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Archive for February 2016

Supergirl: “Solitude” Review

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

“Solitude” is a hit-and-miss episode, but when it hits, it hits big. More than any episode before it, “Solitude” provides the most exciting Superman-related easter eggs, including the return of Smallville’s Supergirl Laura Vandervoort to a Super-show, as well as great character moments for Kara, high stakes, and the seeding of big things to come. Unfortunately, the primary threat of the episode relies on Hackers-level techno-cheese that won’t do the show any favors when it comes to rewatchability in a few years’ time. Couple that with a severe lack of Cat Grant, an odd subplot, and some insufferable relationship drama, “Solitude” winds up an exciting ride for Super-fans but low on engagement in the personal lives of characters that aren’t named Kara.

Continue reading…

Gotham: “Mr. Freeze” Review

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Exit Theo, Jerome, and Barbara (for now) and enter Victor Fries and Hugo Strange. For the second half of Gotham's second season - titled "Wrath of the Villains."

Oh, sure Tabitha's still around. And Butch. And they've been paired up. He's now the de facto leader of the underworld, drillin' folks with his drill hand just for kicks. And she's looking to partner up again. Using the days she spent torturing him as her psychological foot in the door. Well, that and planting that kiss on him. By the way, Butch has been irreparably tortured and brainwashed twice now, right?

But that's not the headline here. Gotham's all about Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange now. With my excitement leaning way more into B.D. Wong's Strange than in Nathan Darrow's Freeze. Mostly because Strange has never been portrayed in person before. He's been a big part of animated shows and video games, but Wong's the first actor to play him. And yes, it's odd (almost used "strange") to see Strange on a show like Gotham because of how much we associate him with a boner-fied Batman obsession. Because of his role in the Prey storyline from the comics. But here he is without Batman. As head of Arkham. Ready to coldly inflict his "cures" on the mentally ill. Which, for Penguin surely means a lot of drugs and abuse.

Continue reading…

SML Podcast -Talking Blowfish Studios, Gunscape, and MAGFest

SML-Podcast-Banner1-600x2161By Joe Cammisa

Monday night is here and it’s time for The SML Podcast here on Bleeding Cool!

Two episodes to run through this week as we return from MAGFest ready to roll!

Episode 168 welcomes Kyle Orth of Blowfish Studios to talk about their upcoming game Gunscape! We talk the old school feel of the game, the level creation tools, what TTP means, and we also drag Stride PR rep Chase Litzenberg into the show despite him just being there for PR reasons and not to be on the show. We don’t play that way. We WILL talk to you.

Featured games! Rocket League from Psyonix just made its debut on the Xbox One and we are all hopelessly addicted. Wondershot from Leikir Studios is a local arena battler mixed with challenges and endless co-op battles. Super Blast Deluxe from Raptus Games on the PS Vita takes all the awesome barrel blasting sections from Donkey Kong Country, turns them into puzzle style stages, adds time and scoring and stars, and then kicks you in the face because you are going to be bad at it and you will like it.

Check out the mp3 of the show HERE or check out the YouTube version! Make sure to hit up the YouTube version for all of the artist song credits and links to their pages!

Episode 169 welcomes Christie Teigen of Scrumptious Unscripted to talk about our time at MAGFest watching VG Improv, concerts, games, and wandering the MAGFest Indie Game Showcase!

Featured titles time! The Flame in the Flood is a stunningly gorgeous survival roguelike from The Molasses Flood. Pixel Piracy from Quadro Delta and 505 Games mixes pirates, pixels, and resource management in an awesome mashup of styles. Reagan Gorbachev from Team2Bit gives Ronald Reagan a katana, Mikhail Gorbachev some poisoned blow darts, and your night an insane action game. Tiny Troopers Joint Ops from Epiphany Games and Wired Productions brings the bite sized shooter to the Xbox One with exclusive extras. 6180 the moon from Turtle Cream hits the Wii U with an all new dual screened makeover. We Are the Drawves from Whale Rock gets some first impressions on SML as it destroys Pappy repeatedly. I Love My Circle from Joshua Burr is a single finger controlled game on iOS and Android that looks simple yet is anything but!
Check out the mp3 of that show HERE or check out the YouTube Version!

