Tag Archives: SDCC

Graphic vs Novel, or You Just got Sucker Punched! (Melinda)

So, I suppose it is my job to write all the more nerd controversial posts on this blog. Such is my fate and I have accepted your nerd rage. Between the new Wonder Woman costume and the Twilight fixation it is about time I tackled this week’s Rage Quit.
This past weekend I was very excited to go out with both Caitlin and Adam to view the reportedly controversial film “Sucker Punch”.
**WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS POST.**
Normally I know what to expect going into a Zack Snyder movie. He draws from other source material, likes to make very long and beautiful music videos, er, “sequences” and usually loves the material so much he accidentally squeezes the head right off of it. I like to call this “Of Mice and Men and Zack Snyder Syndrome”.  He’s got a big ol’ boner for comics, so his major projects are almost always comic source material, the biggest of his career of course being “300” and “Watchmen”. His next big project is of course “Superman: Man of Steel”. Starting to see a theme here? If not, get out. I have no use for you.
So with all this knowledge in mind I was super excited at the idea of seeing a Zack Snyder film that was not based on a comic book. Little did I realize that rather than being based on a proper graphic novel, this film was, in its own right, a filmed graphic novel. I was more than pleasantly suprised as a result. “Sucker Punch” was one of the most highly anticipated films with materials at Comic-Con last year. People were so incredibly excited for this mix of psychology and epic battle badassery that the nerd rage associated with “Watchmen” seemed to disipate almost instantaniously. While reviews have been mixed and box office has been crap I still think its worth taking the time to talk about media translation of the material and why, overall, if you are a graphic novel fan, this is the film for you.
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Let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start…)
Graphic novel influence outside of the printed book is VERY rare to see and very very rarely done well. And when I say graphic novel I dont mean your basic DCU and Marvel stuff. Comic and Graphic Novel are two very different genres. Comic books have these universes set up with huge scopes and intermingling characters who, while having their stories to tell, are still based within these worlds. X-Men, Justice League, the Avengers, Teen Titans… all of their major interlooping stories such as “Civil War” or “Infinite Crisis” all have their basis in their comic base lore. Graphic novels are stories that you need to see in order to have the correct impact that the author wants to share. Not to say that these stories are in any way greater than what you read in the comic vein, they are just different. Often darker or more fantastical, graphic novels bring to life just what their titles suggest, the graphic nature of the story. The pained faces, the ultra violence, the impact of these happenings on their characters… reading about a broken individual is much different than seeing one. And thats why graphic novels and film seem to go so hand in hand with each other. They are stories that are meant to have a visual effect.
This of course comes with draw backs. Ever hear people say, “The movie was good, but the book was better”? I have never left a movie based on a graphic novel without hearing those words uttered by patrons at least 3 or 4 times just within my listening radius. Despite their similarities, these two genres have a very hard time mixing in an effective way. It would make sense then, one would think, to take the graphic novel influences to make a movie, rather than just make a movie out of a graphic novel, yes?
So lets take a look at some of the bigger graphic novel influences.
So I’m going to begin with some pretty basic, but none the less super important, titles. If you have not read any of them, get on it. They’re brilliant.
When looking at the graphic novel universe outside of Marvel or the DCU, two names normally come to mind, Frank Miller and Alan Moore. They write novels, in the truest sense of the word. You can feel free to fight me on that, but most people start out their graphic novel experiences with one of these two authors’ titles. They are also all stand alone titles, as compared to series (arguably Sin City is a series, but Miller has said that he wrote them each as independent noir books rather than issue by issue set up; you do not need to have read the others to jump in with the 4th or 5th book).
Miller is famous for his blood/sex drenched modern noir “Sin City” books as well as the critically acclaimed “300” which is veeeeery loosely based on the Spartians struggle against the Persians at the battle of Thermopylae. Alan Moore is best known for his chaotically profound works of vigilantism, “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen”.
I think its very interesting/worth noting that out of the four of these novels, Zack Snyder has directed the movie versions of at least two, “300” and “Watchmen”.
These works are all graphically stunning pieces of work which draw you into a world of chaos, danger and deception. In all, people who are considered heros make decisions that shake the foundations of base morality. In “Watchmen” heros decide that the only way to save the world is to destroy half of it. In “Sin City” the hardened folk of the town go around fighting corruption by saving deadly hookers and killing corrupt law officials. In these novels it is very hard to tell who the man in the white hat and the man and the black hat are. Their universes exist in a haze of grey at all times.
