So, I went and saw Iron Man 3 (Three) on its opening night last night and I have a few thoughts about the movie. I'm trying my best to keep things vague, as a misplaced word could ruin the film (I went in having, mostly, avoided trailers and pre-publicity). But a few vague critiques lay under the cut.
On a somewhat related topic to the last post, there’s been some interesting discussion going on over at Comics Alliance and on Twitter about comics publishers’ failure to capture new readers, even when other media outings for superheroes are massively successful. Why do people flock to see The Avengers in their millions, but only a few then seek out comics with those characters at comic stores? Comixology’s CEO talks about the 75 million sales of digital comics through their app and mentions that “We know we’re reaching a ton of first time comic book readings and reaching a lot of people who can’t, for one reason or another, get to a local comic store” in the interview here, but since the emphasis always seems to be on printed media, what would get new readers dipping their toes in there?
A number of interesting points raised, about what accessibility to new readers actually means and whether publishers and creators who are on the inside looking out understand how it feels to be on the outside looking in, the pure saturation of titles with no way to know what’s “new reader friendly”.
(Marvel’s recent .1 initiative was supposed to mark an ideal jumping point for new readers, but the titles themselves didn’t reflect that. That’s not even getting into the fact that adding a decimal point to already complex numbering helps how? Or that the only people Marvel seemed to tell about this initiative were current readers or those reading comics related PR. Just how was a new reader, coming into a store for the first time, supposed to gravitate towards those titles in a sea of others? Even my friendly local comics store owner was bemused by that.)
One exception that proves the rule seems to be The Walking Dead, which appears to have managed the difficult task of converting viewers into readers, both in digital and in print. The trade releases have been cited as being the main reason the graphic novels sales for the last year look so healthy, the 100th issue was recently announced as the biggest selling comic of the last 15 years and certainly, in my local store, the owner can’t seem to keep the books on the shelves. So why has that comic so effectively converted mass media appeal into sales?
Surely some of it has to be down to the uniqueness of the product within a sea of superhero books, but that explains why it may have been popular to start with, but not the explosion of new readers since.
So, there’s an obvious conclusion to reach. Walking into a local comic or book store and scanning for The Walking Dead isn’t a daunting experience. There’s about a dozen or so trade collections, all clearly numbered so you know what order to read in. The ongoing has a 100 issues. All neatly numbered, not rebooting every dozen or so. The short answer is that The Walking Dead is accessable in ways that most of the Big Two’s output isn’t, even with DC’s reboot trick. If you like Batman, what Batman book should you buy? Which order do you need to read in? What’s the difference between the books? If you missed some issues, which trade do you pick up, and so on.
It’s the reason why, at least for a little while, Ultimate Comics was a successful exercise. Before getting bogged down with its own continuity, or lack thereof, there were divisions. It wasn’t perfect because, well, how did any new reader walking into a comic store for a first time know what Ultimate was compared to other Spider-man books, but it certainly helped.
There has to be a reason why The Walking Dead has been so successful bringing in new comic readers and why the Nu DC has been merely recycling.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, while the characters are as popular as ever, the bloated nature of most comics and publisher’s output makes them a niche product rather than something that is likely to reclaim the mainstream audience enjoyed in the past.
filmsfoodandfandom asked: Do comic book company execs care about enraging their fanbase? There's been a nasty rumor ever since OMD that Marvel intentionally tries to make their fans angry because "angry fans are more likely to buy issues than happy ones." I know that's nonsense. But I can't help but sarcastically think the same is true for DC. Do any DC execs or editors actually CARE about upsetting fans? Because at this point it seems like they couldn't give two shits about their fanbase.
This answer is a little complicated.
Okay, no, they don’t want to enrage the fanbase, I have never heard that. However, there is definitely a line of thinking that some people have, and it’s not just publishers, that the more people are talking about a book, good and bad, the better it sells.
It’s hard to argue with, in some ways. I don’t agree with it, but everything that has INFURIATED the internet fanbase lately has sold really well…the New52, like it or not, reinvigorated the entire industry…even other publishers came up and said that it gave retailers the resources to support other publishers. The AvX thing that everyone was pissed about is Marvel’s biggest hit in years. The Harley stuff that made people so mad is actually making Suicide Squad one of the only books trending UP in sales.
