This past week saw the introduction of yet another new series into the world of Grimm Fairy Tales - No Tomorrow featuring Keres. As of yet very little has been done to identify what the antagonist of the series is doing, whether it is an observer of tragedy or the creator of death. One characteristic of the character is the humming/whistling/singing of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata:
This music is considered to be some of the saddest in the history of human music, and yet wasn't necessarily intended as such by Beethoven, instead he wanted to create a fantastical setting for his music. That it became associated with darkness and sorrow may have been an unintended consequence, though it is interesting how it has infiltrated pop culture as such. It is also interesting that the writer incorporates such an element into comics, as it is a less common manner of getting across tone, as it implies that the reader knows what the music is.
It is time for my second ever board game review (here is the first). As always I try to keep this blog on the topic of comics, as least notionally, so I don't get into other board games here. In the past couple of years I have discovered an interest in strategy based board games, having learned and played (and bought) such games as the Settlers of Cataan, Agricola and Africana. When I saw that Zenescope had put out a board game based on one of my favourite Grimm Fairy Tales series (Wonderland) I knew that one day I was going to buy it. Well that day came recently.
I suppose because I was impressed with the quality of the Wonderland series and because I was used to the enjoyment of strategy games, I thought that the two would meld together fairly well with this game. This was my first pre-conception which led to a bit of a disappointment. This game is not so much strategy based, rather it is more simplistic, kind of like the board games that preceded the new wave of strategy based ones. The movement is never really strategically based, rather based on a fairly easy grid that is easy to maneuver. The gameplay is decent enough despite that, with at least enough challenges and earned items to make it worthwhile.
There is another relatively major drawback as well, that being that this kind of requires a knowledge of the Zenescope series, otherwise there will be a lot of questions. I usually play these games with my husband, but as he has not read the Zenescope version, he was confused why he was attacking the Cheshire Cat (as his only other exposure to Caroll is from Disney) or other characters, or even why there was so much attacking going on in Wonderland. I tried to explain the context to him, but it did not add to the enjoyment of the game for a newcomer.
So overall, I would say that the game is lacking in those two areas, and its gameplay is nothing special compared to most other games. I would say that it is average, though for someone that doesn't know GFT (which is most people) would probably rank it lower.
This blog is not fictional writing, but rather detailing a personal writing process. It doesn't really deal with fan fiction per se, rather writing in general. I kind of learned this in relation to my own attempt to write a story based on Adam Strange/John Carter, so it is somewhat comic related, though I am not sure how close it is to writing fan fiction, though some of the advice still applies. When I first started writing, I was often stuck getting words out because I was worried too much about getting it right. This is when a friend relayed on the advice of Neil Gaiman - "Just get the words out." Though I don't necessarily agree with this at all times, it is a good piece of advice, even if it is a bit obvious. To write a person basically needs three attributes - imagination, technique and dedication. This piece of advice would cover the dedication aspect. Getting the words out works if you are technically skilled at writing (and if not then that can be learned, the only part of writing which can be learned in a formal setting) and if you have imagined the story, or at least aspects of the story. "Getting the words out" is a lot easier said than done though. If you are writing a story about space pirates and all you can write about is waterfalls, then it is not going to work in the end. This is where I got my own personal method for if a writer gets stuck and that is what I call the Lucas method.
This method is named after George Lucas and basically boils down to this : if you can't think of anything original, then rip off something that is like what you want. Lucas is a self admitted practitioner of this method of writing, having ripped key elements of Star Wars from Japanese samurai films and basing large parts of his movies from what he read in "Hero of a Thousand Faces." If someone needs further evidence of how good he is at the Lucas method and not so good at actual writing, rewatch Star Wars episode II for the romance between Anakin and Padme.
When I was writing my epic I ripped the following: Treasure Island, The Call of the Wild, The Martian Chronicles, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (or Lawrence of Arabia as the movie is known), Bridge on the River Kwai, and two semi-famous paintings. It creates a bit of a patchwork, but it fulfilled the goal of getting the words out, and if a writer has to resort to such methods, then so be it. Most likely, your any story will require a rewrite (and another one and another one ...) so you can smooth things out then and make these parts either less prominent or disappear completely. In some cases those things never get smoothed out. Look at Shawshank Redemption, often considered to be one of the top movies ever made. It ripped directly from Birdman of Alcatraz and the Great Escape, but just left those parts in after everything (it probably ripped some other prison movies that I haven't seen.) Of course writing requires a lot of research, in fact there are things that I never thought I would research that I have looked at, and there is nothing to say that those cannot come from movies or others films.