On top of this, women are very rarely written well by either of these two men. They’re all hookers, sluts, dependants or bitches. In “Sin City” all the women are beaten, abused, hookers or the villains of the piece. “Vendetta” shows us a woman who is completely abused and shell shocked by her male mentor so that she proceeds to follow blindly in his footsteps. While the intensions are nobel, it is still an incredibly abusive relationship. With “300”, we see a warlord Queen sell her body for the vote of a petty senate member who betrays her. And with “Watchmen” we see a female vigilante, the Silk Spectre, born of the idea of being a sex symbol who is later in the novel brutally raped by a team member. Then we have her daughter, Silk Spectre II, who goes the opposite route being an uninteresting, nasty, bitter “independent” woman who, at the same time, has been in some kind of relationship emotionally dependent relationship since she was 16 years old, (first with the all powerful Dr. Manhattan and then before that was even over, the more controllable Night Owl).
So with all these influences floating around in his head, Zack Snyder said “Hey, you know what I want to do? I actually want to make a movie about female empowerment, but in a strange chaotic universe where by merely imagining it these strong ladies create kick ass ways to fight back against their oppressors through the power of music.”
And so he did.
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So lets get into the meat and potatoes of this discussion. With all these ideas and influences running around in his head, this is the first original conception that Zack Snyder has ever done. As a result, he essentially wrote his own graphic novel. Mr Snyder gave us a story that, had it been written, drawn and inked first, would probably be being given critical acclaim right now instead of mixed reviews. However on that note, there is no way that this story could have been told correctly on paper. It had to be in film. And so here we have our connundrum ladies and gents. This movie is the perfectly filmed graphic novel that never was a graphic novel.
The story is very simple. A young girl is submitted to a women’s mental institution by her evil step father and the corrupt asylum owner where she has 5 days to escape before a doctor arrives to lobotomize her.
**Steven Spielberg used to say that all good film plots could be summed up in one sentence.**
It is simple. It is elegant. And from this foundation it is about building something fantastical. A story that can only be told by visuals. Snyder Inceptions the crap out of this piece by creating mental worlds within worlds to stand in for the atrocities happening around the main character, Babydoll.
The girls are all refered to by “cutesy” names which are representative of what the clearly sexually abusive Warden calls them, Babydoll, Sweet Pea, Blondie, Rocket and Amber. In any other setting these would be 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon stripper names, yet Snyder gives them a sense of softness and delicacy. They sound more like sorority sister nicknames when the girls use them.
Babydoll, immediately upon incarseration, inserts herself into a mental world where the girls ARE “special dancers” of sorts, therefore creating this world of glitter and lust instead of the real one of presumed grays, dirt, grit and misery. Babydoll’s world of sex and violence is still better than the original because it is a performance. She is in control of her own performance, just not the performances of those around her. And when things in this made up world become too dificult, specifically when she has to dance for men, another world is created that she has complete controll in. The world of her rescue, where she and her friends are the heros, kicking ass and taking names.
In the world of the asylum, they have no control as human beings. They are at the mercy of not only the Warden and Doctor Vera Gorski, but also their own mental anguishes. In the world of gloss and sex they have control as women, through their sexuality and their cunning. Each task to gather one of the items they need for their escape has the girls playing upon their feminine charm to distract the men of the community, the Warden, the Cook and their patrons. In the world of combat, the dance within the dance if you will, they have control as men, (in the representational sense). They become warriors, taking on positions that were normally held by males throughout time, a samurai, a knight, a WWII pilot, a guerrilla fighter and a military gunner. They fight for complete control in these roles that represent who they are and give them what they need to survive.
Babydoll holds their martial discipline. Sweet Pea represents honor. Amber is their leap of faith. Rocket is the imagination of the corps. Blondie is the intelectual fury.
It is through what they do in these worlds that they are able to bring these skills into the real world to do what they need to do to escape the asylum. It starts as a tune in their heads and it translates into the world around them. Some of these traits are too much for them in the real world. Some of them lead to ultimate sacrifice. But it is what builds these girls into women and these women into powerhouses to be reconned with. In the end even Doctor Gorski notices and she too takes up these mantles.
It is these visuals coupled with the interactions of characters that make the film really ring true. And if everything had been accentuated to its full potential within these themes the film would have been 4 hours long.
It is not completely unreasonable to think that if Snyder had written this out in book form it would be celebrated like the stories of Moore and Miller. It would be one of the better representations of women in a graphic novel genre.
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So if you’re a big ol’ fan of the visual novella, check this film out. They were not wrong to plug this the way they did at Comic Con last year. It really is amazing to see, especially on the big screen.
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Quick Poll! (Melinda)