It’s the flip side of things like the One Million Moms’ failed boycotts, that only made sales of the targeted books stronger.
I don’t agree with this thinking, and even if I did, I think it’s a mistake to deliberately upset loyal readers, it’s uncalled for. But some people do believe it.
The thing that I do believe, and this upsets people every time I say it, but the vocal contingent on message boards and social networks sadly do not seem to reflect the readership at all. I’m not sure if they ever did. I know this is sometimes sad to hear, but it’s true, it’s absolutely true.
If it were true, the best-selling books at DC would be Batgirl and Secret Six and at Marvel, they would be X-23 and Young Avengers, and so on.
If it were true, the top ten books, with a few exceptions, would sell almost nothing.
I know it stings a bit. But the vocal internet community is an elite part of the readership. They are like gourmet readers, in my view. They have very good taste as a rule…but the books they love the most sell nothing and the books they hate are huge hits.
We have to address it, we have to quit kidding ourselves. Critical acclaim is lovely, but Tumblr buzz bears no relation to a book’s actual success, in general (I’m sure there are exceptions).
So, I think we have trained publishers not to take internet upset too seriously at this point. If we are outraged and disgusted by crossovers, and they continue to sell like hotcakes, eventually, publishers listen to numbers and not to bloggers.
I wish this weren’t the case…I don’t know if it’s the same for prose and film and music, but in comics, people will rave and rave about a book, it sells nothing, and then because they have raved about it so much, the poster or blogger feels that the company hates them personally because that book was so loved.
But no one bought it.
I don’t like talking about sales, I have never taken an assignment for sales. I don’t keep track of sales issue by issue like some writers do. I don’t find out what an issue actually sold til months after it has been out. To be honest, I am sad even to bring up this topic at all.
But realistically, if a book didn’t sell with a great creative team, the odds are not great of it EVER selling with the same or similar team. And there are people at each company who have to watch over that stuff. They have my sympathy, sometimes it means they cancel their own favorite books, or books by their good friends.
But eventually, books have to make enough money to continue publishing them.
I’m not sure if you are asking about the Steph thing. But if you are, I’m disappointed, too. When BQM told me he got Steph in Smallville, i was delighted, and I did my best to promote the book without giving away the secret. It makes me sad they took her out…best case scenario is they want her to make a debut somewhere else, worst case scenario is some arcane thing I don’t understand yet, I guess.
Anyway, hope that makes sense. If the only place you get comics intel is Tumblr and message boards, you are almost guaranteed to get a skewed version of what’s actually popular. That’s why I also talk to retailers as often as possible, to find out what people are actually buying, you know?
It sucks, but we (tumblrs and message boarders) are kind of the elite, and as such, our tastes are always going to differ some from the mainstream taste. It’s a good thing, and sometimes a sad thing.
I think it's pretty relevant to acknowledge the disconnect that exists between sales to retailers and sales to readers, too. One thing that I seldom see addressed is that it's not what readers buy into that drives print sales, necessarily, but what retailers buy into.
Those sales figures for big events are healthy because retailers buy into them and stock them in bulk. At the end of the day, it's not the readership that's necessarily the arbiter of taste, but retailers. They choose what books they buy and in what quantities, what they put prominently on the shelves and by the main, retailers are a conservative lot. Understandably, because it's their money they're investing, but they're a lot more likely to stock an X-book in large numbers because they traditionally sell, rather than some new book that may not have a ready-made audience.
I'm pretty lucky in that my LCS owner is pretty varied with his purchasing and stocks shelves of indie titles as well as the mainstream stuff, but he doesn't buy in great quantities. I've missed out on more than a few occasions, when I've gone in a week or two late to find that the six or so issues he's stocked of a more obscure title have been snapped up and he hasn't been able to re-order because the title's sold out. Whereas there's piles of Nu-DC #1s lying around. In that respect, he's a typical comic store owner - they buy into this new #1 and relaunch business a lot more than the actual readership does and buy stock accordingly.
