2013/08/24

Kick-Ass 2


The story of un-super-powered people who dress up as super-heroes and super-villains and then clobber each other, along with clobbering and getting clobbered by plenty of people who don't bother dressing up at all. Interestingly, the movie has the characters as much more sexually active than the comic does. It helps that the actors who play the characters are considerably older than the characters who appear in the comic. It's much easier to see that their hormones are raging.
There was a discussion recently about books versus their movie versions, how movies have to take 200 to 300 pages and squeeze the contents down into an hour and a half movie and how much gets lost in the translation. Kick-Ass 2 was written and drawn with the movie version in mind, but the similar, heavily visual language of the comics and the movies also helped to make the movie greatly resemble the comic.
And, of course, there's a Kick-Ass wikia.

2013/08/10

Comics panel and demographics


I largely agree with the blogger and not really with the comics creators on this. The creators are represented pretty well by Len Wein's comment:

“I think every time you take a female character, a black character, a Hispanic character, a gay character, and make that the point of the character, you are minimalizing the character,” he said. “I have written anything you can possibly think of. I have created Storm who was the first black female superhero. I created a number of other characters, and it never matters to me what the color of their skin was. I was writing about who they were as human beings, and it wasn’t Black Storm. She was Storm.”

Essentially, the writers on this panel think that the writing takes precedence over the specific situations that the characters find themselves in, that storytelling involves presenting characters as being certain types that transcend certain characteristics, i.e., their ethnicity or gender or sexual preference.

I read a review of Supergirl in The Comics Journal back during the 1980s and the reviewer looked at possible new directions for the character to take in a new series. The reviewer's approach to thinking about a new series for her was to think of problems that she could be confronted with and ways that she could go about solving them.

Once, in the TV series Family Ties, Alex P. Keaton filled in his sister Mallory about an American president of the 1800s. He had a couple of seconds to get her to think about this president, not just as an old figure from musty, yellowing history book pages, but as a real and once-living person that she could immediately identify with and understand. He took the tack of describing the problems that the president faced, the decisions the president made in response to those problems and the reactions that various groups had to his decisions. Alex's approach worked and Mallory understood the president as a real person who faced understandable problems.

This, to me, is what drama is all about. Wein is right in that an author shouldn't just place characters in a limiting box and shouldn't just think of how an African-American or a gay Iranian would approach a problem, but I think that could be a good starting point for many interesting stories.

it's valuable to get other perspectives into the comics field. I think it's valuable to be aware of how other demographic groups see situations and to take an approach to comics that's not dependent on being a white, straight male. Writers can then increase the number of the kinds of problems that characters can face and increase the number of ways in which characters can go about solving problems.

Update: Do comic stories have to be violent? The superhero stories certainly are, even though they've had "day off" stories from way back when where the superheroes take their colored, skintight outfits off and just hang out and enjoy the day. They can also have scenes that are visually jazzed up, but where the main point is a dialogue between some of the characters, but yeah, there's not much point in having muscular men and tough-looking women in body-hugging outfits if the authors can't toss two or three fight scenes an issue in.

But do comics stories in general have to be violent? Not at all. Fantagraphics publishes a whole series of comics where the violence is either completely absent or is kept at a minimum and when it's used, is clearly relevant to the story. Love  & Rockets is one of their flagship titles. That has a bit of nudity here and there, but again, it's clearly relevant to the story when it's used. Hate is another cool series they published at one point.

2013/08/03

Sirius XM Radio


When I purchased my present car about two years ago, I got a Sirius XM radio with it. A very cool feature is that I can get channels much, MUCH farther away from home than before. I managed to get my usual station, WXPN (88.5 FM), all the way up into central New Jersey. I would have preferred to have gotten the Sirius channel 741 – The Village, their only Folk music station, but that's only available on a home set, not on a car set. I settled for a near substitute, channel 31 – The Coffee House. It was okay. My sister was riding with me a few months ago and complained about hearing the same songs over and over. I agreed that the station was a bit repetitive.
Recently, my radio got re-set to the zero station, so I switched around and listed to a few different stations. Settled on channel 27 – Deep Tracks, a rock 'n' roll station. Naturally, they play all of the really big hits, but one thing I really like about it is that they play a lot of secondary songs too, songs where I could immediately identify the artist, but not the particular track they were playing. One doesn't usually hear those songs on the radio.
Artists like Madonna play songs that you either hear ALL the time or they play completely forgettable tunes that one dismisses immediately. Artists like The Bangles play lots of in-between songs, songs that are enjoyable, but you can see why they're not super-awesome mega-hits. And yes, naturally, I collected lots of Bangles albums, but no Madonna ones.