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Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar—a masterpiece of small town life, longing and the search for love—survived a challenge and will remain on the shelves at the school library in Rio Rancho, NM Betsy Gomez reports for the CBLDF.
The book was challenged a few weeks ago as “child porn” by a parent in a highly slanted scare TV report. A review committee has decided that the book can stay:
The Rio Rancho review committee agreed. By a 5-3 vote, the committee voted on March 16 to retain the book.
“We commend the Rio Rancho Public Schools for adhering to its challenge policy, and are pleased with the result that the review committee has retained this important book for the benefit of its student community,” says Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of KRRP sponsor organization Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
As NCAC’s original letter stated, a decision to keep Palomar would “demonstrate respect for your readers and their choices, for the professionalism of the librarians who serve the reading public, and for the First Amendment and its importance to a pluralistic, democratic society.”
5-3 is a little close, but the literary merit of Hernandez’s work is universally acknowledged and it’s a relief to see that the obvious scare quotes of the first TV report were not persuasive.
They've announced the finalists for the Latvijas Literatūras gada -- the Latvian Literary Awards.
Always interesting to see what the local talent is doing (among the names: Inga Ābele, whose High Tide has been published in English by Open Letter) and also what the top translations into the local language are (a Curzio Malaparte and Josef Škvorecký's The Engineer of Human Souls, among others).
The winners will be announced 24 April.
Comics aren’t meant to make readers feel guilty, but The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 paints the fan as the individual leading the protagonist to his ultimate fate. This is it – the haunted story teased since the first installment of Author Grant Morrison’s magnum Multiversity opus. The Multiversity as it stands is my favorite ongoing series from superhero publisher DC, it’s something that’s hard to believe anyone at the Big Two could even think about publishing. Morrison has been circling a sphere of comics self awareness with titles like Animal Man for several years now, and this feels like the natural progression of all those titles. Even though the writer continues to discover new things about self reflexive superheroes, he never feels like he’s repeating himself in this work. The ideas of the Psycho Pirate and Animal Man being erased from continuity is far different from than the mechanically engineered Ultra Comics presented in this work.
Standing on it’s own merits devoid of what came before with the series, is this book good?
Yes. The story can simply be read without that context via the playful opening from Morrison and the exceptional Doug Mahnke (who’s pencils have been sorely absent from Green Lantern.) Nearly every idea within this saga is a reintroduced story beat hatched from the DC vault. Still, this hero (Ultra Comics) emerged from pretty obscure roots and builds on nearly everything that Morrison has done with the DC Universe. There is even a reference to Final Crisis directly in this title showing that Morrison takes this absurdist pillar of the DC landscape that he has built extremely seriously.
The first thing that catches my eye about The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 is the Doug Mahnke cover. The piece is elegantly designed yet filled with utter madness reflecting some of the best covers from tales long ago. The text reading “YOU MUST NOT READ THIS COMIC,” should be the first clue that this is one of the most subversive and enthralling DC books you’re going to find this side of Convergence. What follows this is stirring image complete with a warning from Ultra Comics (our protagonist) to not finish this issue for the sake of his own very life. The storytelling stakes are set in this issue, and if we the reader choose to continue reading we’re to believe that the very fate of Ultra Comics has been decided. That’s a lot to take in over the span of just one story, and my own personal guilt regarding what happens next led is my own fault.
The first issue of The Multiversity arguably mixed the most concepts and characters and introduced us to the primary threat featured in this story – it’s essential reading to anyone left scratching their heads with this issue. This can be read stand alone as mentioned earlier, but to enjoy this text to the fullest a background in Morrison DC’s work is ideal. Ultra Comics is a book was first introduced via the live dissection from a Monitor within that issue. As a result, don’t expect this comic to be an easy read without the context of the broader series. It’s tempting to say that the threat of this book will be capitalized on as the baddie for the full Multiversity event, but Morrison has trained readers not to look at his work with such a clear lens. The Gentry are not everything that caused the bleakness in Multiversity – as the Multiversity Guidebook clearly articulated.
Mahnke’s storytelling skills haven’t missed a beat. The artist perfectly captures the detailed linework and impossibly huge facial expressions that make this work something truly special. His haunting images are best utilized in the context of horror, which this series arguably falls under. The villains contained within this story are terrifying, silly, and then maddening all in the context of one issue. Mahnke is called upon to be a really versatile artist in this experience, and does a great job on the static rendition of Ultra Comics nobly glimpsing at the reader. Also called upon are several other small flashes of violence with an exploration into the brutality buried deep within superheroes. Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, and Jamie Mendoza bring this issue to a total of four inkers in this oversized. There are the occasional moments of inconsistency here, but overall this is some admirable work from the four mostly blending into each other and not detracting from the reader experience too much. The important part of the art in this issue is that Mahnke was allowed to draw a riveting horror comic.
