Saturday, January 28, 2012

Political Windbags Windfall

With all the hooplah over Newt Gingrich's self-imposed portrayal of "family values", I'm surprised that no one's bothered to remind the public about the man's past behavior when Gingrich was dealing with his own martial problems around the same time he was attacking Bill Clinton for having "relations" with an intern. Remember, this is the same man who believes in not allowing gays to marry because it would threaten the sancity of marriage.

There was a time when Doonesbury was cleverly written (if boring) satire of current events, but lately, it's become somewhat lackluster compared to its heyday. I was always disappointed that Gary Trudeau never portrayed Obama as a stethescope back when he was championing for Health Care. Heck, even a floating medical light would've been preferable. Now Obama's regulated to the corner of invisible Presidents along with Jimmy Carter, because he's become too intangible to portray. Even Feiffer couldn't manage more for the latter than a floating cloud in the form of a smile.

So with a flagging Democracy who's supported the SOMA/PIPA bill (before it was shot down due to an internet blackout*) because they were getting backing from Hollywood sponsers when no other corporations would bother sponsor them, it would be high time for the Republicans to make a strong stand and portray themselves in a flattering light. (While diverting attention away from their biggest supporters)

Only problem is, of the two representatives who've bothered to gain enough support and media hype, neither Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney are suitable candidates for the head of the party. Their actions and manners have been regulated to shouting matches, and the whole result is so embarassing that I don't even want to look. The whole point of a debate is to present a proper counter-argument to an otherwise convincing soundbite, not to let your opponent self-destruct on their own issues alone. Where's the sense of fighting and fair play there? I'd rather have a worthy opponent defeated by reasonable logic rather than have them self-implode from their own inepitude. It's cases like these that make the other side look good by default, and that's no way to run a country. Similar to how it was better that Hitler was kept from being assasianated, because doing so would've made him a martyr, and he was already doing such a good job self-sabotaging his own plans, the allies felt it was more benefical to keep him alive. So too do the Democrats come out ahead by letting these two hotheads fight over similar territority.

What's strange is that for all the outrageous misdemeanors and deeds that they've done, people still feel that they're the best choices, because of their name recognizeability. (The worst part may be that Sarah Palin wouldn't even rank among the worst choices) But considering the amount of damage they're doing to their brand name, you'd think they'd rethink the whole "no publicity is bad publicity" angle.

Or maybe it's not that amazing after all. Like Doonesbury, MAD was capable of producing timly comics that could remain relevant years later. I don't know when this was published (probably around the S & L scandal) but it's still timely today.

It'd be hard to read all these descriptions and not have a name come to mind. I was planning to post these later this year, but the recent insanity of the campaign trail has has forced me to show this earlier than I ever thought.

A minor artistic quibble - I was often confused when I saw that the rats behind the title letters didn't quite line up with the lyrics. The first four were exact matches, but after that, they were only sporadically related. Turns out they work if you follow them via how they'd look via a double-page spread, and not numerically.

If you've ever wondered about the infeasibility of the political system, most politicians are actually lawyers who've gone on to better business and publicity. That's how they start getting their funds and arguments - from their experience in court. Does politics begin to make more sense now?

So far, the wisest course of action is not to vote for anyone with any significant value, but to vote against the most reprehensible choice, as so portrayed in this comic by Barbara Brandon, Where I'm Coming From, which is basically the Black female version of Feiffer. (Whatever happened to her anyways?)

This is not a case of choosing between the devil you know and the devil you don't, but making the choice between whether you want manure shoved down your mouth, or being forced-fed high quality fertilizer. Remember when nutbars such as Ross Perot were forced to form third parties since neither side would support their views? The only problem with that strategy was that the voters couldn't take them seriously, since there was no chance of them ever getting voted into office. Sounds perfectly reasonable compared to the current nuts currently on the job.

*Though that didn't stop the FBI's assault on Megaupload, though that was an entirely separate organization two years in the making, which gave a definite scare to other file-sharing programs.**

**And now there's ACTA, the European global equivalent to SOMA, which is threatening on a wider scale.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sitting Positions

Recently, there was a feature in the Globe & Mail of renown cartoonist Kate Beaton in various reading poses.

Quite naturally, this reminded me of a similar comic I read with a similar outcome:

However, I can't quite categorize this as outright plagiarizaiton, since it's been over 20 years since it was published and likely to be forgotten, and Kate Beaton had the prominency to do a wide range of multiple poses within a free panel border.

