Tag: Nicole Rivera
Well, they did it! At the New York Comic Con this year, Marvel was working hard to get as many fans to sign Spider-Man’s birthday card as possible in order to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. On October 14, 2012 – deemed “Spider Man Day” by the New York City Mayor’s Office and Spider-Man’s official birthday – Marvel achieved their goal with 2,707 signatures on Spidey’s birthday card. With that enormous number Spider-Man swings away with the title “Most Contributions to a Greeting Card” for his 50th birthday.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that this record only adds to Spider-Man’s Guinness resume.
Amazing Fantasy #15, the ‘Most Expensive Silver Age Comic’ ($1.1million) and Spider-Man’s first comic book appearance, is currently featured in the Guinness World Records® 2013 Edition.
The big difference? This new record was in the hands of the fans, not just the Spider-Man franchise. Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief of Marvel Entertainment was confident Spider-Man’s fans would come through:
There was never any doubt in our mind that Marvel’s devoted fans would ensure that Spider-Man’s birthday was anything short of historic! It was a pleasure to work with our friends at Guinness to break this record and create a truly unique event in the entertainment world.
So, you may be wondering if my name is was one of the 2,707 signatures on Spidey’s Hallmark life size card which was 8 feet wide and 6 feet tall and stationed at the Marvel booth throughout all four days of New York Comic Con… It seems that I should not have been able to miss it.
Well, I did.
I’m not happy to confess this; I don’t know how, but I managed to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of some awesome nerd-tacular history making! (I blame the super-cool NYCC exclusive Avengers t-shirt that kept distracting me!) According to Guinness, the previous record of 1,816 contributions to a greeting card had been set in August during the conclusion celebrations of the TNT show “The Closer”.
Fun Size: trick or treat? Typically when I think of fun size I feel like it’s nothing more than a tease – a tiny taste of deliciousness that leaves me wanting more and more. Today, after seeing Fun Size the movie, I think I’ve had enough! What the heck happened here? When I saw the trailer for Fun Size two weeks ago, I was laughing hysterically; I was sure I was about to experience another great teen adventure the likes of Superbad or (since I was sure it would be much more toned down than that) Can’t Hardly Wait. Instead, I was served up a near miss. All the tease was there with none of the deliciousness.
I wanted to love this movie. I was trying hard to laugh all the way through, but one should not have to work so hard on a Saturday morning in a movie theater. Although there were a couple of genuine laughs (who can help themselves when teens striving for coolness are stuck in a dreadful Volvo blasting Josh Groban on a broken radio?) for the most part I watched, in horror, as the jokes fell flat before me.
The most puzzling thing is that I had the feeling that it should be working. The interwoven character story lines were there and all the right quirky characters were in attendance: nerdy-cute girl protagonist, rock star cute guy throwing a party, unassuming nerdy friend who wants to be more, best friend looking to party and move up on the social ladder, little “Dennis the Menace” type brother who doesn’t speak, single Mom dating a younger guy and a bunch more to add to the ensemble cast. The story also felt as though it should lend itself to the type of shenanigans that lead to pure comedy: troublesome little brother gets lost on Halloween night while sister is begrudgingly on the watch, hoping to sneak away to a big party, and mom is out partying with younger beau.
So what was missing? The first, most glaring absence for me was a solid soundtrack. Every great teen adventure has music to accompany the ride; add to that the fact that the protagonist’s recently deceased father was in the music business and I’m wondering how the music didn’t take center stage. While our protagonist, Wren, rocks a Def Jam Records label jacket throughout most of the film, and makes a Pink Floyd reference while picking out her costume, the presence of actual music that she seems to be a fan of is missing!
In addition, the characters needed just a little bit more in depth. I’m not asking for Oscar-winning realism here, but just something for me to sink my teeth into. I found it difficult to see past some character’s Halloween costumes (and wonder if this holiday might have been part of the problem). I found myself thinking of most of the characters as their costumes, rather than as their characters, meaning, to me, their true selves were ultimately forgettable.
On the positive end, there was a throng of young’uns laughing up a storm at some of the sillier points in the film, so it might be worth it to drop the kids off at the theater for this flick on an afternoon reprieve. However, even then, I think you shouldn’t pay more than matinee prices for anyone to see this movie in the theater since it’ll more likely end up being a Saturday afternoon cable filler by Spring.
In my heart of hearts, I wish I had just been privy to an advanced screening with rewrites planned afterwards. The movie feels like it has tons of potential but is still unfinished. However, since Fun Size hits theaters in less than a week, I’m guessing this was a finished product. So, I’m really sorry movie fans, I went into this one with high expectations and came out disappointed. If you go to see Fun Size next week and catch something you think I missed, please let me know in the comments!
In Part 1 of “From Concept to Page – How A Comic Is Made” we saw how artists Tony Akins and Cliff Chiang developed the look of some monsters and gods for the new Wonder Woman series with the help of the writer on the book, Brian Azzarello. We also got a behind the scene look at how Azzarello helped fine tune the concept presented to him by Matt Idelson from DC Comics. What comes next is the work of Jared Fletcher (letterer) and Matt Wilson (colorist) as they collaborated with the artists and the writer to bring Wonder Woman #0 (and some of the issues that followed) to comic book fans everywhere. So let’s continue our journey from concept to page as it was presented at the New York Comic Con last weekend.
Wonder Woman #0 was, if you are not aware, an origin story for the New 52. However, the artists and writer wanted it also to be a throwback. As you will soon see, they started that introduction – in every aspect of the book’s creation – from page one. The image on the left is Cliff Chiang’s layout for the first page as he sent it to Brian Azzarello. Here’s what he said about his research and epiphany from it:
After looking at some old Thor comics I realized we needed a banner at the top explaining who the character is. Then we needed some crazy big logo that just screamed, from the first page, that you are reading something different; that you are not reading a modern comic, necessarily; or that we are doing that is looking at the past. and Brian seemed to like it.
Azzarello confirmed that he “liked it a lot” and even Tony Akins chimed in with, “I knew right away this was going to be a stellar issue.”
The image on the right is Chiang’s inks of the page. One member of the panel asked why he inked the banner in. “The banner, I thought, needed that hand-drawn quality to it.”
Matthew Wilson said that when it came time to color, his input in tone-setting came in the form of palette choice.
In the beginning we discussed we would maybe try to do an older-looking style of coloring, but we decided not to go that way. So, in the end, I just made some considerations for the palettes in spots to be a little brighter.
One panel member noted the use of primary colors on that first page which helped to sell the feel everyone was going for.
Jared Fletcher’s work on this project as letterer wasn’t new to him, but that didn’t mean that it was easy!
This was basically me doing my Artie Simek impersonation… He’s one of my favorites. I’ve worked in this style before. It’s incredibly labor intensive: to work like this it takes twice as long to do this issue, but it is a lot of fun. When you read through the issue is has the old style balloons with the break in weird places like in the middle and stuff like that.
Fletcher’s enthusiasm for his work dripped from his every word. As he pointed out how a project like this could easily fall apart without the use of old-school fonts and detail, I began to wonder how often I take the letterer for granted in the comic book process! One panelist liked the lettering of the comic book to the soundtrack in a movie and I thought that was a perfect analogy.
Pages two and three had the same color palette as page one, but they introduced the first bit of dialogue in the issue. At this point it is in Chiang’s hands to break down the storytelling a bit more by “suggesting places where there might be dialogue and back and forth and how ever Brain might want to put words in there.” However, he emphasized that he really “had no idea what was going to be in there until it was lettered.” The moderator then turned to Brian Azzarello to ask him at what point in the process he was able to write the dialogue. Azzarello conceded, “Oh, I can’t write the dialogue – when you are working this way – I can’t write the dialogue until I have seen the pages.”
While this wasn’t the original cover design (see Chiang’s original cover on his Tumblr page), this one definitely makes an impact. This decision to switch designs harkens back to the original concept for this issue coming from DC Comics, making this book part of a company-wide image, rather than matching the cover to the story within.
Every week we head out to our comic book shops, pick up a bunch of books from our pull list and whatever else may catch our eye from the shelves. We read them; we love them; we sit in wait for the next issue wondering what takes so long… Well, after this panel, where I was given a sneak peek behind the creation of just a couple of pages of some Wonder Woman issues, I am left wondering how anyone can produce a book as quickly as some of those that I follow! Of course, not every book is using old-fashioned lettering techniques, or writing in the “Marvel style”, but collaboration tends to be the name of the game in comic book creation and I think I, personally, have gained a greater appreciation for all gears in this creative machine.
For a look at DC Comics’ summary of their “From Concept to Page” panel at SDCC, check out their web page and to see some more snapshots from this NYCC 2012 panel, check out ComicBookResources page on the event.