There are so many different ideas crammed into this one piece of writing. The self reflexive asides kept the plot from becoming too complicated or too pedestrian. The buffer of Ultra Comics explaining his bizarre inner thoughts to the reader perfectly bring casual fans into the strange world of the title. There are so many different ways in which the story engages with readers, whether it be through Ultra Comics speech patterns, inner thoughts, dialogue trees, word balloons, and even meta-commentary within the context of the work itself.
To say much more about this story would spoil the delightful surprises waiting inside for readers to engage with. The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 is the only comic that ever melted off my face and left me in charge of the fate of my new favorite superhero.
I’m sorry Ultra Comics.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Even though filming seemingly just began about a month and a half ago, MGM and Sony have started to rev up the marketing machine for Spectre full blast.
Here’s the first teaser which gives us just enough to get rather excited about, including the debut of Christoph Waltz‘s shadowy villain(?), who is maybe Blofeld?
One thing that’s clear, much like Quantum of Solace was for Casino Royale, with Spectre we’ll be getting another direct sequel, this time to the billion dollar grossing Skyfall. I’m holding out hope that it lives up to its predecessor’s legacy (unlike QoS).
Spectre arrives on November 6th, here’s the official synopsis:
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
The Globe and Mail has a short Q & A with Tom McCarthy (Remainder, etc.).
Fun to see him rag of Thomas Hardy.
Alan Rickman is known for not being the subject of many interviews. However, BAFTA seems to be lucky. Rickman’s interview is to be a part of BAFTA’s “Life in Pictures” event–where many big name stars (such as Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, etc.) sit down for talks with BAFTA. The event is April 15. The Variety reports:
Rickman began his acting career in theater, where his credits include a Tony nomination for his performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” His feature film debut came in the 1988 alongside Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.” Since then he has appeared in more than 40 films, including the Harry Potter series, “Sweeney Todd” and “Love Actually.”
Rickman was awarded a BAFTA in 1992 for his role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” In the same year, he was also BAFTA-nominated for his lead role in “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” He received two further BAFTA nominations in 1996 and 1997, for “Sense and Sensibility” and “Michael Collins,” respectively.
Rickman made his directorial debut in 1997 with “The Winter Guest,” starring Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law. He recently directed and co-wrote his second feature film, historical drama “A Little Chaos,” in which he also stars with Kate Winslet and Stanley Tucci. The film premiered as the Closing Gala at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, and opens in the U.K. on April 17. Focus Features recently removed the pic from its release schedule in the U.S.
Rickman will next be seen in “Eye in the Sky,” co-starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Colin Firth and Barkhad Abdi, and will reprise his role as the Blue Caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass.”
DC Comics brings its upcoming event to Emerald City with their DC Entertainment: All Access Weeklies and Convergence panel.
Among the panelists for this fan sales pitch are Dan Jurgens, James Tyion IV, Ray Fawkes, Maruerite Bennett, Stuart Moore and the writer of the manin series Jeff King.
After the introductions were made the group started out by showing clips from DC All Access and Dan DiDio’s video that was suppose to hype and explain Convergence. At least now it’s a better sales pitch than ” Hey this is what we’re doing while we move boxes around.” The cover for issue 0 was shown and Dan Jurgens talked about the issue coming out of next week’s Futures End finale.
Convergence 0 will have a monster 6 page scene, if you’re willing to buy three copies of the book to piece together the spreads that make it up. Jeff King talked about “balancing the epic” as far as his experience coming from the world of television. The end of Convergence will tie up Morrisson’s Multiversity.
Stuart Moore talked about the Legion Convergence story. They’ll be battling the Atomic Knights in a “contrast between hope and despair.” The story will be Superboy centric in a point where he’s in the transition to becoming Superman.
Batman Eternal was up next.
Tynion, talked about the journey it was to do a weekly comic. Issue 52 has Fawkes and Seeley draw pages in the book as well as write. Julia Pennyworth, was brought back as an idea by Fawkes. Tynion and Snyder came up with the notion of having Selena Kyle be the new kingpin of crime. Tynion’s also bursting about the upcoming events in June with Batman’s new direction.
Jurgens talked about Futures End and it being the place which introduced the radically different Brainiac. Next week’s conclusion also leads into June’s Batman Beyond. May will see an 8-page preview of Batman Beyond. Jurgens also talked about artist Bernard Chang doing the best work of his career.
Bennett talked about World’s End. Writing these characters on a different world gave her more freedom. The cover of issue 26 with Darkseid holding Earth 2 Batman was shown. It’s intense! There’s two people on this panel that have killed Superman.
Audience Q&A was up next:
Tynion’s favorite, Eternal’s turning point in 21 with the reveal of Hush. Bennett’s was the relationship between Batman and Huntress when Thomas Wayne dawned the cape and cowl.
When asked about why we should buy Convergence, King admitted his history with the DCU was limited and spent days at a time going back through the key moments and all the Elseworld books.
