Archive for November 2012 – Page 2

Will Gail Simone Leave Batgirl? DC Creative Changes In The Next Few Months

Just as I was about to run the story about the Villains Month at DC Comics yesterday, I received an e-mail from an anonymous source that not only backed up everything I’d heard from good sources about that project but added some new details about DC right now, some of which I’d heard (and was planning a story for today) and some of which I hadn’t.

This includes a list of titles that from issues 18, 19 and 20 will see all the writers leave, and some of the artists.

batgirl, birds of prey, dark knight, flash, hawkman, swamp thing

Some of this I knew. I’ve heard that Duane Swierczynski’s last issue of Birds Of Prey is issue 17, currently in February’s solicitations. Look forward to them announcing a brand new creative direction for that book for March.

Ans yes, I had heard that Scott Snyder has been piling up more and more projects – leaving Swamp Thing and putting American Vampire on hold may be his best option.

But what about the rest? Hawkman has just been through one upheaval, can it survive another so soon? Dark Knight was David Finch’s baby, he moved on with Paul Jenkins and saw Ethan Van Sciver and Gregg Hurwitz take over… will Ethan take it all on? The Flash has been Francis Manapul‘s signature book, has he said what he’s wanted to say, or will he be making do without Brian Buccellato ?

And then there’s Batgirl. Gail Simone made that book into something it could not have been without her and was afforded respect and some independence for that. However, that was a while ago. She walked off one DC book, will she walk off another? And how will the fanbase, many of whom seem to only be reading the book because of Gail, react?

Or is it all a load of baloney? Action Comics wasn’t mentioned, neither was Batwing or I Vampire, both rumoured to have changes coming.

My gut says yes, though. And I understand that some of these are changes because the writers want to try something new, some are attempts to freshen books that may have been seen as stagnant, but others are based on major creative disagreements and the Villains month may be part of that. Storylines planned and approved well in advance have suddenly been rejected to make way for it, with relatively little time to make amends. Some see this as a challenge, others… less so.

Especially since a number of writers were only told about Villains month after the Bleeding Cool article ran yesterday…

‘Walking Dead’ Fans: Check Out Comic Book Movie’s Sunday Chat!

Are you a big fan of "The Walking Dead?"  Then's "Walking Dead" chat is not to be missed. Check it out this Sunday night!

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Gunn Apologizes for Blog Controversy

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has stepped forward to address the recent controversy surrounding a two-year-old blog post he wrote titled "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With." The article recently garnered some attention from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for its graphic language and depiction of women, gays and lesbians.

Here's the apology that was issued by Gunn yesterday on his official Facebook page:

"A couple of years ago I wrote a blog that was meant to be satirical and funny. In rereading it over the past day I don't think it's funny. The attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I'm sorry and regret making them at all.

Continue reading…

Matt Fraction Deploys HAWKEYE for Real-Life Sandy Relief

Matt Fraction's HAWKEYE is helping out those affected by the superstorm in both real-life and the Marvel Universe

MTV Geek’s Best Comic Series Of 2012

There's the good, the great, and then there's the BEST. Welcome to MTV Geek's Best of 2012 -- what we thought were the cream of the crop this year in the world of GEEK!

10. THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD - Pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force and the discovery of this work and his Oily Comics is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer.

9. HARBINGER - The new hero at the heart of Valiant's "Harbinger" relaunch is troubled and maybe even a little morally... icky, I guess is the best word for it. But watching him evolve has been part of the fascination of this still new series.

8. BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN - This book has balls; the spiritual companion to Darwyn Cooke's "New Frontier."

7. SNARKED - After having his run cut just short with "Thor: The Mighty Avenger," we finally got to see a true, full Roger Langridge epic pull to completion in "Snarked." The story of a Walrus, a Carpenter, a Red Queen, and various other Lewis Carroll beasties adventure together, this was by turns one of the funniest, and sweetest books of the year – and a true all-ages classic.