Comic Books: they’re literature; they’re art; they’re design. It’s no wonder it takes a collaborative team to bring one to life. However, how often do you think of that process, and, how in depth do you think that process is? At the New York Comic Con last weekend, I sat in on a panel presented by DC Comics that took the audience on a reflective tour “From Concept to Page” of the creation of Wonder Woman #0, #5 and #13. It is a journey worth sharing.
Brian Azzarello (writer), Tony Akins (artist), Cliff Chiang (artist), Matt Idelson (editing), Chris Conroy (editing), Jared Fletcher (letterer), and Matt Wilson (colorist) each shared their memories of the creative process while the moderator, John Cunningham from DC Comics, shared snapshots of conceptual sketches and different pages of the book at various points of completion.
“Bastardizing” the Concept
Wonder Woman issue 0 was part of a September stunt we did to sort of give people a chance to go back and fill in some of the back detail about what had happened in the gap before the New 52 started.
What I loved about this panel was the brutal honesty each of the creators discussed this process with. Brain Azzarello said that when Idelson first pitched the idea of a Wonder Woman #0 comic book to him, he “thought it was a really stupid idea”, at first he had hoped that they would get someone else to do it. He was in the middle of a much larger project that had already been planned out and “this came out of nowhere [...] it was not something [he] was interested in doing.” However, like most writers, once an idea crept into his mind, it festered…
Then I thought about the concept some more and I said, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s do what they want us to do, but in a different way… Let’s bastardize it!’
He spoke to Idleson on the phone again and suggested that they “play it like [they] missed their deadlines and have to reprint something from the past.” And that’s what they did “seventies style.”
Azzarello pointed out that the technique he used for writing issue zero was not the way he usually writes. He said wrote it that way because, in his words, “we were doing (yes it’s a DC book, it’s Wonder Woman here, but it’s…) an old Marvel story, so we decided let’s approach it and do the the script ‘Marvel style’.” Cunningham asked if this writing technique made it easier for him, Azzarello replied, “No it made it fun. It made a challenge for us.”
The Artists and The Writer In Their Ears
Tony Akins discussed his process in creating characters such as Posiedon and Hades while Cliff Chiang discussed creating Suraka, Dionysus, and (recreating) Orion for the Wonder Woman universe. For each character Azzarello had his own input which helped the artists solidify each character’s look for the story they would tell together. Here’s how each character came to life.
Akins started by saying that the way Azzarello sold him on coming on to the Wonder Woman project was by telling him it was a monster book. Poseidon was their first monster and they agreed that they wanted to go “out of the box… [they] didn’t want the old guy with the beard and the trident in the ocean.” The upper left is Akins first attempt at Poseidon. When Azzarello saw this sketch he told Akins he wanted “a big fish” not, as Akins thought, someone who would tower over those below. The upper right is what Akins calls another “detour” which was inevitably trashed. In the ed Akins went with a “leviathan” reminiscent of the “old world maps where once you get to the edge of the Earth there’s monsters. [He] thought that was perfect.” However, when he got to the page, there was still some tweaking to do. Azzarello said he needed to be bigger, he was worried that it “looks like she’s going to ride him,” so the final product is a bit beefier version of this sketch.
According to Akins, “Brian said he wanted a kid. A ten year old kid, so the upper left was the first swipe at him and you can see… it just wasn’t right.” He started to think of who Hades was, “he’s unworldly; he’s Prince of the Underworld; he’s unkind; he’s unhuman… why does he need eyes? Maybe he uses his candles as ‘dead lights’…” He researched some morbid Victorian funerial photography, of which he found lots of kid pictures, which led him to the waxiness and “sense of the dead” for the character’s look.
Suraka was developed, by Chiang, for issue 13 (still to be released). Chiang began with a Palestinian dress in the 1930s style and “dead eyes” in the the first imagining (upper left) of this character presented to Azzarello. The writer told him he thought he was “missing an opportunity here. She has black hair and it’s all around her face, you can get a sense of the wind blowing.” Chiang agreed, but wanted to keep the authenticity of the headdress (as seen in the bottom picture), but ultimately conceded that Azzarello was right in his assessment of the hair bringing the whole look together.
At first Chiang confessed that both he and Azzarello almost went for the more traditional jolly “Christmas-like” Dionysus for their concept of this character, but as they thought more deeply about who Dionysus was, this unique design came to fruition. Here’s their logic, according to Chiang, behind this look:
Here’s a guy whose been around eating everything and drinking everything and is probably the pickiest guy ever. If you are going for someone who is a real foodie, you figure he’d probably some kind of weird Japanese hipster, and that gave us this opportunity to do more of this urban fantasy type of thing. Then we realized that maybe there were some cool fox elements we could bring in (there’s a tradition where Dionysus wears fox skins). [...] It ended up coming together pretty quickly.
In fact, the only variation on this design considered was one where Dionysus had completely black hair.
Orion was a different kind of character creation, Jack Kirby had already created an iconic image known to fans and both Chiang and Azzarello wanted to be as respectful to the original as possible. The original adaptation was turned down by DC because, “it looked too much like the old stuff and it kind of looks like Ant Man.” So Chiang and Azzarello sat down and “discussed who Orion really is”. They talked about his “cockiness and swagger” which led Azzarello to say, “What if he’s wearing a motorcycle jacket?” which led Chiang (who feared that could lead him down 1990 “Superboy” paths) to think of an Italian motor cross racer’s look. He discussed how he tried to keep some of Kirby’s design elements within this new look.
If you look at Kirby’s “New Gods” stuff there’s so many patterns in it. One of the patterns you find most is a circle and a little squiggle that leads to another line or another circle, and that’s kind of what you are seeing with the piping of his jacket where’s there’s a shoulder piece with a straight stripe. With the nature of the folds in the jacket that becomes another squiggle. I want to pay homage to Kirby there.
He then leaned back on the “motorcycle guy” thinking to transform the helmet, giving it a visor and changing the look of Orion’s Astro-Harness to be a bit more mechanical as if Orion “could fix it if he needed to.”
We Still Don’t Have Any Pages!
All of this work and collaboration has happened and we haven’t even seen a page of this comic book! Tune in to Part 2 of this coverage to see the development from thumbnails to sketches to inking, coloring and lettering all to bring one comic book to life. It’s a fantastic process every fan should take time to appreciate.
Yesterday I was asked what was the greatest thing I saw this weekend at New York Comic Con. I thought about my answer for a second. I wasn’t sure. I rattled off some brilliant moments where I met creators and artists I admire like Ramón Perez and Janet Lee, a panel all about the writing process from three of the great writers of the moment (Brian K. Vaughn, Jonathan Hickman and Grant Morrison), and another panel where I was shown the complete process of bringing a comic book to life From Concept to Page. They were all great moments, without a doubt. However, in the middle of rattling off the list I remembered: BumbleBee!
You can not even begin to discuss a comic book convention without delving into the topic of cosplay. Fans spend days, weeks, months and, some, even years perfecting their look for each convention. They pick a character they adore and work toward transforming themselves into that being for the world stage. This year I saw two fans embrace the challenge to become “more than meets the eye” as the Transformer BumbleBee. Each costume is dramatically different and has its own impact, so I’d like to present them each to you to decide which BumbleBee cosplay wins out in a head to head competition!
By mid-afternoon on the weekend of New York Comic Con any floor of Jacob Javitz Center is dense with slowly moving throngs of people. You see nothing but humanity in every direction. Sometimes that gets boring, so you might find yourself looking up, over the crowd, toward the ceiling, just for a change of pace. When I did that on Saturday, I couldn’t believe what I saw!
It was BumbleBee and he was HUGE! Hilariously, he was on his way up to the exhibitor floor. In order to make that trip, he had to take an escalator. Everyone in the lobby stopped and waited to see exactly how this was going to happen.
It wasn’t easy. About ten escalator steps slid past as the Transformer slowly aligned himself to the tight space between the two railings. When he finally stepped up and began to move we all started to cheer! It was an amazing feat unique to the experience of NYCC!
This cosplayer’s dedication paid off – not only in his/her quest to get up the escalator, but also in the construction of their costume. Take a look at the beauty of this cosplay close up.
In a word, this cosplay is impressive. However, one day later, on NYCC’s “Kid’s Day” I found myself overwhelmingly impressed by yet another (much smaller) BumbleBee.
Calvin, My Cosplay Hero
I was waiting for Elmo and Gordon from Sesame Street to show up on the Variant Stage when a boy named Calvin bumbled by me in his very own BumbleBee cosplay. I caught up to him and asked to take a picture of him. Calvin was awesome, he turned around and gave me an energetic Transformers pose.
