Monthly Archives: July 2007

Jon Favreau Knows What He’s Doing

A clip that is probably already everywhere on the internet is know here as well, for at least as long as livevideo  Youtube keeps it up.

This confirms so very many warm and fuzzy thoughts I’ve been thinking about this movie. The characterization of Tony Stark seems faithful (at least, to pre-Civil War Tony, which is to say Tony before he became a giant asshole). The first suit he builds is just perfect in its haphazard, machined-up look. And the flight sequence just looks damn exciting.

I’ll try not to give this movie a giant handjob just on the basis of this clip, but things look to be on the best track.

PS: DC? Warner Brothers? Let’s get things going, shall we?

EDIT: Livevideo didn’t keep it up for very long, as it turns out, but Youtube’s got it.

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Scott McCloud, eat your heart out

When I first heard DC had setup their own digital comics imprint I had my own, wildly inaccurate picture of what that meant.  I imagined DC comics being distributed digitally for download or viewing online.  The truth is somewhat less revolutionary.

The truth is that comics are already free for download if you’re willing to… uh… not pay for them.  I would not have read Miracleman if this were not the case.  I prefer my comics in a physical form, however, which is why I have almost no money but for some reason I cannot fathom, I own the first volume of the terrible Ultimate Galactus trilogy (anyone want to buy it?  It’s awesome.  Really).

If anyone at DC or Marvel had any balls, they’d be setting up an iTunes-style download service for their comics.  Imagine: the Big Two opening up their entire archives for download, at a dollar an issue.   Wanna read some ultra rare golden age comic from 1940-something?  A dollar.  Wanna peruse some short-lived but fondly remembered mini-series from the 70’s? A dollar.  That’s the future.  The sooner The big two get wise, the better.

I dream of an even more glorious time, when the service I describe above is expanded to offer print-on-demand collections.  If the pages themselves are scanned, what’s stopping Time-Warner from buying out some sort of quick-print service like Lulu Press and using it to print collections, as created by the consumer?  I want a book that has every Batman/Green Arrow team-up.  I do a quick search.  I select the issues I want.  I click “Collect It!” and select the order I want the issues to be printed in.  I pick from a selection of images for front and back cover art.  Then I punch in my credit card info and a week later I’m kicking up my heels with an honest-to-god ink-and-paper collection of the very best of the Dark Knight and the Emerald Archer.

I recognise that there are a million-and-one legal and logistical hurdles to this vision being realized, but I think that one day, it will be reality.  And that’ll be a good day.

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Nick Fury Saves The Marvel Universe

Lacking any natural artistic abilities of my own, I have accepted that I will forever toil in a world decorated by crude, half-witted stickmen.  With that in mind, I submit the following:

 

Nick Fury Saves The Marvel Universe

 

This day is coming soon.

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Tintin: Insanest of the Insane

On the lighter side (or much darker side, depending on how you feel) of the aforeblogged Tintin in the Congo, here’s how Tintin rescues Snowy from a pesky primate:

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Another monkey? Why, whatever for? Is our intrepid hero hatching some clever scheme?

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Hmmm… Interesting. Tintin certainly dispatched that monkey with aplomb, but what now?

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He… he what?

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I think I’m going to be sick…

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“WITHOUT AROUSING HIS SUSPICIONS?!?” You’re a human being who has gutted a dead monkey and draped yourself in its still-warm fur, and now you’re walking around with your face sticking out of its neck, wearing a hat and carrying a rifle. Everything about this would arose a monkey’s suspicions!

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See?! I told you! You’re insane, Tintin! You need help!

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Oh my god… The monkey is talking to him? This is an acid trip. It has to be. Nothing else would explain why Tintin would suddenly go batshit insane.

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Oh, no Snowy. Nothing to fear. Tintin, your master, has simply carved himself a new monkey suit and runs around the jungle smelling like freshly-skinned primate, talking to beasts and climbing through trees. Nothing to worry about at all.

And if that episode weren’t evidence enough of Tintin’s obvious insanity, consider this: after a brief scuffle with the monkey (who decides he’d rather have the gun than the hat and tries another trade, with violent results) Tintin feels so comfortable in his new skin that he walks all the way back to camp in it, much to the horror of Coco, our intrepid hero’s unfortunate guide.