6. FANTASTIC FOUR/FF (Tie) - The smartest mainstream comic book, period, thanks to Jonathan Hickman. The last issue of "FF," in particular, was probably the best statement on the imagination and wonder of childhood since the final 'Calvin & Hobbes' strip. That's good stuff.

5. PROPHET - Groundbreaking, mind-provoking material; reading Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns must have felt like this in the 80s, discovering a new classic.

4. MIND MGMT - A challenging, brilliant mystery. Matt Kindt's art is simply perfect. "Mind MGMT" is a true original and should not be missed.

3. BATMAN - Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have managed to create some of the most definitive Batman stories ever. "Night of the Owls" was a fantastic arc that expanded on the mythology of Bruce Wayne, Batman, Gotham City and the Bat-Family. Snyder and Batman are a match made in heaven.

2. HAWKEYE - While most people were asking what a guy with arrows was doing with a thunder god, a super soldier, and a guy with armor,writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja asked a much more pertinent question: what does he do with his days off? This frequently hilarious, brilliantly laid out series answers that question, while laying the groundwork for a unique mentor/mentee relationship between Clint Barton, and the younger, probably far more capable Hawkeye Kate Bishop.

1. SAGA - It’s very rare when a comic lives up to its promise, but I think it’s fair to say at this point that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples sci-fi epic surpassed the already lofty expectations for the book. Credit Vaughan’s limitless imagination and heart, but mainly Staples jaw-droppingly gorgeous art, which mixes rocketship trees, alien wars, and TV-men sitting on the toilet, and makes them all stunning.

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Video: What If Pixar’s Luxo Lamp Was Real? Huh? What Do You Mean That It Is?

Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror and Joss Doggett have built an animatronic lamp that they’re calling Pinokio. Yeah, a Luxo by any other name. And colour scheme.

In this video you’ll see how much spirit this thing has – and how close we’re getting to being able to remake the Pixar back catalogue in live action. Because, you know, that would obviously be ideal…

Oh… it can’t jump? And it doesn’t have a baby? 2.0, please!

From the blurb on their Vimeo page:

Pinokio is an exploration into the expressive and behavioural potentials of robotic computing. Customized computer code and electronic circuit design imbues Lamp with the ability to be aware of its environment, especially people, and to expresses a dynamic range of behaviour. As it negotiates its world, we the human audience can see that Lamp shares many traits possessed by animals, generating a range of emotional sympathies. In the end we may ask: Is Pinokio only a lamp? – a useful machine? Perhaps we should put the book aside and meet a new friend.

UPDATE: Now… If you’ve read this far, you deserve to know… I’ve watched this thing full screen now and I’m convinced it’s a fake. This is actually a stop motion animation, I’m sure of it. The buffering on my phone confused me at first but I see it now.

New Skottie Young Baby Covers For Marvel, And NOW2

February brings a batch of new Skottie Young “Baby Variant” covers, tiered to certain order levels, from Marvel. Or the “Young Baby” variants, which still sounds weird.

Retailers order Fearless Defenders #1 and Secret Avengers #1 can order extra Baby covers if their initial orders match those of AVX VS #6.

Nova #1 has its Baby level set against AVX VS #4.

While Uncanny X-Men #1′s Baby variant is set against Avengers Vs X-Men #11.

The official Diamond designation for a bunch of new titles will change as well from NOW to NOW2 signifying the second story arc in each title.


This is going to continue forever isn’t it?

And to accompany Marvel NOW2, a new preview issue (pictured) coming your way soon…

Tooning Charlie Brown With ‘The Art And Making Of Peanuts Animation’

If you're like me, you've grown up watching various "Peanuts" specials on TV, from that holiday staple "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to the admittedly dated (but fun!) "Flashbeagle" to some of the newer cartoons. If you're a fan of all things Charlie Brown animated, "The Art And Making Of Peanuts Animation" is the book for you.

Presented in a lush coffee-table format by Chronicle Books, the tome is written by animation historian Charles Solomon and amply illustrated with tons of colorful cels from the cartoons themselves. You can get behind-the-scenes of over "Peanuts" animated specials, including reproductions of original scripts, storyboards, and lovely gouache character sketches that look like pieces of art themselves.

