Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disturbing Stuff: Histoires Alarmantes

For the remainder of the month leading up to Halloween, here's a little something I did on my own - an English version of Histories Alarmantes (Scary Stories) by Jamsin and Cossu.  (I didn't bother to redo the title and sound effects)

This isn't exactly a scanlation, but rather a collaboration by taking the translated panels that were originally reprinted in Dark Horse's Cheval Noir line.  But for some reason, their comics were scattered all across their issues.  The order the following stories showed up in were in issues #37, #25, #2, #45, #35, #38 and #42 respectively.  A lot of the inherent spookyness was lost when shown in simple Black and White, which you'd think would be the opposite in this case.
I also missed seeing the extra drawing underneath the title, which was only shown for three stories, The Auction, The Art Opening and Soup Line.  They were similar to the throwaway panels of Sunday comics, and did a good job of summarizing the theme and mood of the stories, which ranged in length from three to eight pages.
When this book was still available at my library, I could only look at the pictures, and get the general sense behind the stories, which were very unlike the typical moralistic comics from Tales of the Crypt, which were overwrought with narrative, clunky exposition and overdramatic speeches (Good Lord!  *Choke*), these stories weren't exactly scary per se, but inherently disturbing.  There was always the underlying feeling that there was something somehow wrong with what was going on, but being powerless to prevent it in any way.

Even though the interior and exterior disturbed me (especially the cover), for some reason, I kept looking inside, and now I can share that same sense of unease.  I have no idea what Dark Horse's policy behind showing select comics from anthology collections is (Manga trading is already a delicate topic), which is why this will be available for a limited time only and be gone by next month's update.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perplexing Reprints

One of the advantages of living in a time of multiple reprints of old properties is having access to all kinds of extra-large collections that were sporadic and largely unfinished.  I would've practically killed for the chance to have as much comic reading material that's available nowadays.

But that still doesn't stop some silly mistakes from cropping up.  I'm not talking about certain comics removed for their problematic themes, but rather curious omissions that shouldn't have happened in the first place.  One such example I can think of is early comic collections where some panels (or even pages) were misplaced or put in the wrong place, which would cause confusion to those who weren't already familiar with them.  The other is in collections of classic Children's Books which have the whole contents of the stories, but don't have the extra artwork that were on the inside covers.

But that's not what I'm focusing on here.  I'm talking about reprints that for some reason or other is completely different from how they first appeared.  In some cases, this can be down to artistic license. Some comics have their dialogue reworked after publication to be clearer if necessary. Near's facial expressions in Death Note were closer to L's in the serial format until they were redrawn to have a more serious look.  Some For Better or for Worse strips were changed in the collections compared to the newspaper originals.

And then there are reprints that somehow manage to lose some of the humour that was there in the first place.

Are you laughing yet?  No?  Take your time.  It'll come to you...

Moving on, there was an Adam that had the setup for a famous commercial...

...which lost some of its strength when reprinted in the black and white collection:

You have the benefit of seeing the throwaway panels that weren't available, but the impact is lessened by how casually Adam mentions his packets.  You don't get the sense of urgency Adam gets from getting the chance to unload his stock of condiments onto his unwilling victim and driving away at the green light before hearing a response.

Another funny thing about reprints is that the title logo may change for some long-running comics.  This is understandable due to the evolution of an artist's style, and some updating may be required to give some indication of the passage of time.  Where it fails is when these two opposing elements clash.  Early on, Herman had some extra dialogue added to the throwaway panels:

But when the very same early comic was reprinted online, we got a punchline without the setup. Even the central word 'you' is bolded for emphasis, but the meaning is lost.  Furthermore, the balloons are redrawn to become closer to the other Sunday comics, which make them look rather static compared to the variably curved balloons of the original.
As for the first comics shown here, they were from Leonardo, the misadventures of the 15th-Century inventor and his oft-maligned Disciple with variations of Genius in the titles, such as Budding Genius, Call of the Genius, An air of Genius, and Genius' Gift.  It wasn't until the 20th Anniversary album that the actual punchline for the comic posted in the second album was finally revealed:

Now do you get it?  One can only imagine the amount of frustration readers had trying to figure out why the sky was going black.  In a sense, it could be considered an extreme version of information blackout.  "If we block out the sun, they can't possibly see the radioactive dust", or something along those lines.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Disturbing Stuff: Dear Diary...