That's why word of mouth can be so important. I know I've gone in and asked about a book before it was released, to indicate I want to pick it up, because it at least gives the retailer an idea there's a market for a book. But how many of us think to talk about comics that aren't out for a month or two yet? Retailers have to, but we have the luxury of being able to make snap decisions. And the above discussion is relevant here. Getting the readership talking about a book in any kind of way has to have some value. Even if you go into a local store complaining about a title, you're still putting that title in the retailer's mind.
So, I'm not sure how much it is that readers don't rush out to buy more obscure titles and how much of it is that stores don't stock them in the same sort of numbers. How books are promoted to buyers as well as readers is rarely considered when looking at sales figures, I've found. And could publishers sell more obscure characters to retailers, and therefore the readers, if they really wanted to? Probably. There have been successes in the past. But it's not an exact science and older retailers cling to recognizable figures even if the readership might be more open to accepting something new. Between the retailers and publishers having an inclination to snap back to the old standards, it's probably amazing we get anything new or different at all. However much readers might be welcoming to something new, there's that barrier in the way.
Thankfully, it's not true of every store and my local comic book guy has happily pushed indie or obscure books and trades onto me that I would otherwise have known nothing about.
There's also the mindset, seemingly, that print comic sales and the Diamond charts are the only ones that count, somehow. Comixology has, essentially bridged the gap between the readership and publishers and cut out the retailer bridge, enabling buyers to make their decisions as to what books they pick up. Accord to the Comixology CEO, there's been 10 million purchases since May, which suggests that the bestselling titles on Comixology must be racking up sales to rival print versions, if not eclipse them, and it's interesting to see the diversity that's on their bestseller list. It's not all the latest events from the big two - glancing at the latest bestsellers, backissues aside, there's everything from the Smallville comic through Scarlet Spider, American Vampire, Chew, Masters of the Universe through Swamp Thing, Guardians of the Galaxy and, of course, The Walking Dead. The latter's a success in print too, but the top digital comics, where the consumer has direct choice, looks like a different beast to what might confront you on the shelves of your local comic book store. It suggests to me that these supposed niche books are selling. Just not in the places anyone is looking.
On paper, The Amazing Spider-man doesn't look its best. Slated to retell the origin story already well covered in Raimi's movies, supposedly darker in tone, more akin to The Dark Knight than Spider-man, with first previews sending bloggers rushing to their keyboards to complain that the film was a Twilight for superheroes, it's probably not surprising that anticipation for this movie hasn't been particularly high.
Which is a shame, really, because, a few flaws aside, this is by some margin the strongest outing for Peter Parker on the big screen, in my opinion. The movie might not deliver anything new, but it does deliver better, standing up strongly against the more recent crop of Marvel outings thanks to some charismatic performances and some heart.
Went and saw The Hunger Games last night and was suitably impressed. While the film didn't always work for me, it was a strong adaptation, sticking close to the source material. Which was a benefit in this case. I can't imagine fans of the book will be too disappointed.
A lot's been said about the financial failure of John Carter, but I went into the movie wanting to like it. On paper, it's the kind of story I love - I'm an avid consumer of pulp adventures. And a screenplay by Michael Chabon? Added bonus.
In reality, I couldn't love the movie, although I did enjoy it. Most of its flaws have been well reported - over long, bland villains, a lead that lacks star power - and those are probably true. Taylor Kitsch lacked the secret ingredient of charisma and the twinkle in his eye. Something that James Purefoy's performance had plenty of. Sadly Purefoy was on screen for maybe a few brief minutes. Kitsch was there through the whole movie. Purefoy was, however, for me, the only supporting character to stand out. In fact, thanks to the similarity of costume design between most of the supporting characters, armies and even CGIed characters, I had trouble telling any of them apart. It was like watching a Transformers movie.
John Carter had plenty of the ingredients I love, but the one vital ingredient it seemed to be missing was a sense of fun. The movie didn't need to try and be a comedy, by any means, but everything was so straight faced and earnest. I just felt that more buckles needed to be swashed in the process and the central character's reluctance to play the hero dragged. The aforementioned James Purefoy seems to have been the only one who was really relishing his role and had the playful rogueish element the movie could have done with more of, although Lynn Collins was also a strong Dejah Thoris.