I can identify with the shifting seating spots, since it doesn't take much to make me uncomfortable. I can't simply relax unless my stomach's pressing against the table, and my backrest is at a comfortable angle. Alternately, I feel relaxed when I lie flat down on the floor with a stack of papers to read. As long as I'm pressing firm against a solid object, I'm calm. Otherwise, I'm an emotional mess. I was thought of weird because I always carried my heavy backpack around with me in High School, never once bothering to put it down. The fact is, I liked feeling the pressure of the books along my spine. Carrying them gave me assurance that I had everything I needed and didn't have to double-back to my locker (which would've gotten broken in anyways) for supplies. I need to feel pressure on myself to put myself in a comfort zone. (The backpack also doubled as a shoulder rest while sitting on the bus)

For years, I thought the rough calluses on my knees were a natural phenomenon, until I was involved in a nasty fall and wound up scraping my knees as well as my front tooth. (to this day, my teeth are still slightly out of alignment, which drives me up the wall because I can no longer swallow food symmetrically) While I was peeling off the layers off my bloody joint, I was surprised when informed that knees were supposed to be smooth. Apparently my years of sitting on my knees for comfort wound up as a factor for my crusty skin covering. This was a hidden plus, since it meant that after the accident, I would have a clean knee, even if the other was still flaky.

Then a month or so later, my knees became rough again. My need to feel comfortable outweighed my need to look presentable. Go figure.

Likewise, I have some odd reading habits. For instance, I can only read certain books in certain areas. I prefer to read my comics in the bathroom where I can take my time and relieve myself at the same time. I've found that I can't pee properly unless I've got something handy to read on the toilet. Otherwise, I remain constipated. As for prose books, I save those for when I ride public transportation. I find the vibrations on the bus and train to be very soothing, and help me concentrate while focusing on the dull prose of the pages. When the vehicle stops, I'm in a state of agitation until it starts moving again. Traffic jams are a nightmare, since there's multiple starts and stops before I even get to my destination. Then there's the other danger - if I'm on a particularly comfortable seated spot in the shade, the rumblings can lull me to sleep. I've almost missed several stops that way.

This is why I don't want to apply for a driver's license. There's too many visual distractions along the way that demand my immediate attention, and there's a very real danger of road rage if I happen to miss my timing upon not catching the sweet spot of a consequentive run of green lights. Not to mention the constant trial of taking care of your car with cleaning it up, windshield wiper fluid, paying for gas, engine trouble, and any other dozens of repairs that'll eat up valuable traveling time. Better to leave all that undue stress to the bus driver who's more qualified to handle such distress.

Even so, I'm still annoyed that the fare hikes keep increasing every year. I'm aware that the transportation funds are still absymally low compared to other cities, but it's beginning to gnaw at me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Achille Talon / Walter Melon in English

In my Mathematical Equivalence of Comics, I introduced a a two-page example for the typical European page, using Achille Talon as a base. I've now updated the previously untouched pages with a rough translation so we can see what he and the brush salesman were talking about.

For the uninitiated, Achille Talon is a fat man in a buttoncoat who's a pretentious blowhard who thinks he's more sophisticated than he really is. There's no subject too outrageous or mundane that he won't hesitate to ramble on at length at, regardless of whoever is unfortunate enough to listen. Usually, his dastardly neighbor Lefuneste (Bitterbug in English) is often the intended victim of his rants, of which he delights paying back whenever he gets the chance, which is often. He also has a tendency to spout nonsensical words, such as his trademark "Hop" and "Bof", which I've taken the liberty of converting to "Yup" and "Bah". These kind of sounds are prevalent in multiple BDs, and usually require some imaginative writing to find an English equivalent. They're similar to Anime characters using "no da" from Fushigi Yuugi, and "nyo" from the Digi Charat mascots.

The TVtropes page has the following description of the character from the author which goes as follows: "he knows everything and improvises the rest of it. Apart of this, he's generous, petty, pacifist, aggressive, progressist, bourgeois, selfless, jealous, intrepid and a bit of a coward. In sum, honest and brave just like you and me..." His style of speech was a big influence on my way of talking, even though I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I could get the underlying tones of what he was talking about and implement my own interpretations of what he might've been saying.

