Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

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)

Single Female Superhero

Monday, March 28th, 2011

David E. Kelley of The Practice and Boston Legal fame has been working on a new Wonder Woman television series for Fall 2011, and by now you’ve probably gawked at pictures of actress Adrienne Palicki in the new Wonder Woman costume, which multiple comic sites pointed out as resembling the latest costume in the comics, and Entertainment Weekly noted that it “de-emphasizes the patriotism and seems to play up the comic’s Greek mythology.”

In addition to those costume photos many sites have gotten their hands on an early draft script and have offered up their thoughts on it. All of them seem to have mixed feelings about it, though the things that stick out vary by writer. Comic creator Adam Warren also had a few things to say about the script, but rather than simply blog about it, he decided to have his character Empowered have a go at it:

(Part 1, part 2, and part 3)

She’s got kind of a point; how many “insecurity-plagued” superheroines do we need? Didn’t we already get an insecurity-plagued lawyer on Ally McBeal? And shouldn’t Wonder Woman be above that, being a literal goddess and all?

In this case, we’ll just have to wait until Fall and make our own judgments when the show premieres on NBC.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Food is Love, so Sharing is Caring

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Using a comic creation program like Comic Life or Comic Book Creator is certainly a popular way to talk about the food you’ve eaten, as evidenced by this attempt at creating a food blog about places in Malaysia by “fookiat” back in May 2007. Though the life span was brief, he did get four posts up that loosely fall into the “food comic” category:

On the “making food” side of things, Christopher Leinonen has a recipe for Vegan Chili available, created for the Shy Artist Society as part of a recipe share. The drawings don’t really showcase the making of the chili effectively, a fact that Chris himself admits; so it’s more of just an illustrated recipe than a “how to.” Unfortunately, the Shy Artist Society website doesn’t seem to exist anymore, so we can’t view any of the other projects that might have been submitted.

Meals You Can Not Possibly Comprehend

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

The tricky part about food blogging is that they’re writing about a subject whose two primary sensory experiences—taste and smell—can’t be replicated on the web. They can do sight, though, so if they really want to try and convey as much of the experience as possible, it’s up to food writers to take pictures of their food. Lots and lots of pictures.

Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet has gone a bit further than that at times, not only taking photos and video, but organizing them into humorous comics. They appear to be assembled using the Comic Book Creator program, consisting of photos he’s taken, captions and dialog bubbles, as well as the occasional YouTube video interlude.

He’s done about five of these, and I have to say my favorite is the Alain Ducasse one, for its humor and panel layout, but also because I believe it possesses the strongest narrative arc. Though if you’re interested in food photography your best bet is his account of eating at El Bulli, the best restaurant in the world, because he took the time to photograph and describe all thirty courses.

The full menu:

Bathed in the Glow

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The big word this year has been digital comics. Okay, maybe it was the big word last year too… and the year before. But this year it actually feels like something is happening, and we can probably thank the Apple iPad for all this increased attention. Publishers are putting a lot more content online… for pay, of course, because that’s the way big media likes it.

There are quite a few distributors of online comics out there right now, but the one that’s getting the most attention is comiXology, an app for the iPhone/iPad. Personally, I lack either of those devices, but I do own an iPod touch, so via the magic of wifi I can still download the app and see what all the fuss is about.

I haven’t downloaded any pay comics yet; I admit to being a bit of a luddite with my actual purchases. I prefer having something physical in my hands; something real that I can actually own as opposed to merely having a “license” to enjoy it, a license that can be revoked at any time for any  number of arcane reasons (as outlined in the terms and conditions I might not have read since it can be dozens of pages long). But I did download a few things for free, out of curiosity and because I actually wanted to read them.

I downloaded a free Inception tie-in comic from ComiXology. To their credit, the app makes finding free comics very easy and downloading it is simple, though the actually download process for anything can be poky and my iPod actually locked itself while waiting for a comic to download.

