Archive for the ‘Guest Writer’ Category

The Ten Worst Comic Movie Adaptations

Posted: January 31, 2013 by realscratchpad in Comics, Comics Editorials, Guest Writer

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.

superman-iii-poster10. “Superman III”

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.

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Comics and Movies: An Uneasy Alliance

Posted: December 27, 2012 by realscratchpad in Comics, Comics Editorials, Guest Writer

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.

Different Media

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.

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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.

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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 barbara.jolie876@gmail.com. Barbara is happy to hear from you!)

Since a new episode of Gravity Falls is airing tonight, why not listen to an episode of the ScratchCast that’s about the show, am I right? Ryan takes up the hosting role to lead us in discussing everything to do about the mysterious town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. From initial reactions to favorite episodes, we let you guys know how we feel about this relatively new Disney Channel animated series…and why you should watch this comedic gem if you aren’t already.

Various interviews with Alex Hirsch:
The Oregonian, June 14
MTV Geek, June 15
Collider: July 6
New York Times, August 17
TV Guide, August 22
Boing Boing, August 23
Comics Alliance, August 24
Gravity Falls Gossiper podcast
GFG Interview with Grunkle Stan

P.S. The song at the beginning is Uncaged Czarina, and it serves as our theme song. And so we won’t have to pay $10 every time we use it…Free Royalty Free Music by DanoSongs.com.

P.S. What do you guys like about Gravity Falls? Tell us on Twitter, Facebook, via email, or in the comments below!

Download this and other WRSP podcasts on iTunes.
Don’t have iTunes? Download Scratch Cast episodes here.
Only interested in our podcasts? Subscribe to our ScratchCast blog maintained by TetrisDork.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012 stuff. Can’t say much more than that. Since most of the stuff here has either already happened, like Riders of Berk, or will be happening within the next few weeks (The DC Comic #0s). And the stuff that hasn’t already happened, is most likely stuff you’re aware of by now (like Legend of Korra episode orders and MLP news on Season Three). So there is no reason to listen to this podcast other than to hear our thoughts on this news back when it was actually news…not that that’s a bad thing. While this isn’t our best, it’s a decent listen. So give this two-hour episode a listen while you’re reading a book or playing a video game, okay? The most-recently recorded Gravity Falls episode will be posted this weekend, so keep an eye out for that.

P.S. The song at the beginning is Uncaged Czarina, and it serves as our theme song. And so we won’t have to pay $10 every time we use it…Free Royalty Free Music by DanoSongs.com.

Download this and other WRSP podcasts on iTunes.
Don’t have iTunes? Download Scratch Cast episodes here.
Only interested in our podcasts? Subscribe to our ScratchCast blog maintained by TetrisDork.

Did you guys notice how last year, I stopped posting podcast episodes around mid-Spring, and didn’t start back up again until late August/early September? And did you guys notice that I pretty much did the same exact thing this year? Weird, ain’t it? Well, I’ll try to make up for it with three days of episodes in a row. Tomorrow’s episode — yes, I’ll be posting an episode tomorrow AND Saturday — will be all about our experiences with Toonami, but today’s episode is a little look at the Marvel and DC Comics animation blocks, back when they first premiered. Well, it ends up being more so a look at the shows we love (Young Justice) and the shows we hate (Ultimate Spider-Man), but…well, the interstitial bits aren’t huge conversation makers like Toonami’s. Not counting DC Nation shorts, which are bloody awesome, and are kinda like backdoor pilots that can be picked up for full series. New Teen Titans is making the jump, and I’m glad about it, even though the show will be a pure comedy with…wait, what? Okay, a little less happy now. In any case, after this week of backlog episodes, we’ll be officially back with FRESH CONTENT. Fresh like clean towels right out of the dryer. Podcasts! Articles! Who the hell knows what else!? See ya tomorrow, and sorry for the episode’s sudden end.

P.S. The song at the beginning is Uncaged Czarina, and it serves as our theme song. And so we won’t have to pay $10 every time we use it…Free Royalty Free Music by DanoSongs.com.

P.P.S. New episodes are returning to both DC Nation and Marvel Universe soon! Are you hyped for new episodes of current shows. And brand-new series like Beware the Batman and Agents of S.M.A.S.H.? Or are you just shaking your head at some of this stuff? Tell us on Twitter, Facebook, via email, or in the comments below! We’re back for the school year, baby!

Download this and other WRSP podcasts on iTunes.
Don’t have iTunes? Download Scratch Cast episodes here.
Only interested in our podcasts? Subscribe to our ScratchCast blog maintained by TetrisDork.