When I leaned in to say “Thank you,” Calvin wasn’t ready to let me go. He said, “I can transform!” I was sure I heard him incorrectly, so I asked him to repeat himself. By that point his dad, Kevin, was cued into our conversation and suggested Calvin demonstrate. Here’s Calvin the car:
Did you SEE that? After I shot this video, a lot more people started to notice him. The crowds formed and Calvin found himself center stage:
How Did He DO That?
I talked to Calvin’s dad, Kevin, about how this costume came to be. He said that Calvin had a store-bought BumbleBee costume two years ago for Halloween. At the time, Calvin was disappointed that he could not transform (like every person who has ever donned such a costume!) and expressed this to his father. Ever since, they worked together to make Calvin’s dream come true. The costume is made mostly of cardboard covered with colored duct tape. Calvin’s feet are made of foam and his “wheels” are actually black plastic take-out dishes! Kevin said that he worked with his son on weekends, ever since August, to come up with the best design. One important detail Calvin insisted upon was that head pop up out of the costume, just like the Transformers toys!
In my eyes, both of these costumes are winners, but I’m wondering what you think. If we had a cosplay contest of BumbleBee versus BumbleBee, who would you cast your vote for? Do you think the high-rise, hi tech BumbleBee deserves the title of “Best Bumble”? Or, does Calvin’s ability to truly transform help him walk away with the prize? Let us know in the comments below!
It was called Kirkmania and, somehow, I got in. I’ve had a stint of back luck with Robert Kirkman panels, signings, screenings and Q&As at the New York Comic Con over the years until yesterday. The last event I attended at this year’s NYCC was an hour long Question & Answer session with the accomplished creator moderated by the fans in the room. With the Season 3 premier of The Walking Dead on AMC hours away, most of the queries focused on the undead story we are all hooked on.
Kirkman took the stage and, after asking the crowd if we “had any plans tonight”, graciously, gave a big “Thank you!” to everyone in attendance. He said he “appreciates all of the dedication”; that he has “a very good life” and can “buy a lot of Transformers,” thanks to all of his fans.
However, Kirkman claimed he was quickly bored by his own talking and decided to turn the event over to questions from the crowd. The line behind the mic was quite impressive in its length and the speed at which it formed.
While the fans asked about everything from Battle Pope to Kirkman’s soda preference, questions surrounding The Walking Dead franchise dominated the hour. So, if Sunday night’s season premier wasn’t enough for you, here’s some of the discussion on the TWD characters!
The Faces of The Walking Dead
Those of us entwined in the drama in Kirkman’s zombie tale are well aware that it is all about the individual characters left battling for their lives. While it is awesome that The Walking Dead has emerged in so many different types of media – the comic books, television show and now even the video games – each representation of the story focuses on different characters. Many fans would like to see their favorite characters cross-over media lines, or, at the very least, be kept alive in multiple medias.
As the law of our wayward group in The Walking Dead story, Rick is constantly under scrutiny. One fan asked where Kirkman got his inspiration for his protagonist. While he said there was no singular inspiration for the character himself, he offered up the muse of parenting,
A lot of it has come from thoughts that I had. [For example,] I see my son for the first time and think, ‘I would cut someone’s head off right now to make sure this baby is OK.’ And then I’ll put that in the comic… Those of you with kids know what I’m talking about!
Which, with Rick about to be a father of a newborn in addition to Carl, might explain what Kirkman said about where Rick’s going next in The Walking Dead television show.
I don’t think you guys will be wanting for Rick making hard decisions after seeing season 3. We’re going into some pretty interesting and dark places with him.
To be honest with you, after watching the end of the Season 3 opener, it looks like they didn’t want to waste any time in exploring the darker side of Rick!
The fans’ response to Carl was mixed. Right after one fan asked Kirkman to make sure Rick and Lori do a better job of looking after him, the next fan requested that Kirkman kill off the young character! In response to both, Kirkman offered the following,
Coming into Season 3 you will see quite a bit of evolution in Carl as a character and you will no longer be worrying or wondering whether he is in the house or not. You will see that he is out of the house and more than capable of kicking ass and killing zombies.
He further explained that this would be evident by “minute two” of the season 3 premiere. (Having since watched the episode, I can understand what he was talking about!)
Kirkman explained why he had no plans on bringing Daryl Dixon to the comic books even though a large proportion of the audience cheered at the mere mention of it.
To be honest, I really like Daryl and Merle Dixon. I think they’re really great in the show… but I feel like that is something unique to the show.
He continued to explain that moving the characters to the comic “wouldn’t feel normal”, however he suspects that the “guy running around with a crossbow in the comic” is a direct result of working on the show with Daryl’s character!
Clementine & Kenny
While I was personally unfamiliar with both Clementine and Kenny, I soon learned that they are well loved characters from the video game that the gaming fans would love to see on the show. With this question Kirkman stammered out some exciting news for the gaming fans.
Probably not. Just because – uh – there may possibly be more games. That’s all I’m going to say.
As I heard a couple of gamers around me yell and cheer, “Yes!” I think, at least in their eyes, he said enough.
“The Governor” is a character well known to The Walking Dead’s comic book fans (who even has his very own novelization), and has been highly anticipated by the television show’s fans ever since it was announced that David Morrissey was cast to bring that character to the small screen this season. However, David Morrissey ‘s Governor doesn’t look anything like The Governor Charlie Adlar created for the comic.
When asked about the reason for this casting choice after having such an amazing casting record so far, Kirkman admitted that the entire team struggled with it. They wondered whether or not to give Morrissey a wig just to get him to look more like his comic book counterpart. In the end, they decided it was unnecessary. He assured the audience that once we saw him in action, we would understand that Morrissey was “THE guy” for the role, without question. He promised that Morrissey delivers a Governor who is going to be “terrible and even more of a silver tongued devil than in the comic” .
Fans of the television show have only begun to get a taste of who the mysterious Michonne actually is, but readers of The Walking Dead comic books have been enamored with her for years. She is a different kind of survivor than we are used to in the state of zombie apocalypse, so it is no wonder that one fan asked Kirkman where he drew inspiration for this warrior.
I was thinking at that point, with The Walking Dead, that characters had been living outside of the group. [...] While Rick and all of the others were doing all of this interpersonal work and nonsense and really struggling to survive as a group, I thought it would be neat to contribute some other character who had been on her own for awhile and had completely figured out the world. And knew how to survive, and was really good at it, and really capable [...] to try and shake up the book. I thought Michonne would do that.
The fan responded by telling him, “Well, she’s awesome,” which led to an eruption of applause and cheers. Safe to say he thought correctly!
The Rest Of The Kirkmania Event
With over an hour of uncensored fan questions, of course more was discussed than these characters! Kirkman fielded questions about The Walking Dead “end game”, the source of “the infection”, Invincible, his writing process and his feelings about his success(es) so far. So keep your browser on Word of the Nerd (heck! make it your home page!) to make sure you don’t miss any of my posts!
One For You KirkMANIACS Out There…
In the meantime, I’m wondering – given the opportunity yourself, what would you have asked Robert Kirkman if you could’ve stepped up to the mic at Sunday’s Q&A event? Post it in the comments section below, maybe we’ll even get Mr. Kirkman to swing by the site and answer it for you!
I’ve been going to the New York Comic Con since its inception in 2006. To me, NYCC weekend is as exciting as my birthday or Christmas – it’s fun, special, and (the nerd in me drools over this) jam packed full of learning experiences! The panels at NYCC are always enlightening to me, but last year was the first time I ever had the privilege of sitting in on a discussion between Comics Scholars. It was the end of the day and, looking for a place to sit and absorb, I stumbled into a panel room that was not on my schedule. I was in a room full of people who study comic books as literature and delve into the nitty-gritty of the genre. I was mesmerized by the intellectual conversation taking place and decided I would make sure to seek out the scholars this year! Lucky me, the schedule was just e-mailed to me this week!
This year The Institute of Comics Studies set aside a block of time entitled the “Comics Studies Conference” which includes three different panels discussing the nature of the superhero, power and sexuality in comics, and the origins of American Comics. The Institute is described by its director, Peter Coogan, in the following way:
The Institute for Comics Studies (ICS), a “think tank” for comics studies, is a non-profit organization designed to promote the study, understanding, recognition, and cultural legitimacy of comics, and to coordinate communication within and about the medium. The Institute will undertake this mission through communication with the general public and within the scholarly, professional, and fan communities.
I wanted to share this schedule with my fellow nerds so those of you heading to NYCC on Thursday could plan accordingly, and I also wanted to give everyone else a perspective of some of the non-Hollywood infused events taking place at this media-crazed convention. Here’s the schedule for Thursday, October 11th:
Comics Studies Conference NYCC 2012 Schedule
Date: Thursday, October 11
4:00-5:00 pm: The Origins of Leaping Tall Buildings: Finding New Ways to Document the Creators Behind the Comics. Hannah Means-Shannon (Georgian Court University) leads a discussion with the creators of Leaping Tall Buildings: the Origins of American Comics artist Christopher Irving, photographer Seth Kushner and designer Eric Skillman on the strategies they developed to create this unique and significant book on American comics for scholars and fans. Moderator: Stanford Carpenter.