But the elephant in the room was, perhaps, the biggest problem with the movie, in my eyes. The movie's lost a lot of money, yep. And it's lost a lot of money because a lot of money was thrown at it. The film has the reek of over-indulgence. The world-building is rich and detailed, but you can't help but feel that a much smaller budget would have led to a more thrifty screenplay. As it was, the movie was bloated with scenes that could easily have ended up on the cutting room floor and led to a more punchy, and enjoyable, movie.
But when all's said and done, John Carter wasn't a terrible movie by any means. A complete marketing failure, to be sure, but there's plenty I enjoyed about it. But it's not a movie I'll be rushing to pick up on DVD. Worth a look and, despite pulling for it because of the beating it's been getting, I enjoyed it just enough. But I couldn't necessarily recommend it.
This movie doesn't sound that good on paper. The publicity throws around phrases like "fish-out-of-water comedy" and "buddy cop movie" like they're going out of fashion and it could very easily have been another unmemorable movie of the genre. Its posters describe it as "a raucous comedy", which totally missells it - it's much more In Bruges than Lethal Weapon, thanks to pitch-black deadpan script and direction from John Michael McDonagh, coincidentally (or not) the brother of Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed the aforementioned In Bruges.
Both also star Brendan Gleeson, on top form again as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, managing to craft a character who could either be incredibly stupid, crass and oblivious or very very sharp, depending on your interpretation. It's Gleeson that is the backbone of the movie - it's not really a traditional buddy cop movie at all, despite Don Cheadle's presence as an FBI agent out to catch drug smugglers in Gleeson's quiet corner of western Ireland. Think Bad Lieutenant meets Father Ted and you'd have a closer definition of what the movie feels like. Cheadle's straight man is there as a bonus. The film is all Gleeson's, from the deadpan opening to the Spaghetti Western-esque final confrontation.
There's great support too in the form of Boyle’s cancer stricken mother (Fionnula Flanagan), the wife of his new partner (Katarina Kas) and a trio of drug smugglers (Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot and Mark Strong) who always seem to be bemoaning their lot and quoting philosophy. But it's Gleeson's movie and, despite the trailers trying to sell his character as a straightforward "eccentric comedy racist", he's far more complicated and compelling than that and the humor of the movie far more dry and subversive.
“Most people think of themselves as individuals. That there’s no-one on the planet like them. This thought motivates them to get out of bed, eat food, and walk around like nothing’s wrong. My name is Oliver Tate.”
A self-assured writer/director debut from Richard Ayoade, probably best known to people as Moss in The IT Crowd, Submarine succeeds in being something a little odd and unique, but strangely all-encompassing, capturing a sense of alienation and angst that most teenagers have gone through at one point or another.
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of a way to describe the movie. “Like Wes Anderson decamped to Wales and decided to make a Judy Blume adaptation” is about as close as I can get, but it doesn’t really do the movie justice. While Richard Ayoade’s work seems to owe something to Anderson stylistically, there’s a warmth and affection to it that’s lacking in Anderson’s sterile environments.
The story concerns it self with Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a teenager growing up in a small town in Wales, (presumably) sometime in the eighties. His dad (Noah Taylor) is a dispassionate, depressive marine biologist direct from presenting on the Open University and his mother (Sally Hawkins) is distracted by the obnoxious New Age mystic Graham (Paddy Considine), who’s moved in next door. Oliver’s not exactly a complete outsider, but not popular either, despite his messianic delusions and attempts to adopt intellectual affectations. In other words, he’s not unique, he’s just your typical teen. And Oliver has a crush on fellow classmate Jordana (Sarah Jane Adventure’s Yasmin Paige), an acerbic, self-professed pyromaniac.
It had something to live up to. The brilliant novel by ex-spymaster John le Carré. The magnificent BBC adaptation starring Alec Guinness and Ian Richardson. That’s stepping into some big shoes.
And big shoes need big feet to fill them. So, with John le Carré on board as executive producer, they’ve pulled out the cream of British character actors of a certain generation. Gary Oldman is George Smiley. The other denizens of the Circus - Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham, Roger Lloyd-Pack…
So, probably not much of a surprise, since I've talked about it for a while now, but I've now officially stepped down as an active mod on Scans_Daily and noscans_daily.