In the end it is a bit of a brute force method, but for an aspiring writer, I would recommend it to get going and get momentum behind your writing.
Last week with episode 2 I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by the depth of this show as opposed to what I had been expecting. As the action this week turns around to the contest at Mega-Con, the show once again impressed me, except for reasons that are maybe not as planned as the previous week (though they might have been.) As the contestants prepare for the contest, one thing becomes evidently clear with this group, that their friends (some of whom they are married to) really want to support them in these endeavours and to help them make the best costume as possible. Becky relies on her roommate for fabrication, Holly and Jessica compete for the first time, and Riki depends on her husband for the completion of her costume as well.
It was actually pretty touching to see Riki's husband in the audience trying to will his wife to victory with his focused stare. With the lack of underdog Jesse and only a brief appearance by Yaya, the show could have lacked a bit, but once again this show surprised me, and it kind of has me hooked.
There had been a little bit of buzz around Fan Expo in Toronto this weekend. One of the more interesting developments for philatelists and comic book aficionados alike was Canada Post unveiling a series of stamps:
There is somewhat of a link of the character to Toronto, even though it is a bit more tenuous. Certainly it is possible that Superman creators based their depiction of Metropolis on Toronto, but I personally don't really see the point in trying to tie the history of the character to Canada where it otherwise belongs to the USA. There are some better depictions of this:
Instead these stamps seem like kind of a cash grab. Of course there are stamps made around the world of different characters and themes which have almost zero bearing on countries that issues them, but that this is released at a Fan Expo will likely make a lot of fans buy some stamps that they otherwise never would.
I should say after the first episode of this series that I was expecting something a bit more engaging in this second part. I ended up partially satisfied, and partially not. First of all, it would seem that in order to get this series going, that there needs to be a certain amount of actual action, and it does get going but only after a couple of unecessary plugs for Canada's science fiction network and one of Canada's biggest comic book store chains. Seeing as the lead in is about a minute long and the end credits are about two minutes long, this makes the five minute running time pretty short for any real action
It is at least nice to see some of the action though, as well as the return of the Blue Fox (this should not be surpising considering the episode name. She is the femme fatale which could hold the series together and keep some interest in it, yet her role here is kind of small.
I was impressed as a native of Halifax that some action took place there, but also disappointed that there was actually nothing indicative of the city as all that they show is a warehouse (for Toronto they show the CN Tower at least.) In terms of this series having any wide reaching appeal, I think it might be a bit too Canadian centric (I don't know if Canadians would even get the donair joke or recognize the Canadian bands.) I still hope this series survives and maybe there are some good things ahead, but there needs to be more substance and less hype. So far the entire two episodes could have fit easily in four comic book pages.
It has been a long time since I did a "Science of ..." blog, mostly because my reading preferences shifted away from the science-focused series of the early new 52 (well actually DC shifted away as well, cancelling regular Science of ... series Mr. Terrific, Firestorm and Captain Atom.) At the behest of a friend I have started reading the mostly all female X-Men. I am still a little lost in terms of the characters, but the science I can tackle. This issue is divided between Wolverine and Jubilee in Los Angeles and the remainder of the team trying to assist a plane in distress over the Sierra Nevada mountains. There was no science in the Jubilee part, but the other part had some (spoilers obviously).
I never would have thoughts of it before, but how does one make a line or cord out of telekinetic energy? There is unfortunately no common answer as when Rogue descends the cord between the two planes the cord that she is shown to be using is both flexible and inflexible. It would stand to reason that any cord of TK energy would be absolutely straight as it is not a type of energy which is considered to be at all normal. Despite this, the strength of any cord is at its weakest at the exact center point of the cord, which therefore asks the question, why are the X-Men flying their aircraft so far away from the plane. The larger the distance the greater the strain and the more likely that the cord will snap.
Verdict: Comic science
I am not saying that the above panel is impossible to achieve at least in terms of the desired effect, but it certainly wouldn't work like this. The stall speed for a large airplane like a passenger jet is well above the speed that it would take to blow a regular person easily off of holding a cord, no matter how strong they were. OK ... Rogue is a superhero and could be using some built up whatever to hold on, but even if she were it would look nothing like how she is depicted here, somewhat casually crawling down the TK line. Instead she would be essentially hanging on for her life and hoping that gravity could do its work and pull her down, providing that the downward force of the gravity was not overcome by the sideways force of the drag.What would have been a lot easier? Get in front of the plane and let both the drag and the gravity work, but they approached from behind for some reason. I guess they wanted more of a challenge.
