Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

I finally saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is not as bad as the critics and fans say, however it is not a masterpiece. There are many issues with this film, however the most jarring ones will be addressed.

As always, Snyder brings his “A” game to the visuals. But the film suffers from the “everything but the kitchen sink” syndrome. They stuffed the film with some of the most popular touchstones for comic book fans. But if they had focused solely on the conflict between Batman and Superman, this would have been a far more cohesive film and allow better character and plot development.

This film was set up as a backdoor to the Justice League. But they revealed way too much about everyone including showing the origin story of at least one character. By shoving as much cool stuff in this film, they popped their wad way too early. The final battle deserved its own movie and it should have taken place at least five movies later in order to have the resonance it had in the comic.

The film is weighed down by too many unnecessary scenes. There is one sequence where Bruce Wayne is pulling a tarp off his sports car, focuses on the insignia on the car and cuts to him driving the car. That scene should have been left on the cutting room floor because other than Bruce driving past what is implied to be his childhood home, it has absolutely no significance other than filler.

What was the point of retelling Batman’s origin? We already know that from Tim Burton’s 1989 film “Batman” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”. We also have the TV series “Gotham” to remind us every week that Bruce Wayne became Batman because he witnessed the death of his parents. Other than being a tribute to Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” this retelling does not really serve the film.

Which brings me to the dream sequences. Mind you, they are really cool, especially with the parademons. But other than demonstrating Bruce Wayne’s paranoia it serves no other purpose. Perhaps it was a way to foreshadow the future of the DCU, however, there are easier, quicker and far more effective ways to do that.

The pacing of the film is a bit off. For example, there is a character who was injured during “Man of Steel” who plays a critical role in the film. But he pops up for a couple of scenes, then he disappears and then shows up for his moment. The timing of the whole sequence feels off. If the movie was more streamlined, it would have been far more coherent.

In terms of the cast, the standout is Wonder Woman. The rest of the cast do the best they can with what they are given. However, if Wonder Woman’s appearance is a sample of what it is come in her feature film debut, we all have a lot to look forward to.

Probably the most controversial aspect of this film is the revelation that Lex Luthor has a specific advantage over all three of them, particularly against Batman and Superman,
and what Luthor does with this advantage was not just against cannon but it was against his character. One of the traits of Lex Luthor is that he is extremely ruthless. The perfect example of this ruthlessness occurs in the episode Question Authority from the DCAU series Justice League Unlimited

Lex Luthor: [laughing] President? Foolish faceless man. My campaign is a farce. A small part of a much grander scheme. President ?

[grabs Question by the throat and slaps him twice]

Lex Luthor: Do you know how much power I’d have to give up to be president?

[throws The Question across the room]

Lex Luthor: That’s right, conspiracy buff. I spent $75 million on a fake presidential campaign all just to tick Superman off.

That is how Lex Luthor rolls.

In the minds of the critics and the fans this is what they expected but Luthor falls short, which is probably why many of them turned against this film.

This advantage is such a radical game changer that is actually akin to having Luthor being a Kryptonian, which was part of a proposed Superman film that fortunately never made past development hell.

This does not bode well for the DCU because this development will draw the ire of all the critics and fans since it has huge implications for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other characters that need to be addressed in future films.

Fortunately all Warner Brothers needs to do is to improve future films is very simple. First of all they have to reign in Zack Snyder. They need a producer or producers who are able to keep him in check so he does not wander off the reservation looking to do something cool.

They need to get a new development team to ensure the quality of the films. It would actually be to their advantage to hire people who are not known as comic book specialists.

Marvel has been accused of developing cookie cutter films. But what they have actually done is develop a “house style” just like they did in their comics. The formula is simple and can be predictable, however audiences are able to follow it. And with movies like “The Winter Soldier” they have no problem subverting it and improving upon that formula. The funny thing about “The Winter Soldier” is that it is has become more relevant since the events of “Age of Ultron” and with the upcoming “Captain America:Civil War”.