Nothing dramatic - I've been a mod since April 2009 and that's a fair chunk of time. Combined with the fact that my comics reading and enthusiasm for the major publishers has itself waned and my fannish focus drifting elsewhere, it seemed the right time.
There's new mods coming on board in my stead, so I don't feel particularly bad about moving on as I know the communities are in safe hands. However, I'm particularly bad about walking away guilt-free, so I wanted to stay on hand for emergencies and to do the community backups and those little jobs that don't require 24/7 involvement. So, I'm still around the community anyway. It'll be nice to be able to just comment again, however, without the implied modhat looming over anything I say. Not that I think it did, anyway, since I've always attempted to be near-invisible with my modly stuff. Scans_Daily has always (and rightly, in my opinion) been led by the members, not mod personalities.
I joined the mod team just after we were TOSed off Livejournal. We've all passed a lot of water since then and there's been DMCAs and legal threats, a move to Dreamwidth, numerous... crisis and troll attacks and even a hacking. It's been eventful. But I still have so much love for the communities and their members. I certainly won't be leaving, although it'll be nice to feel I don't have to log in multiple times a day. And hopefully when I've had time to savor the peace, I'll be back there posting regularly.
Now I must away... I have another two hours of training to look forward to. Happy happy, joy joy!
So, last week, I made a shopping list of thing I wanted to see in the last Harry Potter movie. Things that weren't slavishly reproducing the last half of the book blow for blow, but variations that I hoped to see in the movie. Stuff like:
More than a couple of minutes of Neville badassery.
An actual redeptive arc for Draco. Hell, a single redemptive scene would do.
Ron and Hermione not just disappearing when the action moves to Hogwarts. You know, giving the major characters of the series something to do in the finale would be nice. And something that isn't just randomly slipped in there. It should be Ron and Hermione's story as much as Harry's.
A finale that isn't the last half hour of the two hour film filled with exposition.
The horcruxes actually still being important and difficult to dispose of. Rather than you getting the impression the writer suddenly got bored with that plotline and whipping through the remaining horcruxes as quickly as possible to get them out of the way.
Some Slitherin actually sticking around to defend Hogwarts. You know, just one or two in a crowd scene, even.
More than a few seconds of Horace Slughorn doing something decent.
For that matter, showing how major characters die instead of just tossing it out in passing.
And if you have a major gay character in the series, why not use the opportunity to mention that on-screen?
After much tinkering and rebuilding, I've finally got my Chamber costume complete. It was rather tricksy for a fairly straightforward costume. Leatherette proved harder to work with than I thought. And breathing is optional while wearing this costume. It's definitely one for cooler months.
The costume's based on the Generation X version of the costume. (I may wear the longer leather coat seen in the WIP pics for a later X-men era variant.) So, biker jacket, cowboy boots, black jeans for the basic look, then the additions of the face piece, chest piece and X-men belt buckle. I'm wearing white mesh lenses for the pics, but since they're uncomfortable to wear over my normal lenses, I'll probably forgo that detail when I wear it anywhere public. Being able to see takes priority. The scarring's just done with makeup, but I may go with rigid collodion for the proper scarred look.
I didn't know quite what to expect when I booked my tickets to see Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band live. Ringo's had a tough couple of decades and fuss made over his refusal to sign anything else for fans and comments about Liverpool suggested that he'd become rather curmudgeonly since hitting 70.
What I didn't expect was the figure who bounded onstage tonight, full of boyish enthusiasm, slim and grinning and looking about 25 years younger than his 70 years, buoyed up by (seemingly) unforced glee at his latest tour.
And he was certainly in good company. The All Starr Band consisted of Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Gary Wright, Richard Page (of Mr Mister) and Wally Palmar (The Romantics).
Launching into It Don't Come Easy, Ringo seemed to be having a whale of a time and it was one of those gigs where it's hard to keep the grin off your face and where the enthusiasm of the performers rubs off onto the audience, even if almost every one of us remained glued to our seats, restricting out enthusiastic displays to polite rounds of applause. British reserve apparently seemed to be leading the way, although there was a good bit of banter between Ringo and the audience at some points, as he joked self-depreciatively between songs. Almost uncomfortably at one point, where he obviously thought an off-the-cuff remark about having his bedroom decorated with a picture of a cheering crowd on one wall fell a bit flat and he remarked, "I don't really. I just made that up. I thought it was funny. Apparently not." He looked so momentarily dejected I was surprised no-one jumped on stage to give him a big hug.