5:15-6:15 pm: Power and Sexuality in Comics. Cameron McKee (UC-Berkeley) argues that Tom of Finland’s subversion of heterosexual spaces in Kake constructs an iconic gay identity. Sam Cannon (UT-Austin) shows how the sequential artistry in Los Penitentes intersects with (homo)sexuality and political power. Evan Johnson (UT-Dallas) explores the sublimination of female power in the Marvel Universe. Moderator: Stanford Carpenter.
6:30-7:30 pm: Constructing and Reconstructing the Superhero. Forrest Helvie (Norwalk CC) discusses how the conventional hero of Transcendentalists and Gothic writers contributed to superheroes like Batman. David Lewis (Boston University) explains why superheroes never really die and the “superhero afterlife subgenre.” Rachelanne Smith (CSU-Sacramento) discusses how South Park’s Coon character clarifies society’s need for the altruistic hero. Moderator: Travis Langley.
You may recognize the name of that last moderator, Dr. Travis Langley (@Superherologist), as the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Night. Dr. Langley is not only the co-organizer of the “Comics Studies Conference”, he is one of NYCC 2012′s Special Guests in the literary category shared by Spotlight Guests, Anne Rice and Kim Harrison. According to the NYCC website, Dr. Travis Langley will be appearing at the convention the entire weekend.
So, while we all know the weekend will be serving up enough brain candy to last throughout the year, you can rest assured that, when you need it, neurological nourishment can also be found.
I might have mentioned this before, but in case I didn’t, I love the movies. And, yes, I’m sorry, I like to talk through them when I’m with friends. This is why, when I saw Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the first time I thought it was brilliant! The premise of MST3K, for those unfamiliar:
… features a hapless man who is trapped by mad scientists on a satellite in space and forced to watch old B-movies of questionable worth. To keep sane, he built two robot sidekicks, and together they perform running commentary on the films, affectionately mocking their flaws with inspired wisecracks and acting as a demented movie theater peanut-gallery.
I mean a witty guy, two snarky robots and a movie that’s begging for bashing? What’s not to like?! So, I was pretty stoked to find out that Joel Hodgson (the series’ creator), Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo (his robot sidekicks) will all be at New York Comic Con this weekend.
The Shout! Factory will be hosting a signing and meet & greet with the MST3K gang at their booth (#843) on Saturday, October 13th at 3pm. They are also offering a limited edition NYCC exclusive poster featuring MST3K’s “Manos” The Hands of Fate with the purchase of any MST3K product. The show, which won a Peabody Award in 1993 and was nominated for writing Emmys in both 1994 and 1995 has 24 DVD collections released by Shout!, with Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXV slated for release on December 4th.
For fans who are anxiously awaiting the new volume’s release, here’s Shout! Factory’s description of what we’ll find inside:
This 4-DVD set is a must-have for fans of cult television shows and B-movies alike and features four episodes previously unreleased on DVD: Robot Holocaust, Operation Kid Brother, Kitten With A Whip and Revenge Of The Creature. Also included are all new bonus features, including introductions by Mike Nelson and Joel Hodgson, Life After MST3K: J. Elvis Weinstein, Jack Arnold at Universal, Life After MST3K: Bill Corbett and four exclusive Mini-Posters by artist Steve Vance.
With this news, whether you are making it to this year’s NYCC or not, there are some MST3K goodies in your future!
There’s a saying among Whovians: You never forget your first Doctor. Some even take it a step further saying, that you fall in love with your first Doctor. Whichever you subscribe to, for me Christopher Eccleston will always have a special place in my Whovian heart. His single season portrayal of the ninth Doctor in the decades long Doctor Who series marked my introduction to what is currently one of my greatest obsessions. While his quick departure, after only 13 episodes, helped to teach me about one of the most basic elements of the Whovian mythos – the Doctor’s ability to regenerate – I have often longed to see my leather-clad, war worn and slightly goofy Doctor return to the TARDIS. Until this week, I was lead to believe that my wishes were for naught.
First Eccleston Says It Will Never Happen
I read the following on Hypable over a year ago:
During an interview on The One Show, Eccelston explains further why he has no plans to return saying, “It’s that desire to keep coming out of different boxes so that your employable, so your not just being seen as one thing. And also I suppose at drama school I was taught to stay curious and keep challenging myself. It’s easy to stay in a job, take the money, take the comfort, but I’ve always wanted to do things that I felt I wouldn’t be able to pull off”
Then Eccleston Explains Why He Really Left Doctor Who
More recently, I found out the real reason behind his departure via Bad Wilf which shared the following Eccleston quote from an acting master class at the Theatre Royal Haymarket:
I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.
This got me thinking… Russell T. Davies, the senior-most person at the time of Eccleston’s run has been removed from all show operations for a number of years. Sure, Eccleston said he would “…never bathe in the same river twice”, but what if it were for a super awesome, once in a lifetime 50th anniversary Doctor Who special?
Matt Smith Would Be Willing to Share The Stage
When I watched this summer’s San Diego Comic Con coverage, I’m sure I’m not the only Whovian who broke into dance when Matt Smith, the actor playing the eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who’s current storyline, was caught saying:
‘I think as an event if it did ever happen – I don’t know how feasible it is – to get David [Tennant] and Chris [Eccleston] back would be amazing,’ he said before the cheers and applause from overjoyed fans cut him short.
‘I think it would be very difficult to make it happen, but I think that would be really special.’
[He] felt that one series isn’t enough to get under the skin of the character and that if he’d had two or three series he’d have developed the role considerably.He said that if you looked at the other Doctors (with the exception of Tom Baker) you can see them working out how to play the character through their first series because it’s such a complex and challenging role.He said several times that there was more for him to do with the character….
Who you gonna call? was a question so often sang and screamed in the annals of my childhood play that it has become part of my and my generation’s vernacular. We all had one answer back in the day; today I think we’re ready to unify behind a new one: NOT Bill Murray!
For those of us who grew up with Ghostbusters in our blood, it is difficult to imagine the world moving on without the cavalier Dr. Peter Venkman, first brought to life in 1984 by Bill Murray. However, many of us are the same people who believed that Jack Nicholson would be our one and only forever Joker. The world changes, life moves on and franchises can move beyond a larger than life actor and character to see a greater success than any of us can fathom. It is for this reason that I met today’s Ghostbusters 3 news from ComicVine with hopeful anticipation rather than regret.
According to ComicVine, Dan Aykroyd, original co-writer of Ghostbusters and the face of my favorite specter specialist Dr. Raymond Stantz, had this to say about the future of a Ghostbusters sequel without Bill Murray,
…we’re passing it on to a new generation. Ghostbusters 3 can be a successful movie without Bill. My preference would be to have him involved but at this point he doesn’t seem to be coming and we have to move on. It’s time to make the third one.
I can hear the diehard fan thoughts now, Yes, Dan, we can all agree it’s time to make a third one, but we’ve heard this song before! I hear you, because my mind sings the same song. What does Mr. Aykroyd offer us this time in the form of a confirmation of forward progress? Well, here’s his response to the very direct question, “Is Ghostbusters 3 finally happening?” in an interview with Metro
Yes, we’ve got a brilliant new writer on it and we’ll be passing the torch on to a new generation. We’re working on it to make it just right to satisfy our fans. I’m confident we’ll be in production in the next year. [...] now we’ve got the studio on [our] side. We’ve tried a few concepts which weren’t right but now we’ve got a good structure and will make it happen.
Lots of news has been pouring forth from the BBC One Doctor Who blog concerning the seventh season of Doctor Who coming up this Fall.This season has already promised to be packed with all types of excitement for fans: it’s the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who; it will be the final season for the Doctor’s current companions “the Ponds”; and the Doctor will be meeting a brand new companion before the season is over. However, based on all the buzz that’s beginning to bubble around the Internet, these little gems are just the beginning.
Asylum of the Daleks Wallpaper
Let’s begin with the new wallpaper download (in 16 by 9 or 4 by 3 version) of a battle-worn Doctor carrying a limp Amy Pond through a large group of threatening and varied Daleks.This is from the season opening episode entitled Asylum of the Daleks.
A Dalek on the right of the picture does not have any of the vertical grille-like slats that have become a familiar feature, indicating it’s a version the Doctor faced when he first met his oldest enemies on Skaro. And on the left there’s a Special Weapons Dalek, last seen in the 1988 story, Remembrance of the Daleks.