Hey folks!

So last year’s Comic-Con gave the new movie “Sucker Punch” a lot of great press. Now that the movie has been released though, nerds everywhere are having mixed feelings on the matter. What did you all think of the highly anticipated film?

SDCC Housekeeping: Hotel Reminders! (Caitlin)

Hey SDCC-ers, for those of you still without a room for the big week, hotel reservations have opened on the SDCC website once more! There are also plenty of other hotels in San Diego and the surrounding areas, depending on how far you are willing to go (and likely rent a car, the farther out you are). We here at the blog can’t speak to any particular hotels which still have free space, but it’s worth a shot.

Here’s the link for hotel awesome-osity:

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_hotel.php

Good hunting!

Excited About Comics (Adam)

Sooo excited that we got our hotel setup and are one step closer to being at comic-con!  To prep for SDCC, I’ve been getting back into my comic roots. I used to work in a comic shop for 3 years during high-school. It’s probably one of the best jobs a nerd could ask for, especially at that age. However since my youth I grew apart from working with comics and these past months I’ve been working to get caught up in the comic book universe. Particularly Batman, because he is my favorite. I currently don’t have time to be catching up on the major publishers, so I’ve decided for now to just focus on DC. However if anyone has suggestions, leave a comment letting me know what is currently a “must read”! I am really trying to catch up in time for comic-con!

Getting caught up is hard! You leave a universe for 6-7 years and a lot happens! Apparently there was this thing called Infinite Crisis that hit right when I stopped reading, which sprung a bunch of other Crisis books and now we have the Green Lantern based Blackest Night series in 2010, which has NOW turned into Brightest Day. At least its not another crisis (or IS it?). There is so much to figure out in the DC universe since I left it.  I’ve been going through and catching up on a lot of the history which is ultimately leading up to Blackest Night.  My hope is to be caught up on Brightest Day by comic-con.

Besides Blackest Night, I’ve been catching up primarily on LOTS of Batman. I’ve recently finished up The Return of Bruce Wayne and I’ve moved on to Batman Inc. and the traditional back to basics Batman. Its always good to have an ongoing series to follow in your life and I’ve been enjoying these a lot. Also…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman’s a PIRATE! Also a Caveman, Pilgrim and Cowboy. I’m excited with the Batman stories and where they have been in recent months. Can’t wait to see where this is all leading! Also Bruce Wayne recruiting people is a cool concept that I really can get behind. It just makes a lot of sense to me and I’m glad they have A) brought him back and B) are moving him in an interesting / new direction. I have also recently made the realization that a lot of this new Batman work is coming from someone I remember from way back in the day, Grant Morrison.

Yup, Grant Morrison. I remember him from back when I was in my comic shop days. Back then he was doing X-Men and shit (among other things, probably drugs), and now he is back on DC! It is really cool to see someone who I liked back then still making things happen in the comic world today. I’ve gotten even MORE excited now that I can go to Comic-con and MEET him. Really powerful stuff.

