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BIRDMAN directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, starring Michael Keaton
(Venice, Italy) The transitory nature of power and glory are the themes of both BIRDMAN and THE PRESIDENT, the opening films of the 2014 Venice International Film Festival.
BIRDMAN or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
), directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, stars Michael Keaton as a movie star who once achieved international fame by playing the superhero "Birdman," and is now trying to revive his career by betting everything, including his Malibu house, on a Broadway show, starring in, directing, producing and adapting a Raymond Carver short story. BIRDMAN has received mostly positive reviews, including a bunch of raves.
|Michael Keaton & Edward Norton|
Michael Keaton pulls off a startling comeback in Alejandro G. Inarritu's blistering showbiz satire.
From the LONDON EVENING STANDARD
The Venice Film Festival has pulled off a genuine coup by bagging the star-studded Birdman for its opening night, an expertly delivered black comedy about showbiz and celebrity, fantasy and reality
This is a phenomenal start to this year’s Mostra: grand, spectacular, star-powered cinema that makes us ask anew what cinema is for. Call it a Dark Knight of the soul.
|Amy Ryan & Michael Keaton|
Michael Keaton soars in Alejandro G. Inarritu's brilliantly directed dark comedy about celebrity and creation
This year’s Venice film festival begins with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s showbiz satire, a film as jittery, shallow and occasionally inspired as its hero
I'm with The Guardian on this one. I just wasn't sure what key we were in. Black comedy? Drama? Magical realism? During the press conference, Inarritu said he wanted to step out of his comfort zone, and that he realized for the first time that you could laugh on a set. He said he was terrified, but was happy to have done it. He did some get great performances out of his actors. Emma Stone in particular was impressive, playing Keaton's daughter, Sam, just out of rehab. At the press conference, Stone said she'd "learned more on this movie than I've ever learned," and wanted to do it all over again.Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who shot Gravity, does the same thing to New York City as he did to outer space -- makes us feel like were are really there. Time Square, Broadway, the St. James Theater... I could smell the city. Amy Ryan, who plays Keaton's ex-wife, said that "New York is another character in this film."When I think of other satirical films like, say, NETWORK, that aroused such a depth of emotion in audiences throughout the world, I don't think BIRDMAN matches that level of engagement. But if we compare it to yet another superhero action film, then it does reach the level of "inspired."(As I write this in the press room, it is difficult to tell who is making more commotion -- the crowd roaring as the celebrities arrive on the red carpet, or the anti-cruise ship demonstrators protesting in the street below.)
THE PRESIDENT, the opening film of the Orizzoni (Horizons) section of the Venice Film Festival by the Iranian director, Moshen Makhmalbaf was shot in Georgia, and is in the Georgian language with Italian and English subtitles. It opens with the dictator of an unnamed country holding his young grandson on his lap and illustrating how much fun it is to play with power when the boy complains he doesn't want his grandfather's job, he wants an ice cream. Grandpa picks up the phone and orders that all the lights in the major city below be turned off. Instantly, the city goes black. He hands the receiver to his grandson, who orders that all the lights be turned back on. Flash! The city lights up. The grandson then orders all the lights off once again. Again, the city goes black. But when the boy orders the lights back on again, nothing happens. The city remains black. And so starts the beginning of the revolution...
|THE PRESIDENT directed by Moshen Makhmalbaf|
His Majesty (as The President is called by everyone) and his grandson, are forced to flee their palace and disguise themselves as ordinary citizens, experiencing firsthand the pain and destruction the dictator's leadership cost his own people. From VARIETY:
|Dachi Orvelashvili and Misha Gomiashvili|
Mohsen Makhmalbaf offers a didactic morality tale about a fallen autocrat and his innocent grandson fleeing murderous revolutionaries bent on vengeance.During the press conference Makhmalbaf, who lives in exile in London, said he wanted to illustrate that not only the dictator, but the revolutionaries turn to violence. When you remove a dictator, the violence and thirst for revenge remains among the population, creating a vicious cycle. Variety said it expected more from Makhmalbaf; again, I disagree. Even though the message seems "obvious," given the state of current events, not many nations seem to grasp that simple thing.Ciao from the Venice Film Festival,CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
Thanks to Roseanne Kurstedt for the Interview on her blog!