Convergence 0 answers a question the missing hours of Superman’s life from Action Comics #35.
Oh look Gail Simone just showed up.
Tynion answered, “she’ll be appearing in a few other places and have stories with Harper Row.”
Simone talked about the Nightwing and Oracle Convergence story. According to Simone, Dick and Barbara are the only ones trying to not simply survive the dome. It’s the Nightwing/Oracle story she’s always wanted to tell.
Marguerite Bennett’s next book will be in August and it’s going to be announced soon.
The panel came to an end. Convergence begins next week with the finale of Futures End and Convergence 0.
AskMen is known for posting lists with themes such as “The Top 99 Most Desirable Women.” This year, claiming to be “better than that,” they changed their theme to give notoriety to outstanding, inspirational women. Emma Watson was voted as the number one most outstanding woman, according to the list. AskMen gives criteria used to make the list, by posting a video on their site below the article, the video titled “How We Chose the Top 99?”. AskMen writes why Emma is outstanding, saying:
Hermione Granger is courageous, loyal and moral to a fault — she embodies the best of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. So it’s fitting that the little girl who was cast to play her back in 1999 would grow up to become a woman not so different from the fictional heroine she embodied. The 24-year-old Watson has noble pursuits in mind. Her alignment with the United Nations’ HeForShe campaign has made her the face of feminism right now, and she’s helping change the way men think about women. Now that’s power.
Emma Watson is so many incredible things at once — rich, successful, famous, stylish, beautiful, intelligent, personable, kind. And yet, rather than be content with a life of luxury, she’s thrown her back into a serious social issue in an effort to shift the way our society treats women. — James Bassil, AskMen Publisher
Karate Chop-author Dorthe Nors 'reflects on the beauty of the short story form' at PEN Atlas, in A form close to home.
I've always been a novel-man, through and through, but I'm surprised to find my lack of interest in the story-form has actually increased recently.
I can appreciate the qualities of Nors' collection, but I can't say it really engaged me; indeed, very little story-writing has, ever.
In part -- especially in recent decades -- it's a reaction to/lack of interest in the horribly dominant MFA/Carver-Lish school of writing -- all too polished, all too simple, all too reduced -- but even beyond that, stories tend generally, in some (or many) way(s), not to be enough for me (unless, of course, the reduction is complete and absolute: Heiner Müller's Herzstück (arguably a drama ?) likely would make my list of ten favorite works of literature).
Those that do impress tend to be strongly concept-based: Borges' Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is probably the story that has most impressed me/had the most lasting effect; Queneau's Exercises in Style is among the few top-rated ("A+") books at the complete review; the last story-writer I really got excited about was Krzhizhanovsky (Memories of the Future, etc.); probably the last collection I was really impressed by was Ogawa Yoko's Revenge, which I've insisted from the beginning is a novel, not a story collection .....
Anyway, it's something I want to examine more closely at some point.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Valiant has just revealed a brand new event at Emerald City Comic Con following up Armor Hunters entitled Book of Death. The following image drawn by Robert Gill was sent as a press release. With a 25th Anniversary, the publisher is looking to celebrate their line including the old and new versions of the company. The image teases a July 2015 release and popular characters like Quantum and Woody, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Vincent Van Goat, Ninjak, Rai, Punk Mambo, Bloodshot, Dr. Mirage, Divinity, The Eternal Warrior, Shadowman, Faith, Peter Stanchek, and more hidden in the background. The heroes lurk below what seems to be a representation of Death in the Valiant Universe.
Could we see some characters from the old Valiant line come back in this story? Is this the Blackest Night of Valiant?
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Last week Titan Comics announced it had hired Lizzie Kaye, formerly of SelfMadeHero, to the position of editor for their European graphic novel line. We talked with Kaye within a week of her jumping on-board the Titan Comics team about her new gig and Titan’s expansion into the bande dessinée market.
Edie Nugent: Congrats on your new position as editor for Titan’s European graphic novel line. How does it feel to step into those shoes after many years with indie publisher SelfMadeHero?
Lizzie Kaye: Thanks, it’s wonderful to have joined Titan, it’s a company that’s doing really interesting things and moving in a great direction. Obviously, it’s a bit of a change from SelfMadeHero, in terms of the kinds of books each company puts out, but I’m excited by so many of the titles we have coming up and can’t wait to see other people getting excited by them too!
Nugent: You have a background in literature. How you feel you’ll be able to draw on that knowledge in bringing bande dessinée to Titan readers?
Kaye: I think it’s most useful in that studying literature results in you being well-read, which leads to a good understanding of pacing, character, and plot.
This is something that the European market deals with differently than the US/UK market, as the standard length of an album is normally 48 pages. When they have the luxury of that page count, creators can take their time building characters and revealing the plot at a slightly slower pace. A lot of, though by no means all, BD series are designed from the outset to be at least three volumes, so you could almost consider them as neat, three-act plays.