This image echoes the sentiments expressed by executive producer of this episode, Caro Skinner, from a previous post on the BBC One blog when she said, ‘This is an epic Dalek adventure that kicks off the new series in explosive style! If you think you know all there is to know about the Daleks, think again…’
Season (Series) 7 Trailer
As awesome as the wallpaper is, it’s not what truly set Whovians solidly behind their computer screens with their fingers poised to refresh the BBC One blog at 6am BST on August 2, 2012. That honor was left for the long awaited new trailer for season 7 which will air on BBC One at approximately 8pm that night. You, my fellow lucky Whovians, do not need to wait for that, nor do you need to search the Internet far and wide for this amazing trailer of what’s to come because I have it right here for you:
Let’s recap what just flew by our eyes there:
- the Doctor, Amy, Rory and a shipload of Daleks!
- the Doctor and DINOSAURS on a Spaceship!!
- the Doctor in the Old West,
- the Weeping Angels,
- large “cross” robots I don’t recognize,
- some snowy mountaintop (which makes me think of the Ood),
- River Song,
- Amy being sassy, and
- the Doctor looking all too pleased with himself when Rory asks “Who killed all the Daleks?”
Oh! There is so much to analyze there! Have a blast re-watching this trailer over and over again and let me know in the comments what you see and what you think it means for the Fall season ahead of us. I think one important thing to note is that this extended trailer shows nothing of Jenna Louise Coleman in this trailer, leading me to believe that all of these clips will take place before we lose the Ponds and the Doctor meets his new companion.
While the broad scope view of AMC’s Breaking Bad is that of a singular life set on self-destruction, what becomes evident as you continue to watch is that this destruction is bound to be universal. I have often said that this entire series can be seen as a metaphor for the disease that Walter White was originally diagnosed with in season one: cancer. Although cancer typically begins in one organ, confined to that one place in the human body, if it is not treated quickly and eradicated on site it will spread throughout the system destroying all in its path. In Breaking Bad Walter White began small and confined by his own limitations, but after five seasons we have seen his malignancy spread further than we (or at least I) could have ever imagined. In episode 2 of season 5, called “Madrigal”,we are shown evidence of Walter White’s toxicity spreading all over his partners, his family and the business that once paid him lucratively through the hands of Gustavo Fring.
The Corporate Crash
The episode begins with a scene in a lab – not a meth lab, a food testing lab. We see behind the scenes of the Pollos Hermanos corporate machine. That company was Gus Fring’s well-maintained cover and since he’s no longer around to keep things moving smoothly, the resulting investigation is leaving its own casualties. Throughout the episode, the ramifications of the the exposed business fronts of Gus Fring unfold before the all-knowing audience as we wait with bated breath to see if any of these open roads will lead back to White, the new mastermind and catalyst of destruction.
Pulling His Partners’ Strings
On a more personal level, Walt continues to toy with those still in his business bubble. His sick and twisted treatment of his first and most faithful partner, Jesse, continues to leave me wishing that Jesse is ultimately the one to take Walt down at the end of this series. When he said to Jesse, “Having each others’ backs… it’s what saved our lives,” I actually yelled at my television screen, wishing Jesse could hear me, “He’s only ever had a KNIFE in your back, Jesse!” But Jesse doesn’t know what we know – those of us that have been watching – and so he continues to “go forward” wherever his Mr. White leads him.
Contrary to Jesse’s ignorance, there is Walter’s wife, Skyler, who – knowing all that her husband is capable of – appears to be two steps away from catatonic. Walt perceives this behavior as a reaction to Skyler’s own entanglement with the shadier side of life and decides to provide her with sage advice from a hardened criminal. He said, “When we do what we do for good reasons, then there’s no reason to feel bad… And there’s no better reason than family.” I’m wondering what Hank, Walt’s brother-in-law, who’s neck-deep in the Fring investigation thinks about that sentiment.
What This Episode Says To Me
Following up such a solid season opener was not an easy task, but in “Madrigal” the story moved forward, and again we are treated to some awesome character development.
- This episode introduced a new intriguing character, Lydia. She’s a hyper woman that can be big trouble if ever tied down in the investigation.
- Lydia’s interaction with Mike continues to reveal his softer side that was first revealed to viewers when we learned of his granddaughter, then echoed in sentiment in his partnership with Jesse.
- We’ve gotten to see Hank’s character develop into a no nonsense detective that his colleagues finally respect.
- And Saul, everyone’s favorite crooked lawyer, continued to light up the screen in a short scene bearing a powerful message that was, of course, lost on Walt.
I promise you, I am merely scratching the surface of the tip of the iceberg of the story held within this episode. I honestly have no idea how they fit so much into each episode. However, after seeing this year’s Emmy nominations, with 13 for the good folks at Breaking Bad, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by their talents.
Your Thoughts and Theories
I have yet to write about my own theories about where I think Breaking Bad is headed at the end of this season, but there’s a simple reason for that: there are way too many valid possibilities right now; my brain can’t seem to settle on one! However, please don’t let that stop you! I’d love to read your theories about how you think this final season is going to end, or even how the mid-season is going to end. Write up your theories in the comment section below and let’s see if we can settle on an ending. Also, if you have any thoughts about this week’s episode, the clips you’ve be seeing about next week, or anything else Breaking Bad related, don’t hold back – comment away!
At the conclusion of season four of AMC’s Breaking Bad I had mixed feelings. At first, I thought Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, had finally freed himself from the terrifying shackles of his criminal life. I thought he got away with it all (again) and this time he saw how extremely dangerous his meth cooking lifestyle was – not only for him, who might have felt as though he was living on borrowed time ever since his cancer diagnosis – but also for his family, the very people he claimed to be protecting in case of his untimely death. I felt relieved until I heard Walter White utter two words, “I won.” When he used those two words as the simple, cold over-the-phone explanation to his wife, Skyler, for all the destruction she was seeing played on the news, I knew Season Five of Breaking Bad was going to offer up an unyielding Walter White, the likes of which none of us had seen before.
But you know what? That’s exactly what I’ve been tuning in for! What began as morbid curiosity in the early seasons as I asked myself, What would you do to provide for the ones you love in case of your demise? has turned into a full-blown I-can’t-turn-my-eyes-away from this car wreck situation. Walter White started out as a decent man who thought he had to do bad things for the ultimate good. By the end of Sunday night’s season five premier episode I can confidently say Walter White is a bad man. It’s been an incredible transformation.
When Mike, the henchmen of the late Gus Fring, tells Walter, “You are like a ticking bomb… I’m not going to stick around for ‘boom!’” One gets the sneaking suspicion that that’s exactly where this season, supposedly Breaking Bad‘s final season, is headed. I’m not sure this new Walter White will go out in any other fashion.
The first episode of season five, entitled “Live Free or Die,” opens in a diner where we see a less severe Walter White than the one we left at the end of season four, celebrating his 52nd birthday with a sad breakfast plate all by himself. It doesn’t take long before we realize he’s on the run, under a new identity and popping pills (one wonders – is his cancer threatening again?). Just as the audience is about to utter, “What the heck is going on?” the commercial break arrives and we realize we’ve been treated to a Breaking Bad classic: that first scene was simply a sneak peek at a piece of our season’s future.
The rest of the episode picks up exactly where season four left off, even using some old footage. Walter White just poisoned a child, destroyed a criminal kingpin and all without being suspected by anyone. Now he has to clean up. In the meantime, his family returns from the protection of his sister-in-law’s home and the criminal investigation of Gus Fring begins, turning the focus away from Walt, while validating his brother-in-law Hank who had suspected Gus all along.
All is well, until White remembers one little detail he left out that will incriminate him, his partner, Jesse, and even Mike. Together, these three pull together a plan that would have received the rubber stamp of approval from the Looney Toons’ Wylie Coyote. It had me biting my nails and screaming at my television even though I knew, somehow, this, too, would work.
Walt’s new character, who I’m coming to think of as “Mr. Untouchable” (not because I think he’s untouchable but because he clearly does), has an air of blinded confidence only possible by those who feel they live not just above, but completely outside, the law. As Jesse comes to his defense more than once this episode – despite my screaming at him – this over-confident criminal-minded monster keeps getting fed. While Mike sees Walt as the disease he embodies, his lack of loyalty to him, or his sensible advice to Jesse goes largely unnoticed.
In the end, it appears that, at least at this point of the season, Walter White may envision himself as some sort of god. He instills fear in his wife, through his acts, and then his lawyer, Saul through his very presence. When Mike asks him why he should take something on faith alone, Walter answers simply and directly, “Because I say so”. And, in a moment that gave me chills, this evil creature actually had the audacity to grant forgiveness in the final line of the episode, “I forgive you.”