Originally posted on Rosanne L. Kurstedt's :
I’m so excited to welcome Darlene Beck-Jacobson today in celebration of the launch (September 22) of Wheels of Change, her debut middle-grade historical novel. I met Darlene at a NJSCBWI conference a couple years ago and was totally intrigued by the process Darlene and her idea went through. You see, she originally wrote Wheels of Change as a picture book. But after some urging from an editor she went back to the drawing board (or writing board in this case), did more research and turned her 1500 word manuscript that she envisioned as a picture book into a wonderful middle grade novel, rich with historical setting and multi-layered characters. Since writing and education are my passions, I asked Darlene some questions about how teachers might use Wheels of Change in their classrooms, and if she could provide insights about her research process.
- Tell us a little about how Wheels of Change came…
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Over the weekend my family visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. It was suggested as a things-to-do-with-kids-in-the-Berkshires activity because of Rockwell’s “accessibility” as an artist. (Be that as it may, the little boys were much more interested in climbing on the outdoor sculptures — allowed! — and running around on the lawn.) Amidst all the small-town folksy scenes and the smiling cheerleaders was Rockwell’s arresting The Problem We All Live With. Large and horizontal, among the mostly vertical and more contained (and restrained) pieces, the image commands attention and reminds viewers that Rockwell, though undoubtedly adept at capturing cozy Americana, had something more to say.
I then read in the news about the flap caused by illustrator Mary Engelbreit, best known for her sweet, cherubic children and bucolic scenes — from her website: “Mary Engelbreit is known throughout the world for her distinctive illustration style, imbued with spirited wit and nostalgic warmth.” The St. Louis native was inspired by events in Ferguson, Missouri. Who knew she had it in her? You go, Mary.
It’s an apt time to re-post last summer’s thoughtful, moving piece by Christopher Myers — “Young Dreamers” — about cultural diversity in children’s media, the state of race in America, and childhood cut short.
The post Rockwell and Engelbreit appeared first on The Horn Book.
ALSC Past-President Starr LaTronica responds to my July editorial. Incidentally, we’re publishing a terrific piece in the November issue by Thom Barthelmess (former ALSC prez and BGHB chair) about how to conduct oneself in a professional book discussion. Thom is far more temperate about these things than am I.
The post The Empire Strikes Back appeared first on The Horn Book.
NAVA is an Italian brand that has strong roots in the design community. Established in 1970, they have a long history of working with the leading designers of the day. Nendo Projects, Massimo Vignelli, Enzo Mari, Naoto Fukasawa and Max Huber are just a few of the designers that NAVA has collaborated with over the years. The success of these partnerships has allowed NAVA to craft a functional yet undeniably stylish product line that supercedes vain fashion. Many of these products have gone on to become icons that are still displayed in museums and galleries around the world.
We recently received a package from NAVA which contained items from the latest Michel Charlot collaboration as well as a classic notepad/daily planner designed by Max Huber during the early stages of the company. We explore these products in words and pictures after the jump.
Superbag – Vertical Shopper
Designed by Michel Charlot for NAVA
Dimensions - 39 x 41 x 12 cm
The Vertical Shopper is one of five bags designed by Michael Charlor for the Superbag collection. Weighing in at a mere 1.5 LBs it remains lightweight yet durable. The bag features several handles along with a carrying strap and can easily contain a 15″ MacBook Pro. In addition the bag is 100% waterproof for those seeking extra protection against the elements.
Available at Nava
Day By Day Agenda
Designed by Max Huber and Aoi Kono for NAVA
Dimensions - 17×24 cm
Designed in 1972 by Max Huber and his wife, the Day by Day planner presents a simple yet elegant way to capture your thoughts and structure your calendar. Spared from flashy graphics and superfluous features the minimal and unobtrusive design keeps you focused on the tasks at hand.
