Archive for May, 2011

Being an Attractive Superheroine Isn’t Easy

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Last week, NBC held its upfronts, presentations where the network debuts their fall slate of programming to advertisers, and the rest of the world peeks in to find out what new delights/horrors television has in store for them come the new season. Completely surprising no one was the fact that David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman, starring Adrianne Palicki, was not on the schedule, mostly because reports of its demise had been flying fast and furious the week before that.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said that they felt Wonder Woman wasn’t the right “fit” for their lineup, which is an interesting choice of words when you consider all the online hubbub surrounding her costume, which downplayed her patriotic (American) side and was ridiculously shiny and uncoordinated. The costume was later tweaked, but that didn’t stop people from tittering at unflattering photos of Adrienne Palicki in action.

Wonder Woman may not be saving the day now, but Empowered still came to her rescue after those photos were released, following up her comments on the script with new commentary about the trials and travails of being an attractive costumed heroine, as well as which female cast member of Friday Night Lights was hotter: Adrienne Palicki or Minka Kelly?

(via Bleeding Cool)

Donald Duck, Autograph Hound

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

BOOM! Studios just released The Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck vol. 1, a 160-page collection of classic Donald Duck stories by Don Rosa, who wrote comics about Donald and Scrooge McDuck in the ’80s and ’90s, such as The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (which has also been reprinted by BOOM). In addition to many classic Donald Duck stories, the treasury also includes a work-in-progress version of “The Starstruck Duck,” an uncompleted story commissioned to celebrate and promote the opening of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) at Walt Disney World in Florida.

In this madcap adventure (as if Donald has any other kind) a lot of the main attractions are name-checked as Donald runs through them, all in search for an autograph from the most famous film star in the world…Mickey Mouse! As strange as it is to have a world where Mickey is famous but Donald is not, what really got me were the moments of recognition from my visits in 1993 and 2010. Of course, there are things that have changed since the park opened in 1989—I wonder how Donald would feel about the giant Sorcerer’s Hat, complete with Mickey ears?

You can read the entirety of “Starstruck Duck” over at Comics Alliance.

Fight Back Against Bullying with the Power Within

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Today’s the last day to donate to the Kickstarter campaign for The Power Within, an anti-bullying and anti-suicide comic by Charles “Zan” Christensen and Mark Brill, with new additional pages by Gail Simone, Phil Jiminez, Carla Speed McNeil, Dan Parent, Donna Barr and Andy Mangels. The comic was originally created for 24-Hour Comics Day last year, then self-published and sold at a few conventions, and now they’re looking to fund a much larger print run to spread the message. As of this writing, they’ve reached their goal of $3000, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate.

  • Pledge $10 for a copy of the book
  • Pledge $25 to receive an 11×17 print of the cover art
  • Pledge $125 for a complete collection of Northwest Press books
  • Pledge $500 or more for all of the above, plus a ticket to the 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, including the cocktail reception and VIP afterparty

No one’s taken them up on the ticket offer (tickets for the awards + party are normally $150), but there’s still 3 hours left on the project and it is going to a good cause.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Not Very Fun at All

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Alison Bechdel is arguably the most famous lesbian in the comics industry, as the creator of the seminal comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, but for all the criticism and commentary she included in the strip over its twenty-five-year history, it wasn’t as personal as her graphic memoir Fun Home, which chronicled her own childhood, sexual orientation, and her complex relationship with her father.

That relationship certainly was complex; as we’re told early on, shortly before his death but after Alison had come out to her parents, she found out that her father had had relationships with other men. With so little time to talk to him before she died, Alison is left to figure out his sexuality on her own, examining old memories and re-contextualizing them with this new information.

The whole book is about context and subtext, looking at incidents and bits of dialog and asking, “What does this mean?” It’s almost similar to the kind of literary analysis that takes place in classrooms and book clubs, which makes it appropriate that the book is heavy in literary references. Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and a voracious reader, so Alison is constantly comparing his life to the books he loved, from the works of Fitzgerald and Camus to James Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey. But while an English student will be asked how the events of an author’s life will influence their work, Alison is asking how their work influenced her father’s life.

The memoir is very dense in allusions and references, but not to the point of incomprehensibility to the average reader. I still found myself looking up the occasional word or fact, more out of curiosity than confusion. Fun Home is definitely a book that could benefit from an annotated edition.

