Archive for the ‘nerd the f’ out’ Category
I’ve talked a little bit about the difference between “good” vs. “right” in the genre context.
For example, I think Dark Knight Rises is a “good” movie, but it’s not necessarily “right” when it comes to Batman. Any movie where Batman quits, and then Alfred quits, is “wrong” in my book.
The thing that clarified this for me was Dr. Who. I got into Dr. Who about 18 months ago, blowing through the Christopher Eccleston season and moving through David Tennant’s tenure.
Under Craig Bogart’s advice and tutelage, I expanded to some of the “classic” Dr. Who and moved forward into the Matt Smith years. And I’ve learned two things.
1. My favorite Doctors are David Tennant and Jon Pertwee, who are probably the most “wrong.” Tennant falls in love with humans all the time, and Pertwee is way too much of an action hero.
2. I don’t love the new showrunner, Steven Moffat. The stories are fun, and Matt Smith is a joy, but … The stories rely too much on the Doctor’s reputation. They start really strong, then end with an ass-pull. You can break any of them by asking “why don’t they just shoot him?” But Matt Smith’s Doctor is a lot more in line with the character as he’s been defined over the previous 50 years.
So here’s a case where I clearly prefer “good” over the “right.”
Is there any other genre where “good” vs. “right” is so important? Do romance fans complain that their heroine’s bodice doesn’t get ripped the right way? Do Law & Order fans complain when Lennie Briscoe isn’t snarky enough? Or is this our special burden as nerds?
For which properties do you prefer right, and which ones do you prefer good?
(Image courtesy friend-of-the-Ferret Jeff Carlisle)
Let me state up front that any attempt to analyze Jack Kirby’s New Gods is probably doomed to failure. The King was worked too instinctively to submit to a linear analysis. Grant Morrison probably comes closest, but he still falls flat with ideas like “weaponized metaphors” and whatnot. Everyone who follows Kirby sounds like they’re trying too hard.
This won’t stop me from trying, however.
I am referring to the original text, Kirby’s Fourth World saga and the Hunger Dogs, rather than the canon that has built up after it.
I’ve already established that Darkseid is Not So Big; also, he’s Not So Evil. In the original series, he’s the only citizen of Apokalips shown expressing any human emotion, as he openly pines for old friends he’s disintegrated. Although he enjoys messing with people’s heads, he doesn’t enjoy violence. Darkseid refers to war as “the cold game of the butcher.” When we see a younger Darkseid, Steppenwolf refers to him as being meek.
In the original Kirby Konception, he’s one of the more nuanced and sympathetic characters in the piece. He starts out as Space Hitler, moves through Space Nixon, and ends up as Space King Lear by the time of “The Hunger Dogs.” Why does Kirby depict him in such a soft light? It’s possible that, as Kirby spent more time with Darkseid, he became more sympathetic to his great villain. But let me search for a different interpretation.
First, let me zoom out: What is a god? From a late 20th-century perspective, we’re used to a god who is more-or-less a superhero. He is all-powerful, but He also takes a keen interest in people’s lives and their individual situations. He may be vengeful or He may be helpful; it’s His choice.
One premodern view holds that gods are more like forces of nature than rational beings. They fit predefined roles and fight pre-ordained battles. Apollo must drive his fiery chariot across the sky every day. Ishtar’s lover must die every year, and her tears bring the spring rains. Shiva must unmake the world. Jesus must die on the cross. Zeus must turn into a swan and get his freak on.
Humans in Jack Kirby’s New Gods have little ability to fight the gods, but on the other hand, they have free will. They may choose to fight or run away. They may choose sides and switch back. Most New Gods, by contrast, follow their nature. The only New Gods who struggle against their natures are Orion, who follows his warlike nature but channels it to “good” ends; and Darkseid, who at times seems downright conflicted.
In his later depictions as the “end boss” of the DCU, Darkseid is often depicted as the “god of evil.” I believe that gets him wrong. He’s rather the god of ambition. But as one of the less powerful New Gods, that leads him to a life of scheming. He must learn to suppress his hunger for power and take the long view. And the main skill he needs, as a manipulator, is the ability to read people.
Once he learns to see the world through other peoples’ points of view, he opens himself up to choice. More crucially, he opens himself up to self-doubt. I would argue he essentially abandons his godhood (and becomes more human) in his pursuit of ultimate power.
That’s dangerous for Darkseid. He is no longer a god, and he must create ever-elaborate monuments to himself to cover it. The incessant displays of power show a creature who is deeply insecure about his position.
My sense is that the other Apokaliptians would be happy to just make war forever, but Darkseid knows he can’t afford a protracted conflict. He doesn’t have the stomach for it. In seeking the Anti-Life Equation, he seeks a way to control the universe without bloodshed – before his subjects smell his weakness and tear him to pieces.