Available at NAVA
No Ordinary Notes notepad
Dimensions - 15 x 21 cm
Developed in-house, No Ordinary Notes is a sturdy line of notebooks available in a variety of colors. Each notebook features 160 ruled pages and are available in the A5 and A6 sizes. In addition it features a waterproof cover and an elastic band to keep it sealed shut.
Available at NAVA
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A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking back from dinner and there was this nice grenadine-ish smell in the air, and I said, “It smells like cherries.” My stepson paused, sniffed, and said, “That’s urinal cakes, Carrie.” (Except he’s very deadpan, so it was more like, “That’s. urinal. cakes.”) Anyway, I was writing well this morning so I was late getting to the woods for a walk. It was already hot out and there were lots of thick gnarly spider webs everywhere with dime-sized spiders in them. None of the guys I passed were wearing shirts. And once in a while when the breeze picked up it smelled a lot like urinal cakes (not unpleasantly!).
Did you know that Head Start was founded back in 1965, with Early Head Start joining the ranks in 1994? Both agencies promote the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in local communities, making Head Start a perfect partner for the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee, and libraries in general. Head Start also promotes and enourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher, just like libraries do.
For the last two summers, I have worked with my local Head Start agency, which has 21 centers in Suffolk County, NY, to help promote the summer reading programs in our local libraries. One easy thing to do? If your library is part of the CSLP, you can share some of the great information on family literacy that promotes parents and summer reading.
Photo rights maintain by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
On a state level, the NYS Library maintains a website, Summer Reading at New York Libraries that offers tip sheets for parents and caregivers on the importance of reading aloud in multiple languages, and an early literacy manual to download for childcare providers. I made 21 copies of the manual to share with each Head Start center in Suffolk County; encouraging the Head Start staff to share information on local summer reading programs with their families before the end of the school year. I also gave out any early literacy give-away item that I had purchased with our Family Literacy Services grant to both the public libraries and the Head Start sites. And, I have presented twice now at their yearly staff conference on topics such as “how to choose books for babies and toddlers” and “best books for early childhood.” The teachers and classroom aides really appreciated having a librarian come and share books that they can use in their classrooms.
A more extensive, and long term partnership has evolved over the last two years with our Head Start agency. They administered an early literacy pre-survey to families last summer for my office (I am the youth services coordinator for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, with 54 member libraries). We provided the survey in both English and Spanish to over 1600 families, with over 900 being returned. Questions ranged from “I play with my baby or child every day” and “I know where my public library is in town” to “my baby or child participates in the summer reading program at our library.” It is our hope that we can administer a post-survey, asking the same questions, to returning families this September to see if we are creating change in early literacy knowledge and habits. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions or comments about our local partnership with Head Start.
So help Head Start celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Early Head Start program this year by picking up the phone and making a call to your local site today. Because it’s never to early to start planning and building a partnership, one book and family at a time.
Lisa G. Kropp is the youth services coordinator of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committe and the Managing Children’s Services virtual committee. She also writes the First Steps column at School Library Journal.
Reading Flight School and making penguins with new friends at the Norwich library last weekend. That was fun. Thanks also to the Eric Carle Museum for hosting me at their storytime!
The post Summer Events appeared first on Lita Judge.
By: Miss O,
Parents, get your reader on board with the Great Ivy + Bean Reread Challenge! This year’sInternational Ivy + Bean Day
is on Saturday, October 18th. And boy, have we got some treats (no tricks!) in store for your little reader.
Each week we’ll randomly choose a winner to receive a prize. Weekly prizes might include an Ivy + Bean personalized lunchbox, an Ivy + Bean Button Factory, a set of Ivy + Bean mini-notes, or an Ivy + Bean personalized folder.
How does that sound? Is your little reader ready for the challenge?
On your mark…get set…yow!
