkbuster. Also gluten and wheat free if you’re into that. (Gluten doesn’t really bother me, I’ve found, but I do have a mild wheat allergy, which is sad, but life goes on.)

The puffs do leave a grainy residue on your hands, but it’s pale, unlike the fire hydrant orange paste that must be scrubbed off with steel wool that remains after a session with Cheetohs.

And on a very positive note, Black Widow is included on the packaging art along with Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor as if she were a real member of the team!

Anyway, you can find out more about Pirate’s Booty at their website.

Disclosure: product samples were supplied for this review, but I did not receive any financial compensation.

3 Comments on Review: Avengers–themed Aged White Cheddar Pirate’s Booty, last added: 5/21/2015
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36. Remembering the “good” and “bad” wars: Memorial Day 40, 50, and 70 years on

Memorial Day is always a poignant moment -- a time to remember and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by so many military personnel over the decades -- but this year three big anniversaries make it particularly so. Seventy years ago, Americans celebrated victory in a war in which these sacrifices seemed worthwhile.

The post Remembering the “good” and “bad” wars: Memorial Day 40, 50, and 70 years on appeared first on OUPblog.

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37. 2015 Glyph Comics Award winners announced, led by Shaft

The 2015 Glyph Awards, recognizing the best in African American comics, were presented over the weekend, and here are the winners:

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STORY OF THE YEAR
SHAFT; David F. Walker, Writer; Bilquis Evely, Artist

BEST WRITER
Keef Cross; DAY BLACK

BEST ARTIST
Nelson Blake 2; ARTIFACTS

BEST COVER
OFFSET #1 – THE MAN WHO TRAVELS WITH A PIECE OF SUGARCANE; Tristan Roach

BEST MALE CHARACTER
Bass Reeves; BASS REEVES: TALES OF THE TALENTED TENTH ; Joel Christian Gill, Writer and Artist

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
Ajala Storm; AJALA: A SERIES OF ADVENTURES; Robert Garrett, Writer; N Steven Harris and Walt Msonza Barna, Artists

RISING STAR AWARD
Alverne Ball and Jason Reeves, Writers; Lee Moyer and Ari Syahrazad, Artists; ONE NATION: OLD DRUIDS

BEST COMIC STRIP OR WEBCOMIC
KAMIKAZE; Alan and Carrie Tupper, Writers and Artists; Havana Nguyen, Artist

BEST REPRINT PUBLICATION
TECHWATCH; Chameleon Creations

FAN AWARD FOR BEST WORK
ONENATION: SAFEHOUSE; Jason Reeves, Writer; Samax Amen and Deon De Lange, Artists

day_blackI had the pleasure of reading some of these as a judge for the Dwayne McDuffie award and all are worth checking out. Shaft has gotten a lot of positive support here there and everywhere. I’d also like to note that Day Black comes out from Rosarium  and it’s a very well written vampire story about a slave who is turned and is a tattoo artist in the present day. It has a very unusual style.

 

Congrats to all the winners!

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38. Atlantic City Boardwalk Con 2015: Inaugural Show Has Promise

Atlantic-City-Boardwalk-Con-370x260When I first heard of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, my gut had some trepidation:

  • A first-time convention, from a new company.  (A little research, and I discovered it was the company which builds and manages booths for various comic book publishers, as well as manages other consumer events.)
  • A first-time convention, in a convention center.
  • A convention in Atlantic City, which is a bit dogeared as tourist destinations go.  (The casinos are struggling, the city has not invested the gaming revenue wisely.)

Yet… the show managed to bring in a lot of comics publishers (Boom, Valiant, Aspen, Zenescope, Marvel, Top Cow), placing it ahead of many older, regional shows.

They have a decent guest list. While I have been to Atlantic City to gamble and hang out on the boardwalk, I have never been to the convention center.  Why not take a day trip to Atlantic City and check out the show?  I woke up at 5 AM Saturday morning, caught the 8:15 Greyhound, and arrived at Bally’s casino at about 10:30 AM.

(Note: if travelling to Atlantic City by Greyhound, they might give you a gaming voucher with your bus ticket. Otherwise, ride the bus to the casino, not the bus station, show ID, and you’ll get a gaming voucher. Free money! And they’ll have geeky slots, like Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, Wizard of Oz…  Then walk a few blocks to the convention center.)

I decided to experience the convention like a normal fan.  Buy the ticket, hang out, see a few panels, no agenda.  My only question to answer: How successful was the show?

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This map gives a sense of scale of how far one had to walk from the main entrance to the front of the show floor on the far left.