I really like the reading experience of the app. You can use multi-touch to zoom in and out on the images, allowing you a closer look at certain parts of the panel if you do desire. You switch between pages/panels with a swipe of a finger, though this is admittedly a less successful interface and I was frustrated at times by a lack of responsiveness.

My experience was also hampered by the small screen. I am no stranger to digital comics, as I have been reading comics on the web for years, and have posted quite a few on this site. But the small screen is a very new experience to me, and it’s apparent that digital delivery of comics really is meant for the larger screen of the iPad.

To contrast, I tried out a desktop application called Graphic.ly, which also allows users to download comics for pay and for free. The app also purports to turn comics reading into a “social experience,” which is another one of those buzz terms that’s been floating around the Internet lately.

Getting the app on my computer and the comics into the app were simple enough; the real problems arose when trying to read these things. Unlike the ComiXology app, there’s no smooth, intuitive way to get up-close-and-personal with the panels, which is a big flaw considering that with printed comics and the aforementioned Apple devices, you can just move the object closer to your face. You can’t exactly be moving a monitor or laptop screen closer, so proper zooming is essential in any comics app. I can change the view around, but it’s not great.

I’m also not so sure about this social networking thing; on each page of the comic appear comments left by other users.  When you mouse over the image numbers appear; mousing over the numbers gives you the actual comments. The comments don’t really add anything to the experience for me. Reading is by its very nature, a solitary experience. Why does everything on the web have to be social now? Sometimes you just want something that just works, and I haven’t figured out how to make these comments invisible, if there is such a way.

Despite all that, I’m positive about the future—for Graphic.ly, ComiXology, and digital comics in general. And so is Lucy Knisley, who did a nice little comic on what she thinks about digital books. It’s a very personal glimpse of how digital books have changed one person’s life, particularly as a reader/consumer, from a person who has a very large stake in the business as a writer/artist/content producer.

Sutton on Books

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Starting in February the Barnes & Noble Review has been featuring reviews written and illustrated by Ward Sutton, a cartoonist who has done work for the New York Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, and TV Guide, as well as the weekly political cartoon in the Village Voice until 2007.

The monthly reviews have mostly spotlighted non-fiction titles (and one fiction “biography”), which gives Sutton the luxury of not having to figure out what a particular character looks like, and in fact allows him to indulge in caricature from time-to-time.

Bill German and Mick Jagger

He sets up each book well, giving you an idea of what the story of the book is, then outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each book, as a good book review should.

German on VH1

Four titles have been featured so far in book reviews, check them out at the Barnes & Noble website:

  • The Women by  T. C. Boyle
  • Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It) by Bill German
  • The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America by Ray Arsenault
  • Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher

A Tasting of Comics

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Luxee and Abby

This past weekend was the 2nd edition of the New York Anime Festival over at the Javits Center, run by Reed Exhibitions (the same people who do New York Comic Con and Book Expo America). It went pretty well, despite being (by many accounts) pretty dead on Friday, and lacking in industry participation (no Viz panel, for example). There were some good panels, including something a little different from the usual con fare on Saturday:

Shounen? Shoujo? Both are getting pretty stale. What’s the genre du jour Cooking Manga. That’s right, Cooking Manga. Grab yourself a plate as some of the genre’s leading experts and authors dish about this delicious new entry onto the manga menu. Featuring a guest from Japanese-French dessert café Luxee! Includes a raffle for Kitchen Princess 1 and 2 from Del Rey Manga!

The panelists were one of the chefs from Luxee (I forgot to write down her name), and Abby Denson of City Sweet Tooth.

City Sweet Tooth is a column that appears every other week in L Magazine, which is a digest-sized weekly magazine you can usually pick up for free in local bookstores and restaurants. She reviews the many bakeries and cafes that appeal to sugar-loving New Yorkers, using bright illustrations and short passages to get right to the heart of each location.