Here is a week-by-week breakdown:
Author & Illustrator: Desirae Foston
Publisher: Bliss Group Books
Buy it at Amazon
A child loves living on Herkimer Street and thinks it’s the greatest place in the world. So when his family is taking a trip to Hawaii, he wants to bring the whole street with him. Everyone cooperates to make the trip happen, facing obstacles with ingenuity and determination. Soon they’re all having a wonderful time in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Hiatus of Herkimer Street is a simple tale for young children, highlighting the importance of community and cooperation. Working as a team, the residents of Herkimer Street are able to realize their dreams of a fun Hawaiian vacation together.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
By: Julia Hornaday,
Blog: First Book
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It’s been over 10 years since Mr. Wilbert Scott and Cashadell Lewis first met, but both remember it like it was yesterday.
“My name is Cashadell, but you can call me Cash,” said Lewis.
“You call me Mr. Scott. And I will call you Cashadell Lewis,” Mr. Scott replied.
“When I first saw Mr. Scott, I knew he didn’t play,” recalls Cashadell. “And even though I didn’t want it at the time, I knew I needed someone like him.”
Mr. Scott had been paired with Cashadell as a Power Lunch reading mentor with Everybody Wins! Atlanta. The program, now in its 18th year, pairs volunteer reading mentors from local businesses and community organizations with first through fifth grade students identified by their teachers as reading below their grade level. Nearly 90 percent of the 550 students who currently participate in the Power Lunch program live in poverty. Many have no books at home.
Every Thursday, Mr. Scott visited Hope-Hill Elementary School to read aloud with Cashadell over the lunch hour. As weeks turned into years, Cashadell grew into a stronger reader and developed a special bond with Mr. Scott.
Now a mentor and a friend, Mr. Scott sees Cashadell graduating from college and returning to Hope-Hill Elementary as a mentor himself. And when he does, First Book will be there to support him.
Since June 2011, First Book has provided Everybody Wins! Atlanta with 10,126 books. The books are used to stock book carts, which hold hundreds of books for reading pairs to choose from, at the 11 schools that participate in the Power Lunch program. Each Power Lunch student also receives at least three new books to take home every year.
Last year, students got to take home even more books, thanks to our friends at dd’s DISCOUNTS. The local dd’s DISCOUNTS store raised funds to help provide over 700 brand-new books to Everybody Wins! Atlanta.
Help more kids more kids like Cashadell read, learn and succeed. Join dd’s DISCOUNTS in providing new books to outstanding programs like Everybody Wins! Atlanta by making a gift to First Book today.
The post Once a Mentor, Forever a Friend appeared first on First Book Blog.
I can almost see the finish line!! 2 more paintings left to tweek and then I can move on to final touches on all the paintings. Monday deadline here I come!!! Feelin determined 😆
Book festivals are continuing in September.
Sat., Sept. 13 Local Authors Expo, Mystic & Noank Library, Mystic, 1:00 to 4:00 PM. No idea if there will be any children's authors involved.
Sat., Sept. 13 Jeanne Rogers, Newtown Arts Festival, Newtown, 3:00 PM. Presentation, Festival admission
Sat., Sept. 13 and Sun., Sept. 14 Sheila Murphy Adams, Dawn Aldrich, Catherine Gibson, Jason Marchi, Newtown Arts Festival, Newtown, 10:00 PM to 5:00 PM each day. Admission
Thurs., Sept. 18, Randall Enos, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Westport, 7:00 PM
Sept. 21 Jack Jones, Diane's Books/Tudor Investments Corp, Greenwich, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Book launch
Wed. Sept. 24, Phil Nel, UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center, Storrs, 4:00 PM. Speaking on "The Genius of Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon."
Sept. 30, , Cheshire Public Library, Cheshire, 7:00 PM. Hour-long Picture Book 101 presentation for beginning writers
I am doing a Back-to-School sale @ my on-line store!!
$20 purchase or more 10%off - Coupon Code: schoolrock
$35 purchase or more 20%off - Coupon Code: schoolfun
Sale end Sept 23
My new picture book This Is Sadie, co-created with the ridiculously talented Julie Morstad, and produced under the tender care of the brilliant editor Tara Walker at Tundra Books will be out in the world next spring.
Today I saw it listed for the first time online and am so very happy to be able to share the cover!