Things which impressed me:

  1. ACBC 2015 badgeThe badge.  The front had space to write your name! But even more impressive and “why wasn’t this done sooner?” mind boggling: the back had a matte finish, and a miniature blank comics page! Get autographs! Signatures! Take notes!
  2. Hall B was mostly empty. During the day, it hosted giant scenic backdrops for cosplay photos! The other half of the room was set up for a stage, and right after the show, from 8 PM – 2AM, hosted the Cosplay Ballroom Party.
  3. The middle aisle was divided into thirds (see map above). The middle row, it seems, was used for those with ADA needs. I didn’t see it used for that, but I wasn’t there when the show opened. Otherwise, that middle aisle was easy to navigate; few traffic jams. I had no problem moving around.
  4. One exhibitor was selling 3-D printer sculpts of cosplayers.  The process took about two minutes on a turntable, and the initial scan looked great! Six weeks for processing and printing.  The Jedi Knight I witnessed paid $100 for a six-inch model.
  5. Did you know that George Romero had planned to do a science fiction cyborg movie in 1984? Bob Layton explained the history to me.
  6. The Atlantic City Convention Center!  There’s a big, 90-foot atrium when you enter, with lots of natural light!  The exhibition halls are on the second floor, covering 486,000 sq.ft.  Above that, on both sides of the Atrium, levels three and four offer meeting rooms and large event spaces. (No ballroom, although Hall A can be used as such.) (Flat daily rate for that entire exhibition space? $45,000) Walking the length of the atrium wasn’t bad…about two blocks long.

Atlantic City CC atriumThings I noticed:

  1. There was a lot of space.  Even artists alley, the booths were “small press” size,  The rows were also short, perpendicular to the main aisle, so were more intimate than the typical AA layout which recedes into the vanishing point.
  2. I don’t know how they convinced the Convention Center, but there were a lot of food vendors on the show floor. Bulk candy, macaroons, pop corn, chocolate…  Next year, they should get Pez or candy licensees for comics properties to show up!
  3. The auto row was a nice idea.  Lots of Batmobiles, the Batcycle with sidecar, Dukes of Hazzard, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future… $10 a photo.  The added bonus: the curtain wall hid the bathrooms and concessions behind it. Shorter lines!
  4. miss america scepter tiara lee meriweather miss americaI wandered over to the convention hotel (the Sheraton) to scope out their event space. I discovered a small Miss America museum off the lobby!  Did you know that Lee Meriwether AKA Catwoman, was also Miss America 1955? She was the first to wear the current tiara. There’s also a costume display of famous winners. (Wouldn’t it be awesome to have her appear next year?!)
  5. There was a lot of cosplay! Lego Avengers (no Black Widow, alas), Inside Out, and what might be the most comfortable outfit: The Goon.
  6. Did the earlier Wizard World Philly drain off some excitement? Is the local demographic one which shops at conventions, or just site-sees?

Things to improve next year:

  1. From the entrance to the exhibit hall, one had to walk about 100 yards past the box office to turn the corner and enter the show floor.  That entrance wasn’t well laid out…  it required a 90-degree right turn, so you were bumping into people who were exiting.  Yes…  that was the only entrance/exit. Once the mass of humanity was let in, they should have opened a secondary entrance at Hall C or B.
  2. There was a lot of empty space unused, especially in Hall D.  While I understand the need for a big space to hold the early attendees before the show opens, Hall B, where the Cosplay Ballroom Party was held, could have been used instead. Or… line them up on the Third and Fourth floors, in the hallways outside the panel rooms.  Run the line down the open stairwells to the Second Floor and the exhibit hall.  Or, better yet… seat them in the film room, show ads while they wait, do some emceeing, then guide them downstairs in an orderly fashion.
  3. The floor layout was very confusing. I’m systematic when I hit shows, and I thought I had completed my first run in 90 minutes. After a panel, I took a second pass to do some shopping, and found even more booths I had missed. Then I deliberately did a third pass, and I still missed seeing the Aspen booth!  There were strange placements, triangular booths (a nice idea on paper, but not in practice), a bit hard to orient oneself, even with the banners overhead. I don’t think the booth islands were arranged well. (The parent company does 3-D booth design. Perhaps they should use that software to better layout the next show.) If Marvel returns, their booth should run parallel with the outside walls. Place the entrance to the show floor where Aisle 1100 is, make it lead directly to Marvel so that’s the first thing attendees see, and then run the long aisle both ways. That would avoid the narrow 1000/1100 booths seen on the current map, and makes circulation less complicated.
  4. The Cosplay dance party… it’s a good idea, but with regional pop culture cons, there will be other events in competition with whatever the show plans. It’s best to co-sponsor an off-site after party event with a publisher, as Aspen did with a local retailer at Bally’s. It also saves money, not just with the sponsorship, but also in hall rental and convention center expenses such as security.
  5. The convention center has a permanent box office, on the first floor.  It wasn’t used, instead, part of the show floor held the ticket booths. I described above how this created a big inconvenience for attendees. ACBC also needs to improve the Will Call process. It should be as simple as “scan printout barcode, hand attendee the badge”.
  6. There was good media coverage locally, but I heard and saw little here in the New York City area. I wonder if the same happened in Philadelphia?

