When the Beat Ruled DC

Well "ruled" is not really correct, I was thinking of where to add this information to the wiki but I am not even sure if it belongs anywhere. As I have stated many times previously, the field of comics quite often follows that of pop culture only maybe a bit too slow. For instance, in the 1960s and 1970s, there was the introduction of several martial arts characters at both DC and Marvel to capitalize on the popularity of the action movies coming out of Hong Kong. Equally later in the 1970s there was the introduction of jive-talking characters like Black Lightning to capitalize on the blaxpoitation movement. A forgotten field of this influence was in the early 1960s, and for a few reasons. At the time comics were more so still aimed at children, and more so, there was only really one major company at the time (DC). The pop culture addition at this time was that of the beatnik movement and there was actually a small influence of the characters into somewhat of mainstream at DC. The most obvious was Snapper Carr, a character that appeared in almost ever Justice League of America issue for some time and therefore had a high profile. The other was Jonny Double, who showed up all over and still show occasionally in modern comics. It is a small and mostly forgotten part of comic history, but for a time, beatniks were in.


The Trash Vortex and the Asteroid Field

This topic came up with me and a friend recently, and I thought I might share it as the environment is an important thing to me (it is what I study after all.) The problem was how the Pacific Trash Vortex is presented in the series Great Pacific, and its sci fi like treatment. I initially had higher hopes for this series as it was going to deal with an environmental issues, but almost from the first moment I knew that something was wrong. It is essentially comes down to understanding degrees of scale. The Pacific Trash Vortex doesn't look like much, because it is still primarily water, the only problem is that it isn't only water. It is like in the asteroid field. We have this impression of the asteroid field being what it is like in Empire Strikes Back with the Aluminum Falcon dodging asteroids left and right while trying to escape from the Imperial Fleet. Nice visual sure, but in reality in our own asteroid field in our own solar system, if you were to stand on one of the larger rocks, you would not be able to see the nearest rock, or you might be able to see one several hundred kilometers away as a faint object. When it comes to the Pacific Trash Vortex, it is the same idea, it is not so much that you can sit in one place and be in a sea of garbage (though there are places like that) but rather that you can be in the sea of garbage and not know it. The smallest pieces of plastic are microscopic, but they too block out the sun just as much as a plastic bag does and blocks the sunlight from reaching below. This affects the life below and affects the whole food web. In terms of science fiction I suppose the series is all right, but in terms of its actual science, its treats the environment the same way that early space serials treated outer space.

It's not like this at all.

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Titan's Icy Shell

Just another thing that I ran across on Discover magazine's homepage was this picture of an artist's concept of the surface of Titan, the Saturnian moon:

This is reminiscent of the short story arc in Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris where she is abducted by Vampires from Titan and then taken there and later to Saturn. The Titan as depicted is much more like what we might think of as our own moon, and the surface of Saturn was shown to be rocks floating in liquid air. Funny then that the depiction of Saturn is completely off, but might actually have been realistic enough for Titan.


Wiki Real Time Analytics

Something caught my eye as I was checking out the Discover magazine homepage today (the article is here if you don't want to bother with my insight into this topic.) Predicting the success of movies has been a notoriously difficult process as most indicators have proved ineffective at doing so, especially as compared to the predictability of some other trends. What they have recently though is that the popularity (and therefore financial success) of a movie can be linked to the amount of time and the number of edits on their wikipedia page in the weeks and days leading up to the premiere. Essentially the idea is that people take a certain amount of ownership for certain works that they associate with, and that for every person that is doing this that it correlates to a certain fixed amount that aren't.

This of course refers to comic book movies as well, in fact probably more so, as comic movies are at the moment pretty much box office gold for movie studios. It is also reasonable that this same rule applies to other wikis. I am sure that it applies to the movies on Comic Vine as well (even when we have no firm rules as to what constitutes a movie which should be added to the wiki). What is interesting for me though is the absolute inaccuracy of this as it would be applied to comics themselves. Whereas there might be some individual issues or volumes that are more edited than others, it is also likely that those volumes have been added in a serial behaviour to the wiki, because they themselves are in a serial format. I suppose in certain case though that such information could be used to predict the success of comics, but only in an extended manner. For instance, one might be able to tell the success of comics by the number of concepts associated to them, or the number of key characters, or even if people consistently break site rules to add certain issues early.

This wouldn't always hold though, as for instance I once added this cover and issues early, and nobody that I know read this issue, even not me.


The Moonlight Sonata

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:

Credit to the artist for getting the music mostly correct

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.


Game Review - Wonderland The Board Game

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.


The Lucas Method

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.

Oops, not Isabel Lucas

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.


Heroes of Cosplay Episode 3 Review

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.

Riki as Betty Page as the Rocketeer was the only comic themed character among the cast.

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.


Bringing Superman Home

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.


Captain Canuck Webisode 2 Review

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.

Here it is if anyone is interested: