Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wedding Jitters

My sister’s getting married this week, and I’m very nervous, since I’ll be expected to mingle with the guests there. Things have been made easier by having several people at my table be old friends I’m slightly familiar with (even though I haven’t seen them in years, and they know me better than I know them) and workers who’ll leave half the table empty when they leave to do their jobs.

Even though the announcement was made last year, I’m still living out the slim hope that maybe, just maybe she’ll call the whole thing off at the last minute. You know, like people do all the time. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some rehearsing, trying to prepare myself on how to approach people in small talk. Something I’m not very good at. It’s easier for me to open a conversation if I’ve got an idea of what I’m going to talk about, and if the other person’s interested. A whole profile on the stranger’s hobbies, likes & dislikes on a piece of paper is more preferable to me than having to find out second-hand. I don’t trust myself to be able to succeed in one-on-one dialogue. Part of the problem is that, although I’ve been told that small talk doesn’t have to be important, I’m always reluctant to repeat dialogue verbatim to different people, since it smacks of lazy writing.

An interpreter will be present to help me understand the other person’s mode of speech, which will be a big help. It usually takes me awhile to get used to how someone else talks. Although I’m deaf and a good lipreader, the place will most likely be crowded, noisy and distracting. It doesn’t help that very many words look alike without any sound, so even if I have my hearing aids off, something can easily get lost in the translation if prompting isn’t successful.

For instance, there’s a book titled, “What’s that Pig Outdoors?”, which is how the words “What’s that Big Loud Noise?” look like. I’ve had multiple words mixed up so often that it’s usually easier to just smile & nod to get the conversation over with instead. However, this wedding might be my last chance to be able to talk to other potential friends. As a general rule, people don’t generally interest me, unless they’re interested in me instead. Whenever someone praises me for my sense of humour, I’m always surprised, since I don’t feel that my accomplishments are that noteworthy. I suffer simultaneously from a superiority and an inferiority complex. That is, I feel that I’m smarter than everyone, but also expect everyone else to do better than me.

One of the guests that I’m interested in talking to is a relative whose baby has autism. I’ve been wanting to talk to her ever since she didn’t show up at an Aspergers’ Parents meeting where I made a two-hour speech about my unique experiences with a double disability. Most people think that if you have two disabilities, things are twice as hard for them. It’s not - it’s multiplied, so it’s a hundred times harder. Talking to new people in a crowd is like forcing an illiterate to choose a book out of the library. There’s simply too many choices, and what happens if I happen to make the wrong choice? Then I’ll be punished for my decision, and feel more reluctant to try again. And even if the results were 99% good, I’ll focus on the 1% that went bad instead.

I’ve been told to “keep my conversations simple” since people at the wedding aren’t expecting me to go into essay-length conversations about how the food is, or how I feel about my sister getting married, which usually results in one-sided monologues rather than dialogues. I’m more interested in what I think than what the other person thinks, and this kind of thing is rather off-putting. (So I’ve been told) Not to mention that oftentimes if I get stuck for a word, I’ll hem and haw for several seconds trying to find the missing word that’ll perfectly describe what I’m talking about.

Chances are that it won’t turn out as bad as I imagine (maybe worse), but I’m always preparing myself for the worst. That way, if it actually happens, I won’t be caught off guard. I’m the kind of person that could be described as an optimistic pessimistic nihilist. That is, I always find the worst possible thing that could happen in a humourous way. To get an idea of how I think the reception will go, I feel that the only thing left remaining will be a smoking crater.

If you’re going to imagine the worst, imagine BIG.

Monday, August 30, 2010

7 Stages of Women

Thom Buchanan recently posted a short comic about the Seven Ages of Men:

I was instantly reminded of another similar comic. In the interest of Gender equivalence, here's the Seven Ages of Media Women. (Click the image to enlargen)

If you can recall any other kinds of women after reading this, I'll be very impressed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CMX Resuscitation?

I wasn't originally that interested in an interview with Lee and Didio about the future of their company, since I've considered Marvel & DC to be in a downward spiral catering to their hardcore fans. That was until I took a closer look and noticed they were going to address a certain issue that just recently came to my attention:

...DC recently closed its CMX imprint. I wonder if you’d maybe reflect (...) over the last five - ten years of growth in manga and now the shrinkage, and on why DC decided to pull out now.

Lee: We had put in a number of good years trying to make a real concerted effort to be in that business. It’s difficult because the licenses, the key licenses, are not easy to obtain. It’s a very long negotiating process where you have to work with lesser-known titles and work your way up to the key licenses. That hurt us from the get-go. We had great staff, and Asako Suzuki was instrumental in spearheading the CMX line. I think we had some relative success given the licenses we had. But if you look at what’s shaking out in the market right now, from what I can tell, it’s just a very few, very dominant licenses that account for the bulk of the business and everything else has fallen to the wayside.

We looked at a number of different alternatives. We talked to a number of key publishers there about alternatives and then we couldn’t make the numbers work. The numbers on CMX were, comparatively, super low compared to the rest of our offerings and just reached a point where it made more sense for us to be out of the business than to continue struggling with it.

Typical reasonable boilerplate corporate logic. However, this next bit, which was all I was interested in jumped out at me;

Do you know what’s going to happen to those licenses?

Lee: We’ve actually had interest from a couple of other creative studios that were interested in taking over the role on a couple of books. We’re talking to them. Right now I assume they’re going to revert back to the publishers and they’ll figure it out. I think Dark Horse had expressed interest…

There are some incomplete runs.

Lee: Exactly.

If true, this could be a boon for many bloggers who've lamented the loss of certain properties and unfinished Mangas, such as Apothecarius Argentum, From Eroica with Love and Swan. Not to mention that other recently translated properties could find a second life if transferred to another company with better brand name than CMX.

Of course, some CMX Mangas are easier to find in the bargain bin than the shelves, some properties may be less likely to be saved, especially if they're still in circulation. My guess is they're going to wait until the majority of a title is no longer available when they'll rush in to fill the void.

First there’s the titles that were announced, but never released:

51 Ways to Save Her
Shisso Holiday
Deka Kyoshi
Nadeshiko Club
Phantom Guesthouse
Polyphonica Cardinal: Crimson
Tableau Gate

Then there’s the titles that were aborted as soon as they hit the ground:

Diamond Girl
My Darling! Miss Bancho
Stolen Hearts

In fact, it’d be easier to list the titles that haven’t been completed, so companies can take notice of what’s missing, and which novices have likely avoided. (The knowledgeable customer’s not going to pick up a series that’s missing the last few volumes)

From Eroica With Love - 15 out of 19 (36+)
Swan - 15 out of 21

Apothecarius Argentum - 8 out of 11??
Broken Blade - 4 out of 9
Fire Investigator Nanase - 5 out of 7
Go Go Heaven - 9 out of 16
I Hate You More Than Anyone - 9 out of 13
Musashi #9 - 17 out of 20
Orfina - 7 out of 12
Seimaden - 10 out of 11
Teru Teru x Shonen - 7 out of 11
Two Flowers for the Dragon - 6 out of 7
Venus in Love - 8 out of 12
The Young Magician - 14 out of 15??

So far, the one license that Dark Horse seems most likely to pick up that would fit their overall Manga line would be Musashi #9 or 51 Ways to Save Her.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Call them Comic... What?

In one of his recent posts, Matt Blind outlines the problem the New York Times has trying to categorize Comic Books. They simply can’t distinguish the subtle differences between Graphic Books, Graphic Novels, Newspaper comic collections, Manga, and to a lesser extent, Children’s books. (Books with a few illustrations in them don’t suffer from this distinction)

He laid down the origin of the term, laying down how it could be possibly misunderstood, and how everybody who isn’t a devoted reader of said comics can misconstrue the terminology. In the end, the form is the same - it’s just how it’s named that’s constantly mangled.

I then posted the following comment, which I think is good enough to be repeated here:

With all the hyperbole attached to the usage of Graphic Novels, I wonder why no one’s ever tried to coin the phrase “Comic Paperback”. It fits the same dimensions that “Comic book” popularized, without having to contend for the same field. After all, most Manga trades could fall under the term “Comic Paperback” without losing their meaning.

More serious books could be categorized under “Comic Hardcover”, though those would be more likely to be more expensive, not to mention larger. It’s also annoying that Marvel & DC keep trying to pentrate the bookstore market by releasing Hardcover versions of their trades, then only releasing the softcover long after the hype has passed. If they put out softcovers in tandem with their competitor’s works, there could be a common ground to work with, even if the subject material is different. As long as the form is similar enough, categorizing them under a new heading should be sufficient.

Of course, it may take awhile for the term “Comic Paperback” to catch on. Just look at how long it took for the clunky “Graphic Novel” nomier to grab hold. However, if more people start using it, it can become part of the languagescape, even as die-hards rally against it for demaning “their” work with inconsistent terminology (such as when comic books were commonly called pamphlets or floppies), but surely wiser heads shall prevail.

In addition to the above, there’s the counterargument that people might confuse “Comic Paperback” with Humour novels. But truthfully told, can you think of any “Comic Novels” that’s been released recently that would fit that category? Although there’s a humour section in the bookstore, other than Newspaper comics, they’re more likely to be filled with humourous ancedotes and jokes than tell a humourous narative for a sustained amount of time. With the possible exception of Douglas Adams, one goes out to create the Great American Novel without having it belong to a well-respected genre.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery, Pulp, Crime, Romance, Horror, War, Suspense, Drama, Autobiography. All of these genres have been respectable and looked down at one point. The more creative writers will find a way to combine two or more of these into their stories. But there’s never just a singular Humour book. If there’s nothing in it but jokes without a point, it defeats the purpose of writing a humour novel in the first place. If you’re just going to tell funny stories without a purpose (other than having fun), you won’t be respected in the publishing world. More than anything, humour is light poking at truth in a way that makes sense. No one is going to confuse a humour book with a 100 joke book.

I vote to make it a task to put the term “Comic Paperback” into the general populace. I’ll repeat the terminology as often as chance allows in the hope of it catching on. Is there anybody else who thinks the same?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Panels order out of

If you’ve read my previous post, chances are that you enjoyed it, but there might’ve been some slightly confusing moments too. Well, I’m going to clear your confusion up.

As everyone now knows, Manga is read from right to left, while other comics are normally read from left to right. Since the majority of translated Chinese comics followed this model, it seemed perfectly natural for them to be read from left to right, since the majority of the story made sense that way.

However, for some reason or another, there were some rare instances where the story would make more sense if read from the other direction.

So, in the famous words of the “first” page of every Manga book, Be sure to read from right to left!

See? Doesn’t it make much more sense now? How these printing errors got through is something I don’t have enough contacts with the printing world to know about.

This isn’t a random occurrence - it also happened in a rare page in Sanctuary, where Kyoko is pressing down on a gunshot wound on Akira Hojo. If you read the “normal” way, her hands are getting cleaner, but read the other way, her hands are getting dirtier.

Thing is, this early Viz title was flipped, so it should’ve been going the other way. Chances are that the scene was so dark that editors easily missed the mistake and didn’t bother to correct it. I didn’t even notice until I lingered on the page. Chances are likely that you missed it too.

It’s not just these panels - there was another book I took out of the library that reminded me of an earlier post, but only just recently remembered. An autobiographical book in a similar vein to Persepolis, Nylon Road.

Like Persepolis, Nylon Road is about a strong-willed Iranian woman who escapes her totalarian regime to follow her own path... wherever that path leads. Throughout the course of her travels in Europe, she’s haunted by the visions of her past selves, who insert their commentary in contrast to the values dissonance between her home country and current culture.

It’s obvious that Parsua Bashi was greatly influenced by Marjane Satrapi. (She even makes a glowing reference to it near the end of her book) However, there are some instances where it’s obvious that this is her first foray into cartooning. While Marjane was heavily influenced by Maus, which is a great read in itself, Bashi seems to have gleamed very little influence of the simplicity and striped-down tone of Persepolis, peppering her pages with pages and pages of text crowding out her characters.

Especially annoying are her balloons placements, which only make more sense if they’re read from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.

All in all, it’s a flawed piece of work, not quite on par with Persepolis, but most Muslim women are so repressed that any expression of freedom is bound to have large stumbling blocks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Princess Jademan

We all know about Japanese comics, and to a lesser extent, Korean comics. But there’s another Asian property that’s never quite caught on - Chinese comics.

So far, most of the Chinese comics that’ve come over here have been an imprint of Jademan Comics. If I could describe them, I’d say they’re a cross between Manga and European comics. Each page is dense with art, but they’re also laced with multiple panels with one sentence occupying every panel. Of course, since every panel is cramped, this makes it harder to make word balloons fit, so as a result, some balloons overlap panel borders and can be easily misread out of order if the reader isn’t careful. Another strike against them is their colour scheme. While Manga/Manwha simplify things by keeping their comics in Black & White, the Chinese imports have all been colourized, oftentimes with very little overall page design. As a result, reading a page full of cramped colourized panels with wonky balloons can leave one a schizophrenic mess if they’re not properly prepared. This is probably why they haven’t caught on as much as other foreign comics.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped them from trying. There have been plenty of Kung-fu comics in their line, such as Chinese Hero, Oriental Heroes, The Blood Sword, Blood Sword Dynasty, Iron Marshal Drunken Fist and The Force of Buddha's Palm. You can see the problem here - they’re all virtually indistinguishable from each other. Not to mention they were long-running comics repackaged as pamphlet comics for easier reading. (Which’s never been a winning position for attracting new audiences) Blood Sword went on for 53 issues, Blood Sword Dynasty 41 issues, Buddha’s Palm, 55 issues. And those are the successful ones. All of them with long runs, very little of it collected.

It also didn’t help that they were all one genre designed to appeal to the typical action fan - Kung-fu comics. If you’ve never heard of these titles, the above indicators may be a good reason why. However, there was a short anthology that showed the lighter side of Chinese comics that weren’t restricted to feudal battles fought mano-a-mano, Jademan Collection.

In addition to various genres, (horror, drama) the anthology had more humourous stories in it than usual, which is always a plus in my book. When it comes to humour, I’m something of a connoisseur (which is just another fancy word for snob). I always prefer the highest quality available. This was at a time when there wasn’t much Manga available, and I didn’t want to waste good quality money on an inferior product. After much hemming and hawing for several months, I figured I should purchase it, since if I didn’t get the chance, I might never forgive myself. So I made the impulse purchase and paid the $5 rebate. (I’m also very cheap)

While Jog gave a scant summary of one of four comedic short stories in the first issue, The Musty Bride, he fails to convey the amount of actual weirdness in the story. Sure, he gets most of the facts right, but without the pictures (including the self-inserted fumetti of the artist himself), we’re only left with a brief approximation of what we’re missing out. It also doesn’t help that his essay is littered with extensively violent covers, which makes me wonder just how these protagonists managed to survive one chapter from the next when they were literally ripping their intestines out.

He also does a great disservice saying the Snow White parody was “just okay”. I might show some scans of The Musty Bride if there’s any interest, but for now, I’ll show what I thought was the funniest comic in the magazine, Princess Jademan.

So far, after a brief digression on human beauty, we get to the bare bones of the general fairytale plot. Seems pretty close to the source material doesn't it?

And now, just around here is where things get a little different for the damsel in distress...

This brings to mind an early Hollywood rumour, back when aint-it-cool-news was worth reading:

Disney to produce a Kung Fu version of SNOW WHITE! No, I’m not jerking ya off! No, Seriously! Dopey Fu!

Harry here... and the world has just gotten weirder. Way weirder. I’m talking really weirder. Walt Disney Studios has decided to make a Hong Kong Style re-telling of the SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES. There will apparently be no dwarves in this version though. Instead there will be seven Shaolin Monks! That’s right, Princess flees evil killer queen. Dark Forest, scary things... finds Shaolin Monastery and these Shaolin Monks decide to protect her from the magical evil forces out to kill her. This ‘brilliant’ ahem idea is being produced by the genius producer behind THE COUNTRY BEARS!!!! OH BOY!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!! Ahem... cough cough... Sorry, hairball there. Well, one can only imagine the saccharine everything to everyone telling of this story and Shaolin culture that Disney will mass-produce here. I’m really curious to read a script on this one, because there is a .3% chance that it could really be something cool and vibrant and not the lowest common denominator dreck that you would expect. So, for that .3% chance... I say, WOO HOO! It’s gotta be better than that Sigourney Weaver thing... right?For the sake of saving time and sanity, I’m only reposting the funniest comments this piece of news generated.

And the Romans made these movies when, exactly? Seriously, though, touche’. Oh, and “Foxy Bitch Poppins”... might I add, bwah-ha-HAHHH!!!!!

Why does everything need to be remade? Can’t anyone think of anything new?
Look, I don’t know about you, but not a day goes by that I don’t say, “You know, classic fairy tales would be so much better with Shaolin Kung Fu in them.” This movie will rock not only my socks, but every other white cotton garment I happen to be wearing. Now, here’s some suggestions for future installments of this wonderful, simple idea.
(1) Jack and the Beanstalk... with kung fu.
(2) Cinderella... with kung fu.
(3) Beauty and the Beast... with kung fu.
(4) War and Peace... with kung fu.
(5) The Catcher in the Rye... with kung fu.
(6) Gone with the Wind... with kung fu. THE POTENTIAL IS LIMITLESS.
P.S. Ulysses... with kung fu.

This sounds like a vomitorium.
Actually it sounds kind of cool, but I’ve been dying to use the word vomitorium and I haven’t seen Attack of the Clones yet.

Welcome to the next century.
The world is really a-changing. Who would have thought that Disney ever had the balls to rape Snow-White this way. If this goes ahead, I’ll never forgive the mouse.

Let’s watch Sleepy break a cinder block with his powerful sneeze...
My God. This is the worst idea ever. I actually want to see Scooby-Doo and Thunderpants 2 times each before seeing this horribly desecrated version of Snow White created by Disney themselves. It’s like the Night Of The Living Dead 30th Anniversary *yeesh*.

Correction... I meant Sneezy. Jesus Christ, I cannot type in the morning.

I don’t know...
This could be the most asinine movie of whatever year it graces with it’s release... Or it could be a risk they’re only taking because they know how to do it right. Who knows?

I was looking forward to this weekend.
But now my will to live has been sapped...

As an aside, I just love the dramatic pose between the Princess & the Queen here...

How dare they!
This is an outrage! Taking a cherished story and putting in a totally different setting! Bollocks! Why, next they’ll be turning Seven Samurai into a western! Horrors! Why, they may be so bold as to update A Christmas Carol with some clownish buffoon like Bill Murray in the lead role! I won’t be surprised if we get an inner city remake of Romeo and Juliette. I’m sure they’ll make it a musical or some such rot! A previous poster mentioned a sci-fi version of Hidden Fortress. Well, I certainly can’t think of a more horrifying idea for a film. When will it end? Tsk.

Mulan cameo...
Total throw down at the end... Evil Queen breaking the mirror and throwing shard stars, which Snow White and Fa Mulan flip and dodge Spider-Man style. By the way... is this where the Chinese restaurants came up with Snow White chicken?

Snow White and the Seven Samurai?
Wasn’t this a joke on Ninja Turtles?

Yeah right! Where are they gonna find 7 midgets skilled in the Shaolin Arts?
Sounds made up to me.

And I promised myself I was gonna stop doing drugs first thing in the mornin’
What? I’m not hallucinating? This is true? #&$% me. Actually, that idea of the Wicked Queen throwing down with mirror shards, Jade Fox style, is probably 100 times better than the eventual movie will be. And what will the Disney executive who thought this thing up say when they hand him his bagful of cash? “THANK YOU, SATAN!”

What the hell does this sentence mean?
“Well, one can only imagine the saccharine everything to everyone telling of this story and Shaolin culture that Disney will mass-produce here.”

“That Sirgourney Weaver thing?”
The S.W. Snow White was badass. Dunno what movie you were watchin’.

What’s really weird is that I’m totally unsurprised by this news.
I read the headline and just... shrugged. It’s so inline with everything else going on in the early 00s.

Well...if nothing else, this news has produced one of the all-time funniest Talkbacks.
Man, this story is... weird to say the least.

Incidentally, I have no idea why the dwarf here is suffering from a nosebleed. The Queen’s “disguise isn’t particularly attractive.

I’ve read this
It’s an epic action adventure that focuses on a young princess who is sold into slavery by her stepmother but escapes and enlists the help of shaolin monks who help her only b/c she bears a mark that says she’s the chosen one. it’s only loosely based on the story of Snow White. Pretty well written.

Isn’t this the first sign of the Apocalypse?

Kung Fu Pooh Pooh
What the.......? Is this starring a CGI Bruce Lee?
You gotta be kidding, right? What happened, someone saw and liked ‘Crouching Tiger’, and umm. Decided that it would be a Great way to redo Snow White? The coke must really be flowing there in LA. Yikes.

Yay evil empire!
I’m going to shoot myself. Now. No, wait, that would be a waste of bullet... I mean, I’m not responsible for the driveling crap that Disney produces, no, not me. THEY’RE the problem. Where the hell are they getting this the manpower for this animation? How many poor, starving artists are forced to sell their souls to draw for Disney? Are they channelling Walt into all of these animators’ bodies just so they don’t feel bad for being a part of this? Maybe. I think the evil mastermind at the helm of Disney needs a day off... golf is nice... of course, we’ll probably end up with a series of hacked kids movies that resembles a watered down Caddyshack.... Why don’t they just give up and die?

Sounds kinda cool
Its got to be better than the Walt Disney movie they did in the 30s.

Kung Fu Snow White? What next....
The Lion Pimp? Mulan Rouge? Boyz In The Hood version of Robin Hood? This Kung Fu version of Snow White sounds like something 12 year olds would do with their home video cameras and action figures.

And my only question is...
Given the downhill production value at the mouse’s empire, what will the dubbing on the film be like? Anyone care to wager on how ridiculous a poorly dubbed Dopey will look?

The Thing About SNOW WHITE Is That The Queen Was The Hot One...

...oh, Snow is cute if you’re having a middle earth life crisis, but the magic mirror didn’t take into account that the Queen would KNOW a lot of things Snow wouldn’t and would most likely DO anything and talk about it later and video tape it. I mean, a hot babe all in black who practices witchcraft? The only thing that could be better is that if she were also into chicks and would call you Lottie!

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines...
This is bullshit. I mean EVERYONE knows there’s only one Disney movie crying out to be remade with Kung-Fu. And that movie is The Brave Little Toaster.

Shouldn’t they do Bambi with Kung fu?
Because Bambi scares the shit outta kids anyhow, might as well add some Ju Jitsu or some shit. Scare them and warn them to stay away from Ninjas then, yeah.

Methinks Hollywood’s been plundering Buzz Maverick’s Weekly Recaps for ideas
Good grief, this sounds horrible. I’m having ghastly visions of Snow White and the Queen getting into an ENTER THE DRAGON-style fight over whether or not Snow White should eat the apple while their lips move out of synch with the dialogue. Even worse, what if this becomes a trend? What if Disney kung-fus ALL of its animated fairy tales? Can you imagine Gaston and the Beast going at it in an airborne katana fight? Prince Phillip and Maleficent trying to kill each other with wire-fu? Or Ariel and Ursula doing a striptease to Chinese gong clashes? Or, as one poster here posited, Bambi and Thumper using jiu-jitsu to beat up on the hunters? Think about it, y’all. This could be the start of a very ugly trend.

And we’ve hit a new low.
Another hit for “Chief Creative Officer” Eisner. Woo-hoo.

I flat don’t believe this. Really, I just don’t. Harry I think someone is messing with you. Oh, and Buzz–Snow White is the woman whom you’d want to be your wife. Like Kasumi Tendo, she’d be content to play the happy little domesticated homemaker, and would make a great mother, too. But it’s the evil witch-Queen you’d keep on the side as the exquisitely sleazy lover who’d give it to you every which way *but* the missionary position. And unlike Snow White, she could afterward hold an intelligent conversation with you about everything from Star Wars to Salvador Dali. Toppu o Nerae!

I heard that some dumbass Japanese director was going to remake King Lear...
Oh yeah, it was done and turned out to be one of the greatest movies of all time, “Ran”. I really don’t think Disney will relate the movie at all to Snow White people! It may be a similar story but it aint the same characters. Great stories get changed around and placed in different settings. Star Wars is a compilation of great westerns and Roman movies among others!

Um, we’re not talking about Kurosawa adapting Shakespeare, buddy...
We’re talking about Disney remaking their own movie in an attempt to cash in on CTHD/Matrix/Shaolin Soccer etc. World of difference.

Snow Fu...?
Better to scoop out my own eyeballs with a wooden spoon than to inflict such... mouse droppings... on my cinematic senses.

Must resist...urge to slit wrists...
This is actually only the second stupidest thing I’ve heard today.

...and Americans wonder why France didn’t want a Disneyland....
Hmmm... Disney has been in the deep end of insanity for a long time now, but this... I think they just pulled the plug. Disney has driven their poor black souls into a brick wall strapped to dynamite. And behind this amazing wall of doom, is the kitchen to hell. Oh great googamooga, what is Disney doing?! Under the Carbonite freeze which Walt Disney is frozen under, I can sense the tear that is slowly making its way down his cheek. It’s things like this that make me not want to start my own animated empire...within 50 years of my Death, some idiot might allow something this stupid to be made under my empire’s name. Oye vey.................

I think you can guess, I’m upset.

As long as they have a guest appearance by the animated Jackie Chan from “Jackie Chan Adventures”, then I’m there like Disney executives on stupid ideas and money.

You guys crack me up
Legend of the Drunken Mermaid? Werewolves? I wish you were ALL production executives. Then we’d have some fun!!!!

Come on, guys, kung fu is like hot sauce...
It makes everything better! Think of it: Schindler’s List...WITH KUNG FU! Braveheart...WITH KUNG FU!! Citizen Kane...WITH KUNG FU!!! Superman...WITH KUNG FU!!!! And why stop at movies, let’s do musicals!


Uh, Dicio...
“Superman...WITH KUNG FU!” You really shouldn’t be posting this stuff. McG and Jon Peters don’t need any more encouragement.

Superman...WITH KUNG FU!
There’s this already. Only it’s called Dragon Ball Z.

This last comment, I wrote myself, but didn’t submit, since I didn’t know how to, and didn’t want to be tracked down from my IP address. In any case, the Jademan comic had an obvious Akira Toriyama influence, but more Dr. Slump than DragonBall. The smiling sun & bugged-out eyes should’ve been your first guess.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Twilight for Guys

The Scott Pilgrim movie’s opened yesterday, and already, there are critics that’ve accused the recently concluded Scott Pilgrim series as being nothing more than Twilight for boys. This brought up the question of “Wait a second, does this mean Twilight isn’t for boys?

As someone who’s only had a passing interest to Twilight, and is only vaguely aware of the plot thanks to various comics condensing the storyline, I find the comparison somewhat lacking. For one thing, Scott Pilgrim may pull Kung-fu fighting techniques out of nowhere, but it’s always against a percieved threat, like an Evil ex-boyfriend trying to kill him.

For another, the romance between Scott & Ramona, although spontaneous, had time to build with sharing scenes between the two leads. Not to mention that Ramona was perfectly capable on her own. (Except when faced against something she wasn’t emotionally prepared for, which resulted in a glowing head) Even the sex is casual, though it’s mostly implied rather than avoided. (More making out though, but still...) That, and it’s funnier too.

As someone pointed out, Scott Pilgrim is more about the metaphorical pains of growing up and having to face those demons than hanging around. The fights are just a bonus.

Although I wasn’t a big fan of Scott Pilgrim (though my sister was, and lent me all the books), I could see some of the appeal in the apparent silliness of the premise. Since my sister is a far more sociable person that I can ever hope to be, she clearly identifies with the group culture where friends easily snark on each other openly with and without malice.

It didn’t hurt that there were multiple in-joke references to various Anime & Video Games. (There’s an Akira reference in the 3rd book that’ll only make sense once Kodansha re-releases the 5th Akira volume)

Myself, I’m more a fan of Hiroaki Samura’s (of Blade of the Immortal fame) Ohikkoshi, which is like a Manga version of Scott Pilgrim, only shorter & with no Evil ex-boyfriends. The closest we ever got was from the Italian Foreigner who was manipulated by his mother to exact revenge against his father for a failed noodle enterprise. The plan fell apart when he found out his father had died without warning years ago.

However, for the theme of Bad Manga Week, I’d like to propose another series that more closely follows the role of “Twilight for Boys”, the Manga, Wolf Guy.

Upon reading it, my first thought was that it was just like Twilight, only with Werewolves instead of Vampires. Well, Werewolf. Singular, since as of the 3rd volume, I have yet to see more than one lycanthrope. Which is just as well, since the series is so over-the-top that another wolf domineering for territory would be pushing it.

As with any action-packed first chapter, the woman is rescued by the arrival of a plucky handsome hero who’d seemed like a perfectly ordinary teenage rebel. (Though to be more precise, she just happened to wander in a one-sided gang war between the protagonist and dozens of punks) It’s not spoiling anything that against these unfair odds (the gangs should’ve brought a tank) the kid manages to beat everybody without a sweat, leaving the teacher faint.

As par the course for contrived coincidences, the same teacher who witnessed the events last night has the same student transferred to her class. (Incidently, why did the Vampires in Twilight even bother going to school? Given their centuries of experience and street smarts, they could’ve gotten along just fine with home schooling) Inugami claimed that he couldn’t be the same boy, since he was so badly beaten up last night, and here he is without a single cast, stitch or bandaid. However, she isn’t fooled, since there’d be no way she could mistake such an intense boy for another. Before she can investigate any further (by having him strip from the waist up), she’s interrupted by another student who wants class to start. And that’s when the trouble begins.

A knife is thrown at the hero (who doesn’t even flinch) to show just how intimidating the classroom politics are. On one side, we have the leader of the bullies (who isn’t even in class) who’s routinely feared because he’s the son of a Yakuza Don. On the other side, Akira is able to avoid confrontation from small-timers knifing him by dodging while remaining perfectly still.

If the definition of a Mary Sue is a perfect protagonist who’s widely appreciated with very little proof of their accomplishments, then a Marty Stu is someone who actively does these feats of accomplishments in a way to show just how he’s more badass than everyone else.

So how does he prove his superiority? By easily fighting each one of them up faster than they can blink? By threatening them of every single secret on their person by their subtle body odor alone? No, he proves how tough he is by letting them beat him up.

Of course, this has unintended side effects:

Hitting Akira with their fists results in broken bones because they didn’t throw the punch properly. This doesn’t stop them from carving up the sign for Dog on his back. His reaction to this offence? To jump off the building roof. Of course, when he shows up the next day without a single scratch, they’re more than a little mystified.

Unlike the Vampires, Akira makes no effort to hide his abilities, solely because the only ones who go after him are those who envy him. And when they inevitably injure themselves in the process, they’d either deny they failed, or no one could possibly believe them. That’s taking Refuge in Audacity to awesomely logical levels. He even goes so far as to use Wolf metaphors for himself, while simultaneously denying he’s a Werewolf. That’s some chutzpah right there.

When the teacher goes to his apartment because she’s worried about him, and finds out his big secret, he tries to pass it off with a lame excuse:

Fortunately, the teacher is smarter than she looks. Too bad those smarts don’t apply to self-defense lessons. It’s only after she leaves the apartment that she runs into the stalker/rapist who’d followed her, then later gave up after she went inside. He thanks his luck for such a chance to happen and gets with the baby-making.

So of course, even though Akira despises himself and wants to be left alone, who should suddenly appear...?

Waitaminute, that isn’t a Wolf. That looks more like a lion that escaped from the zoo. Could this be another cursed lycanthrope who just happened upon this crime scene? No, it really IS a lion that escaped from the zoo. And he’s hungry.

So, instead of saving the teacher from her intended rapist, Akira saves her from a deus ex machina. Nice.

Shortly after standing up to these bullies, the other students who’d been terrorized begin to see him as a role model. They start lavishing him with praise without having to worry about the repercussions. Surrounded by the throngs of his adoring classmates, how does he treat them?

Nice guy huh? However, he does have a point:

In short, this is more a Manga about bullying than romance. Anybody looking for Harlequin relationships should look for Doujinshi instead. Just as Twilight is the young girl’s fantasy of finding the perfect suitor, so too is Wolf Guy a male fantasy of being able to stand up against your bullies. This is the kind of storytelling that made The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo such a resounding success.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cathy Gets Wise

It was just recently announced that the long-running comic Cathy would be finally stopping after 34 years in the business. That’s a long time for any comic to be in the funny pages, and as per their reputation, they have a tendency to become stale.

Very few strips can manage to remain relevant past their sell-by date, and Cathy certainly fell into the stereotypical trap of Women, with her constant portrayals of shopping, pigging out, dieting, bad dates, overbearing Mothers, and workplace problems.

Still, I’m relieved to see the creator finally decide to put their legacy strip out to pasture, even if it’s 20 years too late. The fact that a successor hasn’t been named to take up the comic is a relief after having to deal with the driftwood of other legacy strips that’ve threatened to take over the rest of the comics page. I have no desire to read any B.C. strips after Johnny Hart passed away, especially since his relatives’ attempts to imitate his genius are terrible. Since it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of any long-running favorite strips, Guisewite’s move is a welcome change of pace.

(For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be referring to the cartoonist by her last name. Naming the strip after herself was something she always regretted)

In fact, it’d be extremely difficult to find a suitable replacement, since almost all of the themes in the strips were autobiographical to a certain degree. As simplistic as her drawings were, the early Cathy versions were Even Rougher.

If these early strips hadn’t become obscure, Guisewite could’ve been accused of hiring a ghost artist in the same way that Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury was when his artwork improved after his sabbatical.

When I was still reading comics for the pictures, I always enjoyed converting Cathy’s facial expressions to sound. The triangle smile would be an “eeYoooh”, the grin, an “gih” and the yelling, “Aaah”. The sound of a closed mouth would be different depending on the shape of the mouth, while the puckered lip (in the shape of a heart) would be an almost inaudible “tuh”. Thus, a typical strip would sound like:

eeYoooh, tooh, eeYoooh tuh twmm Aaah eeYoooh, gih Aaah tht. (This is a rough estimation - I have a hard time converting my internal sounds, since there’s no audible equivalence)

Cathy was a very informative look into the mind of a woman, which was an eye-opener. It certainly opened me up to several ideas that would’ve never considered otherwise.

Just as PlatyPusComix liked Bloom County for its rambling speeches, so too did I enjoy Cathy for its extended verbal monologues. Below is one of my favorite strips which never fails to make me laugh. (Pay attention to the menu the waiter is carrying)

When Guisewite was asked about the strip’s ending, the answer sounded very much like a typical Cathy strip:

Can you offer any insight as to how the strip might end?

CG: The strip will end with me weeping at my drawing board, mascara and anti-aging serum dripping all over the blank page… one hand clutching a pen, one clutching a spoon… on the speakerphone with my incredible parents, snapping at them for calling with their loving support right when I’m so busy being hysterical… frantically rethinking my whole decision… …Oh. You mean how will it end in the paper? If I had the sort of brain capable of planning two weeks ahead I never would have been able to create this strip for the last 34 years.

There were very few strips involving Cathy’s Dad, when her Mom played a much bigger role in her life. Whenever I think of her Father, I think of these strips:

Although Cathy was always drawn without a nose, there were rare examples when she would be seen in profile that her nose would suddenly appear.

The cast was relatively small and stayed that way, though the changes that occurred were glacial, they happened. Andrea, Cathy’s feminist best friend got married to Luke, who she met online and later had two children, Gus & Zenith. Charlene the secretary also got married to Simon, one of Cathy’s ex-boyfriends. (And no, he wasn’t evil)

For the longest time, it looked like Cathy would remain a spinster until she finally married Irving in a year-long storyline that was collected into a single book with some extras of their history. I felt that when Cathy (finally!) married Irving, that was the best time to stop reading the strip. Guisewite said the reason she did so was because she could no longer identify with the single working woman, since she was married, and had less material to work from. A wise move - if your well’s running dry, it’s better to move to fertile ground. It’s certainly more relatable than the abysmal Elizabeth / Anthony (ugh) wedding in FBOFW.

Of all the secondary characters, my personal favorite was always the Saleswoman. The saleslady was a great character, since she could be helpful, annoying, exasperating and just as brash as the main character. She’s the definitive Lucy archetype if Lucy ever branched out from abusing Charlie Brown to mocking the entire sales world. Why go after one wishy-washy kid when your potential victims can simply walk up to you?

There was a time after dating multiple horrible men that Cathy seemed to find a man who was the perfect match for her - Alex. He was warm, caring and compassionate. In fact, he was TOO perfect. Cathy enjoyed going out with him for awhile, but then for reasons I can’t remember, the romance faded. At the time, I thought for sure that Cathy would end up with him in the end. It wasn’t until I saw the forced relationship with Elizabeth and Anthony that I preferred her other suitors, such as Warren who was a perfect pastiche of Irving. He might’ve been a cheating jerk, but there was more emotionally charged and memorable episodes involved with him than there ever were with Anthony. I began to root for this guy even though he was disgusting, simply because he elected such strong feelings in me. This might be why women tend to prefer Bad Boys as opposed to “Nice Guys”.

The interesting thing about Irving is that, even though he could’ve been the definitive Straw Man, there were several strips where he made good points from his point of view. He was more clueless than deliberately harmful, though his Male Chauvinism tended to shine through. As exasperating as Irving could be against Cathy, they played off their strengths and weaknesses so well it was impossible for anybody else to come between them.

Because the artstyle remained virtually unchanged throughout its run, it’s extremely difficult to refer to any point later in the strip’s life when it didn’t focus mainly on the stereotypes of Women. The only way to tell the age of the strip was with Irving’s hairstyle, which changed multiple times throughout its life, before settling back into basic black. Cathy was never better than when it explored other realms of woman’s issues, such as the time Cathy’s boss Mr. Pinkley almost seduced Cathy in her apartment and later tried to cover it up.

The most controversial issue was when Andrea, who’d always been a firm advocate for woman’s rights ran into trouble when her maternity leave didn’t mean she’d get her job back after Zenith was born.

I’m sadly ignorant of anything significant that might’ve happened to Cathy in the interval between when my paper stopped carrying her strip and before she got married. The only storyline I remember in passing was when Irving was hired to replace her job position. What made it worse was that it’d been a long time since she’d last seen her boyfriend, and was utterly appalled that he was qualified. The fireworks that confrontation generated must’ve been worth seeing - especially if he was given a higher pay rate than her.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of fans worldwide who’ll miss the strip once it expires on Oct. 3. However, they should remember that there’s still over 30 books of memories to gleam from. Not to mention that now that Guisewite’s now retired, there’s nothing to stop her from doing omnibus collections of her earlier works if the demand’s high enough.