If reports are true that the executives over at WB/DC think that adding a couple of jokes during reshoots of “The Suicide Squad” will enable them to compete with Marvel then they are not examining Marvel closely enough in order to learn from them. It is not a comedic issue, it is an organizational issue. They need to emulate, not imitate.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Review of Declan and Chang Sweet F.A. Issue #5

After getting curbed stomped by the Hadrian, Declan and Chang lay helpless while Luisa and Victor attempt to regroup. Just as the Hadrian gains target acquisition on Luisa, she pulls a Hail Mary and takes out the killer robot much to the relief of Victor. Realizing Declan and Chang are on the verge of checking out, Luisa and Victor hatch a desperate plan to save them, while the Jersey Devil and Roscoe continue their “first date” with the Jersey Devil playing Freud.

Commander Le Bevere storms the hospital that serves as the base of operations of Doc Awesome, which proves to be a really bad idea and is forced to put an end to Declan and Chang who have just been brought in by Luisa and Victor.

While Victor is tending to Declan and Chang, Luisa displays her tactical skills as she puts on an overcoat and straps on enough firepower that would make Chow Yun Fat proud. After amassing an insane amount of casualties due to an ill chosen strategy of human wave attacks, Le Bevere’s men realize heavier ordnance is required which cuts short Luisa’s tribute to John Woo’s Hardboiled. However, the timing is perfect for a comeback for our two favorite cybernetic mercenaries.

Declan and Chang #5 is a brilliant display of the Yuan Twins earning their keep as storytellers as they make the transition from cliffhanger to penultimate issue.

The penultimate issue is probably one of the most difficult issues to produce in any medium. A creative team needs to be on the top of their game because if they just hold off till the final issue, it looks like they are phoning it in. If they go all out, then there is nothing left for the conclusion but to mop up. An example of the latter would be the episode “Red Rose” of the Sons of Anarchy. It is a pivotal episode where three beloved main characters meet their fate, however, the final episode of the show feels strangely anticlimactic. That type of overcompensation can be disastrous because it negatively impacts the final episode and series itself.

While the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad “Granite State” is intense but in no way weakens the series finale. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould craft a brilliant story that puts both Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in a complete state of vulnerability. Both their current situations are so severe that it makes the audience even more invested in seeing the final episode because they are eager to learn what happens to Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and the other surviving characters.

Two examples of excellent penultimate issues in comics are the Transformers limited series that was published by Marvel and the Ennis and Mcrea classic “Hitman”.

Before Michael Bay, there were the Transformers cartoon and comic book series that was based on the Hasbro toy line, which was introduced in the 1980’s. The cartoon and the animated film get plenty of accolades, however limited series published by Marvel garners only a fraction of the attention, which is unfortunate because it is an excellent limited series.

“Prisoner of War!” was written by Jim Salicrup and penciled by Frank Springer and this penultimate issue of the limited series is a wet dream for comic book readers since it features Spider-Man in his Secret Wars black costume teaming up with the Autobot Gears. It is a fantastic issue because of the chicanery that the two get involved in and answers the following question: What would happen if Megatron and Spiderman met? It ends in a shocking manner when a betrayal is revealed.

“Closing Time” is the final arc in the Hitman comic book series and issue #59 is where Tommy Monaghan, Natt the Hat and Kathryn McAllister take the final steps in bringing down Truman, a diabolical CIA operative who is attempting to recreate a process similar to how Tommy gained his special abilities. Tommy faces Marc Navorne who is the son of Johnny Navorne, who he killed in issue #7. Even Tommy is aware that it was a one and a million shot because Johnny Navorne was considered to be an assassin of the highest order. It is made clear that the son is no pushover either and in fact it appears he is better than his late father. When the two finally meet face to face, it is probably one of the most shocking and surreal duels in comic book history because it ends on such an abrupt and unexpected note.

Awareness of the expectations of the readers is imperative. But awareness does not mean being bound by them, but being able to manage those expectations. In both of these penultimate issues, both creative teams were both aware and managed the expectations of the reader but were not controlled by them. What is expected is to be denied and there must be a complete disregard of the mortality of the story itself. Fan service be damned.