The best cosplay?  This:

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Overall:

I paid $35 for the Saturday ticket, $44 for the bus ticket, and $13 for lunch (hoagie and a bottle of OJ).  I spent less than $150 on merchandise, at five vendors.  I’m not a big spender at shows, unless I see original art that interests me. Also, I didn’t want to schlep something onto the bus and subway.

The scheduling of the show was good.  While there might be a ConWar with Wizard World Philadelphia (which is scheduled next year for early June 2016), there aren’t many other regional shows on the calendar in mid-May. It’s a nice counter-balance to the New York Comic Con in October, although I don’t see ACBC getting that large.

A bigger problem, which I don’t know how to solve: hotel rooms. Unlike Las Vegas, Atlantic City doesn’t have much weekday business powered by conventions. Thus, weekend hotel rooms, unlike every other hotel in the country, are in high demand and expensive. (Unless you have a car and can stay at one of the cheaper hotels far from the Boardwalk.) ACBC did offer hotel deals, as many shows do, but they weren’t available when I checked on Friday. ACBC should partner with one of the hotel casinos, offering a shuttle bus service, and hosting after parties. Then, you’ve got a captive audience, both for gambling and nightlife. (Were I a hotel manager, I’d advertise a drag queen revue to the cosplayers!)

There was a lot of posting on social media Monday, and generally, people had a good time.  I’ve heard that there will be another next year, so I hope it keeps improving and growing. The locale is good (between Philadelphia and New York City), the convention center can handle the growth (about the same size as Denver and Salt Lake City), there’s an audience hungry for this type of show, and enough retailers nearby to make this show work.  Of course, if the numbers get big, then national retailers will jump on the bandwagon.

Will I attend next year?  Sure, I’ll probably daytrip like I did this weekend. It had a good mix, and there was little stress.


 

4 Comments on Atlantic City Boardwalk Con 2015: Inaugural Show Has Promise, last added: 5/20/2015
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39. Brad Woods named CMO at Viz

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Former Dreamworks SVP Brad Woods has joined Viz Media as Chief Marketing Officer. Woods also has Mattel and Warner Bros. on his resume. At Viz he’ll oversee strategies for expansion into multiple channels. Inaddition to it’s well known print manga products. Viz also has streaming, online, film, TV and many other home entertainment branches, so hiring a veteran exec to look at all this stuff is a good move.

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, has announced that Brad Woods has been named as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
 
“Brad Woods is a seasoned entertainment executive with a proven success record of enhancing brand equity, increasing revenue, and achieving results with innovative strategies and visionary leadership,” says Ken Sasaki, CEO of VIZ Media. “His multi-disciplinary experience will play a vital role in expanding VIZ Media’s market share across the publishing, digital content, licensing, home media, and consumer product landscapes.”  
 
Woods will be responsible for developing a range of marketing and product strategies to expand the VIZ Media brand and omni-channel marketing for titles across all company imprints.
 
“I am very excited to build upon VIZ Media’s mission to offer exciting and unique multimedia content to a diverse global audience,” Woods says. “Our dynamic catalog of titles across the print, digital, broadcast, and mobile arenas will allow us to reinvent how consumers discover, enjoy, and interact with our properties on a truly global level.”
 
Woods joins VIZ Media from DreamWorks Animation, where he served as Senior Vice President leading the domestic consumer products and retail business development divisions. During his tenure at DreamWorks, he restructured and substantially expanded the studio’s consumer products business, led the U.S. licensing and retail teams, and also provided strategic leadership for breakthrough marketing programs on properties including Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How To Train Your Dragon. 
 
Over his 20-year career, Woods has held senior positions in the entertainment and multi-media industries with companies including Mattel and Warner Bros. Entertainment. His experience spans a wide variety of marketing and licensing operations such as product marketing, brand development, corporate marketing and communications, lead generation, channel relations, and digital and social media marketing. He holds an MBA from the University of Southern California, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude, and a BS from the University of Arizona.









 

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40. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 5/20/15: Surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist quits and other news of the week

§ Luz, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who sirvived the January attack, is quitting the magazine in September, he revealed in an interview on Monday. It’s hard to blame him.

“Each issue is torture, because the others are gone,” Mr. Luzier said. “Spending sleepless nights summoning the dead, wondering what Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous would have done is exhausting,” he added, referring to cartoonists who were killed by two Islamist brothers by their pseudonyms.


