It’s 2013. It’s been 2013 for quite a while now. And from upcoming films to comics to television series, we have a lot to look forward to and a lot to discuss in the next 12 months. But before we can completely get into the 2013 groove, we have to reflect on the previous year first. So while this article is several days late, it’s time to share with you all the thoughts and emotions we had on some of bigger events that rocked the worlds of ink-and-paint entertainment back in 2012. Well, the ones that we cared about, anyway. While we have recorded an episode of the ScratchCast for your listening “pleasure”…the audio from the second half was kinda messed up. Wasn’t good at all. And that just gave me more incentive to have a…let’s say transcribed version of it (my thoughts are separate from the “transcribed” version). That said, you can listen to the 20 minutes of the podcast I could salvage and/or click that “Read the rest of this entry” button for a more visual than auditory experience. Also, check out that short blooper reel. It’s fun.
From “The Avengers” to “The Amazing Spider-Man” to “The Dark Knight Rises,” 2012 was a banner year for comic book adaptations. These movies were well plotted, smartly cast and cleverly written. They also delved into deep issues such as family, loyalty and self control, giving them more dimension than your average superhero movie.
Alas, for every great comic book movie adaptation there seem to be five that were truly terrible.
Here’s a countdown of the 10 worst comic book movie adaptations.
The late Richard Pryor was a top-notch comedian, but his presence in “Superman III” felt unnatural and forced, throwing off the balance of a movie series that had, until that point, done a stellar job with its adaptations. The convoluted storyline in which Superman experiences a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like personality split feels forced.
And the high school reunion setting, while a good idea, doesn’t lend itself to a cohesive plotline. The result is a disappointing, disjointed movie that should have been left out of the “Superman” series.
9. “Batman and Robin”
No wonder it took such a long time to reboot the “Batman” series following “Batman and Robin” – this film was so disastrous that even its star, George Clooney, has disavowed it. Even ignoring the whole “Batnipples” fiasco, Robin is completely lost the dark undertone that makes the Batman comics special. In fact, the movie turned into a day-glo circus, with an almost unwatchable Arnold Swarzenegger gobbling scenery as Mr. Freeze.
The Batman comics have always been clever and carefully plotted. This movie was neither.
Comic book movie adaptations have enjoyed an on-again, off-again popularity for years. The success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise coupled with the blockbuster popularity of The Avengers has Hollywood eager to add more superheroes to the silver screen. Making the jump from comic book to live action is risky business, however.
The Divided Audience
Translating comics–or books, for that matter–into movies often means changing elements of the original story. Action, plot and characterizations that work beautifully in print or images don’t always work on the big screen.
Iconic moments from the original work sometimes confuse moviegoers and need cutting to maintain cinematic continuity. However, Hollywood makes such decisions at the risk of alienating the comic or book fan base.
It’s a major balancing act, because as fanboys and fangirls, we’re the primary audience for any superhero movie. But to make a blockbuster, Hollywood has to attract the non-comic book community as well. And this means making the story as accessible to the general audience as possible.
I had my first viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring ruined by one such fanboy. Yes, I know we’re talking about comic book movies here, not books, but this incident could have as easily happened during a showing of The Avengers.
As any good Tolkien fan knows, huge swaths of plot from the Fellowship of the Ring were removed for the movie. The character of Tom Bombadil is completely cut. Bombadil is a wood-god and trickster figure who helps Frodo and his companions escape a Wight barrow they stumble into. (He also encourages them to run around naked in the sun to shake off the barrow’s chill. While he watches. Tom’s one creepy dude).
Bombadil, arguably, is a pointless character even in the book. Adding him to the Fellowship would have destroyed the pacing of the film. Yet I sat next to a preteen fan who spent most of the movie loudly complaining about Bombadil’s omission and the shortening of the Council of Elrond (which the book presents as during a mind-numbingly long committee meeting) and any other moment where the movie deviated even slightly from the book.
This kid had no understanding that the movie required a very different pace than the original work.
Tags: #ScratchCastAWA, Anime, Anime Weekend Atlanta, conventions, manga, my little pony, Twitter
This Thursday, I will be in Atlanta, GA, attending Anime Weekend Atlanta. AWA is an anime/manga convention and one of the biggest in the United States. In past years, I saw previews to/full-length episodes of fabled Toonami original anime IGPX, the English dub to my favorite series Claymore, and the dark and violent Rin. I saw the first installment of the 20th Century Boys film trilogy. I was at the panel where Cartoon Network representatives announced Toonami’s death while plugging Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I saw a feature-length AMV (aka AMV Hell 3). I also bought lots of stuff and took pictures, so there’s that. And, if you’ve been following me for some time, it was the con where I got those chibi Rei and Asuka plushies in piggy onesies. Because if I didn’t have a piece of Evangelion merchandise that completely missed the point of the series, then I am not a true anime fan in my eye.