It also helps in that the European market operates within a slightly different outlook, and BD are often filled with literary references, even if the subject matter itself may not explicitly be so. For example, the series The Chronicles of Legion, the first three volumes of which are out now, with the fourth coming soon, is ostensibly a vampire story. But it’s also more than that. It draws heavily on the origins of gothic literature (before vampires could sparkle!) as well as using devices traditionally found in that literature, such as a story within a story and a layering of narratives. Form my perspective, a literary background helps in that I can see the references, and therefore am able to judge the tone and direction of the story, and consider how that may translate to a market less familiar with seeing those devices used in a sequential art format.
Nugent: Three-act play, it sounds almost like a more Manga way of telling a story. Do you think the BD market exists in that place between monthly single-issue sequential storytelling and the more fast-paced, multi-volume format of Manga?
Kaye: That is one way of looking at it. BD readers can sometimes have to wait a long time for the next volume of a series they are following. It’s important from the outset that the narrative is tightly constructed, and that the characters are memorable, in order to retain the reader. I don’t necessarily think it exists in a place between monthly single-issue releases and manga, more that it uses the medium of sequential art for a different kind of story-telling that is less episodic in nature.
Having said all that, there are of course a number of series that go into much longer runs, Samurai, the first four volumes of which will be released by Titan as an omnibus later in the year, being one of them.
Nugent: Titan has released BD’s of Snowpiercer, which was a French graphic novel-turned-movie starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, Elric, which is based on Michael Moorcock stories, and now Void. How does Titan decide which BD’s to put on the publishing slate?
Kaye: A lot of factors come into play when we’re choosing which titles to put out. There are certain books that we’d love to see in the English speaking market that we specifically seek out based on our own love of the stories or creators, such as the upcoming Lone Sloane series by Philippe Druillet, and my own personal favourite, The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal.
For others with creators that might not have had as much exposure in the English speaking market, we take a lot of time to consider the artwork, the story, the length of the series, and how we feel readers might react to it. There are a lot of incredible BD series out there, luckily, so we have a rich seam to mine, and we want readers to really love what we offer them.
Nugent: What series would you recommend to readers just starting to explore what BD’s have to offer?
Kaye: That’s a tough one, as there are so many great stories out there! It depends on each reader’s specific interests, and that’s the beauty of the BD market, it caters for all readers.
I think Elric is a great starting point, because it is so incredibly beautiful, each page is a joy to look at. It’s a good introduction to the more European artwork style, which tends to be a little looser and fluid with a more painterly aesthetic. Titan also has a wonderful new series coming out now called Masked, which is a European take on the Superhero genre, and would be a great entry point, too, and the artwork in that would probably be a little more familiar.
A lot of Dark Horse Comics were announced yesterday with opening day at Emerald City Comic Con, but probably none more anticipated than the one we already knew about, Fight Club 2. Saturday morning, Emerald City opened with an hour long discussion dedicated to the upcoming comic form sequel. On the panel: Artist Cameron Stewart, cover artist David Mack, Scott Allie, and of course the creator Chuck Palahniuk.
An insanely packed room at the Washington State Convention Center was treated to a preview of the upcoming book right when you walked in the door. As we knew the story picks up years after the events of Fight Club and it looks as though his son has a little bit of Tyler in him. This is also looking like some of Cameron Stewart’s best work, ever.
Dark Horse’s Aub Driver moderates the festivities. Chuck opens up talking about the FCBD issue. “It’ll be the end of the book in graphic novel form.” Allie asked Chuck about the reasoning for doing it as a graphic novel. David Mack and Chuck have been friends since 2006, after he wrote a letter to which he responded with a box of goodies and a letter. They’d been talking about ideas like life, love, and other stuff in the universe. Bendis also had a little bit to do with the genesis. From a dinner party Bendis and Mack hammered the idea of how different publishing comics is.
If Palahniuk was going to talk about Fight Club for the rest of his life then why not do it in a “Lovecraft” fashion and expand the story in two directions. Cameron Stewart came on board after 2013 when he contacted EIC Scott Allie about the book. He adapted one of the later chapters of the novel into a three page comic as proof of concept.
Chuck talked about making Stewart research what he wanted him to draw. In Stewart’s words, it was “deeply upsetting”, though he talked about how that was a good thing with this project. Scott talked about how surrealism was a big part of Chuck’s work and this was the perfect team to do it. A comparison to the last issue of Stewart’s Batgirl, a comparison was even drawn because of Barbra fighting her own mind.
A walk through of the preview interiors was done by the panel. Chuck talked about naming the character Sebastian, because he used every other name he knew in his other fiction work.
We’ll never see GUTS because you can’t literally depict someone being disemboweled.” Cameron Stewart’s work is perfectly cartoony for what the writer wants to depict.