However, despite its cartoonyness, it's held back by the multiple wordplay and French puns that litter throughout a typical work. The names themselves are more complicated than a typical Asterix comic, where the main character's name mostly remains the same. Achille Talon is a pun on Achille's heel. Hilarion Lefuneste is hilariously fatal/disastrous, and also describes his glasses as well. Virgule de Guillemets (Magnesia) translates to Virgule of the commas. It suffers a bit from being too French, and while its strongest point are the one-two page gags, there are also album-length stories that are weaker in execution. It requires complete mastery of French to properly give an accurate version, and can't simply be done with a simple google-translate check. In fact, there was a comic where an accountant complained to Achille Talon that the translation fees for his comics were twice compared to the usual rate. (Thanks goes to LeChatVert to helping out with the translation.)

Commercial distribution of this comic has been less than stellar, given its uphill struggle to present an unknown property to the wider world. Only one book, Magnesia's Treasure was released in English. This sample from the anniversary shows a rare example of the typical wordplay that's so prevalent in the comic. Can you spot the differences?

There was an animated adaption of the character, but he bore so little resemblance to the actual comic that they might as well have been two totally different properties. It had as much in common as the movie Constantine did with the comic Hellblazer. If their likeness hadn't been used without permission, it could've been sued for copyright infringement. If I'm going to do any future English versions of this comic, they're likelier to be the shorter, more slapstick ones than the overly verbose ones that Achille is best known for.

You're on your own here. I'm not helping you with this one, save that the last word is "ME!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Disney's Gummi Bears

The Gummi Bears was a surprisingly bright spot for Saturday Morning Cartoons. It had a cast of likeable characters, intriguing storylines and well-produced animation worthy of the Disney brand. Quite a feat for a show that was thought up on the spur of the moment from Michael Eisner eating a certain brand of candy. Most properties with stronger background material usually don't fare so well.

The Sunday comic that spun off from it is less inspired.

From these samples, it's clear that the majority of the writing that was heavily focused for the TV show were abandoned on the comics page, which was more concerned with getting the character designs right rather than focus on making actually funny jokes.

The humans don't even get a chance to make an appearance. This is the only comic that even mentions one of the antagonistic ogres, and we don't even get to see it from the neck up. Judging from the shape of the feet, it's not one of Duke Igthorn's henchmen.

While the rare strip would be divided into panels, the general output would be a wide-screen single panel strip. There was also a daily comic that had a similar format, but I barely remember anything about it. This shows just how unmemorable this kind of licensed comic was.

The only other saving grace of this strip are the extras, in the form of an easy puzzle, and a bit of trivia. I later found out from an American newspaper that there was an extended version that had an additional section that was normally cut off.

There was a time when Disney would sporadically re-release their old movies back into theaters, usually to compete against rival animated features such as Don Bluth films. For the longest time, Snow White could only be seen at the movies until they finally released her on VHS and later, DVD. Now they're applying a similar strategy for their animated shorts and TV shows, briefly making collected versions available for a limited amount of time, then putting them back into the vault to be preserved for later.

The problem with that formula - nobody else knows that these animation classics even exists, save for Youtube uploaders. Back in the 80's when Disney was actually in danger of going out of business and being taken over from other corporates, they did everything to sustain their viability by showing as much of their clips as possible. In fact, The Gummi Bears was a major risk to the company's future, back when they were willing to do anything to stay afloat and relevant. (Better to go out in a blaze of glory rather than languish in obscurity) Now that they've literally become too big to fail and are now actively snatching up other companies as a safeguard feature, they've forgotten about their struggle to keep afloat by reminding their audience about the quality of their past achievements. I have a special place in my heart for the lamented Roger Rabbit inspired show, Bonkers. (The Lucky Piquel episodes, not the Miranda Wright episodes*)

While the Adventures of the Gummi Bears is still available for purchase online, you'd never know it given the lackluster advertising given to it and other classic collections of The Disney Afternoon. Have you seen the latest ones for their DVD commercial openings? If you have, check your medication, because there haven't been any. For a company that regularly releases and re-releases their features onto multiple platforms over time, you'd think that this kind of business model would be something they'd want to emulate for future customers. Nope. They'd prefer if their audience got their inspiration from the movies instead, since they're shorter and faster to digest in comparison. At least that's my interpretation given the lack of support for their old stuff. (Nevermind their new stuff)

At least they're not wallowing in nostalgia like some certain companies I could name (you know who you are), but they're fooling themselves if they believe they'll be able to sustain their popularity from their revival in the 90's alone. Revisionist history can only take you so far. (On a related tangent, Canada's one of several countries that've agreed to delay abolishing the leap second for now. That's some long-term thinking right there)

*No relation to Phoenix Wright.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Titled Smurferies

The latest collection of PapercutZ's Smurfs has been released, and it's been awhile since I complained about the last one, so they're due for another round of nit-picking. The 9th book The Return of the Smurfette is a mixture of short stories featuring the Smurfette in minor roles and one-page gags that were part of an album-length collection. Rather than focus on the translation issues, I'd rather focus on the titles for the one-page jokes.