In the news here, there's been lengthy coverage of Ashley Smith, an emotionally disturbed girl who was prone to self-inflicted wounds and in the end, managed to kill herself despite being on a suicide watch.  The general consensus was that the guards were tired of having to deal with her behavior, and thought it would be easier to just leave her be, and have the problem resolve itself.

That's not the disturbing part, even though the inquest has been going on since Ashley's death over six years ago (October 19, 2007), I was completely unaware of her circumstances when I wrote a short story that closely paralleled this kind of uncomfortable scenario.  I can't remember the exact theme we were supposed to write about, but apparently it was to create a story explaining the death of the main character and how it came about.

The ironic thing was that this story was mostly inspired by a Web episode of Platonic Chain, an obscure 3-D CGI Anime with Rakugo-like overtones which take the form of taking a long story setup in order to tell a simple joke.  (Somewhat similar to Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Fallen Words)

Before reading any further, keep in mind that this is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever written.  I much more prefer to stick with light and funny stuff since that's more my field of expertise, but I still feel the need to expand my creative muscles once in a while so I don't wind up stale.  Thing is, when I go off into the deep end, I SERIOUSLY GO OFF INTO UNCHARTED TERRITORY.  In fact, the reason this is so late is that I was actually scared to re-read it myself, not because I was worried that the quality of the story would be coloured by preconceived notions, but simply because I knew just how plausibly horrific I made it seem.  Apart from some slight modifications to the font for emphasis, the gist of the story has remained untouched.

If you're particularly squeamish, I recommend this 2-parter comic instead, which covers the same topic in a more lighter manner.

And so, after enough buildup and without any further ado...

I give you...

Dear Diary...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Educational Deaf Videos

To everyone who's been interested in what I've been preoccupied with (and to anyone who isn't, tough), I've been busy transferring some promotional old deaf videos from the CHIP office for a powerpoint presentation for elderly people.  More precisely, I was dividing up the numerous clips of videos by Psychologist and Educator of deaf studies, Sam Trychin giving examples the right and wrong ways to communicate between hearing and deaf people.  Kind of a Goofus and Gallant kind of thing with two scenarios presented and the proper way of conduct to be followed.  For reference, all the deaf person in the videos below are identified with an asterisk (*) above their heads.

The differences are subtle, but they're the difference between aggravating a situation and making it worse, and not letting any one person feel neglected or offput by their lack of understanding.  The other kind of videos in Did I do That? showed only the mistakes and bad examples, with no alternate follow-up present, which would give the impression that deaf people were intentionally choosing their selective hearing.

The truth is, it can be frustrating to constantly repeat people to slow down and look at the deaf person, when they'll instantly forget these rules when talking to a regular hearing person.  Once they're back on familiar territory, they'll completely forget everything they've learned and completely neglect the deaf person.  Having to constantly verify and repeat what everybody is saying can be tiring in the long run.

In these videos, hearing people aren't entirely blameless - deaf people need to learn how to properly conduct themselves so they don't wind up alienating the very people they're trying to talk to.  This kind of behavior isn't instinctual - it has to be learned through rote, and is tricky for hearing people who're used to talking at normal speed.  Even more when said hearing people start to lose their hearing, and find out firsthand just how hard simple lip-reading can be.

People losing their hearing basically have to relearn how to use skills naturally deaf people lived through their whole lives, which can make the whole proposal extremely difficult.  It's like learning a new language, only it's their home language, and without certain verbal cues to help them along, they find out for the first time just how difficult the process they took for granted can be.  This feeling of frustration and incompetence can reflect badly on the deaf person and the people they talk to, which can lead to mishearing similar words, bluffing their way through conversations and basically nodding their heads without ever applying any input.  This kind of alienation can weigh heavily on people used to communication, and can turn the most devout extrovert into an introvert.  The purpose of these videos is to show basic communication tips that'll benefits both sides without making either party feel bad.  These short clips such as making the environment deaf-accessible isn't just restricted to being in an echo-proof room do more to show desirable results than extremely long preachy speeches ever could.