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Caduceus: The Healing Rod of Asclepius
With nearly 40 years of dreamwork experience, one thing I can say for certain about my dreams is that the archetypal energy of healing at all levels, spiritual, psychological and physical has been expressed in myriad symbols, processes and themes, indicating to me that the primary purpose of dreams is to heal and make whole.
The Benefits of Working with Dreams to Heal
Learning to recognize when and how healing is at work within is a fascinating aspect of the study of dreams. It was one of the first benefits I clearly saw from keeping a dream journal. (See my blog 6 Health Related Benefits of Keeping a #Dream Journal.) As I grew more adept at working with dreams, I learned that they could be used to diagnose, treat and monitor the progress of any kind of ailment. Over the years, I learned to request information about a piece of health information prior to getting the specific lab results to verify the accuracy of that test. I have found my dreams to be up to this point in time 100% accurate and I have been doing this for more than ten years. And last but not least, I saw healings take place within my dreams which then manifested in my body.
How to Become Adept at Working with Health-Related Dreams
If you want to become adept at exploring your health from the dream perspective, do the following:
- Keep a dream journal and be faithful in recording all the dreams you can remember, even the most minor and insignificant. Many years ago I had an obscure “one-liner” dream which conveyed the cryptic message, “Everyone is working to develop a method of self-healing.” I knew nothing of what this meant at the time but many years later, I saw it would become one the main purposes of my life, and “everyone” referred to all aspects of me!
- Read the groundbreaking book by Patricia Garfield, Ph.D., The Healing Power of Dreams, which gives researched information on how symbols occurring in dreams relate to the body and its state of health. She gives many of the commonly occurring symbols for health in dreams.
- In addition the to common symbols for health and healing; learn your personal dream vocabulary. (See Recognizing Your Personal Dream Vocabulary.) What are your unique symbols for health, healing and healers that appear in your dreams?
- Notice and reflect on all images, processes and symbols relating to health, the medical field, therapists and healers. What are they telling you?
- Learn to request specific health information from dreams (Dream Incubation.) (See Ask and You Shall Receive: Incubating a #Dream.) For example, ask what particular foods do you need to eat to get healthier?
- Request healings to come in dreams.
- Test your dream findings with your medical lab tests or a doctor’s diagnosis. If your dream tells you one thing, and a doctor another, get a second opinion.
Many doctors now are beginning to see the helpfulness of dreams in staying healthy. My doctor always takes my health dreams seriously and so should yours! Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is said to have learned about the value of dreams and their relationship to health at an asclepion, an ancient type of hospital which was dedicated to the god of healing, Asclepius. The caduceus, the symbol of medicine which comes to us from this ancient era, depicts snakes wrapped around the rod of Asclepius.
The Arrangement 16 (The Ferro Family) by H.M. Ward leads the Self-published Bestsellers List this week.
To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. You can read all the lists below, complete with links to each book.
If you want more resources as an author, try our Free Sites to Promote Your eBook post, How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores post and our How to Pitch Your Book to Online Outlets post.
If you are an independent author looking for support, check out our free directory of people looking for writers groups. (more…)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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I think it well worth re-posting this item (with some new artwork) because, as I pointed out in my post on Delcourt jumping on to the cash-cow of super heroes (admitting it!) by having its series Sentinels made into a film, super heroes are highly profitable and if the rather conservative big Franco-Belgian BD publishers realise this....
But where are the business entrepreneurs -hmm?
Myself, Stransky, LaBatt and Ben Dilworth sit ready. Yes, after years of just saying "someone" needs to be a figure-head to launch such a project I am now so fed up that I am putting myself forward ("Blimey! A Saviour complex -I told you!" I can just hear that little moron screaming it now).
Forget skyscrapers. We have high streets, coastal towns, villages and cities -we have unique scenery in the UK and all are ripe for British super heroes!
“Hmm. Don’t you understand? Think about it –we have no skyscrapers! How can you have American style super heroes in England?”
Those were the words of a Marvel UK editor (Dave White) back in the 1980s as I sat across from him having travelled from Bristol to London at his suggestion to discuss new projects. About a month later a very senior Marvel UK editor responded in the same words but adding “That is why UK comics have never had super heroes.”