I think that the stories which come out of comics are the most interesting part. Thats why when writers, like Grant Morrison, get it right I’ll normally pick up whatever they tend to write out of principal. (Used to be into Warren Ellis like that, but he doesn’t really write much now. ❤ Planetary)

There are a ton of people from the industry that will be at SDCC this year and I’m very excited to meet them. Without the people behind comics, we wouldn’t have something as awesome as comic-con this year. I feel its really important to show these writers, artists, producers and publishers that their fans not only care about their creations but the people behind them. A lot of fans go to SDCC for other media, mainly films and television. But the core is comics. People forget that the reason we are there is because of comics.

To check out some of the people that are going to be there, hopefully you already have, check out the list of guests currently attending.

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_guests.php

You should also walk down Artists Alley at least once while there. Check out the new talent. Today’s asshole in a Star Wars shirt could be tomorrow’s Stan Lee (in a Star Wars shirt). Who knows?

It’s going to be a great time this year at SDCC and can’t wait for all the comic goodness that awaits on my arrival!

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: HOTEL ACQUIRED! (Melinda)

We received our confirmation for a hotel this morning!! Super excitement! As a result much of the fear stress as gone down and we are back to being our happy, awesome selves!

We will be staying in Misson Valley at one of our first choice places with a shuttle that goes right to the convention center. We wanted to stay somewhere that would also give us access to going out fun places when con days turn into con nights, so we’re super duper thrilled about placement. Anyone else staying in the Valley?

Hotel Morning Maaaaaaadness!! (Melinda)

This morning was Hotel Registration for the SDCC discounted hotels that they bought up all over the city thusly inducing panic to us noobs a few weeks ago when we could NOT book a hotel.

So it was just little ol’ me this morning. Apparently I am the only one of the four of us with no real life. For more information on this, see the length of  my previous posts. So with a list of 20 hotels in hand and a cup of tea I had been sitting at my computer filling out the hotel request form as humanly possible. After what was basically 4 minutes I clicked SUBMIT!!! and waited for the inevitable death to strike me down with some message such as ERROR! OVER CAPACITY! YOU WANT HOTEL ROOMS YOU HAVE TO SUCK VIRTUAL DICK MUHA HA HA HA!

But to my pleasant surprise, I was met with no virtual cock slap. Instead I was left with this….

So that’s pretty nice.

No stress, no crazy reloading. No virtual dickitry! Go team.

However NOW is the raging torrent of the inevitable. We must WAIT for 48 in hope that we may possibly get a slot. WHICH MAKES ME PERSONAL NERD RAGE! I’m personally terrible at this kind of waiting, as I fear we should be making a back up reservation as I type these words (stupid Melinda) but I shall persevere and  hopefully we will have good news for you all later! In the mean time I will be compulsively checking my email all day. 😀

PS: Things that are going to be hilarious 101: We’re all (theoretically) sharing a one bedroom. So if any of you lady folk (or gentlemen, we’re equal sexual opportunists here) want to take the boys off our hands for a couple of nights Caitlin and I would be just thrilled. *thumbs up!*

Twi-hards and Potterphiles: Dealing with Modern Fans (Melinda)

Hello dear readers. I am once again about to talk about something that no one wants to talk about, so get ready to have the blood angered up a bit. Feel free to Hulk out even! If you do pull a Banner however, I will ask you to send photos because that sounds hilarious and would love to see a thousand green, angry gigantros in torn clothing in my inbox. Clearly this is why I write on the internet. It’s the little things that get me through the day.

So it was announced recently that the newest Twilight movie, “Breaking Dawn” is going to be showing footage from the new film at Comic Con this year. This is not the first time they have done such things and it will not be the last. And yes, it’s going to suck.

A lot of people blame the crowds and the difficultly to get tickets to SDCC on these newer fan base. As Comic-Con has grown and as more and more genred teen fiction has taken the forefront of modern literature it is absolutely no surprise that the two subjects would eventually collide in a sticky mess of acne and angst. The history of nerd and fan culture is a cavalcade of hatred and vehement anger towards groups, so I wanted to take a minute (or 20) to take a step back and talk about dealing with new fandoms in this here modern-day time.