Although Renald Luzier, to use his full name, drew the post-attack cover that showed a weeping Mohammed he also said that he’s not going to draw the prophet any more, as it doesn’t interest him. He has other projects to work on, including an autobiographical comic and an adaptation of The Shining. I think we can all wish him some peace of mind.

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§ Here’s a very goofy story: pop star Rihanna and DC are clashing over the trademark of the word “Robyn” which is her given name—her full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty. DC thinks that’s too close to Robin. The tussle flared up when RiRi sought to trademark the word for some business interests:

Rihanna, or as us good friends apparently call her, Robyn, owns a company, Roraj Trade LLC that owns the trademarks associated with her businesses like her cosmetics and perfume line. In June 2014, Roraj Trade filed a trademark registration application for the term ROBYN used for “providing on-line non-downloadable general feature magazines”. So it appears Rihanna wants to use her real name in association with some online magazine. DC Comics has its own Robin, of course. Batman’s sidekick first appeared way back in 1939 and since that time, the Dynamic Duo have had an on and off relationship but DC Comics still uses the character and trademark to this day. In 1984, DC Comics received a trademark registration for ROBIN for action figures and in 1995 received another for comic books. DC Comics use of the ROBIN trademark is well established and DC Comics has invested a lot of time and money establishing the character and the trademark.


The Outhouse has the legal filings on the matter. While this all seems silly, both Robin and Rihanna often go out in public wearing briefs, so we can see how the public might be confused.

§ Here is a new site called ComicsChicago that lists comicksy type things to do around the Windy City. Here’s one that sounds promising: Sex & Gender Empowerment in the Comics.

§ J. Caleb Mozzocco is now writing for Comics Alliance! They have all the cool kids. And here he is reviewing Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona:

Noelle Stevenson‘s Nimona is not your typical fantasy comic heroine. I say that not because of her style, which includes a partially shaved head, with dyed hair and piercings; and not because of the way she dresses, which is in practical chain mail and leather adventuring gear; and not because of her build, which is short and stocky, in sharp contrast to the tall willowy male characters.

No, Nimona is not your typical fantasy comic heroine because Nimona is not a hero period. She’s a villain.

§ And speaking of Nimona, it’s been optioned by Vertigo. SAY WHAT?!? Oh Vertigo Entertainment, which is run by Roy Lee”

Lee will produce the adaptation through Vertigo, with production president Adam Stone overseeing. Vertigo most recently produced the Ryan Reynolds horror/comedy The Voices, Warner Bros.’ smash animated hit The Lego Movie, and the Liam Neeson starrer Run All Night. Vertigo is currently producing a number of high-profile projects, including The Lego Movie sequels and spinoffs, the Adventure Time adaptation, and Stephen King’s It. Vertigo’s latest, the Poltergeist remake, is set to bow this weekend.

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§ And just to wrap up this Nimona discussion, I’ve mentioned a few times that I think this is one of the most important graphic novels of the year from a publishing standpoint as it’s a major house—HarperCollins—getting back into original comics content after some early missteps. Graphic novels for younger readers are definitely the hottest category out there, but a strong showing by this book would show that Smile isn’t just an outlier. So how’s it doing? Not bad as of right now:
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Amazon sales rankings are of course only a snapshot, but this is a pretty solid indication that it’s finding an audience.

As well it should. Stevenson is so young and has that out-of-the-box talent and confidence that presages a very long and successful career. And Nimona is a wonderful book, as Mozzocco suggests above, taking fantasy tropes and recasting them in fresh and funny ways. You should check it out.

§ Luvable Simon Pegg suddenly turned into a snarling wolverine when he dared to criticize nerd culture for being “childish.” Nice one, Scotty. Just who is paying your salary again. But in a thoughtful op-ed, the Spaced co-creator explained that he was talking about the co-opting of media for marketing puposes among other things:

Recent developments in popular culture were arguably predicted by the French philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard in his book, ‘America’, in which he talks about the infantilzation of society. Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth? A time when we were shielded from painful truths by our recreational passions, the toys we played with, the games we played, the comics we read. There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.


This is very true. I have seen way more discussion in my Twitter feed of the fictional rape of a fictional character than the real horrifying systematic rape and impregnation of kidnapped girls and children because criticizing fiction is fun, but trying to fix the actual world of brutality and suffering is hard and depressing. I will just direct you to The Project Solution, a charity run by my friend Joe Gonzalez, of the podcast Comic News Insider, that tries to do little things like build a well for a village or buying a computer for some orphans. Small measurable things that do make a difference. Calling out HBO for its gross pandering is a good thing, but I’m pretty sure Boko Haram doesn’t watch Game of Thrones. Anyway, we have to be vigilant on BOTH fronts, but don’t forget, there is so much misdirection out there.