When I saw the first set of Smurfette stories, I was dismayed to see that they left out the descriptive 'Smurf' titles above the comics. I found this strange because a single page joke was shown in a previous book (The Smurfs and the Howlibird), and THAT one had a title above it.

These scans are taken from Marvel's limited 3-issue comic run, back when they were still remotely interested in producing material aimed at children. Half of a typical issue were slimmed-down single-page jokes, while the other half was attempts at doing crude imitations as drawn by Dan Decarlo (yes, THAT Dan Decarlo). Somewhat appropriate for the man who worked on Homer the Happy Ghost. If only there were taller and leggier versions of the Smurfette, he might've stood a chance.

Dan Decarlo may have been a prolific cartoonist, but he was no Peyo. His attempts at the off-model Smurfs wouldn't even earn him a job for a ghost artist for Studio Peyo. To further add insult to injury, the cover page and the interior title panel were the same image, only reversed. If you've ever wondered why so many Manga artists were reluctant to release their works over unless they were left unflipped, you'll notice a certain artistic shift. Certain mistakes become glaringly obvious when they're mirrored.

But the real crime was taking the original Smurf material and cutting them up. To make the comic more condensed, they moved some panels around, and in some cases, compressed them. As a result, a lot of the pacing and timing leading up to the finale was lost. It was as if Marvel thought their audience wouldn't be able to appreciate the European model of four layers of panels instead of the traditional three.

As an example of the Animated series toning down the violence, they left out Farmer Smurf kicking away the scarecrow, and Grumpy Smurf being cropped out of the admiring crowd.

I don't recommend reading the Marvel issues other than as a historical curiosity to see just how badly they mangled their attempts at mimicing the Smurf property. If you insist on indulging in visual sadomasochism, I suggest the oversized Smurfs Treasury, where you can enjoy all three issues with a wraparound cover that's more attractive than the interior. If you don't mind chopped up and pasted comics and bootleg-style drawings heavily scribbled from the plots of the TV series, this is the kind of product for you!

To further confound the issue, while the majority of the main feature of single-page jokes in the PapercutZ version had no titles, the remainder of non-Smurfette-related jokes had titles on them. In this case, Marvel put some more effort and imagination with these titles, though they didn't have to try too hard. One exception was this, which was titled "More Romeos and Smurfette", which was a blanket statement for a few more Smurfette-related comics.

Also, a minor tip - when the nameless Smurf is engaged in rising emphasis on getting dismal fortunes, the cries of dismay should become increasingly larger, not large and then medium in comparison.

"There are none so Smurf as those who will not Smurf" In a rare case, I actually prefer the new translation to the older version.

This is another too literal translation. "Whatever is well-Concieved can be clearly explained." I much more prefer the simpler title here:

"Strike the Smurf while its still Smurf" The title for the below one comes from an unpopular Beetles song (but popular Newgrounds animated video), the Maxwell Edison Story.

Unlike the TV show that replaced taking a hammer to Brainy Smurf's head with him getting thrown out of the village whenever he got too annoying (which was often), it seems to have been left intact in this case. One wonders why this was left mostly intact, when it could've simply been skipped over, and what an innoculous kid who enjoyed the show must've thought when seeing the insufferable genius getting a well-deserved beatdown.

Also, if anybody knows the original blog that posted this example of an earlier version that allowed the presentation of a Black Smurf, let me know so I can give a proper link.

Oh, and this was retitled, There's no Smurfcounting For Taste, which is certainly better.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Obscure Archie Characters

Recently, Kevin Keller, the Gay teenage army brat's just gottenly married to a medical doctor.
I have to admit that I'm surprised that he's managed to last this long. Usually, most new characters who're introduced into the Archie universe make a strong debut, then their appearances taper off until they fade away. Such as Jughead's baby sister, Jellybean.