Thanks for checking us out, hope to you next week, and as always, drop us a line at theSMLpodcast@gmail to be a part of the show and maybe get some goodies! Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on everything us idiots are doing!

Joe Cammisa is an unemployed nerd who spends his time gaming, celebrating over three years of hosting The SML Podcast, and sharing pictures of his five cats on Facebook. Yeah, five. You can annoy him on Twitter or on pretty much any gaming service under the name JoeCamNet. Be prepared to beat him in pretty much anything.

SML Podcast -Talking Blowfish Studios, Gunscape, and MAGFest

7 Reasons Why You Should Self-Publish Your Comic

photo-original (3) Ryan O’Sullivan writes,

1. You are in control

By far the best part about self-publishing is that you are in control. How many pages do you want to do? What genre do you want to write in? Do you want to even write in a genre? Who do you want to work with? Want an editor? Want a graphic designer? Want to promote your comic in certain places? Want to champion certain causes?

When it comes to self-publishing you decide exactly what you want to publish. You don’t answer to co-writers, editors, publishers, retailers, or even readers. If you have a comic book you want to make, you are completely able to.

It’s all up to you.

2. Not being beholden to what is “commercially viable”

“Commercial viability” is a term that is a death knell to genuine creativity. Once upon a time the comics industry (or at least, significant part of it) was on the fringe, it was counter-culture, it was cutting edge. These days, in this comics renaissance, we are anything but. Comics are now a part of pop culture; we’ve gone mainstream but we haven’t got any mainstream money to show for it. Comic book IPs are everywhere in film, television, and video games, but the number of people reading comics is still pretty terrible. (Despite their being nearly 2,000,000,000 more people on the planet since the last comic book boom.)

It’s ridiculous. The comic industry is financially really poor, but also really focused on what is “commercially viable”. That’s why everyone I meet in comics is constantly depressed. We’re in the middle of a golden age of sequential fiction, yet creators in traditional publishing are less in control of their own destiny than ever before. Comics shouldn’t break your heart just because the direct market does.

Look, don’t get me wrong. Comic publishers being concerned with what’s “commercially viable” is entirely logical. If I was working at any of these publishers I‘d probably be doing the same thing they are. The market is absolutely flooded right now so it makes sense to work on something which has a good chance of a return. The downside of this is that mainstream comic publishing isn’t really the place for cutting edge work in the way it used to be.

This is why self-publishing is such a blessing to comic creators looking to push the boundaries of what can be done within comic books. Yes I know I’m writing this article to help promote my own bloody Kickstarter campaign so of course I’m going to have this opinion. But take a look at other self-published titles out there, both past and present, which also prove my point. Beast Wagon by Owen Michael Johnson, John Pearson, and Colin Bell is one of the greatest indie comics I’ve ever read, was nominated for a British Comics Award last year, and we would never have seen the thing if it wasn’t for Kickstarter. Similarly, BLACK by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, and Sarah Litt is a book which has been phenomenally successful in their self-publishing drive, has a very strong social message, but might not be considered “commercially viable”.

For those of you who don’t want to be beholden to what is “commercially viable”, self-publishing is the way forward.

3. You’re selling to readers instead of stores

I adore comic book stores. They’re the gatekeepers of quality books. Books I’ve worked on are in hundreds of stores worldwide. Some of my closest friends (and, more importantly, most trusted comic book critics) work in the retail side of the comic book industry. This is not a polemic in any way against them. But of the ~3000 direct market stores, around ~300 actually stock indie comics. Again, this is not a slight on the stores, this is due to the way the market works and the demands of the industry. If you have to sell 99% mainstream comics to 1% indie comics just to stay afloat, then that’s not your fault; you respond to the market. Business is about survival, not prestige. (Although, fortunately, some boutique stores are able to sell comics they love. But, again, they’re the exception to the rule.)