Transformers #3 is a memorable penultimate issue because it leaves the reader expecting more from the final issue. After all, if Spider-Man can show up, then the possibilities are endless. Despite the restraints of a limited series. Salicrup does not hold back in the final issue of the limited series, due in part to the popularity of the series.

The penultimate issue of Hitman #59 issue is shocking because of the final confrontation between hero and villain. It is a pretty risky move because it empties the chambers and by all appearances leaves very little for the conclusion. However, the final issue of Hitman is quite memorable due to the emotional impact that is reminiscent to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Throughout the series, Garth Ennis had inferred that as beloved members of his inner circle began to fall, it would only be a matter of time before Tommy would be joining them. With the introduction of Marc Navorne in the final arc, the fate of Tommy Monagan was foreshadowed and readers became convinced that the final issue would be where Marc Navarone would have a hand in Tommy’s final moments. Of course readers should know by now that Garth Ennis refuses to follow convention and he rubs that in our face much to our delight.

It is too easy and predictable a route for a penultimate issue to serve just as a cliffhanger. It also must serve as the last part of a puzzle that is solved by the final issue. The creative team must tread very, very carefully, because how the puzzle is solved in the final issue must make sense for the reader. Any radical changes to the story line that they are unable or unsuccessful to resolve in the final issue will leave the reader completely dissatisfied by the experience.

From the git go this series was firing on all cylinders and now the Yuan Twins have hit the nitrous and could care less if they crash and burn. Even though they could save it for the final issue and play it safe, they have chosen to disregard the mortality of the story. Mind you, this should not be confused with showing contempt for the reader. The Yuan Twins are actually showing respect to the reader by putting themselves in a risky position.

But they are not being stupid about it. Which brings me to Under Siege. This action vehicle, which was a prototype of the Diehard formula, featured Steven Seagal taking on a group of terrorists on a US Navy battleship. It is considered to be one of Seagal‘s best films, but here is a fun fact. Out of 103 minutes, he is only in it for 41 minutes. The core of the success of this film was not Steven Seagal but the fact that the film was structured to carry him, which required the director Andrew Davis and screenwriter J.J Lawton to focus the film on the strong supporting cast which included Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Colm Meany, Nick Mancuso, Patrick O’Neal and Andy Romano. This structure allowed the lead role to be interchangeable for any action star. In all honesty, Seagal could be replaced with a turnip and the audience would not notice.

By no means am I comparing Steven Seagal with Declan and Chang. If they were actually to meet, Declan and Chang would probably drop Seagal in a pit covered in barbecue sauce with a bunch of Cleetas programmed with a hatred for pulled pork. However, what transpired in issue # 5 reminded me of the structure of Under Siege.

Despite the two main characters being put out of commission and leaving the supporting players to carry the story, the Yuan Twins used that to their advantage by creating opportunities for character and plot development. Although he acts as the straight man of the two, Victor displays to his wife a knack for improvisation, which comes in quite handy, as they sneak Declan and Chang into the hospital. It appears that psychological warfare is also part of her genetic makeup of the Jersey Devil as she manipulates Rosoce in facing the complexities of his relationship with his father and making a decision that has huge consequences for the final issue.

Issue #4 demonstrated the teamwork of Luisa, Declan and Chang. Issue #5 shows her full capabilities, as she single-handedly takes on all comers. The Yuan Twins craft an action sequence that is worthy of The Raid. The bottleneck sequence alone has elements of the final gunfight scene from the Luc Besson classic The Professional, particularly, the blackout scene is quite impressive particularly due to the high level of difficulty to execute. It is deceptively simple due to the minimalist art, but it requires dedicated hours of precise ink work and proper figure placement in order to create the sequential action of an ambush that is lit by flash muzzles.

This is why it is absolutely imperative for a series to have a strong supporting cast. Just as a protagonist needs an antagonist, it also needs a strong supporting cast to add more dimension to the story.

Since the beginning, Declan and Chang have been given the short end of the stick and by the end of issue of #5 they have grabbed hold of the stick and are about to beat senseless anything in their path. It is a radical departure from the past four issues and it works because it is well within the themes of this series.