Obviously Kevin must be filling a niche audience that hadn't existed before. Otherwise, Archie comics wouldn't have gone to the trouble of producing his own title. With the exception of a few minor complaints from conservatives, the overall reception has been surprisingly positive. (Though some feel that he's too vanilla a personality, but in the world of Archie, that's practically a given)

Kevin's lucky enough to have maintained his popularity. Most others aren't as fortunate to stay on as long as he has. A list of some minor characters who weren't strong enough to have enduring roles can be found here. This Sunday comic is a rare occurance for showing three of them who were prevalent at the time: Anita Chavita, Aerobic Liz and Crystal the New Age Girl. Remember any of them? Yeah, me neither.

From what I can tell, they're arguing over a certain Elvis stamp, and whether he should've been portrayed as the young rock star or the bloated parody he later became known for. For comparison, it's reminiscent of fans crying foul over which portrayal of Michael Jackson is the TRUE Jackson. Since the manchild changed appearances constantly, your preferences would be left up to chance.

Mrs. Hagley is probably the closest the faculty has to a senile teacher. She's also possibly older than Mrs. Grundy, which is quite an accomplishment in itself.

As a result, she's not used very much, and Mrs. Grundy's mostly taken over her role, which is a shame, since the woman doesn't have too many friends her own age. Mr. Weatherbee doesn't exactly count, since he's effectively her boss, and she can hardly complain about upper management to him.

Then there's Mr. Krosskut (AKA Mr. Wood) whose appearances are so rare I've only seen him twice. If his name hadn't been mentioned here, I wouldn't have known what he was called. (For the record, he's misspelled with one 's' in the minor character list)

From what little I've seen of him, he handles the woodshop class, and much like Ted Danson from Damages, "looks like Frankenstein".

Frobisher... I mean Mr. Krosskut's not the only scary stone-faced adult on the staff. There was also Patton Howitzer, the ex-army drill sergeant who was the temporary substitute Principal when Mr. Weatherbee was incapacitated, and was so strict in comparision that practically everybody wanted the old Principal back. Weatherbee eventually got better, but Howitzer stayed on, filling the Vice-Principal role, where all the tough decisions could be made without anybody daring to give a contrary opinion.

Mr. Grimley was one of the more enjoyable and intriguing new additions to the faculty, since he would often interview the students of Riverdale High on their plans for the future, leading to bouts of arguing with their career plans and coping with his failing ulcer. One of his first sessions was with Betty Cooper, and we all know what a paragon of virtue she is.

Run. Run far away and never look back.

In the entire man's career, I think there was maybe ONE student who didn't leave him with a hole in his stomach. My memory's a little rusty, but I think it might've been Dilton Doiley. The session started out like any other typical meeting with the man feeling the pangs of pain and a sudden craving for his favorite Pepsi-Bismol, but eventually lessened when he explained the rationale behind his forward-thinking thoughts. In the end, he wound up making a lot of sense, and actually made Mr. Grimley feel better about himself.

Later issues would have him engaging in driving lessons, which was no less therapeutic in comparison. One such lesson had him driving an actual tank Mr. Howitzer drove over for a national celebration.

Myself, I welcome the day when the sexual orientation of a comic character isn't a defining element. The real test of Kevin Keller's legacy will be when his stories are available in a digest without commentary, since that's where the typical reader is likely to read from their collection of Archie stories.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hostess with the Mostess

Just recently got news that Hostess, best known for the overly offbeat Ads that were prevalent in comic books is going to file for bankruptcy. Next to the Beach Bully, Sea Monkeys and X-Ray goggles, they were the most known (and parodied) element in comics. It's the end of an era where ubiquitous comic advertising was something targeted towards children (which they were). Nowadays, the latest ads are more likely to contain sublimal information towards buying computers, cars and other appliances that're likely to be a little beyond the child's interests and price range. (Unless they nag their parents to buy them, and they share similar interests)

The ads may have been maligned in their time, but there's no doubt there's some fond memories of their widespread attempt at convincing people that these were really Fruity Delights in Every Bite! These things were literal MacGuffins / Deus ex Machinas / Chekhov's Guns. There was no problem so unsurmountable (or inexplicable) that couldn't be solved with the application of a carefully placed or thrown Moon Pie wrapped in thin plastic. Need to acquire some immense valuables of indeterminable worth? Hostess Fruit Pies! Need to stop rampaging mechanical rhinoceroses impervious to weapons fire? Hostess Fruit Pies! Need to stop Osama Bin Laden? Hostess Fruit Pies! (Okay, that last one's a parody, and more recently redundant, but still)

People may laugh at Hostess' childlishly obvious attempts at advertising, but their ability to tell (and sell) a complete product and story in a single page resonated strongly with the general population. A website's even gone through the trouble of making a business of selling copies of the advertisements, though the quality of the samples is quite low. (Which makes sense, since they'd hardly want to let browsers download and print the pictures themselves) Think about that for a moment - they're selling old advertisements of a product, rather than the actual product itself. That's how popular they are. Never underestimate the appeal for nostalgia.