§ And speaking of which, obligatory Marvel section. They’re the best at what they do and what they do is market stuff like crazy: How @Marvel Perfected the Integrated Social Campaign | Simply Measured

…OR DO THEY? I know you are sick of AVENGERS: AFE OF ULTRON think pieces but this much linked piece by Sady Doyle explains How Marvel Is Killing the Popcorn Movie that lays out some of the fatigue many are feeling:

The movie also has a pre-determined narrative, which we know because it’s the same narrative every Marvel movie adheres to, which is, roughly: There’s a thing and a bad guy and the bad guy steals the thing, so they fight. They lose one fight and then they lose another fight and then they win the last fight. The end. We also need to end the movie in such a way that all of the characters with ongoing franchises can go back to those franchises, alive and more or less unchanged.


True enough, but all hot dogs are pretty much the same and people still like hot dogs.

4 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 5/20/15: Surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist quits and other news of the week, last added: 5/21/2015
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41. The destruction of an Assyrian palace

Ashurnasirpal’s palace at Nimrud (Assyrian Kalḫu) was constructed around 865 BCE during a period in which Assyria was slowly becoming the empire that would come to rule most of the Middle East two centuries later. Ashurnasirpal’s palace is among the few Assyrian palaces to have been excavated (more or less) in its entirety. Measuring at least 2 hectares, it must have been one of the largest and most monumental buildings of its time.

The post The destruction of an Assyrian palace appeared first on OUPblog.

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42. Here’s a brief teaser for The Flash Season 2 and let’s chat about that finale

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I haven’t had a chance to watch the finale of The Flash yet (business travel is the worst sometimes), but I hear it was pretty fun! The CW has already released a very, VERY brief teaser for the next season with showrunners Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti about what fans can look forward to this fall when the series returns:

There’s really not much to see here as of yet, but let’s take the opportunity to chat about last night’s finale, what’d you think? Did The Flash‘s inaugural season live up to your expectations?

We’ll consider any that comments below are free to be rife with spoilers, so anyone who’s in my boat and hasn’t watched it yet, steer clear!

16 Comments on Here’s a brief teaser for The Flash Season 2 and let’s chat about that finale, last added: 5/21/2015
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43. Mad Max Fury Road: A citadel in the Uncanny Valley

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After attending an afternoon showing of Mad Max Fury Road, I stood outside the theater in a daze. I was almost literally speechless, and my PTSD continued as I hopped in a cab to go to a dinner engagement. Fury Road’s insane, relentless, vivid and non-stop car chase was so senses shattering that it felt weird to actually BE in a car in the real world. I kept expecting the taxi to rear end a war rig or see an Interceptor career towards us at a 45 degree angle or have a Polecat suddenly dip towards our cab, lobbing a grenade. The real world suddenly seemed like a distant echo of the thunderous one that had seared itself on my eyeballs for the last 120 minutes.

My visceral reaction was so different from how I felt after any number of recent CGI extravaganzas. I’d forgotten about Age of Ultron by the time I crossed the street. I left Guardians of the Galaxy humming “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” and loving raccoons, but the plot quickly receded into the rearview mirror. Perhaps this is because of my own subconscious processing of real images as opposed to animated ones — the practical effects of Fury Road are so much more memorable and powerful—and expensive.

I can’t remember the last time an action movie seized the imaginations of critics and viewers alike so fully. MMFR’s stunning 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes make all the recent Best Picture nominees look shabby. Most people I know had a similar road to damascus experience, with multiple viewings planned. They’ve heard the call and have to keep preaching. I kept calling Avengers: Age of Ultron an “experience” not a movie, but Mad Max Fury Road was the real experience, something so exhilarating and cathartic that people need to feel that way again.

It would be simple to declare that the success of Mad Max Fury Road is just due to good old fashioned great moviemaking—and it’s true. George Miller is an amazing filmmaker, always has been, Babe: Pig in the City. But it’s 2015 and this is the internet, so let’s drill down with some crucial questions, shall we?

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Is Mad Max Fury Road a success at the Box Office?

Maybe the MRA/GuffleGab crowd—which suggested a boycott of MMFR due to its feminazi lies—is crowing about the film not hitting #1 at the BO, proving people don’t want to see a movie with a strong female lead, but it was beaten by Pitch Perfect 2, a girl-aimed movie about an all girl singing contest with a mostly girl cast, a first time female director—congrats Elizabeth Banks!—and a 75% female audience. MMFR had a 60% male audience. This was a pretty straightforward win for girl power—$70 mil to $44.4 mil. All this led Pitch Perfect producer Lynda Obst to crow a bit:

It also explains why that awful Jem and the Holograms trailer has a title that reads “From the studio that brought your PItch Perfect.” We have a new tentpole here, and people are going to be chasing it for a while.