First up, let me say that I've never worshiped at the altar of Bryan Singer's X-men. Oh, I liked them well enough, but they never really felt like the X-men to me, with a few exceptions for certain characters. So coming from that point of view, and recalling that Ratner's X-men: Last Stand used a script that barely differed from the one Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer had in place when they left the project, my hopes for this movie weren't high. So did they exceed expectations?
Thinking things over more, there's definitely positive and negative with the DC reboot.
I mean, I've been saying for a while that the DC universe is utterly opaque and daunting for new readers. I'm a comics fan, but Crisis after Crisis, Countdowns, big events and reliance on drawing heavily on past canon has kept me away from much DC content. There's a rich history at DC, but I don't even know what the original Crisis was, let alone want to see it referenced weekly, have events built on the multiverse... it's all seemed needlessly complex. Streamlining all this, to me, does seem an attractive proposition. This is the positive, along with embracing digital.
However, it's the logistics of it that has me concerned.
For example, take the current scenario of Batman Incorporated...
So, it's happening. DC have confirmed that as of September they're completely rebooting their entire line, universe-wide. With new #1 issues for 50 titles and "a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
A few thoughts from me on this:
For retailers, this is going to be a fucking nightmare.
For current readers too, in most likelihood. For example, I currently pick up Batgirl, starring Stephanie Brown as Batgirl by a creative team I love. Come September, I may go into my local store and there'll be a copy of Batgirl waiting for me. Except this Batgirl could be Barbara Gordon. The entire universe and characters I was invested in swept aside to restore a status quo I'm too young to remember.
Went and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides last night. And while it was a perfectly acceptable distraction, I'm having a tough job composing a review of it because it lacked anything really memorable.
Welp, it looks like Twittinesis is dead and it may be permanent. Which means my Twitter has no longer been feeding to Livejournal.
Which, well, basically means I have no content here. I rarely do Livejournal any more. The large bulk of all my blogging activity has shifted over to Tumblr.
So, if you're not following me either on Tumblr or Twitter, things are going to be pretty quiet around here. As is the case, I suspect, for most people.
Those of you who do want to keep up with my activities can, of course, follow me on Twitter. However, my Tweets there are protected, so I'll have to approve you as a friend and, to be honest, are now mostly just fed from my Tumblr account anyway.
So, if you do want to continue following my public content here on Livejournal, it's pretty easy. Just add angelophile_tum as a friend. That's the feed syndicated from my Tumblr so any and all posts I make there will turn up on your Friends page. Simple!
I will still be posting here, but most likely on a monthly basis, not a daily one.
Caught Thor tonight and it pleasingly exceeded my (admittedly not sky high) expectations. When Branagh talked about it being a character driven movie, he did put his money where his mouth was and even minor characters were given time to develop.
"Cheerful Mrs Mole pottered happily around her idyllic home, stitching patchwork, making cakes, stirring pots, arranging flowers, at an absolutely gruesome time in the lives of the cartoonist Ronald Searle and his wife, Monica.The complete collection of Mrs Mole drawings, created by Searle and intended as private, bittersweet jokes never meant for publication, will go on display at the Cartoon Museum in London this week.
In 1969, Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer and given only a few months to live. She was offered a course of what in those days was seen as an experimental form of chemotherapy. Searle, regarded by his peers as the greatest living cartoonist, recalls his reaction: "I had only my talent for drawing ... so I drew."
He gave her the Mrs Mole drawings as she lay in her hospital bed in Paris, one for each of her treatments, showing Monica's alter ego cheerful and busy in a setting heavily based on their own home in a village in Provence.
The drawings were full of details from their domestic life: her grandmother also pottered about carrying a basket of keys, and in the renovation of their own house they had recently discovered a bundle of huge, ancient keys. Monica recalled: "I would lie in bed, living the life he created in the pictures."