The panel opened up for questions.
ANy other callbacks beyond Marla and Sebastian?
Gas station worker went back to college?
“I’ll find a place for him now.”
Sebastian’s real name?
“Dealt with in FCBD issue”
Other books in comic medium?
“Invisible monsters by David Mack, Rand done after the Franco movie comes out.”
One of the new stories in Chuck’s upcoming collection will be a girl version of Guts called Cannibal.
what do you prefer, comics or novel?
“Writing a graphic novel is live having a terrific workshop.” Though he’s full of ideas, he doesn’t necessarily know where they’re going to end up.
With that the panel came to an end, we’ll be at the Marvel: Black Vortex to Secret Wars later.
In the recent days, even after Jo tweeted that she didn’t take offense to a fan’s question on Dumbledore’s sexuality, many news sources are still praising J.K. Rowling for her “great come back,” her amazing “shut down,” her “burn” of the fan’s opinion that she did not see Dumbledore as gay, always seeing a possible connection between Dumbledore and McGonagall. As J.K. rowling said herself, the question was not offensive, it was “gentle” and “her response was very sweet.” The media continues to misrepresent the following Twitter interaction between Jo and fan, @anakocovic21:
@anakocovic21 Tweeted in reply “Amazing answer…Yes you are absolutely right. Such an inspiration!!!”
After fans following the conversation began rallying for Jo’s response, with the perspective of the response being a quick quipped “shut down.” Jo defended @anakocovic21, saying:
By: Elizabeth Gorney,
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On 31 December 2014, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution wrote a compelling op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled, “Social Programs That Work.” Haskins shared the need for our nation to support evidence-based social programs and abandon those that show small or un-enduring effects – a wise idea.
The post Collecting and evaluating data on social programs appeared first on OUPblog.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Seems like everyone had the same great idea at the same time: with comic-cons proliferating, and nerdlebrities making a circuit out of it, wouldn’t this be fine fodder for a realityish TV show/webisode of some kind? And wouldn’t actors who had starred in TV shows that had insanely fanatic fanbases but who didn’t get much airtime outside of that be the perfect people to do it?
It seems both Firefly’s Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion and Supernatural’s Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr had the same idea. And both have turned to Indiegogo to bring these ideas to fruition.
The Tudyk/Fillion effort launched first. It’s called Con Man and it’s already a go, with $2,386,241 raised, a bit more than the $425,000 they were going for. This is a scripted adventure about nerdlebrities who go to cons starring…nerdlebrities who go to cons.
Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk-Me!) was a co-star on Spectrum, a sci-fi series which was canceled -Too Soon- yet became a cult classic. Wray’s good friend, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) starred in the series and has gone on to become a major movie star. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray tours the sci-fi circuit as a guest of conventions, comic book stores, and lots of pop culture events. The show will feature all the weird and crazy things that happen to Wray along the way to these events.
Galaxy Quest without the galaxy, then. Okay maybe a little Galaxy.
In an interview with EW, the pair expanded on the idea::
Fillion and Tudyk are hoping to raise $425,000 to finance the show’s first three 10 minute-long episodes. But Tudyk says that he has written 10 scripts in all so far and that at least one later show will indeed see both actors back on a spaceship. “There’s a lost episode of Spectrum that gets released within the show,” he says. “That’s done in a funny way—but there are actual scenes of me flying a spaceship and Nathan captaining.”
Guest stars will include more Firefly alumni, Sean Maher and Gina Torres, and othr nerdlebirty royalty including Amy Acker , Seth Green, Felicia Day, and director James Gunn. Easy to see why this has raised so much money. The initial budget was for three 10-minute shorts, but I guess there will be more than that.
Meanwhile, the Supernatural effort is more of a “reality-based” show set within the world of Supernatural fandom. It too was once called “Con Man” but now it’s called Kings of Con and here’s the pitch:
$100,000 will cover production costs for the first three to five episodes, and Benedict says 10 have already been “roughly written and mapped out,” with a 10-minute teaser/pilot previously filmed. According to Benedict, “Our idea is that every episode will be a new city that we’re in — or rather, the suburb outside of that city where our hotel is! We’ve shot in our actual conventions too, so you’ll get a POV of the view from the stage during karaoke, and a bird’s-eye view of the merchandise room, the lines, the crowds, the energy… in a utopian world, we want to continue to capture all that in each episode.”
This effort has already raised $57,000 of the $100,000 requested..in fact it raised about $7k while I was writing this post, so I think this will hit its target as well. It only launched yesterday and they are aware of the rival show:
While Benedict and Speight acknowledge that the concept sounds similar to another crowdfunded comedy series inspired by two genre actors’ convention experiences (Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s “Con Man”), their series has been in development for over a year, and is wholly inspired by their “real life exploits within this ‘Supernatural’ convention world — with our own creative, fictional spin,” Benedict tells Variety. “While it is nowhere near reality TV, it will be shot naturalistic and play on our relationship with each other and others through scripted and semi-scripted dialogue. Rich and I have developed quite a rapport over these few years, and quite a unique, combustable and comical relationship. We’ve been to the front lines, so to speak, and have been in the thick of it, all around the world, together. Really, this show is about Rob and Rich, and the conventions will serve as a unique backdrop for that quirky relationship.”