Deadline’s Anita Busch put an even gloomier spin on it:

This $200M+ budgeted road rager from Village Roadshow was definitely restricted by its R-rating but there’s no pr company in the world that can put a great spin on this opening weekend. Everyone wanted this one to open better.

Mad Max triumphed worldwide with $109.4 mil, which sounds pretty good until you remember that this movie cost $200 million. All those Cirque du Soleil stunts and practical effects did not come cheaply, oh no. I’ll get back to that in a minute. As you probably know, MMFR had a very troubled production, with fits and starts for 15 years, and a worried set visit by WB’s Denise De Novi to find out what was costing so much and why Tom Hardy and Cherlize Theron didn’t get along. While there’s already hopeful talk of a sequel, to be called Mad Max: The Wasteland, this is not a no-brainer. In fact, it’s a total brainer, so we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, Miller and Co have turned to the far more economical world of comics to tell more of the backstory. Smart move, Vertigo!

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Is Tom Hardy as Mad Max awesome possum?

Yes.

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Is Mad Max Fury Road a feminist triumph?

1) On first thought, as everyone now knows, George Miller intended this to be explicitly feminist in its message, and even got playwright/activist Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) on set as a consultant. And looking at the story of Imperator Furiosa (Cherlize Theron) seeking redemption by rescuing the five wives (who had already graffiti’d up their living quarters with empowering slogans) of the grotesque Immortan Joe with the aid of a bunch of exiled old ladies on bikes called the Vuvalinis does make it sound a bit didactic. So yes. But…

2) On second thought, I’m of the generation that followed humanism long before we heard about intersectionality. I know, I know, humanism is way out of fashion, but I can’t help framing the journey of Furiosa, the Splendid Angharad, the Valkyrie and the rest as simply interesting characters who struggle and triumph just the way men always have. Charlize Theron herself pointed out out that

People keep saying ‘strong women’ but we are actually just women. We had a filmmaker that understood the truth of women is powerful enough and we don’t want to be put on pedestals or made to be unnaturally strong.


While it’s constantly pointed out that Marvel has made a tree and a raccoon beloved characters but not a woman, it seems that constantly having to label “strong females” as females is marginalizing in itself. All the characters in Mad Max Fury Road are iconic and my FB feed yesterday was filled with artists drawing them; like a good filmmaker should, Miller wants ALL of his characters to be memorable and have agency. Why that should be so hard for most movies is a failing of craft and artistry, and why it is so rarely applied to film characters other than white men is something that needs to be dissected while it’s still alive. Can’t we just say it was good storytellign without addding labels?

3) But on third thought….man alive, this movie goes right back to the White Goddess with an explicit war between patriarchal and matriarchal values. I know some female writers have been disturbed by the childbirth scene because, well, it’s tough. But it’s a clear indication of how Immortan Joe and his crew view gender, a view sadly prevalent in the real world, where the existence of a dead male fetus is of more importance than any living female. Furiosa, the Valkyrie, Max and Nux are fighting for a more giving society, one where scarce resources are used to build a society, not to govern one. That this brainy idea is the driver for the most visceral action movie in a decade makes its triumph all the more remarkable…but I would argue that it’s a (barely hidden) subtext that gives the movie its strength. We’ve seen a gazillion action movies where the good guys beat the bad guys because of family and honor and courage and blah blah blah. Mad Max Fury Road is direct…but it isn’t simple. It’s this refreshing refusal to talk down to its audience that is so thrilling. It’s the difference between being taken for a ride and going for a ride.

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Why was that ride so thrilling?

During the long, brutal winter of ’14-’15 I spent many a night huddled under a blanket watching movies. One of the films viewed was James Cameron’s True Lies, which was made in 1994 and was the last huge action movie that used practical stunts and sets. They really blew up that bridge, and really mounted a harrier jet on a crane so Arnold could clamber over it. Jamie Lee Curtis really jumped onto a helicopter. It cost a lot and wasn’t a huge success, and now these things are all CGI and green screen.

The original Star Wars trilogy and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy used miniatures and guys in suits. The prequels and the Hobbit movies used tons and tons of CGI and in the case of the latter, Peter Jackson even turned Billy Connolly’s Dain into a CGI character. To no good effect. Little kids like the prequels just as well, but most people who like movies find the originals much more engaging and real. The Tolkien stuff is a perfect example of one set of films remaining vital and thrilling while the other is just bleh. Admittedly, one has way better material, but all that animation was ultimately numbing.