I could've easily fallen for their product placement if any of said Hostess twinkies were available in any of the stores I shopped around, but since these were American sweets not available where I lived, I didn't fall prey to this kind of marketing. I certainly wasn't going to order out for some expensive cake snacks with shipping charges when I had perfectly good alternatives elsewhere. They also would've been more effective if I'd seen any of these ads in any comic digests, rather than the comic books they were more likely to be seen in. I think I maybe saw the infamous Spider-Man Vs. Chairman comic in an issue of Electric Company.

Seanbaby has a collection of his scathing takes of has all the examples found in S-hero comics, though there are several oddities found in other children's comics such as Archie and Richie Rich that aren't as fondly remembered. Probably because they weren't too different from what could actually happen in their pages. In other words, children's comics were filled with the kind of inherent weirdness that wouldn't look out of place there, while S-hero comics have become increasingly darker by comparison.

Quick trivia question - which comic character appeared in the most Hostess ads? You would think that popular characters such as Batman and Superman would be fierce contenders. Nope. Superman's appeared in 10 ads, and Batman in 15. Spider-Man is a close contender with an impressive 21 ads, but he's narrowly beaten by Casper the Friendly Ghost's total of 24 ads. Think I'm exaggerating? Check for yourself and scroll down to the 'C' section.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Manga Movie Techniques

When Japan was regaining their foothold after WWII, they started looking to entertainment as a means of escapism. For the most part, that realm of cheap entertainment turned out to be comics, which led to the Manga explosion we all now know and love. Unlike America, getting a television was considered a luxury, and other than comics, their most common outlet was the movie theater. In A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro Tatsumi attempted to imitate these techniques himself. Some of them were failed experiments, such as spending too much time on one scene, while others such as panning couldn't be replicated properly without losing something in the transition. But there were more successes than failures, and many of the old-school cinematic techniques from back then are still used to this day.

One of the most popularly used ones is where a face is superimposed against the background. This can be either used to show what the protagnist is seeing, or a dramatic closeup of a certain individual who'll be important later. In the former, it's an effective way of simultaneously showing both the background and the character's reaction to what they're seeing. Usually in American comics, we would be subject to the event as shown from the backside of the character's profile, or given two different panels of the same situation. Here, the two have been meshed together into one indivisible entity.

A very common use of the typical Shojo Manga page is collages of emotional dissonance across the page. If they're reflecting someone's inner turmoil, they can show what they're thinking with the help of flashbacks to previous events, or emotional conflict. Alternately, they can show multiple events happening across an unspecified amount of time.

The closest American equivalent would be those montage scenes of crime happening simultaneously. Given the American comic's upbringing originating from an extension of Pulp magazines, (as evidenced in Gerald Jones' Men of Tomorrow) this kind of occurrence was very common.

People may complain about comics being influenced by outside media, but it's been that way for ages. Superman didn't start being vulnerable to Kryptonite until the radio show. By the same token, Mangas were influenced by movies, and in turn, movies influence Manga. The first Naruto Vs. Sasuke fight was reminiscent of Neo versus 100 Agent Smiths, and a clownfish was visible in a fishtank around the time Finding Nemo was released.

If you've ever wondered why movies have failed to do proper Manga adaptions, part of it stems from being unable to understand the source material. A bigger element is the lack of understanding the underlying origins of a popular medium. Movies were originally extensions of theaterical plays (hence the name Movie Theater), with slightly different camera angles, which is why so many black-and-white classics and sitcoms have such limited sets. They're the result of a fixed camera (the audience) being shown at a consistent angle for subsequentive takes for the duration of the film. Using actual scenery would cost money, and risk bringing the studio heads' attention on an element that would be cost-prohibitive. Until somebody got the idea that the camera could be moved around and sets didn't have to be so restrictive, movies became more flexible and experimentative.