These are not the first efforts in the “nerdlebrity goes to a con” genre. The trailblazer in this regard is Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie in which he portrays Donald Swan, a documentary filmmaker who goes to Comic-Con and meets a lot of weird people. Made in 2004, this features the state of the art autograph circuit of the day, such as Stan Lee, Chase Masterson, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith in cameos.
Then there was Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope, the 2012 actual documentary about people who go to Comic-Con. Actually, I think Bruce Campbell also made a short film about fans and fandom, but no one has ever seen it.
Huh well whaddaya know.
I have my own idea for a movie set at a comic-con, but it’s so explosive that I can’t even talk about it here. I’ll just give you the elevator pitch: Clue + Comic-Con. Interested parties can contact my agent.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikhail Elizarov's The Librarian, winner of the 2008 Russian Booker Prize and just out in English from Pushkin Press.
As reported previously here on Leaky, J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Address is being printed in book form. All proceeds of the little, yet powerful, 80-page book will go towards Lumos, as well as university-wide scholarships for potential Harvard students. The book is available for preorder, and will be published April 14, 2105. Amazon’s summary of the book reads:
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, VERY GOOD LIVES presents J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?
Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world famous author addresses some of life’s most important questions with acuity and emotional force.
Sales of VERY GOOD LIVES will benefit both Lumos, a charity organization founded by J.K. Rowling, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children, and university-wide financial aid at Harvard University.
2011 Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
Only one of his titles is under review at the complete review: Memories Look at Me.
For over a decade we’ve been chronicling the agony of getting a hotel room for San Diego, and this year’s fret spree seemed to find new ways to be stressful. As we’re writing, the admission letters are going out, and it’s like the lottery scene from The Hunger Games for tension and FOMO. For some reason, I got a room—I got one last year but got shut out the year before, so it all seems random in the end. Time stamps, forms that didn’t load, fate, destiny…for some reason this year has has more anxiety about how it was going to work out, and as the selection of tweets below show, a sense of humor is a good thing to be armed with.
The thing about the hotel room sprint is that it isn’t random—like the badge lottery—or selective—like getting a pro badge or a press badge or an industry professional badge. You can marshal evidence or get a testimonial to get those things. But not so a hotel room.
No, getting a hotel room is a physical and mental race against the clock. You need to have Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Ronda Rousey’s reflexes and Edward Snowden’s keyboard skills. It’s the ultimate test of nerves for nerds.
But some may wonder, just how short IS the window to get a room downtown? I think the notification that downtown hotel rooms are gone usually starts within about 10 minutes, but the timestamp needs to be a lot shorter than that. While there is no definitive way of knowing the answer to what is the magic time stamp—short of hacking into Travel Planners— the Unofficial Comic Con blog ran a survey of attendees vis a vis their hotel longings, and we’ve taken the results of the questions “How long, including initial load time, did it take you to submit your form?” and made a chart. Oh yeah we did.
560 people answered this question so while it’s a sample, it’s a decent sized one. As you can see, most people are in and out in under three minutes, with most within two minutes. That’s about the length of the Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop” so you may want to use that as a training guide for next year.
Anyway, if you’ve been thinking you don’t have long to get that form filled out and submitted…you’re right.
Oh yeah and here’s the twitter reaction.
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Does the word cyber sound dated to you? Like the phrases Information Superhighway and surfing the Web, something about the word calls one back to the early era of the Internet, not unlike when you ask a person for a URL and they start to read off, ‘H-t-t-p, colon, forward slash…’
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By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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A collaboration of French stars from three different mediums, Last Man brings together the gifted animator Balak, Bastien Vivès, the much heralded comics creator, and Michaël Sanlaville, a rising talent in game design, for a manga influenced, tournament-based martial arts adventure that’s been all the rage in their native country.
The planned 12 volume series, 6 of which have been published, was recently awarded the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême this year, highlighting the popular and critical acclaim of the series overseas. Last Man centers on Adrian Velba, a 12 year old boy enrolled in Battle School whose highest ambition is to participate in the annual tournament sponsored by the King and Queen. After the sudden departure of his required partner, Adrian faces having to wait another year to compete, until a mysterious loner named Richard Aldana, who is also in need of a partner, crosses his path. This unlikely pair, and how they turn the tournament and city on its ear, makes up much of the excellent first volume, entitled “The Stranger”, which sees English-language publication from First Second on March 31st.