This year’s con has a nice selection of guests, including Ryo Horikawa (the voice of Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z), Johnny Yong Bosch (Bleach, Eureka Seven, Power Rangers), Trini Nishimura (Luna in Casshern Sins), Ayumi Kino (e-manga Magical Dreamers), Tim Eldred (storyboard artist for Avengers: EMH & Batman: The Brave And The Bold, StarBlazers.com), and visual-kei band heidi. The panels appear to be filled with variety, including those devoted to Japanese religion, a Pokemon vs Digimon debate, a “Fanfic or Fact?” Q&A involving Gundam Wing, two panels devoted to indie game series Touhou Project, and even a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic panel for some strange reason. There will also be the world premiere of the new Mass Effect anime movie, Paragon Lost, along with the dub debuts of Level E and Hellsing Ultimate Volume 5. And I will be there. Tweeting it to the best of my abilities. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: crime and punishment, dorian gray, dracula, fahrenheit 451, frankenstein, graphic novels, i am legend, jane eyre, king lear, macbeth, the jungle
Could graphic novels potentially be the next condensed text solution for students who loathe reading required texts? While I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on a graphic novel in lieu of the original work, each graphic novel on this list is worth reading; and some even include the original works in their entirety, making them twice as awesome.
Crime and Punishment – This classic Russian tale of murder, guilt and redemption is adapted to the modern world in this graphic novel illustrated by Alain Korkos. The prose of the original version was cut significantly in this adaptation, making it difficult for those unfamiliar with the unabridged version to understand. Stark black and white illustrations capture the inner struggle between Raskolnikov’s pious guilt and his murderous elitism.
Frankenstein – One of the most classic horror stories of all time, Frankenstein confronts issues of acceptance, tolerance, understanding and the need for love – as shed in the murky light of obsessive scientific tinkering. Dead body parts, rotting corpses and many a moonlit scene make this story a perfect adaptation for the graphic novel.
Dracula – The story that begat the vampire genre has been reimagined since its first telling, serving as inspiration for many books and movies, permeating society so effectively that even a Sesame Street character reflects its influence. Unlike the book, which is written in epistolary form from the viewpoint of a variety of characters, this graphic novel adaptation follows the plot through dialogue between characters, making it much more action-packed than its progenitor. With red eyes and bulging biceps, Count Dracula is a formidable and frightening antagonist. Those who long for a refreshing dose of the bloodthirsty vampire will enjoy this adaptation.
Fahrenheit 451 – It’s a story that makes each booklover tremble: a dystopian society where books are burned as vehicles of dissention. Perhaps it is ironic to experience this story as a graphic novel, seeing that one of the forecasts Bradbury made in Fahrenheit 451 is that stories would become abridged to accommodate new forms of media. However, the artistic interpretation of this futuristic story is beautifully rendered through muted colors and a golden-yellow tint. It is almost as though something is always burning … somewhere.
Tags: books, graphic novels, higher education, illustration, literature
Colleges have noticed the growing number of thought-provoking graphic novels on bookstore shelves. Graphic novels like Maus, Persopolis, and Metamorphosis are becoming staples in freshman composition and humanities classes. These graphic novels are accessible, culturally relevant, and serve as excellent tools to teach students about complex historical events, visual rhetoric, and written communication in general.
As graphic novels become more visible in the academic community, the way the world views comics is changing. Just a couple of decades ago, devoting class time to comics and graphic novels would have been unheard of. Now, as doing so becomes the norm and more schools launch sequential art programs, comics have the unique opportunity to change literature as we and college students around the world know it. Persepolis and Maus have what it takes to one day be considered great works of literature. They challenge historical assumptions, provide unique viewpoints, and have the power to expand people’s minds and the ways they view the world.
Budding graphic novel authors and comic book artists have a number of academic options if they choose to pursue their passion for comics in college. Savannah College of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Center College of Design, and the Kubert School all offer degree programs in sequential art/comic arts. These programs give students the unique opportunity to develop the skills they need to become the next greatest graphic novelists and top comic book authors.
Sequential art and comic arts majors aren’t the only students who are learning more about effective visual rhetoric. Many illustration, graphic design, and art programs now offer sequential art classes to students as electives. Additionally, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, a seminal book about the rhetorical techniques used in comics and graphic novels, has become a popular addition to quite a few communication and rhetoric classes.
Academia’s recognition and inclusion of comics and graphic novels is a big step in the right direction. Fans of comics and graphic novels have always recognized the intellectual merit of their favorite texts. Comics are what get many children interested in reading. Graphic novels are what keep quite a few high schoolers and college students interested in the written word. And this is not simply because comics and graphic novels are “easy-to-read” and entertaining. It is often because sequential art is stimulating, full of meaning, and complex.
(Barbara Jolie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she’s not writing content for www.onlineclasses.org and other online education sites, she blogs about things like art, literature, and interior design. Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbara is happy to hear from you!)