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NERDY HISTORY CHANNEL TIME!

Or as I like to call it, “The More You Knoooooow!” *cue shooting star*

This is not the first time nerd hate and convention status has clashed, so for the sake of perspective why don’t we take a look at the birth of convention culture. Hop in my proverbial interweb Tardis and let’s learn us a thing or two!

Fan culture is widely acknowledged by scholars to have begun with the emergence of one great American television show in 1966, the infamous series “Star Trek”.  It was not the first science fiction show of its time, but it was the ship that launched a thousand fangirls. Women in collegiate academia caught on to the little space show that could and did not let it go. Captain Kirk and his courageous crew inspired some of the most influential parts of pop fan culture today, specific examples being fan fiction, fan vidding and most importantly fan conventions. The greatness of something as large as SDCC can be traced back to a few little collegiate profess-ettes sitting in a hotel convention room talking about starting fan magazines and the feminist implications of Science Officer Spock.

Flash forward to 1977. George Lucas come out with a little thing we the world likes to call “Star Wars: A New Hope”. Suddenly this film inspires fan culture of its own. Trekkies suddenly start to see the culture they have made for themselves over the years slip away as a younger fan base starts their own fan magazines, their own fan fiction and most terrifying of all, their own fan conventions. Ever wonder where the Trek/Wars feud started? BAM! Right there. Star Trek fans felt their culture being taken away by a younger audience who loved something that was ripped off from a japanese movie and sprinkled with some kind of outer space magic called the force.

Now, I’m not saying that Twilight should be compared to Star Wars. Lets get that straight RIGHT now folks. But the journey of one fandom’s plight to the next is very similar to what we see now.

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MODERN DRAMA!

People like to think that the Twilight “Saga”, a word I use in its most generous sense, is the first of these major teen dramas to ruin the face of literature and as a result our beloved Comic-Con, but this is not  entirely true. Thusly enters my personal nerd rage subject, the Harry Potter series.

Obviously the incredibly popular Harry Potter books have done very well for themselves and yield very little hatred from most fan based groups. Heck, there’s a theme park now. That counts for something.

Its growth in fan phenomenon is very similar to the idea of the Japanese school girl in the anime/manga world. Fantastical stories involving magic bring forth fans of all ages, young and old (and older) to dress in sexy school boy/girl uniforms and parade around conventions as their favorite teenagers. While yes the boys and girls of the Harry Potter series grow up, a lot of the culture is based more around the idea of dressing up as the highschool incarnations. Quidditch uniforms, house ties and button down shirts are usually the norm when thinking of Harry Potter cosplay, though I do realize that there are exceptions to this. I have been (begrudgedly) dragged to a few Wizard Music Concerts, college Quidditch matches and costumed movie/book openings (for the record I have WAY to many friends who are diehard Potter fans) in an attempt to understand the culture in its relation to fandom. It actually shocks and amazes me how similar it is to Twilight fandom.

 

Twilight character costumes are now sold on common cosplay websites. “Cullen Covens”, groups of people who pretend to be vampires within the Twilight universe,  are popping up from east to west coast. The book preorders and movie tickets are as coveted beyond belief.

If you think about it, what is so different between the mother who reads and loves the Twilight series and the father in the Snape outfit at the Wizard Ball (without his kids I might add)? What is the difference between the tween who dresses up like a Slytherin fan fic character they made up on the internet and the one who goes to con as Bella?

One of these things is widely accepted as rational fandom and the other is not, with the most common argument being that the literary range of one far outweighs the other. However if you ask most literary scholars, the only real “intellectual” difference between the two series is the theme. Harry Potter fandom is based in the love of the created world, whereas Twilight fandom is based in the love of the emotional story. People flock to Harry Potter for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and the Quidditch fields. People flock to Twilight for the idea of torrid love affairs and personal vulnerability and the trials sharing yourself with an everlasting soul mate forever.  Of course it can be argued that Harry Potter also holds a compelling emotional story and the vampiric world built in Twilight is why people enjoy it, but predominantly these are the things that the fan base evolves around. Both  series are also written for teenagers, so the bulk of the intellectual verbage is on the same level as a result. Neither of them is academically considered brilliant and neither of them is winning any Newberry Awards or Pulitzers any time soon.