As a narrative the book is not straightforward or chronological. Instead, it takes the format of human memory, Alison remembering certain incidents and laying out the circumstances surrounding them, then taking the future knowledge of his queer identity and his death and factoring that into each situation. This happens almost every chapter, with memories repeated and reiterated to the point where it feels like Bruce Bechdel dies not once, but again and again, brought back to life at the start of every chapter so a new incident can be re-examined. Knowing what will happen just feels like we’re circling a drain, going around and around until we finally fall in.

Fun Home is full of detail and heart, and it’s never boring. Alison Bechdel has a good mind for detail (as we learn, she’s been keeping a daily diary since she was 10) and each scene is loaded with nostalgia, inspiring me to think back on the shadows of my own childhood. But at the same time, her childhood is much darker and enigmatic, an emotional drain mitigated only by the choice of making the last chapter more positive. This is where Alison talks about those few incidents where her and her father found common ground, most notably through literature. While drawing on facts presented earlier in the book, it still feels off-kilter as we reach the conclusion, a hurried attempt to find meaning before the last page is turned. Perhaps this is how we should feel, to better reflect real life: unsatisfied and confused, but hopeful.

Fun Home
by Alison Bechdel
published by Mariner Books (New York, 2007)
ISBN 978-0-618-87171-1

Tintin, Communist Spy?

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The movie trailer for The Adventures of Tintin has hit the ‘net, and while Tintin is a cultural icon abroad, his success in the United States has been middling at best. That should definitely change with this new movie, mostly due to it’s incredibly exciting pedigree—produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy), written by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Paul), starring Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost… and oh yeah, directed by a guy named Steven Spielberg.

Check out the trailer:

Looking good so far.

Also causing a stir, but for far different reasons, is Lawrence Colonnier’s new graphic biography of Tintin’s creator Georges Prosper Remi, pen name Hergé. Even if you don’t speak French, the title is certainly revealing: Georges & Tchang: Une histoire d’amour au XXème siècle. It details the romantic relationship between Hergé and Chang Chong-jen, who was the basis for the character of Chang Chong-Chen who first appeared in The Blue Lotus. Suddenly the story of Tintin in Tibet, where Tintin scours the Himalayas looking for Chang after a fatal plane crash, gains a whole new subtext.

But that shouldn’t be enough to give potential publishers pause, so much as the fact that it also depicts Hergé as being a communist spy. Hergé is a beloved cultural figure—he even has his own museum—and the Francophone comics scene might not take too kindly to anything that depicts the man in anything but the most positive light. But man, does that totally add new subtext to the boy reporter’s adventures.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Sweating More in ’44

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

During World War II lots of women were tasked with supporting the war effort and taking on work normally performed by men, who themselves were being shipped overseas to fight in said war. Which is why this 1944 ad for Lifebuoy Health Soap just raises so many questions.

(Click image for full size)

Why aren’t these women’s husbands serving in the military? Were they rated 4-F? Why would the excuse “I’m too tired” fly with a woman who builds bombers all day? Why is it okay to gossip about someone, but not okay to eavesdrop? Why isn’t Ruthie sitting next to her friends anyway? And if everyone’s “working and perspiring more than ever,” maybe someone should drop a note to Ruthie’s husband, because I doubt he smells like a “sweetheart.”

(via Boing Boing and Vintage Ads)

Cats Are Weird

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Today I came across this silly-yet-scary comic strip by Natasha Allegri that I feel deserves sharing. As someone who has owned pets for most of his life, I can relate to the sometimes-creepy behavior they can bring to the table. This did also remind me why I’m more of a dog person than a cat person: they have much less going on behind their eyes. Cats always seem like they’re plotting the next part of their diabolical scheme. This reinforces that belief.

You can read the full strip as well as others about Pancake, soon to be world emperor, at Natasha Allegri’s Tumblr.

(via Warren Ellis)

My FCBD on the Left Coast

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

This past Saturday was the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day, so I hope you took some time out of your weekend to visit your Local Comic Book Store to grab a few free goodies (or maybe even throw a few dollars their way). I wasn’t anywhere local this weekend, so I ended up settling for what San Francisco had to offer, which wasn’t so much settling since I got to visit the very famous, the very esteemed, the very awesome Isotope Comics.

The view when you walk in. Those guys in the middle are looking through the quarter bins.

(more…)