Firstly, as I pointed out to Dave White, we are the UK. Britain. You think of characters for a comic as being English you are excluding Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Why?
My response to the senior editor is probably why things went a little “odd” work-wise. My first response was “So, what exactly is Marvel UK publishing? And Power Comics (Odhams) before it? And…” I went on to rattle off a very, very long list of British super characters going back to the 1940s. I think
I ticked him off. Really, he should have known better though, in one respect, he was right.
British comics never had super heroes.
Before you start thinking that I’m on new medications and answering “Yes” and “No” at the same time allow me to explain.
Tim (Kelly’s Eye) Kelly travelled the world and even in time and space at one point and was totally indestructible. He was not
a super hero.
Clem Macy, television news reporter had a costumed archer alter ego…The Black Archer. He was not
a super hero.
Cathy had amazing cat-like abilities and wore a costume. She was not
a super heroine.
William and Kathleen Grange were incredible acrobats and wore costumes as Billy the Cat and Katie The Cat. They were not
In fact, for my graphic novel featuring many old IPC and Fleetway costumed characters, The Looking Glass
, I noted several times that the characters were not super heroes. In the UK we tended to call them “costumed adventurers” or even “masked crime fighters” but not super heroes.
Some, of course, were…uh..”revived” for the Wildstorm Studios Albion
mini series which had great art but, sadly, showed a lack of any real knowledge of the characters by the writers –which they admitted to. In comics you get paying work you take it!
Characters such as Adam Eterno
, the focal point in the Looking Glass
story had no choice and were at times almost anti-heroes. Whereas The Spider had a choice of being a master crook and then changing sides (basically all ego driven), Eterno did not. He was cursed to be taken by the mists of time from one period to another where he encountered Spanish Conquistadores, pirates, sorcerers and even modern day (well, 1970s) crooks.
Olaf (“Loopy”) Larsen a rather meek school teacher found the Viking helmet of one of his ancestors and, donning it (that’s putting it on his head) became a super strong, flying Viking hero…The Phantom Viking
. There are stories of The Phantom Viking rescuing ships and much more and not a skyscraper in sight.
The great exponents of British roof-top crime-busting were, first, Billy The Cat and later Katie The Cat. Running across the rooftops and leaping the often not so great gaps between one row of terraced houses and another, the duo were the fictional ancestors of today’s urban free-style runners/jumpers –examples found here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ0YDF9bpZ8&feature=player_embedded#
To most people who never get to see the rooves of terraced houses they assume they are all steep and sloping. However, having on two occasions chased someone across terraced root-tops I can tell you there is plenty of room to move about (though at my age I now look back and get nauseous over that memory!).
Later, in the 1970s, William Farmer became the costumed crime-fighter known as The Leopard From Lime Street. As one Fleetway boss told me (later confirmed by artist Mike Western) “Thomson had a schoolboy who fights crooks in a costume and if Billy the Cat was popular I was sure we could do better!”
Interestingly, in the Billy The Cat series he was later to be hunted as a vigilante by authorities who did not like what he was doing. Likewise, The Leopard was also hunted down at one point. In fact, a number of British comic crime-fighters found themselves not just ducking the crooks out for revenge but also the very side they were fighting for!
Towns, cities, villages, countryside, coastal locations –all featured in some very fun stories that endure in the memory to this day. And not a bloody skyscraper in sight!
When UK creators were recruited to save the ailing US comic companies such as DC in the 1980s (I was at those UK comic art conventions watching how desperate they were to recruit British talent –and in some cases introduced both parties to each other) the idea of outlawing super heroes and tracking them down so they could be arrested was a new concept. In the UK we’d been doing that since the 1940s ( thanks to the creators who churned out material for publishers such as Gerald Swan)!
The mistake in the minds of publishers is that they equate costumed crime-fighters with skyscrapers and the United States. Despite the long history of such characters in the UK going back to the Boys Papers of the 1900-1930s.
What it says, really, is “This is just a job. I don’t care about comics history.”