The book not only interviews countless animators, voice talent, and other crew members, but really gives you insight as to what "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schultz felt about these TV and film adaptations of his beloved characters.

At $45, "The Art And making Of Peanuts Animation," hitting stores December 1, makes a great holiday gift for yourself or the Snoopy fan in your life.

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Ben Wheatley On The Visual Language Of Sighsteers And A Field In England

Today sees the UK release of Sightseers, a black comedy about caravanning spree killers, and the third film by Ben Wheatley. In the span of just three films Wheatley has gone from hotly touted newcomer to having real, growing name recognition, and he’s definitely developed a vocal fan base.

But who is this filmmaker? When I got to speak to Wheatley last week, I wanted to dig into how he thought about film, and the choices he made in putting together his features.

Obviously, we didn’t have forever to talk, and you can’t take this as a total overview. It is, however, an interesting window into how Wheatley thinks about the camera, about editing, and about the visual language of his films.

My films have become visually bolder. Down Terrace is quite a simple film in many ways. I think that because we shot it so fast, there are only three cutaways in the whole film. Then by the time I got to Sightseers we shot the equivalent of the amount of rushes that were shot on Apocalypse Now.

The things that Laurie Rose, the DP, and I watched in preparation for Sightseers were similar to the things we watched before [my last film] Kill List really, stuff like Grey Gardens, Primary, things like that. That was mainly for camerwork stuff, ‘observational camera’ bits and bobs.

I like that camera [style] because it means as a a viewer that you are in the room with the characters, you have that connection with people and you’re not set back into having the unreality of cinema between you and the film. Obviously, that ['unreality'] works brilliantly in lots of movies but I like this kind of reality.

Everything is unreal about cinema. The original movies, the single reel, single shots are much closer to what reality is like than the very complex language that has built up around cinema.

The edit itself is madness, isn’t it? The idea of editing something doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t have any connection with any sort of real reality. In life the only edit you get is when you’re knocked unconscious with a brick. That’s the only time you’re looking at one thing then open your eyes and you’re looking at something else, or going asleep, obviously, or passing out. We have a collective agreement that this [cinematic language] is what real life is like.

You never experience a tracking shot unless you’re on a travelator or in a car, and you’ve never zoomed in on anything in your whole life. If you have it means you’re very ill indeed, it means your eyes have been sucked out of your head.

Shooting Sightseers was about getting out of houses and working with people in their wider environments. We also started looking at this idea of characters looking at the audience and looking down the lens. That’s something that came out of the morality being shared with the audience, whether they are on the side of the characters or not, about making the audience feel uncomfortable. And I really liked that, the kind of idea that the characters are looking into your soul. By the end of the film, Chris and Tina join together and they look at the audience, and the audience are looking at them and it’s like “Who is to blame? And who’s responsible in all of this?” That was something that came out of filming. We did one shot, in a very early scene in the house, getting Alice to look at the camera and we though “This is great” so we did it a lot more.

A Field in England will be in black and white , that’s one thing and then there’s a focal difference. On Down Terrace we shot a lot on 50mm lenses so everything is very shallow focus. As we’ve gone on the focus has gotten deeper and deeper until now on Field is shooting very deep focus, everything from half a foot in front of the camera until infinity is in focus. It’s trying to look at what the language of cinemas should be for that period. [The film is set in the 17th Century]. Black and white is a bit of a cheat because while it automatically says to audiences “antiquated” in some ways, painting in that period, obviously was in colour. It was part that, but then also thinking about woodcuts.

Paintings don’t often deal with focus. Depth of field is an optical issue that comes out of lenses that people weren’t really understanding… or it didn’t have an effect on painting. Well, to a degree – there are examples of it. So we wanted to make something that was a bit more painterly in a way.

I found that black and white made you focus on different things. When we looked at some of the colour images, focus was drawn to the colours of the clothes, when we looked at it in black and white, we were drawn to the eyes and the faces more.