And in my personal opinion, they are both terrible. But that is not the point.

Regardless of your feelings about Harry Potter or Twilight, they are the most mainstream unique cultures that have evolved a cult fandom following in recent days, with James Cameron’s “Avatar” following close at their heels (again, another world based fandom frenzy).

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MORAL OF THE STORY

So how do we deal with these people? Even if we hate these stories, we should still respect their fandom. SDCC is a place where adults dress up as men in tights and women in chain mail and for a few brief days, we celebrate the fact that nerds have come so far. We shouldn’t be pissed at the Twilight fans for bringing more people to Con. We should be happy that fandom has moved up to the big boy table in mainstream culture. Comic-Con has become a force to be reckoned with. It’s gone from going to your local High School theatre award ceremony to going to the Oscars. You’re always going to have the Paris Hiltons and the James Francos. But you’re on the goddamn red carpet, so don’t bitch about. I don’t like Harry Potter fans, but I tolerate them because what they do for the bigger picture means more to me than what they as fans prefer to associate with.

I read an article a while back where Kevin Smith was interviewed about “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and while he has become a crazy person here in his later years, he said something very interesting. It is widely agreed by Star Wars fans across the board that Jar-Jar Binks was the worst thing to happen to the franchise. Ever. But Kevin Smith said that when he saw the film in a theatre filled with children, every child was entranced by him. And you know what that does? It opens up a whole new generation of Star Wars fans. It’s understandable to hate Jar-Jar Binks if you’re above the age of eight years old. He’s fucking terrible. But for these innocent, easily impressionable minds, it is exactly what they need. It makes them want more. And personally, if exposing the children to Star Wars isn’t important then this is a world I do not want to live in.

*Slight disclaimer, I could not for the life of me find that old article, so this is vastly paraphrased. I’m not super concerned, as I am sure Kevin Smith will never read our blog. However if you are Kevin Smith and reading this blog, good on you! “Dogma” was awesome.*

So this is all about tolerance people. Today’s Twilight fan may be the True Blood writer of tomorrow, giving us unique gothic tales of intrigue and the supernatural. Today’s Harry Potter fan may be the next Pixar graphic designer, developing and bringing fantastical new worlds to life in vivid Technicolor. Today’s tiny Binks fan may be the next George Lucas or Peter Jackson. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt, no matter how improbable it may sound. Theres no way of knowing what fandom may bloom into. So put your “Twilight Ruined Comic-Con” signs and your pitchforks away and just accept the fact that these people are going to be there. If you do not choose to acknowledge that these people, despite our personal chagrin, do deserve to be there, think on this…

When I see a jock who used to push me in a locker for holding a copy of “Lord of the Rings” in highschool at the opening of a Chris Nolan Batman movie, I don’t like it, but I tolerate it.

When I see some slutty hot girl dressed up as Super Girl for Halloween not because she actually reads comics and/or knows who super girl is, but because she knows it makes her the hottest girl in the room, I don’t like it, but I tolerate it.

And when I hear girls and boys talking about how sexy and sensitive vampires are or how they wish they were getting their letters to Hogwarts, I WANT TO FUCKING MURDER THEM! But I tolerate it.

We have been set apart as a community for a very long time. I certainly remember the dark days of swirlies and other such nonsense. And while it feels great to take out our rage on something, lets take it out on someone who deserves it more. Not on our own kind.

I personally vote for the religious folk who picketed Comic-Con last year because it was “based in idol worship”. Westboro Baptist Church (the same ass hats that picketed Matthew Shepard’s Funeral fyi). Not that I have anything against religion, mostly I just want to because it is HILARIOUS. 😀

So let us be more tolerant and leave our hate at the door. Or get all your anger out on the internet. Either way leave the Twilight kids alone. Just for a few days. They won’t ruin your experience, so theres no need to ruin theirs.