I thought this might interest readers of our blog, especially the aspiring artists:
“The I DRAW COMICS Sketchbook & Reference Guide is the ultimate tool for practicing the basics of Comic Book illustration, page design and the art of storytelling. We’ve designed the ultimate Comic Book Artist Field Guide by combining commonly used industry reference materials and 100+ sketching templates into a ubiquitous and iconic molelskine sketchbook form.”
You can view more about this cool product at the Kickstarter page here.
Four British physics students have calculated that Batman most certainly could not pull off the ol’ use-my-cape-to-glide-safely-to-the-ground trick he’s so fond of.
In a paper titled “Trajectory of a falling Batman”, the group argued that if he jumped from a 150-metre (492-foot) high building, the 4.7 meter (15-foot) wingspan of Batman’s cape would allow him to glide 350 meters (1148 feet).
However, he would reach a speed of 68 miles per hour (109 km per hour) before hitting the ground at a life-threatening speed of 50 mph.
However, these British poindexters failed to account for the crucial “goddamn” variable:
See also: real life…
The Robot 6 blog at CBR has a semi-regular feature called Greatest Comic of All Time, and they recently spotlighted this delightfully bizarre and colorful small-press comic from 1971, Light Comitragies, by Greg Irons with an art assist by Sheridan Irons and prose excerpts by Tom Veitch.
Go check it out!
A couple of days ago, over at my personal blog, I featured the old British anthology series A1 as part of the Indie Cover Spotlight feature. In a happy bit of synchronicity, Bleeding Cool is now reporting that editor Dave Elliott is bringing A1 back, some 20+ years later, via Heavy Metal magazine.
The original A1 was a square-bound, black & white anthology of 80-100 pages, published by Atomeka Press. And the books were just chock full of legendary British and European talent: Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Dave McKean, Glenn Fabry, Grant Morrison, Moebius, John Bolton, Brian Bolland, and tons more. It doesn’t look like the new series will match that same star power, but I’m still quite interested in checking it out.
And dig this: there’s also a new story from Mark A. Nelson, another great artist who has been absent from the comics field for a long, long time.
Being a longtime comic geek naturally made it harder to meet girls, which in turn pushed back the time when I had a kid. But now that I have the wife and kid, the geekiness comes in handy.
1. Making up stories on the spot.
My daughter wants a bedtime story starring herself, monsters, and Ladybug Girl? No problem. Daddy will dungeon-master this piece on the fly.
Then they all went to a party, where they danced, and had juice and ate … what did they eat? Peanut butter and raisins? You got it.
2. Passable chalk drawings.
Decades of drawing superheroes, the Nightchild, and Susan Downs have led me to this point: I can do a passable cartoon character in sidewalk chalk. This here is Elmo:
And this is Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
I wish I had a picture of my Cat in the Hat, which is my opus so far. Unfortunately, it got rained out before I took a photo.
3. No need to look cool.
Here’s the big one: I read comics on the bus. I wore a fedora to school all through eighth grade. Do you think I care if I have a Tinkerbell sticker on my forehead? You think I won’t stand on my head in the middle of the yard? You think I won’t have a tea party in a crowded restaurant? Pass the crumpets, kiddo.
I’ll probably have to figure out how to tone it down by the time she hits middle school. But luckily, she has her mother to teach her how to be cool.
CBR has a preview of the upcoming Man-Thing one-shot, by Steve Gerber and Kevin Nowlan.
From legendary creators Kevin Nowlan and the late, great Steve Gerber comes the highly-anticipated supernatural epic that’s 20 years in the making! When the Man-Thing resurfaces, it must solve the mystery of the “Screenplay of the Living Dead Man” – and it’s the only thing that can!
The book will be out in July. I was never a Man-Thing fan, but this looks very cool.
I know it’s short notice, but I forgot to post this earlier.
Indie cartoonist Derf will give a free talk Tuesday, May 15, at OSU’s Wexner Center film/video theater.
Ohio State grad and Cleveland-based cartoonist Derf Backderf visits to discuss his new graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer, an account of growing up in the same small Ohio town as notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Best known for his strip The City, Derf is a two-time Eisner Award nominee and received a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award in 2006. Join us following the event for a book signing in the Wexner Center Store.
I thought I’d plug the blog Cyberspace Comics, since it will likely appeal to fans of our very own Way Back Machine feature. It’s a comic retailer blog, but there are lots of cool regular features such as the issue-by-issue review of the old Marvel Comics Presents.
And the issue-by-issue guide to Marvel Two-In-One.
…and other regular features, like Famous Fanmails, which reprints letters from comic fans who would go on to become pros (they even have one of my old letters in there!)
PS. Speaking of MCP covers, check out the huge difference in cover design and aesthetics between a true pro:
and a regular bro:
I’m not a gamer by any means, and certainly don’t have strong nostalgic feelings about old consoles, but even I found this to be pretty damn cool: Charles Lushear made a functional Nintendo Controller table from maple, mahogany and walnut. It’s for sale on Etsy for $3500.
Did I mention it’s functional?
Check out the other pics at the link, including the cool tag-team play option afforded by the controller ginormous size.