Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

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.

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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!)

You guys thought I would never get around to this, didn’t you? While things have gotten in way of this article’s completion, mainly my bad time management skills, I’ve finally completed this article; a list of some of my favorite independent comics, to make up for the horrid episode of the ScratchCast that was released on the 10th. That said, when was the last article on this site actually posted? Back in October? Jeez, that’s a long time. All the more reason for this thing to exist. Anyway, I’ll be staying away from making a formal “Top 5” list, the reason being that I find it impossible to compare comics of different genres in such a way. Crap introduction done, actual article begin.

I Kill Giants (published by Image Comics)

“I find giants. I hunt giants. I kill giants. So forgive me if “motivating” a room full of losers with no self-esteem out of their hard earned money doesn’t hold much interest.”

These are the first four sentences we see come out of protagonist Barbara Thorson’s mouth, and the very same words that get her sent to the Principal’s office. Not that she cares; she’s become well acquainted with the man in the past several weeks. In what was proclaimed the Best Indy Book of 2008 by IGN, writer Joe Kelly (Deadpool, Action Comics, Ben 10, Ultimate Spider-Man) spins a wonderful tale about a 5th grader who finds herself dealing with monsters both real and imagined while trying to come to terms with the very real issues surrounding her home life. And it’s a tale that is aided marvelously by the grayscale artwork of one J.M. Ken Niimura, whose work I’m eager to see more of in the future. It’s saying something when you can create a character like Barbara, make her a schizophrenic asshole who constantly disrespects authority to the point of backhanding a guidance counselor….and still have her be a great and lovable character that we care about, long before we figure out why she’s acting like this. But Kelly did it perfectly, turning the girl with rabbit-ears into one of my favorite fictional characters. IKG is a comic that is hard to recommend without really spoiling it, but I feel confident enough to say that you’ll enjoy every last bit of Barbara’s adventure, hammers and all.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer (published by SLG Publishing)

“Ah, yes, my little surprise. I am a real boy. And you are my prey.”

Basic premise: Titular wooden puppet kicks copious amounts of vampire ass in an unofficial graphic followup to the original Carlo Collodi-penned tale. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will. It’s a living puppet going up against an organization of vampires in an attempt to avenge the memory of his father; what’s not to like? Dustin Higgins writes a wickedly funny-yet-somber story that’s brought to life with the black-and-white stylings of Van Jensen. Named as one 2010’s Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, I found myself completely hooked on the sweet action scenes and the playful banter between characters. So much so, that I became absolutely eager to read the second installment…which I already have. Now I’m sitting here waiting for the print release of the third and final installment, which is coming this summer. Because, let’s be honest: everything is better with vampire hunting. In fact, stop reading this article for a moment and pick up a copy at your local library or something. You’ll never see these characters the same way again; especially the Blue Fairy.

Tank Girl (Various publishers)

“You’ll never become a finely tuned killing machine if you don’t put your heart into it. Asshole!”

Moving away from protagonists who kill monsters, let’s talk about a protagonist who pretty much is a monster. Tank Girl is, quite frankly, an insane gun-toting, tank-riding bitch who roams a Mad Max-esque Australian outback with her subservient kangaroo boyfriend. In one issue, she may stage an operation to steal all the good beer in the country. In another, she could be making countless 80s references…oh wait, that’s in every issue. The writer/artist team of Alan Martin and (usually) Jamie Hewlett string together pop culture references, obscenity, gratuitous fourth-wall breaking, and just plain overall insanity to create clever laughs. At the very least, you’ll find yourself smirking from the madcap absurdity while reading each issue. It’s the sort of twisted, violent, and arguably sexy comic that most teenage boys would be completely enraptured with. And all the “British-style” humour aside, I’m shocked that the comics aren’t as well-known in the States as they should be…however, Tank Girl does stand as the only indie comic I’ve read in public, other than Scott Pilgrim, to be automatically recognized by someone. And that’s just bloody awesome. (P.S.: I hear that the Rachel Talalay-directed Tank Girl film is bloody awful…)

Blacksad (published by Dark Horse Comics in North America)

“A star had been eclipsed, leaving my past in darkness, lost somewhere within the shadows. And nobody can live without a past.”

I reviewed this title back in the summer of 2010, but since we’re making up for bad content with this article…yeah, let me try recommending this thing again. Juan Díaz Canales (story) and Juanjo Guarnido (art) paint a picture of 1950s America, but instead of using plain-old human beings, they choose to have their characters be anthropomorphic animals. This naturally leads to some humourous things, such as bar fights with rhinos. But it also means that topics, such as race relations, become a bit more interesting, now that several species of beasts are thrown into the mix. Rather than going black-and-white like most crime stories in the vein of noir, the artwork is done with muted watercolours; something that definitely adds to the “fun” combination of gritty drama and dark humour that Canales and Guarnido have created.  Blacksad does the “hard-boiled detective” thing really well, and it will probably remain as one of my favorite — if not absolute favorite — crime comics until the day I die. Yeah, the wait between each new issue can be a bit irritating, but they’re always worth it.

Like I say in the disclaimer…this isn’t our best epiosde. This episode was just a total mess due to most of us not being familiar with the topic and those of us who were being somewhat reluctant to speak. Considering the boring and awkward content of this episode, it was decided to post the raw CallGraph recording of the entire Skype call, which includes 15 minutes of us discussing porn. Yeah.

Tomorrow, or sometime later that, I’ll be posting a list of indie comics that I recommend everyone should take a peek at. Maybe that’ll make up for this trainwreck…

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.

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