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Despite Snowy’s chiding, I can’t help but sympathize with young Coco’s reaction here. If I were sitting in the jungle, alone except for an unconscious assassin trussed up in my car (long story) and someone came sauntering out of the brush wearing a blood-soaked monkey hide, a safari hat, and dragging a dead antelope (it’s there, trust me) I would probably be a little bit freaked out, too.

In conclusion: Wearing monkey skin is insane. Tintin wears monkey skin. Therefore, Tintin is insane.  QED

 

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Tintin, Hergé, and Racism

After being away on vacation for just over a week, I feel like I’ve lost touch with the entire world. After sorting through a pile of unread emails, I noticed that two different people had sent me this item, which details the relocation of Hergé’s Tintin in the Congo from the children’s section to the graphic novel section at the Borders bookstore chain. The motive is the perceived racism of the text, and the fear that parents would be offended to find their children reading a comic that characterizes Africans as idiotic and, essentially, sub-human.

 

tintin-in-the-congo.jpgI don’t think there’s any way to argue against such a move. The book is undoubtedly racist. The natives that Tintin encounters speak in a dim-witted pidgin English and dress in the ridiculous remnants of western clothing. They are foolish and lazy, and are so enamored of their Great White visitor that they make him their king, and eventually elevate him to a sort of godlike status. They are drawn with massive pink circles around their mouths. This is not a depiction of Africans that children should be exposed to. It can only foster racism and prejudice if read at face-value by impressionable children.

 

Furthermore, the book has some rather surprising incidences of violence towards animals. Tintin plays at big game hunter, shooting at everything he sees. In one gag, he kills fifteen antelope, thinking with each shot he fires that he’s taking aim at the same antelope and missing each time. In a scene that has been edited out of subsequent editions, he drills a hole in a rhinoceres’ hide and stuffs a stick of dynamite in. The cruelty he displays towards animals, while not nearly as damaging as the book’s racism, is still quite shocking.

There is an introduction that defends the book as a depiction of “the colonial attitudes of the time”, and warns that “today’s readers may find [it] offensive,” which might just be the understatement of the year. If there is any defence for this book, it’s that an older and wiser Hergé was deeply embarassed by this, one of his earliest efforts. He eventually recognized the racism and violence that pervaded the text, and attempted (largley unsuccessfully, in my mind) to tone down the worst passages. What remained was still offensive enough that The Hergé Foundation held back the colour English translation until 2005.

So for Borders to move the book out of the children’s section is perfectly understandable. For the British Commission for Racial Equality to recommend the title be removed from bookstores goes one step too far. If anything, Tintin in the Congo provides a window into the perceptions of the past, showing how far we have come. To ban it outright would be a horrible abuse, a terrible case of censorship run rampant. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, another children’s book from an earlier era, has also faced consistent criticism for percieved racism, but has never been banned from bookstores. While I would not place Tintin in the Congo on the same level as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I will say that both texts, despite content that might be uncomfortable for modern readers, are not harmful in and of themselves. Despite the racism, despite the violence, Tintin in the Congo – if read in the proper context and with a critical eye – can be an interesting read, although for different reasons than Hergé originally intended.

Still, here’s me betting that Jackson and Spielberg skip this one when they do their multi-million dollar 3D movie adaptations.

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Countdown to pointless retcons

Big Events are a fixture of superhero comics. Every year or so, something appropriately earth-shattering happens to the characters we know and love. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the motivation for these events

Both Marvel and DC do their Big Events on an almost annual basis. We accept them as a fixture of the superhero genre, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a good story out of it. At Marvel, the motivation for these events seems to be:

  1. Make a ton of money by getting readers to buy a load of titles.
  2. Tell a good superhero story.

At DC, the thinking seems to follow similar lines, but with an addition:

  1. Make a ton of money by getting readers to buy a load of titles.
  2. Fix our confusing and convoluted continuity.
  3. Tell a good superhero story.

Seriously, why does DC even try anymore? There is nothing as labyrinthine and off-putting as the long, long, ever-so-long history of DC’s universe. I honestly believe they should just cut their losses and move forward without ever again worrying about what earth Kyle Raynor was supposed to protect as a Green Lantern. I, for one, simply don’t care. Continuity is overrated.  Leave that tangled mess in the past, and just move forward telling exciting, imaginative stories.

I beg you.

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True Horror Comics

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From America’s Greatest Comics #2, 1942

 

I would bet money that the little stick-man on Johnny’s shoulder is about to slaughter all the family.

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