"Putting yourself in a strong backlight makes it difficult for your students to see your lips.  A simple thing like closing the blinds can make all the difference."

Of particular interest in the video I see What You're Saying is the cameo appearance of Gene Wilder of Willy Wonka and See no Evil, Hear no Evil fame.  See if you can recognize his distinctive features behind his impressive mustache.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Where in the World is Waldo?

Apologies for not updating my blog in a week.  I've been extremely busy with work-related stuff that's been distracting me from my writing duties.  To make up for that oversight, here's some scans of a fanmade Where's Waldo? Manga I found a few years ago.

When people talk of being influenced by Manga, I much more prefer creations that that go beyond just pale imitations and produce something that looks and sounds original from the source material.  To put it in simple terms; Faux-Manga < Quasi Manga <= Real Manga.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

More Archie OOC

In response to Archie's question, the answer is probably "Yes".
It's been almost a year since I posted some of my Archie comics to one of my favorite Tumblrs, Archie Out of Context.  However, I didn't want to place all my eggs in one basket too soon, and was curious to see if others might've chosen entries I would've found myself.  Of the numerous panels since then, there was only one which I ALMOST submitted, but didn't.  And I'm glad, since their choice was better than mine.
Three guesses what they're going to use him for, and the first two don't count.
Lately, their output has crawled to a trickle, and it's been over a month since their last contribution.  I figured either interest has dwindled or their well's run dry, and I might as well take the opportunity to pick up the slack to their impressive collection with several panels I didn't include the first time around.
Go ahead, encourage her.
You knew what you were getting yourself into.  Don't blame yourself.
If THAT'S what he considers torture, I shudder to think of what he considers
a gift to his friends.  Obviously the boy's priorities are sadly misplaced.
If you have to ask the question, you better prepare yourself for the answer.
They could be talking about anything here.  ANYTHING.
Input your own "stiff pole" and "weird oils" joke here.

Sometimes its amazing what's allowed in a typical Archie comic.
Remember kids, always disinfect your hands
 when borrowing stuff from a world-renowned playboy.
But it's not all double-entendre dirty jokes here.  One of the greatest guilty pleasures in these OOC panels is finding relationships other than the usual love triangle between the obvious parties of Archie / Betty / Veronica (and preferred slash pairings of the latter), that were never even considered in the first place.
Yes, that is Reggie standing up for Ethel, and he's fully aware of it.
Lest you think this is unusual for the world's biggest narcissist acting in defense of the town's ugliest girl, there were instances where Ethel dated Archie, such as in Issue #8 of Riverdale High and the infamous Al Hartley Christian comic.  More relevant links about Ethel can be found here.
No, Archie, don't go there!  Stick with the Harem girls!
Obviously, she's struck dumb by her rival's looks and grace.
It's the look of realization on her face that really sells it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Socking it to October

I mentioned before that Garfield isn't particularly heldfast to certain statuary holidays commonly found in other family friendly strips, such as going back to school, which can easily explain his worldwide appeal.  But that still doesn't prevent him from indulging in the occasional celebration of holidays involving food near the end of the year.  I'm sure you know which two I mean.
Fun fact - I once went trick-or-treating as a Halloween bag.
Too bad the night I chose started to rain, effectively ruining my costume.
Strangely enough, even though there's been a Thanksgiving special, there hasn't been much of a presence of preparing food beforehand.  Prior experience with attempt to do so around the fat cat inevitably winds up in failure, so it's easy to see why that option isn't chosen much.

On the other side of the spectrum is Garfield's philosophizing, which was much more frequent in the early days of the strip than when he just snarks at pretty much anything Jon does.
Dear Diary... Today, I found out why God created leaves.
The B.Y.O.T.V. Party

Why is it all the good TV shows seem to run at the same time?  Unless you can afford a dozen VCRs, just invite several friends over with their televisions and catch all the action.  There's no fighting over which show to watch either.