D. C. Thomson (may they be forever cursed in the hallowed halls of British Comics Hell) have enough characters to produce good costumed-crime-fighter comics. The same applied to IPC who appear to have now taken the stance (a letter to me from senior management dated 19th
July, 2011) “We were once publishing comics but that was over 30 years ago and have no further interest in comics.” Of course, had a rich stable of characters.
I have no doubt at all that a good “super hero” comics could work in the UK but so few Independent Comics writers/publishers seem to be able to produce an obscenities free script that does not also include over the top violence and rape –the “Millar-Ennis-Morrison Legacy (MEML).”
But let’s mention, I really must
, two shining examples of British “Super Heroes” by British creators that have excellent plotting, story and action without having to resort to the MEML.
The first is, naturally, Paul Grist’s Jack Staff
. Okay, he’s never accepted my offer to interview him in the last decade but I’ll not hold that against him! When I first saw Jack Staff I thought “**** that anatomy is really off!” I bought a copy. I’m a comics bitch, I just can’t help it.
I read through issue 1 and do you know what? I..I..deep breath…I enjoyed it! There it’s out now! The anatomy did not put me off and, as the manager of Forbidden Planet (Bristol) said “It doesn’t make a blind bit of difference –it’s so enjoyable!” With references to old British TV comedy series and so much more each issue of Jack Staff was a must
read. There was, I must point out here, a major
flaw in each issue. There were not enough pages!
And while Grist takes a break from Jack Staff he came up with a new series –Mud-Man
(which should not be confused with my German character Schlamm Mann
–mud-man!). Lovely stuff but, again, the major fault of not enough pages but maybe that is why this works: it is almost episodic like old British weekly strips…but with more pages…okay. Grist wins.
Then we have, and I have to say this on bended knees and in very humble tone…Nigel Dobbyn
. When someone told me that he was drawing Billy The Cat I remember thinking to myself “I wonder whether his art style is any different than when he was drawing for Super Adventure Stories
(a 1980s comic zine). I opened up the comic and a big thought balloon appeared above my head in which was written in bold Comic Sans
The style and colouring I had not seen outside of European comics (say Cyrus Tota’s work on Photonik). After that I never missed an issue and I made a point of grabbing The Beano Annual
as soon as it appeared in shops. But with this incredible talent working for them did Thomson take advantage? No, they did something ensuring he would not work on new strips for them. The story can be found here:http://www.comicbitsonline.com/2010/12/12/nigel-dobbynbilly-the-cat-and-d-c-thomson/
You want to see how good Dobbyn is? Visit his website which has great art on show including Billy The Cat colour pages:http://www.nigeldobbyn.com/
Dobbyn even re-introduced (with help from scripter Kev F. Sutherland, of course) General Jumbo
but as The General
. In fact, you go over those issues and I can see why so many people were telling me that they only bought copies for
Billy The Cat. I could drool on and wax lyrical for hours about Dobbyn’s style and colouring.
Now here is the real kicker. Two talents such as Grist and Dobbyn whom any UK publisher (I know –“Who??”) should be fighting, spitting and kicking to get their hands on but are they? Nope. And while Grist publishes his books via Image Comics you have to wonder why Marvel or DC have not tried to get him on a title? Could it be his style is just not understandable by people in US Comics such as Joe “I’ll sell that for a Dollar” Quesada or Dan “I’ve had another brilliant idea on how to destroy DC” Didio? What of Dobbyn, then?
I know that if as a publisher I had the money I’d be employing both full time!!
I need to stop mentioning Dobbyn now as my knees hurt (a lot) and it’s hard typing from this position.
What both creators have shown is that there really do not have to be skyscrapers for a “super hero.” There is enough car crime, drug crime…violent crime of most types going on in the UK and believe it or not none involve a single skyscraper. Incredible, isn’t it?
Also, the UK is rich in legends, myths, fairy tales and much more that are just crying out to be included in storylines. The reason the Americans and other comic readers world-wide like UK strips is because they are
uniquely British. In India, particularly in Southern India, The Steel Claw, Robot Archie, The Spider and many others are still very popular in reprint form over 35 years since they last appeared in print here.