Verdict: Bad Science
Material Stresses and Pressure
So for a pretty accurate look at what would be the real effect of a mid air intervention, it is worth checking out the movies Superman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises. Don't check out too much of Superman Returns, as it is mostly bad science except for the part where Superman tries to grab the wing and the wing falls off. In TDKR the wings tear off after Bane and his men have grabbed hold of the plane. The common theme here is that wings rip off really easily of airplanes. So it makes very little sense to focus the telekinetic energy on the wings. Another thing to consider is the weight. I am not sure how much a loaded airplane weighs (let's just say ... a lot) and to hold a plane up by two cords in this way is going to accomplish two things. It is going to cut right through the X-Men aircraft and it is going to put a ridiculous amount of weight on two small points on the plane below meaning that regardless of where the TK cords are, that they are going to tear through the plane. The thing is though, that the weight and the momentum of the plane are mostly fixed in the equation, so spreading telekinesis over the entire hull or on a small point is going to require the same amount of effort and it would not make the plane go topsy-turvy as it would have done (like in TDKR.) If there is one salvageable point it is that the the X-Men's aircraft can produce a lot of thrust, and probably as much as a fighter jet, which means that lift is not as much of a consideration to fly. That being the case, it might actually be able to handle the load.
Steampunk as a genre is slowly finding a way to infiltrate comics. I have mentioned this before in its occasional introduction into Grimm Fairy Tales, including a what is essentially a steampunk character is Liesel Van Helsing. As I was watching Heroes of Cosplay last night, one of the characters decided to create a steampunk stormtrooper (steamtrooper). It was a pretty interesting costume and one of the better ones in terms of original design:
I was completely impressed with the character until the judges asked him about his design. "Why would a strormtrooper have goggles?" one of the judges asked. I was expecting an answer like "steamtroopers operate on the steam moon of Halta V, and when trapped in a steam pocket their regular visors are not sufficient protection so they deploy their steam goggles." Instead the response was "Because they look badass!" which resulted in me yelling "NOOOOOOO!" at my screen.
In my appreciation of steampunk and how it is used in its own small niche, this is a common problem. People regard steampunk as something which has a thematic look but not a practical story behind it. In comics recently, Antarctic Press has made it a thing to try to get industry recognition by depicting the genre in a series of one shot steampunk themed specials:
The problem with the concept is that of a running cliche at this point. A steampunk character does not need to have goggles (to be fair many of the Antarctic Press characters don't) and if they do they should have some kind of meaning to the character. The idea behind the original introduction of steampunk goggles was that because steampunk characters were using the technology of today based off of steam power and the equivalent technology of the time, that they had to be continually tinkering with their technological items, which would require magnifying goggles. I think in order to better capture the spirit of the genre that it is necessary to understand why certain items belong to the genre in the first place. In terms of the HoC steamtrooper, this is even more evident, as a crossover character the background story and the thematic look don't need to mesh at all.
After the introduction to the show and the characters last week at Wizard Con, this week the focus of the show changes to Emerald City Comic Con. After the first week of the show I had some preconceived notions about this show, but after this week I can see that this show actually has a bit more depth than I thought that it would. This episode included the introduction of three new cast members - Riki, Monika and Chloe. In a sense it is an reintroduction ti the world of cosplay for all of them. Chloe is more of a reporter, Riki has visited a special effects artist to figure out how to take cosplay to a new level, and Monika is being influenced by a colleague to go for more sex appeal.
Most of the show focuses on the latter, with the industry veterans such as Riki and Yaya Han trying to influence the younger cosplayer to more meaning to the pursuits. It is evocative of a lot of questions which are pertinent to women in the industry as a whole, such as whether to sell out with sexiness or to go with a character and look that is more in line with what a character might actually look realistically look like. There is a somewhat staged meeting between the older characters and Chloe where this is talked about in greater detail. As a side story and one which highlights the questions about Monika's character, Chloe wonders whether cosplay is not just for fun, or if there is something more (with the question of whether a 300 pound man should go as Superman?) I thought in terms of the amount of gravity that this show had, that I was not expecting as much actual conversation about the industry. As the show bills itself beside the purely competition based Face Off, I was expecting a lot more of direct competition, so I was happy to see some discussion here in terms of bigger issues.