What This Episode Says To Me
A season premier always has a heavy load to carry. It doesn’t just get you into the story, but it also sets the tone for the entire season ahead. With that said, “Live Free or Die” delivers everything I had hoped for and anticipated at the end of season four, plus more. While I focused most of this post on the king of the show, Walter White, it must be noted that the supporting characters are just as important and interesting. Skyler’s financial drama, Saul’s slippery entanglements with both of the Whites, Jesse’s dance between the mentors of Walt and Mike, Mike’s dance between freedom and revenge, Hank’s conflict between validation and unanswered questions and Walt, Jr.’s hero worship of his uncle in the face of a father who will surely not stand for that too long – are all rich plot points that bring the Breaking Bad universe vividly to life and portend all that this season has to offer us. The writing, acting and directing on the show are all seamless and provide a balance between empathy, heartache, fear, fury and even humor that come together in a recipe for unforgettable drama the likes of which AMC is becoming famous for.
What About YOU?
If you missed “Live Free or Die” I highly recommend you find it and watch it and join me on the Walter White roller coaster throughout the rest of season five. If you saw it, let me know what you thought of this season opener in the comments. Was there anything that you were hoping to see? Was there a particular scene that gave you chills or sent you blood boiling? I want to know!
In mixed company, if you mention the Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog you could judge pretty quickly who you could talk to and who might not be on your nerd level. Based on an announcement made during the “Joss Whedon: Dark Horse” panel at San Diego Comic Con on Friday, that’s all about to change: Dr. Horrible will be released to the public via the CW television network this Fall. While that may mean little to fans who have been watching and re-watching the three act series for the last four years, there was other news that made the whole announcement worthwhile: the Dr. Horrible Sequel is on the way!
The Sequel Moves Forward…
According to ScienceFiction.com, Whedon announced:
We’ve been working on it for about two years. We have a bunch of songs; we know exactly where we’re going. I can’t wait to tell you more about it … That’s gonna start happening hopefully soon … some of the actors in it are kind of successful!
He’s not kidding, with Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day,Dr. Horrible features an all-star cast that is sure to draw in a new audience seeing these actors in very different roles they may be accustomed to.
But Will The Sequel Air On Television?
When asked on Saturday afternoon at Zachary Levi’s charity Nerd HQ panel how the sequel would be released, that’s when CW left the discussion. Whedon explained that he and the team behind Dr. Horrible - Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Zack Whedon - “want to keep the ethos of what they did before,” so while they don’t know, for sure how the sequel will ultimately be released, their “first instinct is to create it on the same terms and deliver it in the same fashion. That’s how [they're] building it in [their] minds.” During this stage of the process he said they are striving to keep the production “budget agnostic.” He reminded the crowd that the original Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog was a creation born of the 2007-2008 Writer’s Guild strike ”to show we could still work without the giant corporations that were trying to squeeze the unions out of existence.” He said, “we are still firm about all that meant besides the entertainment.” (To read more about the initial introduction of Dr. Horrible for free online, see the Doctor Horrible Official Fan Site.)
Get Ready For The Fall
In whatever media the sequel ultimately reaches its fans, it won’t do so until that fan base grows. There has been no official release date announced, as of yet, for Dr. Horrible’s debut on television screens besides “this Fall,” so keep your eyes peeked for the big date. I’m sure we’ll let you know here at Word of the Nerd. For you fans-to-be wondering what this fan favorite is all about, here’s the blurb from its iTunes page:
From Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, comes Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Neil Patrick Harris stars as Dr. Horrible, an aspiring super-villain, whose attempts at villainy are constantly thwarted by his nemesis, the heroic Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). He must take his efforts to the next level in order to get into the Evil League of Evil while also mustering the courage to talk to Penny (Felicia Day), the girl at the laundromat. And it’s a musical.
It’s fun, it’s hilarious and, yes, you read right: it’s a musical. Here at Word of the Nerd we are always talking about bringing out the inner nerd in everyone, this Fall I think there’s going to be a whole new legion who just needed a television to show them the way!
Your Opinion Counts!
How do you think the Dr. Horrible sequel should be released? Do you think it should follow the airing of the series on the CW? Do you think it should be online for free, for a limited time (as the original miniseries) before heading off to iTunes? Or do you have another option? Sound off in the comments about what you think should be done next.
In May 2013, we will all be seeing a brand new Iron Man movie in theaters; it will have a new director, a new plot, and, of course, because Tony Stark loves his toys, a brand new suit. That’s not the surprise that Marvel just unveiled to fans at the San Diego ComicCon this Saturday afternoon. The surprise was all of the gold. Here’s a great picture of the suit, on loan from the film’s set in North Carolina, as shared by CinemaBlend:
As this new suit stands, mid-stage, in front of all of the suits of the past, it is hard to ignore its distinguishing characteristic.While no other news beyond the cosmetic have been revealed at this point, there will be a Marvel panel later on in the day which will hopefully shed some more light on the topic. Katey Rich who reported for CinemaBlend also added these observable cosmetic details from her perspective at the Con, “ it’s got some strange vents that look like abs on the front, not to mention some seriously 80s style shoulder pads.” Which aren’t too dramatic, so that brings me back to the gold.
Iron Man Has Been Gold Before
It’s deep in Iron Man’s history, but he did have a gold suit before. It was the MK II armor, a “slightly modified version of the MK I armor [by] painting it in gold to make its appearance not as creepy when Stark realized that the MK I’s appearance was frightening to everyone around him.” Why was the suit painted gold then? I really love this, “His date Marion who went with Stark [to] a circus suggested the armor be painted gold like a knight in shining armor which Stark conveniently did.” While I think it would be awesome for Pepper Potts to suddenly inform Tony he’s looked creepy all these years, I highly doubt audiences worldwide would find this endearing.
What We Know About Iron Man 3 So Far
According to Variety, the “plot will borrow elements from Warren Ellis’ six-issue Iron Man: Extremis” and we will be seeing Firepower as one of the villains in the film. Firepower “is the pilot of an experimental armored suit under the secret mission dubbed Project: Firepower.” Add that to what we know about Extremis, and perhaps we can start pulling some pieces together:
The Extremis virus has fused Stark’s armor to his body. Initially the inner layers of the Iron Man armor were stored in the hollows of his bones, but later his entire exo-armor would be contained within carbon nanotubes. He is able to manifest and control the armor through direct brain impulses and even utilize some of its powers when unsurfaced. He has direct, cyberpathic control over the communication devices, scanning equipment, and recording devices located in his helmet.
My (Probably Ridiculous) Theory
You can nerd-slap me when I am completely wrong after today’s Marvel panel at the ComicCon reveals the real deal, but here’s what I’m thinking: Tony Stark is infected with Extremis, which ends up being insanely painful and/or life-threatening until Stark comes up with this gem: gold is soft! He, therefore, is able to redesign his suit attached to his body by somehow using the experimental technology that created Firepower’s suit and viola! A gold suit is made!
No? You think that’s silly… alright maybe, but it’s all I’ve got right now. I need better theories! Lay ‘em on me! Is this just a cosmetic change, or is there some awesome property of gold that Stark is planning to use to his advantage? Put your theory in the comments and let’s see who wins the nerd-knowledge challenge of the moment!
In With Great Power:The Stan Lee Story, Stan Lee says, “In X-Men, I guess my intention was to show that the world never fully tolerates people who are different.” The comic books and all the media surrounding them, in the form of movies, animated television shows and films has been carrying that message to generations of readers and viewers ever since 1963. But just in case it wasn’t loud and clear, we now have a little bit of life imitating art to remind us that intolerance is alive and well in the world around us. Enter the Florida Family Association, led by David Caton versus Astonishing X-Men, published by Marvel.
In the courtroom of this article, the defendants: Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics and their parent company Disney, will be represented by me, Nicole Rivera; the plaintiffs: the Florida Family Association (FFA) and David Caton, will be represented by their statement.
Marvel’s First Move And Motivation (Scene of The Crime)
On June 27, 2012 Astonishing X-Men #51 hit shelves in comic book shops everywhere (read the Word of the Nerd review of the issue). While it could have been seen as another ordinary Wednesday pull, this particular issue caught the attention of the media, whole. Why? Well, Jean-Paul Beaubier, known as Northstar of the X-Men, married his long time partner, Kyle Jinadu, thereby marking the first ever same-sex marriage to take place in a comic book publication. Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief Axel Alonso described the motivation for the story as the following, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine:
When gay marriage became legal in New York State, it raised obvious questions since most of our heroes reside in New York State. Northstar is the first openly gay character in comics and he’s been in a longterm relationship with his partner Kyle so the big question was – how would this change his relationship? Our comics are always best when they respond to and reflect developments in the real world. We’ve been doing that for decades, and this is just the latest expression of that.
Some people seem to forget that, as fantastic and other-worldly as many of our comic book superheroes are, they are typically grounded in a basis of reality in order to make them relate-able, understandable and relevant. Northstar married his long time partner because many gay New Yorkers are now marrying their long-term partners since they are finally able to do so. End of story. Happily ever after. The end.