She was pronounced clear of the cancer in 1975, and today they still live in Mrs Mole's beautiful house.
Searle, whose first published drawings recall the three and a half years he survived in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and who went on to create the hellish schoolgirls from St Trinians and the immortal Nigel Molesworth, has been awarded a CBE in Britain and the Legion d'Honneur in his adopted home in France. He is a trustee of the Cartoon Museum, which mounted a retrospective last year to mark his 90th birthday.
The museum is working with breast cancer charities on the exhibition, which runs until 20 March."
I really want to get to see this. Ronald Searle is most probably Britain's finest cartoonist and illustrators and has had so much influence over his career. Not least on me - my dad owned one of his book of cartoons "Back to the Slaughterhouse" and it was one of my favourite reads as a child. Beautifully twisted and the ideal thing to warp a young child for life in the best possible way.
You've probably noticed from my Twitter/Tumblr feed I've had a bit of an obsession with cosplay lately and have been doing a regular feature over on my Tumblr. Well, if you were interested, but haven't been keeping track, I'm going to try and get into the habit of doing a roundup of each week's Cosplay features and have been doing a bit of catch up with those. So, here's a list of all the featured cosplay so far:
I’ve been dipping out of Nu Who recently, skipping randomly between Eccleston, Tennant and Smith. It’s quite interesting to pit them against one another and one thing that’s apparent is how much fonder I’ve grown of Matt Smith and Chris Eccleston’s depictions, at the expense of Tennant. In fact, the more I rewatch Nine, the more love I feel. Eccleston’s Doctor is endearing, but he’s got that intensity as an actor that’s missing from Tennant’s run. (Of course, John Barrowman complained that he was too intense, but, well, fuck you Barrowman. It’s an acting gig, not a social club.) When Tennant’s called on to be intense and angry, he does that whole “Oh nonononono,” head-shakey thing and then gets all SHOUTY, like a puffer fish. But when Nine goes that route I really believe he’s going to kick some bottom.
It’s not entirely Tennant’s performance though. Eccleston had some stronger material to work with, the first series of rebooted Who didn’t rely on SUPER-DOCTOR! so often, with the character pulling new abilities out of his bum every other week and he was paired with a likable version of Rose, as opposed to the rather smug and selfish character she later became.
But, yeah, Eccleston. He’s still not my favourite Doctor by some margin, but he’s definitely overtaken Tennant on rewatches, who’s slipping down into the Colin Baker and John Pertwee zone the more I rewatch his episodes. Nine, on the other hand, has been growing on me over time. He’s endearingly goofy a lot of the time - proving that Eccleston could do silly and fun, which is why he apparently took the role - but when he does get serious, he’s superb.
Also, I may never forgive Ten for what he did to Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North, Prime Minister and Former Prime Minister.
Just finished watching Winter's Bone, which I've been meaning to catch ever since I heard the glowing reviews coming out of last year's Sundance Film Festival. (Where it won the Grand Jury Prize for best Dramatic Film.)
The film was written and directed by Debra Granik, and stars Jennifer Lawrence as the 17 year old Ozark teenager responsible for raising her two younger siblings when their impoverished family is seemingly abandoned by their meth-dealing father when he skips out on bail. When she discovers that he put the family home up as his bail bond and if he doesn't return to face trail they'll lose the house, she determines to track him down. The story follows her as she perseveres to find out her father's fate, despite the obstacles put in her path by the local criminals, family and law alike.
Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding as Ree Dolly, the major protagonist of the film, who faces the hillybilly-gangster world unflinchingly, refusing to step aside despite the white-trash nightmare world she's entering. Everyone she encounters seems to be kin of some kind and each more determined than the last to place obstacles in her way to stop her from learning the truth. It's stark and unrelenting, but Ree Dolly's moral center, intelligence and her courage in the face of the violent world she's entering make her an understated feminist lead.
Likewise is essentially a crime thriller is played through the lens of downbeat Orzak scenery in place of the more familiar surroundings of urban sprawl, which makes the film that much more unique. The story itself is, perhaps, not fresh. But the presentation - all backwater grime in the Orzak woods, drained of life and color - presents the poverty, both moral and literal, of the world unflinchingly and without sentiment. It's Arkansas Noir.