As for the Japanese side of things, the panelists discussed several manga, with Abby doing most of the talking. She admitted that they were limited to what the companies gave them information on, and what had been released in the United States. Titles discussed (with US publisher):

  • Yakitate Japan! (Viz)
  • Oishinbo (Viz)
  • Antique Bakery (Digital Manga Publishing)
  • Kitchen Princess (Del Rey)
  • Mixed Vegetables (Del Rey)
  • Iron Wok Jan (DrMaster)
So even though Viz had no official presence at the con, their presence was certainly felt here. One, for giving out freebies, but also for being the publishers of the upcoming English release of Oishinbo, considered the granddaddy of cooking manga. It has been published since 1983, comprises over 100 volumes, and had an anime aired from 1989-1993. It follows the story of a food critic and features recipes and tips on cooking. Despite an ongoing storyline, the American release is going to be grouped by foods instead, so it will appeal to foodies and hopefully forestall the releases being canceled before the good installments get their chance to be published. Over at Amazon you can pre-order Volume 1, Sake, and Ramen/Gyoza, but none of them are due until 2009, with volume 1 set for publication January 13.

Saturday Lit Review

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

While they don’t comprise complete reviews in themselves, it should be noted that the letters page of Guardian Saturday Review often features an illustration by Tom Gauld, relating to some point about literature or the arts brought up in one of the letters printed. The illustrations aren’t just illustrating exactly what the letters say, nor are they poking fun—each illustration is a story unto itself, a short comic with a touch of Edward Gorey but not as morbid.

An extensive selection can be found at Mr. Gauld’s website, here and here. You can also check out other examples of his work at Cabanon Press, which includes book covers (check out his comic-styled cover for The Three Musketeers) and a frontpiece for Disney Adventures.


Book Clubbing

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Unshelved is an amusing webcomic detailing the trials and travails of a group of librarians at the Mallville Public Library. Anyone who’s ever worked in a library will sympathize with the scores of irrational library patrons, and for the rest of us who haven’t… well, maybe we’ll think twice next time we’re at a library.

Like many traditional newspaper strips, Unshelved runs black-and-white serial strips Monday-Saturday, and Sundays are reserved for a full-color standalone strip. Except of simply presenting an expanded gag, though, Unshelved does what they call the “Unshelved Book Club,” where the characters will discuss a book that the creators have chosen to spotlight.

Sometimes it’s just Dewey (the main character) selling a particular book to library patrons, or to his co-workers, while at other times it’s incorporated directly into the story.

The Book Club strips have even been posted in libraries and bookstores, hopefully to encourage customers to check out the book featured. It’s a good selection of books, and the comic format is a novel way to get people interested. Check out the list of titles on their site.

(A strip talking about the Owly books, which often use pictures and symbols in lieu of words for the dialogue.)

Jeremy Parish’s Terrible Habit

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Comics and video games have had a pretty storied history together. There are comic-based games like Superman on the Atari 2600 all the way to Marvel Ultimate Alliance on… practically every system in existence today; games that directly address the comics format like Comix Zone for the Sega Genesis where your main character can actually break through the panels and shred the pages; or of course, the many video game webcomics that currently litter the web today. Some, like Penny Arcade, are cultural forces onto themselves, providing intelligent and vital commentary on new games and industry happenings.

Ziff-Davis Media/1Up.com editor Jeremy Parish is well aware of this connection and has proclaimed his, let’s call it ‘admiration’, of the comics medium time and time again. He even started a group over on 1Up for the posting of original comics, an experiment that ultimately failed to pan out. But that doesn’t stop him from trying other things.

Maybe it’s because he’s been around a while, earned his dues, gained respect… or just a reputation, but Jeremy has gotten the leeway to post reviews which break traditional mores of what a review should be. Jeremy has explained them away by saying that sometimes he’s written enough about a game that another traditional review would be redundant. Probably true, but consider that these ‘gimmicks’ are often informative, witty, and they really stand out in the increasingly overcrowded field of Internet video game reviews.

And they’re really great examples of comics used for purposes other than entertainment. Check out some of his work, linked for your convenience over at his 1Up blog.