The Variant Cover Argument (First Accusation)
According to the Florida Family Association, there was a completely different tactic at work here. They claim:
This Marvel comic strip encourages children to fantasize about homosexual union by having their own mock same-sex wedding. The Marvel web page states “‘Create Your Own Wedding’ blank variant cover! Select comic book retailers nationwide will host wedding parties at their stores to celebrate this joyous occasion…
Here’s the variant cover in question:
Let’s examine the possibilities present: I could draw a same sex couple in the empty box there, but I could just as easily draw my husband and me, or even me and my friends. If we look at all the other “examples” that are provided on this cover, all of those options are represented, with 80% of them being heterosexual couples. Yes, Marvel left open space for the reader to use for themselves – even to fantasize, I won’t argue that – but there is no implication either on the cover nor in the statement advertising it, that suggests the wedding to be envisioned must be same-sex.
What About The Children? (Second Accusation)
The Florida Family Association seems to be particularly concerned with Marvel Comics’, and their parent company Disney’s, attempt to target children right beneath their parents’ noses. In their statement they had the following to say:
It is shameful that two companies like Marvel and Disney would deliberately create a superhero homosexual wedding for our children to embrace.
These companies should show more respect to the overwhelming majority of families who do not want their children targeted with immoral social propaganda through comics.
Warren Pawlowski, online publishing manager and analyst in the Trade Books Group for Simba Information, a media and publishing market intelligence group, thinks there’s a misconception about this portion of the publishing industry that needs to be examined:
Despite notable efforts from many in the industry, comics and graphic novels continue to be repeatedly mislabeled as just another children’s book category. With nearly a quarter of the comic reading audience beyond the age of retirement, there is a misconception that needs to be corrected.
I think it is safe to say that children were never “targeted” in this campaign, but don’t take my word for it. Gerry Gladston CMO/CLO from Midtown Comics, the largest comic book store in the United States, had this to say in an e-mail to fellow staff writer on Word of the Nerd, Mark Driscoll:
Astonishing X-Men is not a title that’s targeted (or widely purchased and read) to young readers, so the protestors are clearly misguided. I agree with the findings of Simba Information, and comic books in general are indeed most widely read by adults nowadays, as kids have long since turned their attention to electronic stimuli, and I would imagine that the protestors are oblivious to this as well. We’ve sold lots of copies of Astonishing X-Men #51, including the “create your own wedding” cover, though I can’t disclose the actual number. I would imagine that very few were sold to children, but again, I don’t have a number.
I guess comic books just aren’t shiny enough for kids these days.
The E-mail (Retaliation)
Finally, in wrapping up their statement, the Florida Family Association solicited a call to action in the form of an e-mail to be sent “to Disney and Marvel officials plus several comic retailers.” The content of the e-mail is as follows:
Marvel’s X-Men #51 comic issue has crossed the line by attempting to legitimize same-sex marriage and asking kids to fantasize about their own homosexual wedding.
It is shameful that two companies like Marvel and Disney would deliberately create a superhero homosexual wedding for our children to embrace and mimic.
PLEASE have more respect for the overwhelming majority of families who do not want their children targeted with immoral propaganda through comics.
My family and I urge your company to pull X-Men #51 from sale.
I look forward to your response.
Midtown Comics is one of those comic retailers on the list. Gerry Gladston’s frustration is palpable in his statement about the e-mail campaign:
We have received some e-mails from numerous numskull Neanderthals who would like us all to believe that they are great in number, but of course, all of the e-mails are the same, consisting of the same message, copied and pasted. I don’t know how many e-mails we’ve received, since they all go to our spam filters, but I would guess perhaps up to 200-300.
(Hopefully this is a representative sample of the entire campaign. If so, the X-Men are sure to take the day!)
Whether the campaign is effective or not, there is only one point raised in their e-mail that has not already been addressed in this article, and I simply cannot ignore it: the claim that Marvel “crossed the line by attempting to legitimize same-sex marriage.” This statement is giving too much credit to Marvel and Astonishing X-Men #51, they did not legitimize same-sex marriage, this did:
The characters in Astonishing X-Men #51 were in the state of New York, the largest state in the US to make gay marriage legal. They weren’t the first same-sex couple to get married in New York, they were just the first comic book characters to do so.
I am fully aware that everyone has a right to their own beliefs and that not everyone agrees with gay marriage. It’s part of our reality. Marvel has an excellent handle on that as well, according to editor-in-chief Axel Alonso,
“Let me make it clear – this story begins with a marriage, but it ain’t over with the marriage. We’d be doing the story a disservice not to reflect the controversy around it. While a lot of Marvel Universe characters will be attending Northstar’s wedding, not everyone is going to accept the invitation and not everyone is going to accept the validity of Northstar’s vows. At least one of Northstar’s team members is going to turn down the invitation, and that’s going to make for an interesting dynamic.
When writer of the Astonishing X-Men #51, Marjorie Liu, was asked about characters uncomfortable with the marriage in an interview with ComicBookResources she said:
One of those characters in particular won’t be comfortable, for cultural reasons. It was important to do this because we wanted to show a balanced, realistic perspective — in the sense that, no matter what our personal beliefs are on the issue of gay marriage, it’s not universally accepted. But we all still need to learn how to accept one another, despite our disagreements, and do so with open hearts.
No one at Marvel, Disney or in any comic shops that I know of is doing anything to try to influence anyone’s sexual preference. They’re writing books, producing entertainment and selling it to a public that can choose to buy something else. In their artistic endeavors they strive to keep their work relevant by steeping it within the real world their readers live in. In that real world there are an infinite number of different kinds of people.
Stan Lee said that his intention with the creation of the X-Men – a group a superheroes that were merely born different – was to show that the world never fully tolerates different people. I wonder if he knew we’d still be fighting that same fight nearly fifty years later.
Holy spoiler alert, Batman fans! Could it be true? Will Boy Wonder grace the silver screen in Christopher Nolan‘s conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises? While it seems unlikely that Nolan will allow the teenage sidekick, clad in medieval Robin Hood inspired acrobatic wear to sully the intensity and seriousness of his dark universe, evidence is mounting that a Robin-inspired character is, in fact, part of his master plan.
Rumors have been incessantly circulating around the internet concerning this great debate, so I’d like to present to you the evidence that I have culled together which has me leaning toward the belief that some Robin thread will be woven into Nolan’s dark tapestry. Let’s begin with Robin’s origin:
- He was born (on the first day of Spring) Richard John “Dick” Grayson
- Mom gave him the nickname “Robin” for a number of reasons, ie. birth date, flying work on the trapeze
- As a child Robin was an acrobat in an act called The Flying Graysons with his family in the Haley Circus
- His parents were killed in a fire in the circus at the hand of Tony Zucco, a mob boss
- Robin was an orphan
- Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson on as a ward
- He became Batman’s sidekick after he learned Brice’s secret while they were both investigating his parent’s murder
These bullets of point are from the origin of Robin that we know (read more on the Dick Grayson Batman Wiki Page). I think to expect this formula from Christopher Nolan would be foolish, however, Nolan can not stray so far from the identifying features of Robin that he turns out to be completely unrecognizable. I think that would be unforgivable. So, for a moment, examine that list again and think about the characteristics you deem as true definers of Robin, at his core. As you are doing that, I’d like to present some other Robin facts from Robin’s comic book legacy that I believe are relevant to this conversation of speculation:
- At 17, Robin was shot by The Joker
- After being Batman’s sidekick, Robin became a solo crime-fighting act known as Nightwing
- Dick Grayson has taken on the Batman mantle after the death of Bruce Wayne
Obviously, I’m only scratching the surface of Robin’s lore, but, let’s pull up the evidence surrounding The Dark Knight Rises so far and see if I can get you to walk this spoilery tightrope with me.
John Blake is Begging To Step Up
Since the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Robin fanatics have been foaming at the mouth, hoping beyond hope that when the details were settled, his name would be linked to an acrobatic “Dick Grayson.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Gordon-Levitt is cast as John Blake, a young sergeant in the Gotham Police Department. It would appear, on first sight, that Blake is not our man. That is, of course, if you delve no further.
A number of fans did not give up on their Boy Wonder, being spurred on by the continual portrayal of Gordon-Levitt in nearly every trailer released to date. John Blake must be more than he seems with that kind of screen time, right? I think so. Take a look at this picture from ComicBookMovie.com that gives a brief description of Blake as well as Batman’s assessment of him:
I think every fan who reads this must catch their breath when they first learn that John Blake is an orphan! Add to that fact that he is “committing himself to the ideal of justice,” and “he has become an asset to the city” and you almost expect to see him swinging from a trapeze.