I was fortunate enough to chat with these three creators in the lead-up to its release in the U.S.:
L to R: Sanlaville, Balak, Vivès
You began working on Last Man in 2013, what was the origin of the project and how was the creative nucleus of this ensemble formed?
Balak: Bastien and I have known each other for 12 years. We hung out at the same message board, catsuka.com<http://catsuka.com/>, chatting about comics, Japanese animation and well-endowed women, the usual geeky stuff. Then we went to the same animation school in Paris, Gobelins, where we met Michael. Bastien and Mic got along well and quit the school to make comics. Years later, Bastien told me he’d like to make a comic book with eveything we like in it: cool one-liners, great adventure with a manga-ish epic feel, larger than life characters and larger than life natural breasts. In short: The very reason Art exists. The catch is that we wanted to do it the manga-way: to draw 20 pages a week and publish 3 books a year. So we had to be a three-person team, well organized, and say goodbye to any social life for a few years. It seemed like a cool project, so here we are.
While reading the first volume, I was reminded of my time perusing some of my favorite mangas, including that of the shounen variety, was that an influence…or more specifically, was there a particular type of action-based storytelling that informed this series?
Balak: Yes, that was the reason Bastien asked me and Mic to join in the first place. He knows we’re avid manga readers since forever. Basically, we wanted to have this very calibrated shounen feel that we love in the first books, and put our little twist on it: What if John McClane was thrown into a Dragon Ball tournament? We mixed the two things we loved: manga and US action movies we watched as kids. This stuff made us who we are today, for better and worse. Last Man is the result of this.
Last Man looks to have a fairly wide audience appeal, particularly in terms of age, what is it about tournament stories that seem the draw the younger audience?
Balak: Even the worst Hollywood script doctor would tell you that story is about conflict. A tournament is the core of the most basic, comprehensive storytelling. You’ve got a hero you’re rooting for: he wants to win the cup, and everyone wants the same thing as well. The premise is simple, almost visceral. That’s why manga of this type are popular, they manage to convey each characters burning will to win and emotions; each battle is a story in itself. But when we say it’s simple, it doesn’t mean “simplistic.” Keeping things simple is hard, there is an unnoticeable elegance to it that is very difficult to achieve.
Were there any story elements in particular that you implemented or had to adjust in order to attract younger readers?
Balak: Not at all, we just did things as we pleased. The only thing we naturally refrained was sex. It can be sexy, but you don’t have anything too graphic.
Describe a typical day in the creative process for the series, were you all huddled in a room together planning out the beats of the story or was it more segmented?
Balak: “A quiet mayhem” is the best expression that could sum up our typical day and creative process. We don’t write much like a regular script. Bastien puts down his ideas on 10 or 15 pages for the book to come. Mic and I read it, then we discuss it, have several meetings, decide what is changing, what would be better. I take quick notes on a paper towel and I directly draw the 20 first pages of storyboard, come up with dialogues ideas, new situations. Each Monday, we discuss what the next 20 pages will be about, while Bastien and Mic draw the previous pages, 10 each. It’s not very kosher, and it’s quite exhausting, but it’s what keeps our ideas fresh and our motivation going. If we had the classic “here is the script, then we do the whole storyboard, then we can draw the whole thing,” it wouldn’t work for us. With our method, it feels very organic, we are constantly reacting on each others pages, at any time.
There’s a fascinating sense of culture combination in this first volume, with a setting that resembles pre-Revolutionary era France but with Eastern traditions sprinkled throughout. What is it that makes these two very different cultures mesh so well together?
Balak: To be honest, we didn’t put a lot of thoughts into this culture mix. We just drew what seemed right to us, the French medieval thing is a part of our culture, we just put a martial art in it not thinking twice if it would match or not… It seemed obvious to us!
Bastien, you’ve had a few of your comics translated into English into the past, how has the translation process for Last Man compared? Has it been relatively smooth overall or have any pieces of dialogue had to be changed outright?
Bastien: My English is not very good, so I can’t really tell!!! But I think First Seconds did a good job!
Balak: The translation is very good, some cultural, typical French things are well adapted to an English audience. The main difference is that the French version is filled with cursing and very bad language that the English version is toned down a little . . . Aldana is even more rude in French!
For Balak and Michael, was the transition into comics a difficult one from the work you’re used to, or is there a natural handover from gaming and animation into sequential art?
Balak: I always wanted to draw comics. That’s the very first thing I wanted to do as a kid, so it’s not an issue at all. Sometime I’m a little frustrated by the page constraint, the fact that you can’t surprise the reader anytime you want, you have to take care of the double spread, keep your surprises for the first panel of the left page. . . . But it’s fun. I tried to get rid of this by creating something called Turbomedia, a way to make digital comics. You can see how it works by looking up Marvel’s Infinite Comics line, I’ve worked with them on this. Or even better, check the great Mark Waid’s Insufferable, at Thrillbent.com. It’s cool. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.)