So as an indie creator, selling directly to readers is a good way of avoiding a market/industry that just isn’t all that friendly towards you. It lets you see if there’s a demand for your book from the people who are actually going to read it, you’re not competing with hundreds of other titles for their attention, and, thanks to the internet, you are able to reach a large number of people outside of the direct market.

Plus there’s nothing stopping you approaching the stores once you’ve self-published. But make sure it’s the aforementioned 300. They’re the good ones.

4. You, and only you, can speak to your audience

Self-publishing puts you into direct contact with the people reading your work. There’s no middle man, and in our modern-day always-online always-connected world, that is a very valuable thing. Not only can your audience reach you whenever they want to, but you can reach them back. You can create your own community and no-one else can spoil it. Most importantly, as technology continues to change the comic buying and reading experience, you and your community will be able to grow and adapt together. (Because it won’t be trapped in the buying habits of the 20th century.)

5. You are able to highly monetize a small number of people

This one is especially good for the indie comic book creator because, chances are, not that many people have heard of you. Trying to sell your work to a large amount of people for a small price in traditional publishing isn’t a good strategy if you’re new. A better approach is selling your work to a small number of people, but for more money. Of course these means the onus is on you to give extra stuff to people to make it worth the extra spend, but that will only help to encourage a closer bond between you and your readers. So why wouldn’t you do it?

6. No Diamond Distribution

If you publish your comic through the direct market, it has to go through Diamond or it pretty much won’t even sell. Yes there are exceptions, but the chances of you being one of them is slim-to-none. And guess what? Diamond take a 60% cut of the money your book makes. Don’t get me wrong – they’ve built an infrastructure that allows your book to reach every comic book store on the planet. That’s great for exposure. But a 60% cut? Really? In an industry that AS A WHOLE makes less money each year than a superhero movie does in a month? Madness. Utter madness.

In comparison; Kickstarter takes 5% (And an additional 3-5% payment processing fee.)

Want to make comics a viable source of income instead of a very expensive hobby? Look to self-publishing.

7. You can improve faster

Rejection from publishers is never a good thing. And 9 times out of 10, that publisher won’t give you feedback about what exactly you were doing wrong. (And why should they? They’ve got a job to get on with. They don’t owe you anything.) The problem for the creator is that you might not know where you’re going wrong. Sure you can hire a freelance editor, but even then that’s just one person’s opinion. (No matter how well informed.) And as you’re your own boss – there’s a good chance your writer/artist ego will ignore any editorial feedback you don’t like the sound of.

So…what to do?

Well, you only get better at making comics by making comics. Writing scripts or drawing pinups ad nauseam isn’t going to make you a better comic book creator. Sure you can team up with a writer or an artist and make practice comics together, but if you never intend to publish what you make, subconsciously you won’t be giving it your all. That’s why you need to get comics out there, in the hands of strangers, in order to get better at making comics.

Of course need to develop a critical eye in order to actually improve as a creator. This requires constant self-education, never resting on your laurels, furiously analyzing both historical and contemporary comics, analyzing the international and country-specific marketplaces, keeping on top of trends, and taking inspiration outside of comics and outside of pop-culture. A critical eye is the most valuable thing a creator can have, and it is something that is much easier to achieve in self-publishing than in traditional publishing, where you may go months or years between new works being published.

Fortunately, self-publishing doesn’t have a barrier to entry – you can share it with the world whenever you want to.

8. Secret Reason Number Eight

If your heart is really set on creating comics in traditional publishing for the direct market, then self-publishing a few comics before you approach traditional publishers can actually help you. It’ll teach you the craft, it’ll show editors you can finish work, and (most importantly) it will let you realize just how much of a bloody hustle comics can be.

Ryan O’Sullivan is a comic book writer and editor from London, England. His latest graphic novel, TURNCOAT, is available now on Kickstarter at this link.