Of course, now that the Evil Empire (Disney) has extended its stranglehold on Marvel (Panini) UK nothing new from the UK is allowed –though why doesn’t Panini with all its international branches pull in some new characters/books of their own? Oh. Its cheaper tp publish reprint material, isn’t it? I can be so silly!
Black Tower Comics has published a wide range of comics and the costumed crime-fighters (or even non-costumed in the case of Krakos) are the most popular.
So the market is there but where are the moneymen, the backers needed to help revive the corpse that is British comics so that it can proudly boast an industry once more that takes advantage of talents such as Grist, Dobbyn and Jon Haward?
However improbable British super heroes might seem to sum I can tell you they are not. There is a history going back 80 years and even longer if you include the Penny Dreadfuls of the Victorian era.
Here endeth the sermon.
The lazy days of summer are winding down and my schedule seems to be filling up, so I missed last week's Makes Me Happy post. I think I will now shoot for posting every other week, so I don't stress myself out. It would be a self-induced stress, since I'm choosing to do these posts, so that would just be silly, wouldn't it!
There is something about little house shapes, in a row or in a pattern, in particular, that really captures my heart. They can be simple, like something a child would draw, or more intricate, with lots of detail and texture. Here are a few that brightened my day, with the links below. To see more, visit my Home Sweet Home board on Pinterest
Tall pink house by Me!
This past Saturday Kinokuniya and Vertical Inc held a Knights of Sidonia event, which turned out to preview the first episode of the Sidonia anime on Netflix, some brief talk on Vertical’s involvement with the anime staff, and a Q & A which revealed the anime was doing well on Netflix. After the event, Ed ... Read more
Hi everyone, I am doing a Back-to-School sale @ my on-line store!!http://alinachau.com/store/$20 purchase or more 10%off - Coupon Code: schoolrock
$35 purchase or more 20%off - Coupon Code: schoolfun
Sale end Sept 23
A school district in Maryland has placed an 8th grade English teacher on administrative leave after finding out that the teacher had written two works of fiction which dealt with the subject of school shootings.
Patrick McLaw, published two books under the pseudonym Dr. K.S. Voltaer – The Insurrectionist and Lilith’s Heir. The books deal with a fictitious high school shooting set in the year 2902 in which 947 people are killed.
McLaw is not allowed on campus until the school and local law enforcement investigate the matter. Here is more from RT.com:
“While on administrative leave, he is not allowed to come onto school property or participate in school events,” the statement continues. “Mr. McLaw’s teaching duties have been assigned to qualified personnel to insure the smooth transition of students into the fall semester.” Additionally, Wager wrote that an officer from the Cambridge Police Department will be at Mace’s Lane middle school “for as long as we deem it necessary.”
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
The Academy of American Poets has revealed the winners of the 2014 American Poets Prizes. The organization will give out more than $200,000 to poets in award money.
Robert Hass has won the Wallace Stevens Award, an honor which recognizes “proven mastery in the art of poetry” and comes with a $100,000 stipend. Hass is the author of a number of collections of poetry including The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems. Tracy K. Smith has received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes ”distinguished poetic achievement” and comes with a stipend of $25,000. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars, won the Pulitzer Prize
Rigoberto González’s book Unpeopled Eden has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which includes a $25,000 purse. The award ”recognizes the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year.” Brian Blanchfield’s book A Several World has been awarded the James Laughlin Award, a prize for a “superior second book of poetry by an American poet,” which carries a $25,000 prize. (more…)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
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Amazon has introduced a scholarship program to help American college students fund their way through school. The Amazon Student Scholarship is a merit-based contribution that will supply 50 undergrads with $5,000 in tuition money and $500 for textbooks.
Applicants must be members of Amazon Student and be enrolled in an accredited, nonprofit two- or four-year university in the U.S. Students can apply for the award now through November 20 for a Fall 2015 scholarship. Follow this link to apply.
Here is more about what the company is looking for: “Finalists will be selected based on GPA, community involvement, and leadership experience, and then invited to complete an essay to advance to the final round. Winners will be notified in April 2015 and the scholarship awarded in July 2015.”
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.