Do you see Richard Aldana as a character to be admired or one to be pitied? Is it somewhere in the middle?
Balak: You pinpointed Richard. He’s right in the middle. He’s a badass, he’s looking cool and cracking jokes, but you wouldn’t want his life. But don’t try to show him pity, he would punch you in the face. Or walk away with a burning one-liner that would hurt you even more. Or both at the same time, if you’re not lucky.
Will Richard’s background play a bigger part going forward in the next chapters being released this year?
Balak: Yes, a big, BIG part. We’re even making a whole animated TV show about Richard’s past. It will be out in 2016 in France. It will be dark, violent and funny.
When you’re writing the dialogue of a child Adrian’s age, how difficult is it to find a right tone of voice that sounds natural?
Balak: Adrian’s way of talking is mostly Bastien’s. He’s kept is inner ten year-old child very close. It seems very easy for him. When I’m writing Adrian’s dialogues, it almost always sounds wrong.
Last Man was incredibly well received in your home country, to the point that it won the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême. What was the first thing that went through each of your minds winning such a prestigious honor?
Balak: I should’ve dressed better for this.
Bastien: It’s very good to feel supported in your country.
Balak: (Bastien tries to look tough and all, but he cried on stage. Really.)
Mic: It happened quite fast, I think I haven’t realized yet what it means. . . . To me, this prize goes out to all the great Japanese manga artists that inspired me to draw, and are still unknown to the wide audience for the most part. . . . But things are changing, so that’s good.
At what point was First Second the natural choice to bring Last Man to the states?
Balak: Mark Siegel gets the book totally, it seems that everybody there genuinely loves what they are publishing. We’re proud to be surrounded by all these other great books.
Beyond the translation of Books 2 and 3 this year, what’s next for the series? I understand there are other media plans. How is that process coming along? Is it possible I’ll be playing as Richard Aldana in a video game soon?
Balak: Hopefully, it should happen this very year! We’re producing our own video game, called Last Fight. It’s kind of like Power Stone, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLFxFKmqYDs If everything goes smoothly, it will be released in September. And as I’ve said previously, the animated TV show about Richard’s past is scheduled to next year. On each project, we have a very close look on the whole creative process.
What can/should your American readers look out for in Books 2 and 3? Any major surprises you can tease?
Balak: I can guarantee you some surprises . . . I can only say that you won’t stay into King’s Valley too long.
You can pick up Last Man Vol 1: The Stranger this coming Tuesday, March 31st from First Second at a book retailer near you.
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Ed Miliband spent a year-and-a-half in the Cabinet between 2008 and 2010, and spent more than five years working as an advisor in the Treasury before he entered parliament in 2005. If he does become Prime Minister after May 7th, then, he will start the job with far more familiarity with government at the highest level than some of his recent predecessors, not least Tony Blair and David Cameron.
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Here’s a history comic on Newyorker.com by Julia Wertz about when pinball was illegal in New York City
In other Wertz news, she’s working on Impossible People, a second memoir about her alcoholism that she started after The Infinite Wait and then abandoned. To fund it’ she’s running her own crowdfudning effort, which you can support at the above link. Why her own thing?
While many cartoonists have had success with Patreon (a monthly donation site) or with Kickstarter for specific projects, I decided I would rather create my own page for two reasons. 1) Both those sites are built on a rewards model for donation amounts. While that sometimes works great, my time is very limited and I think it would be more beneficial for readers, and myself, if I use all my time to generate new material for everyone to read, rather than spending time making extra nonessentials for an exclusive group of people. I’d much rather be making less money while producing substantial work, than making more money and creating extraneous things. A) I am uncomfortable with the transparency sites like Patron and Kickstarter that make public financial amounts and goals. It is really no one’s business how much or how little anyone is making, and I have no set financial goal, as I’m just grateful for anything.
Here’s a page from the original version:
I’m a big fan of Wertz’s work—it’s funny, perceptive and brave. Her reasons for going with her own platform make a lot of sense for some creators—fulfilling elaborate Kickstarter pledges are a lot of work, and Patreon, while not as complex, has its own time-consuming maintenance. I hope a bunch of people will support her in her work.
Gloria Swanson practicing yoga in her apartment, 1954
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In an image posted today on his Twitter account, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds is all suited up to reprise his old role of Wade Wilson.
This is definitely a far cry from the days of the “sewn-up mouth” Deadpool that appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I think it’s pretty safe to assume they won’t even acknowledge that such a thing even happened, unless it’s in a fun fourth-wall breaking way.
This Deadpool basically looks like the costume as it appeared in the all-CGI proof of concept footage that leaked out last Summer, and received such a rapturous reception that this retooled take on the character got a green light right away.
Here’s the official synopsis of the film, directed by Tim Miller, which releases on February 12, 2016:
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.