It’s obvious that the realness of Mad Max is the main reason people have reacted so strongly to it. Those were real cars, real guys on poles, real deserts, real stunts, real make-up. Of course, there was CGI, but it aided the reality instead of becoming a substitution for it—Charlize Theron’s stump of an arm being a perfect example

I find most contemporary CGI spectacle rubbery and unconvincing. It feels like shopping at the Dollar Tree: drab and monotonous. Of course I’m also old and cranky — younger movie goers, and those used to video game CGI, have no problem with it. But it’s all so lazy. One big or monster can be truly chilling—cf. Stan Winston’s work in The Thing. But that takes real time and care, so an army of CGI Ultrons, or Chitauri or bugs or orcs or whatever swarms the screen with all the spectacle of an iPhone game.

Practical effects are more expensive and take a lot more skill. It’s why its a vanishing art. Mad Max Fury Road is a profoundly 80s movie: it’s touchstones, like the old Mad Max movies, are heavy metal and hot rods and leather jackets. The filmmaking is also 80s standard for stunts and models, with contemporary CGI wizardry thrown in as the seasoning. But the rapturous response to the film made me wonder about the psychological distinction between real and unreal. Yes, we’re back in the Uncanny Valley, the theory that people are attracted to unreal, cartoonish characters but as these characters become more human and realistic, they reach a point where they are actually disturbing and repulsive. Many Robert Zemeckis films are proof of this (Polar Express ho!) We’ve moved a bit beyond Zemeckis’s early efforts, or the now laughably unconvincing swinging Spider-Man of the first Sam Raimi films, now less engaging than the guy in a Godzilla suit of the 50s.

But is there any evidence for this effect beyond constant kvetching about “all that CGI”? I googled “psychological effects of CGI” and found very little easily accessible research. (one of the top results was “Physical, Sexual and Psychological Effects of Male Infant Circumcision: an Exploratory Survey” however.)

Here’s one article from 2011 examining the Uncanny Valley:

In other experiments, MacDorman’s team showed that people feel particularly disconcerted when characters have extremely realistic-looking skin mixed with other traits that are not realistic, such as cartoon eyes. Furthermore, in a 2009 study in which participants were asked to choose the eeriest-looking human face from among a selection, the researchers found that computer-rendered human faces with normal proportions but little detail were rated eeriest. When the faces were extremely detailed, study participants were repulsed by those that were highly disproportionate, with displaced eyes and ears. In short, viewers seemed to want cartoonish facial proportions to match cartoon-level detail, and realistic proportions to match realistic detail. Mismatches are what seemed eerie.


I also found this paper from 2002 (!) about the history of animation in terms of CGI by one David Mitchell. Some solid groundwork there.

A hopeful piece from the BBC in 2013 suggested that special effects might be going practical again, but focused on the budgetary angle. And Cartoon Brew wondered why Practical Effects Get Replaced with CGI? but it’s a video and I don’t have time to watch.

Doubtless, there is a lot of research that studies how humans react to things that are really real and things that seem real…but the time I spent googling didn’t reveal much. I’m sure Mad Max will reignite the debate and this remains a topic for further study.

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But wasn’t Mad Max Fury Road racist?

The visionary, unsurpassed imagination of artist Brendan McCarthy—co-writer and concept artist—is a huge part of what made MMFR so memorable. Sadly, he’s also been caught making many racist statement in recent years, so it’s hard to praise him without reservations. But yeah, he is awesome as a creator.

But not everyone liked Fury Road. A tumblr user going by Xmaslemmings whose real name I am not smart enough to figure out summed up the racist, ableist, fan-phobic aspects of the film:

Then, like, just look at the fact that they were stoked to work with this guy, that they shot most of this movie in Namibia with an almost exclusively white cast. Look at postapocalyptic fiction of this sort which largely aims to shift the structures of postcolonial Western genre works into a fictive precolonial (or just colonial) state where we can enjoy Cowboys versus No-Longer-Recognizable-As-Indians, open terrain, tribes to fight, lands to claim and to settle. Fury Road, like a lot of these stories, postures as only whiteness speaking to whiteness about whiteness (or substitute for whiteness: a primitive yet “postracial” civilization in which race has inexplicably not been reasserted as a central basis for organizing violent hierarchies of power) but from whom did the filmmakers borrow this imagery of tribal desert life? From whom did these cultures get their spears, their warpaint, their war drums? How have these retained their use as signifiers of barbarism and from where did that significance originate? I think the movie’s answer is: from nowhere. From a mountain with a steering wheel carved into it. As the movie ends with Furiosa ascending to traditional White Saviorhood (most of the only people of color I can recall seeing in the film being in the grateful crowd hailing her as their new queen, or whatever) there’s a quote from “The First History Man” to “sort of jokingly” suggest a universal profundity of the film’s plot and non-ironically underscore that this fantasy is a tabula rasa in which white experience has been miraculously universalized without the need to dismantle white supremacy because the violent establishment of white supremacy did not occur, or something. That isn’t unique to this film. It describes a zillion stories a white author’s ever written in this genre, such as this film, shot in Africa with a mostly white cast, which happens to also have at least one clearly white supremacist voice among its principal originating collaborators.