Since comics operate on a different level of storytelling from movies (though there are similarities, such as storyboards), and because Manga was so completely different from what everybody else was used to, there was a cultural divide with people thinking they'd perfectly understood one element, when they'd only seen a piece of the whole. In their attempt to capitalize on Manga's success, Hollywood has overlooked the humane factor, which was available when Manga was being shaped around movies being produced around that time. That narrative factor is something that's been lost in the wake of overreliance on special effects.

Or maybe they're too lazy to do an actual script that'll appeal to both the fans and new viewers. Outside of the original artists/writers being able to condense the entirety of their 8,000 page comic into a neat 98 minutes and credits, you'd be hard pressed to find screenwriters who'd bother to pump out a half-decent script that wouldn't sound hackened and not rely on pop culture references that won't sound dated three years from now. (Which is also why movies of popular Shonen Mangas such as DragonBall / Naruto / Bleach / One Piece have very little tie-in to the main story and are only tangentially related to the overall plot, but that's an argument for another topic) As a result, most live-action movie adaptions tend to fall on their face when trying to attempt copying something outside their field of experience. And that's perfectly fine with fans who're content to let Manga be done properly in their home country. (Though that's also an oversimplification - fans also get equally upset in finding Anime overtones in movies that only pay lip service to their influences)

However, even Manga isn't free from its own faults, since due to the nature of supply and demand, comics are ubiquitous as a languagein Japan that isn't present anywhere else. Comics are used to explain EVERYTHING, from instruction manuals, to mechanics, to calculus tutorials to how to read the dang things. As a result, the need for handy-dandy narrative comics being available in a hurry means that the artists will have to take some shortcuts in an attempt to keep up and pump out as much material as possible. To act any other way in a cutthroat business would be suicide. (Not Karoshi - that's just overworking) In many cases, they'll often resort to using visual shortcuts which only becomes obvious once you take some time to reflect.

Way way way way WAY back when I was still starting up this blog, I casually made the subject heading of a common theme in movies and TV shows, where a character will throw something to another person, and they'll catch it. It can range from anything from advertising soda pops or car keys. Basically, anything that can be thrown over a distance across the room.

However, when I started doing some research on whether this particular trope was common in Manga, since they're particularly adept at conveying action directly lifted and influenced by Movies / TV shows, I had trouble finding many instances. I thought for sure that there was something like this that happened in Hikaru no Go, but couldn't find it. (I might've been thinking of the author's notes on doing promotional advertising for a water bottle that Waya was picking up)

Jiro Taniguchi is a well-known and respected Manga artist, even though some people feel that his realistic depictions of everyday life is somewhat stiff. Summit of the Gods is a Manga about man's need to climb insurmountable mountains, the need to express himself through such arduous tasks, and early on, a climber helps his partner out by throwing a pickaxe at his face.

If his partner hadn't caught it, he could've been the victim of a very unfortunate accident. (Or the perpetrator of a perfect murder in the vast wilderness) In another similar event, there's a pivotal scene in Banana Fish where Cain throws an uzi several floors up, and Ash manages to catch it single handily.

Jerry Seinfeld could hardly manage to throw a package of rye bread up a window, and George could only manage with the help of a fishing rod. For a semi-realistic Manga about mind-control drugs and gang warfare, this particular scene stood out for me. Now, since these are fairly young protagonists and have had more experience at this sort of thing, maybe they're more used to this kind of thing than middle-age Yuppies, but I'm willing to guess that even trained guerrillas would be hard-pressed to recreate such an impossible task even with years of training.

Another pastime event that everybody in Japan seems to enjoy is lying down on riverbanks.

However, even this idyllic scenario can be hilariously overused. In this page from Psychic Academy, everybody's squatting on the floor of the apartment building roof, but because of the perspective, it looks like they're sitting at an incline.

If we rotated the camera angle to a lower position (as evidenced by this handy-dandy MS paint picture), we'd see that they're actually sitting flat across on bare concrete. You'd think chairs would be more comfortable.

I once read a Yaoi (maybe Shonen-Ai) Manga about Angels floating in the air lying on cloudbanks, and they were acting like they were on a riverbank. There are probably other instances of such visual mix-ups, but I haven't found them yet. Stock poses are a common staple, since they're easy to use, and implement in any given scenario, though it cuts down on the usage of original body language. How many instances are there of somebody landing with one foot to the rear, and one hand in the front? Or making a speech by spreading their arms? Count them all up, and you'll become intoxicated in a drinking game.