More from Wheatley over the weekend. Sightseers is in UK cinemas now and will be playing at Sundance next month.

Kleefeld On Webcomics #87: Let’s Back Up For A Second

By Sean Kleefeld

When I started this column, I said it was my intent to cover all aspects of webcomics. Now you could either look at that as an attempt to be as comprehensive as possible, or you can look at it as a cop-out statement that gives me a lot of leeway in trying to figure what the heck I’m going to write about. Neither position would be wholly inaccurate.

But as I was talking with the folks at the Webcomic Beacon Newscast recently, it occurred to me how much I’ve focused on the business end of webcomics, moreso than the art itself. I haven’t spent much time discussing artistic styles or brush techniques or Photoshop tips. Nor have I spent much time looking at writing ongoing serials versus gag strips versus some sort of combination, or how strip size and frequency might impact story pacing. I have yet to do a proper, full-on review of any webcomic here.

As that direction wasn’t a fully conscious decision on my part, and just my following the whims of my own interests, I sat back for a bit to reflect on why I’d been pursuing that direction. And I think the conclusions I came to are worth expressing openly here because, frankly, they’re not discussed much.

What really got my hackles up when I was chatting with the WCBN people was a reference to Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis, who said in an October interview, "Now, to make it, you have to go that web route. Many of those guys, from Penny Arcade to Cyanide and Happiness to The Perry Bible Fellowship — which are all excellent — claim to make a living, but how do you know? I can tell you that even if someone does a strip and it’s fairly popular online, the money is not online. I question a lot of claims about the money being made, and the question remains that if things continue to go that route for newspapers, and you have to make money online, how do you do it?"

I’ve never met Pastis, but I read his comic regularly and I generally enjoy his style of humor. But the attitude that he expressed here bothers me because it’s entirely dismissive of webcomics as a profession. He’s effectively saying that Rich Burlew and Tatsuya Ishida and Tom Siddell and the dozens of other webcomickers who’ve expressly said they are making a living from webcomics are lying. Despite the fact that many of these have gone out of their way to show exactly where their financing comes from, and the conditions under which they’re living.

(Amusing side story. Ryan Estrada recently got married. But before he did, his fiancée pointedly asked him if he could make enough money as a cartoonist to support them. He told her to Google it and the first link that came up was one of my columns from early this year, in which Estrada graciously let me run all of his finances, with his own analysis, from the past several years.)

It’s not exactly that Pastis doesn’t believe them that bothers me; it’s his attitude that leads to that conclusion. Despite his note about the quality, he’s dismissive of even the possibility that webcomics are anything more than a hobby. As if you can only be a professional cartoonist if a large corporation pays you. As if it’s impossible that a single person can both create art, and have enough business savvy to earn a living on their own.

There have been several comic creators in the past year or so that have actively tried to step outside the standard system they’ve known for years and years. Julie Larson, Rina Piccolo, Mark Waid and Karl Kesel to name a few. They’ve encountered varying degrees of success, but how much success they achieve seems to be, at least in part, dependent on how much they reach out to other webcomickers. I give Waid in particular a lot of credit because he was extremely upfront about saying he didn’t get all the ins and outs of webcomics, and he actively solicited help from folks who’d already been successful.

But all this leads back to the reason why I take the approach I do with this column. I think there’s still a large perception out there that it’s just something creative types do in their spare time after working in a retail outlet all day. While there are certainly people who develop their webcomics that way, webcomics are a business. Webcomics are a nascent industry and very, very few people are talking about it as such, outside of the occasional mention in relation to a specific Kickstarter campaign.

There’s a lot to be said about artistic quality and the cohesive integrity of stories and whatnot, but that’s being pretty well handled already. What’s more interesting to me personally, and what I try to share with you, is watching an industry develop and flourish right before our eyes. We’re watching creative people come up with any and every idea they can to do something they love, without The Man telling them what to do. I think that’s just fantastic, and those successes are worth sharing with the Stephan Pastises of the world.

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