The Chalk Bat
In The Dark Knight Rises trailer, a chalk bat is sketched on asphalt. While we don’t see who drew the bat in the trailer, Mark Hughes, a contributor to Forbes.com, believes it is John Blake. Whether it it actually John Blake who etched the mark or not, the close analysis of the bat offered up by Hughes is something to consider…
Here is the chalk bat:
Here is Nightwing’s emblem:
Whether John Blake sketched these chalk bats or not, one would be hard pressed to shake my belief in that sketch being a bird. I mean, with that small white mark at the top, it even has a beak! Coincidence? I’m thinking, no.
Nolan’s Comments About Blake
Earlier this week MovieLine.com did an examination of the 50 page production notes of The Dark Knight Rises. As part of their examination they shared some excerpts about the characters, including John Blake. While the whole thing is worth a read, I felt the comments from Nolan were worth sharing here:
Nolan comments, “Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne have become somewhat jaded, so we wanted to contrast that with a younger, more idealistic individual who, in a way, represents where they’ve come from. Joe really captured the strength and courage of a man who refuses to back down, regardless of the odds.”
This idea that Blake “represents where they’ve come from” definitely sounds to me like a character being groomed to take up the mantle from a jaded mentor. While one can argue that the mentor would be Commissioner Gordon, I think that’s exactly the red herring Nolan wants us to chase.
The Joker’s Origin Seals The Deal?
In reviewing The Dark Knight Manual, William Wharton of moviepilot.com stumbled upon a piece of evidence that ties this all up nicely. Although Christopher Nolan never gave us a clear idea of the Joker’s origin in the films, this companion book to the trilogy sheds light on a piece of his past that is sure to excite Boy Wonder’s fan club:
The Joker does not appear to have any connections to Gotham’s crime syndicates, though he knocked over a mob bank. One possible motive for this, which could also explain the clown motif, is the Haley Brothers Circus. The circus was recently in town for a two-month engagement and it was rumored their boss had connections to Sal Maroni. The Joker could be a former Haley Brothers employee with some kind of grudge against the mob
Can’t you just see Christopher Nolan building a new origin story based on these facts? Wharton’s enthusiasm for his find is palpable in his post, as he continues to put the pieces together:
Yes. The Haley Brothers Circus was in town just before the Dark Knight began? And the The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years later? That’s about enough time for a 18 year old Dick Grayson to grow up into a 26 year old Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
It’s definitely probable…
My Bonus Track
Perhaps this one will snap my tightrope and send me hurdling for the nets below, but I have a bonus track to offer up for consideration:The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack.
|1. A Storm Is Coming|
|2. On Thin Ice|
|3. Gotham’s Reckoning|
|4. Mind If I Cut In?|
|5. Underground Army|
|6. Born In Darkness|
|7. The Fire Rises|
|8. Nothing Out There|
|10. Fear Will Find You|
|11. Why Do We Fall?|
|12. Death By Exile|
|13. Imagine The Fire|
|14. Necessary Evil|
I am struck by tracks seven and thirteen both mentioning fire. If I want to approach this as if I already believe Dick Grayson is a part of this story, then the mention of fire is quite compelling. Dick Grayson is motivated, like Brice Wayne, largely due to the untimely and cruel death of his parents. In Grayson’s case, they died in a fire. Will he, as an adult, be reminded of his loss around the time of track #7 when The Fire Rises? And will he then have to Imagine the Fire after a Death By Exile needs him to remember that someone needs to continue to fight the good fight?
I know. I’m assuming Dick Grayson’s in the story already, but, give me a break, I’m having fun with this!
What’s Your Verdict?
Dismissing my complete leap of logic with The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack, what do you think of the rest? We’ve seen evidence that John Blake is an orphan, that the mob-laiden Haley Circus was in town just before the trilogy began, we’ve read that Christopher Nolan pegs John Blake as the “idealistic individual” Batman once was, and we’ve looked at a possible trailer Easter egg in the form of the chalk bat. Is this enough for you? If so, what are your conjectures, will John Blake assume a role as Robin, Nightwing or take on the mantle of Batman himself?
On June 10, 2008 Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Robert Wexler introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to the U.S. House of Representatives, because, in the United States, that’s what is done if you are not happy with the leader of your country. The United States is not Westeros. If it were Westeros, things might have been a bit more severe.
In Westeros, the world of the George R. R. Martin book turned HBO series Game of Thrones, those in position of power do not just lose their title, but, inevitably, they lose their heads! While that is all well and good when the victims are fictional characters playing a political game for the entertainment of viewers, but what happens when one of the heads on a spike is actually that of the former President of the United States, George W. Bush?!
Some very serious questions are raised: Was this intentional? Is this a political statement from the producers or show runners of the HBO series? and Should this be deemed a threat? Followed by the one not so serious question by me: How did I not know this until now?
Let me address the least serious of the questions first. The head went largely unnoticed until a part of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ DVD commentary was viewed and shared via redditor SidIncognito with the following image:
Since then, it has been all the buzz about the Internet, raising some of those more serious questions I mentioned before. Both HBO and the producers each released statements since, in an effort to calm the rising storm. According to io9:
We received a statement from HBO:
We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologized immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.
And the producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, also issued a statement:
What happened was this: we use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush.
In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.
Of course everyone is sorry. And, to be honest, I believe that no ill will was intended. The real problem is: what I believe doesn’t really matter in this case. The Secret Service will most likely (if they haven’t already) have to judge for themselves. Just last year, Jacob Volkman, a UFC fighter and chiropractor, jokingly stated after a victory that he’d like to fight President Obama next since he disagreed with his health care reform plan. According to Sherdog.com,
After video of the interview spread across the Internet, Volkmann on Tuesday received a visit from the United States Secret Service, who investigates any perceived threats to the president. [...] It is unclear how the Secret Service learned of the comments. A spokesperson from the agency’s Office of Government and Public Affairs, based in Washington, D.C., declined to discuss whether or not a visit had occurred. However, that spokesperson added that they were “aware of the matter,” but would not discuss what qualifies a citizen for a visit from the organization.
So, the United States is not Westeros; we do not behead our leaders here, but we do have our own rules and loyalties. Any perceived threat to a living president, in office or not, does have to be investigated. I’ll be really surprised if we ever get to hear about that investigation, though.
Do you think this needs to be investigated by the Secret Service?
Do you believe that the use of George W. Bush’s head was unintentional?
[Special thanks to fellow nerd
Jack Lawrence William Chambers
for the UFC story!]
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
“Wax on…wax off.”
“Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”
“The cake is a lie.”
“Now we know. And knowing is half the battle.”
“There is no spoon.”
“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”
Geeks do not need me to tell them where these quotes come from. In fact, for many, these phrases have probably become a part of their own vernacular. They’ve been used for years as quick responses to others who are “in the know.” And this short list only begins to scratch the surface of those often quoted lines.
In Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture Stephen H. Segal edited a collection of some 200 of these oft-cited lines from movies, television, books, science games and comic books and then elucidated the teachings of each one! Segal says that this book was inspired by a conversation when he told someone that his religion when he was growing up was science fiction. He meant it as a joke, but after reflecting upon what a “religion” could be defined as, he thought he was right, after all. In the Introduction to Geek Wisdom he wrote that religion is,”a framework of ideas — a body of thought shared by a community, written and handed down through literature — that’s intended to guide us toward maturity by helping us ask and answer the big, cosmic questions about existence.” And since his geek culture seem to present many of these similar characteristics, he created “the first compendium of sacred teachings from the wide-ranging ‘holy scriptures’ of geekdom.” In this book of over 200 pages there are teachings on self, relationships, humankind, conflict, the universe and the future all through the interpretation of the words we’ve grown up on. From the Quirk Books website, we are told
These beloved pearls of modern-day culture have been painstakingly interpreted by a diverse team of hardcore nerds with their imaginations turned up to 11. Yes, this collection of mini-essays is by, for, and about geeks — but it’s just so surprisingly profound, the rest of us would have to be dorks not to read it. So say we all.
I couldn’t agree more. I have had this book for some time, and I have been reading the essays bit by bit. I’ve been waiting to write the review until I am finished with the entire book, however, this is not a book to be rushed. This book is perfect for a coffee table, night stand or whatever place in your home you will see it, share it and constantly refer to it. It is fun and it is profound. For me, it exemplifies all that I love about our nerd culture – its depth. There’s so much more than spinning around space, funky looking alien and magic spells; there are life lessons and big questions.
Some complaints I have seen about this book have been about some of the “not-geek-enough” selections for some of the quotes, which I do believe there is a valid argument for, but they are so few and far between, that I believe the collection is worth it in the end. If you don’t have this book already, I highly recommend that you add it to your nerd collection. Also, as a hardcover, it does make a nice gift for the geek in your life!