Wonder Woman is a feminist. She is a feminist (or at least a fictional character who is a feminist), not because she self identifies with that label, but because that it is how she acts and how she thinks. Unfortunately, David, like so many others, is afraid to apply the supposed stigma of feminism, out of, I assume, a fear that he will scare off readers who think they are “not feminists.”
Sometimes itâ€™s hard to be a super-hero. It takes a lot of effort to save the world from an endless stream of egomaniacal geniuses and swarms of planet marauding alien armadas! But what about the daily problems of human existenceâ€”hunger, disease, poverty, and equality? Shouldnâ€™tÂ super-heroes put some effort into confronting these problems as well?
Itâ€™s not like thereâ€™s no one on Earth â€œPrimeâ€ trying to take on these issues. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attendingÂ TEDxChange 2010 at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. At this event, some of the top thinkers about the human condition were discussing the progress of theÂ Millennium Development Goalsâ€”eight pressing issues facing humanity that need to be solved. The goals include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring universal education, promoting gender equality, improving child health, and combating HIV/Aids. These are the real problems that need real heroes. So, why donâ€™t the super-heroes of legend ever try to tackle these more pedestrian, but equally important issues?
Thatâ€™s the question posed in the recently releasedÂ The Worldâ€™s Greatest Heroes graphic novel from DC Comics. This collection of stories take the all stars of the DC Universeâ€”Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and the Justice League of Americaâ€”and ask them to deal with some of the real issues of being human.
Comic books, graphic novels, sequential art or manga; whatever you call them, illustrated books are a great way to tell a story. Iâ€™ve been reading comics for most of life, except for a brief period from age 12 to 16 when I thought I was too old for them. Boy was I wrong.
Iâ€™ve been reading comics to my kids almost since the day they were born, mixing them in with other storybooks and eventually novels. One of the great things about reading comics is that graphic stories cut out all of the boring â€œHe saidâ€ and â€œShe saidâ€ stuff. If you combine this with distinctive voices for the different characters, your kids will always know whoâ€™s saying what, making stories much easier to keep up with.
Here are a few of their favorites, roughly arranged for age appropriateness from younger to older readers.
I had a great time at SXSW 2009. Met a lot of great people, heard a lot of great ideas, and ate a lot of great food. While I was there, I did a quick interview with Gary-Paul of New Riders about my upcoming book, Speaking In Styles, although it was not the most flattering of angles:
So, it looks as if the legal bru-ha-ha between Fox and Warner Brothers is finally over, and the long awaitedÂ WatchmenÂ movie will make it to the big screen on time (March 6th) with Fox much the richer for it. But this is not the first time the Watchmen will have been brought to life in motion. Â In conjunction with the Movie, DC comics is releasing “Motion Comics” of the 12 issues ofÂ Watchmen, taking the original panel art and adding simple animation, a music score and a single narrator reading all of the parts.Â
AlthoughÂ I’m sure the author, Alan Moore, Â would disagree, the overall effect is quite good, and makes for a great way to enjoy the story on the go. The art is well preserved and the animation is smooth, although not nearly as complex as it might be if it had been fully animated. Still, it’s miles better the Clutch Cargo.
The single narration voice is notÂ completelyÂ to my liking, they could have at least splurged and gotten a female narrator for femaleÂ characters. SilkÂ SpecterÂ may smoke, but the narratorsÂ gravelyÂ voice is about as sexy as a lime greenÂ polyesterÂ pants suite.
What intrigues me most about the WatchmenÂ MotionÂ Comic, though, was how seemingly easy it was to take the static images of the comic page, which require a more active role for the reader to animate the action in their minds, and turn it into the more passive video format. Although this is far from the atrocity that colorizing old black and white movies was in the 1980′s, it does give me some pause for thought.
Moore commented in a recent interview with the LA Times that, “There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films.” In fact, It looks as if they don’t even need to make the film, butÂ simplyÂ take the storyboards and animate them. But why is this a problem? It does take a dimension out of the hands of the reader, placing it back into the creator (or a creator’s) control, but is thatÂ necessarilyÂ a bad thing?
This is one of the important questions I’m hoping that my panel at SXSW will be addressing next month in Austin. If you have any thoughts or will be at the panel and have suggestions, leave a comment her or email me.
At its best, a good Cyberpunk story will drag you through a gritty future reality while simultaneously taking you to see a world beyond that reality. The graphic novel Heavy Liquid, starts strong along that path, promising even to be an inspired addition to the genre, but eventually becomes too bogged down in secondary charchters and sub-plots to warrant its epiphanal ending.
Although Heavy Liquid starts to touch on political themes and the individual’s role within an monolithic World government and ubiquitous technology, like other themes in the book, it feels as if the author has picked it up to do something meaningful, and then gets distracted trying to push the story forward, forgetting where he left the theme. And that’s a shame, because itÂ feelsÂ as if he has a lot to say on this, but never arrives, pushing the reader to think, but not really taking them anywhere.
Still, this was an enjoyable read with a realistic look at one possible future as we head into the singularity. I’m wondering if this is a stand-alone story or the first in a series. If a series, then I think this is a good, though flawed, first chapter.
The holiday break was crazy busy for me, but I spent as much time with my family as possible, as evidenced by the fact that I saw a movie about a midievil talking mouse rather than a dead guy with a red tie. I went snow tubing with the kids, which I had never done beforeâ€“it was a blasâ€“and I’m still icing my thumb from playing too much Batman Lego on the Wii with the wife.
But tonight I finally did get to see Frank Miller’s The Spirit (the aforementioned dead guy with the red tie) and loved it. Yes, I’ve seen the negative reviews, and even the disappointed comments from my friends, so, maybe I went in with low expectations. But like the pulp comic that spawned it, this movie was something ridiculously fun, with the emphasis on ridiculous.
If you are going to see it, don’t expect Batman: The Dark Night or even the Tim Burton Batman. This is not X-Men or Iron Man or like any other comic book hero brought to the silver screen. The closest comparison is Miller’s own Sin City, but, even though he uses a similar styles, The Spirit goes for wry humor over angsty violence.
There are laugh-out loud moments, smirking moments and even some great groan moments. If you look at The Spirit as a movie to have fun with watching, it’s a fun movie to watch.
My 2009 speaking and conference schedule will be kicking off in March at South By South West (or SXSW as it is moreÂ commonlyÂ called) where I’m hosting a panel discussion aboutÂ Online Comic Books. Originally I had pitched two ideas, the first on Web Safe fonts;Â however, what the good folks in Austin eventually choose was a panel presentation to discuss how the comicÂ industryÂ is using the Web.Â I’ve long been fascinated by how graphic novels are (and are not) beingÂ successfullyÂ moved into the online world.
My own experienceÂ trying to bring sequential art storytelling off the page and onto the screen taughtÂ me a lot about theÂ inherentÂ difficulties.Â Balance and Grace (renamed fromÂ The Innocents) was a comic project I worked on with Top Cow Comics a few years back while I was the Creative Director of AOL RED. We wereÂ goingÂ to provide the online component for the print version of the book. Due to legalÂ hang-ups, the online version was finished but never officially launched. However, we came up with the best online comic-book reader that I’ve seen.
I’m still putting together the panel, so I can’t make any announcements about who will be on it. I should have representatives from several of the larger comic companies, some comic book creators, and other industry pundits. We’ll start off by defining what is meant by “Online Comic Books” and possibly even try to come up with a better name!
If you have any suggestions for who you would like to see on the panel, please let me know ASAP and stay tuned for more updates: jason at brighteyemedia â€¢ com.