Lots of fodder for backlash there, and Australia’s own awful history with its native peoples won’t help.

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But was it still wonderful?

I hope so. There’s a takedown on MMFR’s feminism at the right wing Breitbart site, but even the critic has to admit it looks great, and the commenters seem to have forgotten the awful feminist agenda because of the great stunts. I think the last movie that pretty much shut up all its critics with its imagination and stunning visuals like this was the original Sin City. I’ll leave this with a quote from Warren Ellis, who has a way with words:

You forget that the MAD MAX films are a narrative continuum, from the brink of societal collapse all the way through to the petrol- and water-cults after the end of the world.  Max himself goes from tightly-wound cop to broken man to the Max of FURY ROAD, who, for the first half of the film, is pretty much a grunting animal on his hind legs and then reduced down to a bag of blood.  From husband and father to medical object.

Someone said to me the other day that MAD MAX is “his Star Wars.”  His modern myth.  A myth of the time of steel and petrol, that’s about collapsing back into dark history.  Viewed as a continuum, the film cycle almost plays as a warning sent ahead to us from 1980.  A time capsule that’s still telling itself stories from inside its box.  FURY ROAD doesn’t feel like a modern film.  It’s a throwback to classical filmmaking.  A scream from the nightmares of the last century.

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How Much Did The Beat love Mad Max Fury Road?

So much that I spent half an hour on the WB media site downloading the stills just so I can look at them again and again until I go to the theater to see it again.

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44. NSW Premier's Literary Awards

       They've announced the 2015 (Australian) NSW Premier's Literary Awards, with the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction-winning The Bush by Don Watson also taking Book of the Year, while the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction went to The Snow Kimono, by Mark Henshaw.
       There's also a NSW Premier's Prize for Translation, and this year it went to Brian Nelson, apparetnly for his translations of Zola.

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45. Man Booker International Prize

       They've announced that the 2015 Man Booker International Prize -- a biennial £60,000 prize, awarded to: "a living author for a body of work published either originally in English or available in translation in the English language" -- goes to the eminently worthy Krasznahorkai László (who has won the Best Translated Book Award two years running).
       He is splitting the the £15,000 translator's prize between two of his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.
       The list of ten contenders for the prize was a very solid one, but there's little question that Krasznahorkai is deserving of the honor.

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46. Dag Solstad profile

       At the Literary Hub Ane Farsethås writes at length about why Norway's Greatest Living Writer is Actually Dag Solstad .... Complete with a Peter Handke-endorsement !
       As long-time readers know, I've been a long-time fan -- and remain disappointed how little of his work has been translated into English. Here's hoping that Solstad-fever is just taking longer in catching on .....
       Four Solstad books are under review at the complete review:

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47. RSL Ondaatje Prize

       They've announced that the 2015 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize -- a £10,000 prize for: "a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place" -- goes to Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood, by Justin Marozzi; see also the official press release (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       It's not under review at the complete review, but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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48. Neustadt International Prize for Literature jury

       They've announced the jury for the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature:

  • Alison Anderson
  • Porochista Khakpour
  • Valeria Luiselli
  • Amit Majmudar
  • Valzhyna Mort
  • Mukoma Wa Ngugi
  • Jordan Tannahill
  • Padma Viswanathan
  • Wang Ping
       The prize is unusual in that each juror selects one finalist for the prize -- they'll be announcing their selections 27 May --; they then decide on a winner when they convene in October at the Neustadt Festival. It's a nicely varied jury, so there should be an interesting group of contenders for the prize.

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49. Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy

Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom interventions improve educational attainment? How should we raise money to provide important and valued public goods? Do energy prices affect energy demand? How can we motivate people to become healthier, greener, and more cooperative? These are some of the most challenging questions policy-makers face. Academics have been trying to understand and uncover these important relationships for decades.

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50. Companies House and the £9m typo

Conducting business through a company provides tremendous benefits. The price to be paid for these benefits is disclosure – companies are required to disclose substantial amounts of information, with much of this information being disclosed to Companies House. Every day, suppliers, creditors, potential investors, credit agencies and other persons utilise information provided by Companies House to make informed commercial decisions.

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