 

7 Reasons Why You Should Self-Publish Your Comic

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’s Generic Genre Thrills – Look! It Moves! By Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh writes,

Green-Destiny-2Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny is the sequel nobody asked for, a sequel that doesn’t need to exist, a sequel that’s come way too late for anyone to really care.

This sequel is a movie made for the most cynical, money-driven reasons. It’s the same for every sequel produced by executives without the input of the original producers and directors. It’s all about money and franchises. It lacks the passion and care that the script of the first movie had. It has almost nothing from Wang Du Lu’s original novels, and they even had the gall to publish a novelization of this sequel. I have no idea who in their right mind would want to read it. It’s one of the more depressing reasons for killing trees I’ve heard about this week. Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen and the actors give it their all, because that’s the professional pride and ethics of actors, and Yuen Woo Ping’s choreography is as elaborate and inventive as ever, but the script is utterly generic. The movie depends entirely on Michelle Yeoh’s air of authoritative melancholy to ground it emotionally but that just makes it dour and stoic. Donnie Yen shows signs of joy and playfulness in the tavern brawl, which has moments of wit and comedy, but isn’t anywhere as eye-catching as the one Zhang Ziyi had in the first movie. Natasha Lui Bordizzo and Harry Shum Jr. do their best as the younger martial artists in place of Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen, but their characters are thinner and less developed or nuanced, stuck in two dimensions. This is a B movie to the first movie’s AAA blockbuster status.

While Sword of Destiny has gotten critically panned nearly across the board, it’s really no worse or better than the majority of Hong Kong Wuxia movies from the 80s or 90s. That’s perhaps its biggest problem: it’s utterly generic. The only difference is it has a script by a Hollywood screenwriter and is better-paced than the worst movies in the genre. It’s a perfectly ordinary Wuxia movie, nothing new or special or unexpected.

If you watch it, here’s some major advice: DO NOT WATCH IT IN ENGLISH. Watch it in Chinese with subtitles instead. The English dialogue is stiff, faux-portentous and damn-near unbearable. It’s worse than the cheesiest superhero comic book dialogue you’ve ever encountered. In Chinese, they seem to have hired a seasoned scriptwriter in Hong Kong to write proper period classical Chinese dialogue, full of slang, poetry allusions and rhyme of period dialogue that sounds classy but means nothing to non-Mandarin speakers, but at least you can imagine what they’re saying is deep and profound while the clunky English subtitles miss entire layers of meaning in translation. That’s always been part fo the experience of watching martial arts movies for those of us who refuse to sit through terrible English dubbing and dialogue anyway.

So should you watch this movie? HELL YES. If you already have a Netflix account, you’ve already paid for it, and very cheaply. See it if you love Wuxia movies. See it because this is probably Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen’s last Wuxia movie. See it because Yuen Woo Ping is in his 80s and still creating elaborate fights with wit and style. He’s been directing and choreographing Wuxia and martial arts movies since the 1960s, for Show Brothers movies in through the 1970s, for Tsui Hark and various directors throughout the 1980s and 1990s, for Ang Lee’s original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for The Matrix Trilogy. He’s still unparalleled in the world of martial arts choreography. His style combining Wushu, swordplay and wire-fu is unique and instantly recognizable from the choreography of other, equally spectacular choreographers like Sammo Hung. The script of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny may be phoned in, but martial artist actors and fight choreographers, and the stunt team, never, ever phone it in. They give it their all, risking life and limb for a few minutes of beauty, for that sudden, unexpected second of human ingenuity that takes your breath away. Just yawn through the run-of-the-mill story and just watch the dance of swords and fights. That’s what keeps Kung Fu movies alive.

Missing wires, but full of swords at lookitmoves@gmail.com

Follow the official LOOK! IT MOVES! twitter feed at

http://twitter.com/lookitmoves for thoughts and snark on media and pop culture, stuff for future columns and stuff I may never spend a whole column writing about. 

Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’s Generic Genre Thrills – Look! It Moves! By Adi Tantimedh

…And This Is Why I Love Gail Simone… Second Edition

Before you ask, the answer is yes…I’ve had some t-shirts made up that say “Christine Marie Loves Writing About Gail Simone.” My list of reasons to love her continues to grow and here are a few of them…

She’s on point with her political views.

She always has great conversations on social media with fans about fun things like RPG games.

She promotes other awesome creators like herself.

She lets us into her life.

…and she shows us super cute photos of her dogs!

Hopefully you’re all reading her books Surviving Megalopolis, Secret Six, and Clean Room. There’s something for everyone in each of them. Well, maybe not Clean Room. If you’re a scaredy cat…stay away from that one. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my interview with her in the latest issue of Bleeding Cool magazine in stores now!

…And This Is Why I Love Gail Simone… Second Edition

It Seems An Uncharted 4 Open Beta Is Coming This Weekend

Uncharted-4-600x337Well, here is a neat surprise.

It seems the PlayStation Store have let the beans spill on an upcoming open multiplayer Beta for Uncharted 4. The great thing? It’s happening this weekend. This was all spotted by Wario64, who said this was listed on PSN, probably a little earlier than was meant to be announced.

Some free Uncharted multiplayer for everyone? Sounds alright for me, especially as Uncharted isn’t usually heralded for its multiplayer, giving everyone a chance to play with it a little before the release in April.

It Seems An Uncharted 4 Open Beta Is Coming This Weekend

Our New Batman Gains A Few Pounds A.K.A. A Matt Damon

While promoting Batman V. Superman on Jimmy Kimmel LiveBen Affleck snuck Matt Damon onto the show in his coat claiming that he had gained a few pounds since his superhero role. The result was a very angry Kimmel.

For those of you who are unaware, Damon is not allowed as a guest on the show as part of a long-running fake feud with Kimmel.

Besides that excitement, we also got a great story from the new Batman, in which he talked about dressing up as a particular superhero for his sons birthday. I’m still on the fence about how things will work out with Affleck as Batman. He certainly resembles Bruce Wayne, but that’s only one aspect of playing the iconic character. At least he’s a good dad, right?

Our New Batman Gains A Few Pounds A.K.A. A Matt Damon

“Ghost Town’s About To Burn.” The First Three Pages Of Drifter #10

A new story arc begins this April in Drifter, written by Ivan Brandon (Wolverine, Men of War) with art by Nic Klein (Captain America, Thor), and it looks like everything is coming to a head.

Ivan spoke about the book expressing:

“All the dread that’s been building over the last year, it’s taken physical form.”

For those of you who need a bit of a refresher, here’s what’s happened in Drifter thus far…

Abram Pollux barely survived a crash landing on Ouro, a lawless backwater planet, only to end up on the wrong end of a bullet. What started as a struggle for survival quickly became a journey to the very edges of what it means to be human, as Pollux searched for answers among the ruins of this forgotten world. When he crossed the grey line to the dark side of planet Ouro—where humanity has no place—mysteries began to unravel.

It looks like the tenth issue will bring a very determined Abram to Ghost Town as the plot thickens…

The FOC is March 21st, and the issue will release on April 13th, but until then, take a look at the preview below.

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“Ghost Town’s About To Burn.” The First Three Pages Of Drifter #10

What Is #29DaysOfBlackCosplay?

Alongside Black History Month, a community of cosplayers have created the hashtag #29DaysOfBlackCosplay to highlight cosplay diversity.

Chaka Cumberbatch, a cosplayer and advocate for diversity in the geek community, told IGN, "This is about lifting each other up instead of waiting for anyone to do it for us. It's about giving light to black cosplayers of all ages, shapes, skill levels and sizes. It's about making this community a little more welcoming than it was when we came into it. And most of all - it's about positivity. Many (if not all) of the cosplayers taking part in the campaign this month have had negative experiences while cosplaying due to our race. This is us taking those lemons and making about a gallon of lemonade."

Continue reading…