As penultimate issues go, Declan and Chang #5 can stand with the best of them. The Yuan Twins recognized this issue as an occasion to develop the supporting characters and to consolidate and strengthen the plotlines. Although the end is only an issue away, the Yuan Twins have completely ignored it but they did not ignore their readers. Which has only set the stage for a climatic final issue.

As I have stated from my review of issue #3, I became very suspicious of what was truly transpiring. This latest issue has only heightened my concerns, particularly how Luisa was able to dispatch the Haridan and when she had to attend to more pressing matters in the hospital, leaving Declan and Chang in a vulnerable state. Even though they appear to be unfounded, any discernable reader should at least question the final pages.

I have examined the last five issues like the Zapruder film and have formed my own theory regarding the conclusion of this series. Until it ends, I am keeping it to myself. But what I do know for sure is that there is definitely one character that will not be left unscathed, even if they do survive.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Review of Declan and Chang Sweet F.A. Issue #5

The Myth Of Overnight Success

While writing A Palmful Of Gold, one issue that really irked me was when the myth of the overnight success was brought up by the person who Lee Goldberg was interacting with. It was basically a very spirited but unnecessary debate where the reader attempted to refute Lee Goldberg’s points by using using examples of “overnight success”, one of those examples was “South Park”. Goldberg, without breaking a sweat, backhanded those arguments by pointing out the amount of hard work and time that was actually required for them to achieve their success. Initially this was a part of A Palmful Of Gold, however, I came to the realization it required its own entry to properly explain why over night success is a myth.

South Park

Back in the day, cable was considered to be one of the backwaters of the entertainment industry and Comedy Central was no exception. Programming was initially reruns of “Dream On”, “Kids in the Hall” and other second run content including comedy films. However there was a slow push towards original programming, which brings us to “South Park”.

Yes. As the reader pointed out, Trey Parker and Matt Stone technically conceived “South Park”in college however it was originally a short called “Spirit of Christmas”. But the journey from University Colorado at Boulder to entertainment icons was a long and painful one consisting of sleeping on dirty laundry and having several rejected pilots under their belt. Their fortunes changed for the better when Fox executive Brian Graden commissioned them to make a Christmas card, which was the second “Spirit of Christmas” which is known as “Jesus vs. Santa Claus.”

Doug Herzog who was the president of Comedy Central at the time and now president of MTV Networks,was one of the recipients and called the duo in to hatch out a deal and the rest as they say is history.

The success of “South Park” was due to a variety of factors which included Comedy Central making the effort to produce original programming and because both parties really had nothing to lose. What also made “South Park” attractive was the quick and dirty production values which made the accountants really happy.

The Outsiders
Another set of outsiders that appear to have busted into the scene overnight are Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith, however upon closer examination of their origins, it is quite obvious that is really not the case. Robert Rodriguez had been developing his talents as a filmmaker since he was kid when his father bought a home video camera. His feature El Mariachi and how he directed and produced it with $7000 made Rodriguez a popular guest on the talk show circuit. What is fascinating was that his initial goal was to sell his film in the Spanish market, which was rejected. After that failure, he ended up getting in touch with ICM who arranged a meeting with Columbia Pictures who were interested in remaking the film but opted to release the original film instead. The economics made sense since the film was already in the can and the story behind the film was a brilliant marketing hook.

Kevin Smith had no intention on becoming a darling of Sundance when he first made Clerks in fact it was only after a chance screening in front of a member of the Sundance advisory committee at the 1993 Independent feature film market that started “Silent Bob” on his journey to stardom.

On a budget of $27,575 raised from sales from parts of his comic book collection, credit cards, an insurance pay out and a college fund, Kevin Smith directed what has been viewed as one of the great comedies in cinema history.

Do you see where I am going with this? The gates of Hollywood did not just magically open for Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Robert Rodriquez and Kevin Smith because they followed some formula. There other elements were in play that which they had no control over including the current environment of the time and the state of mind of the Gatekeepers when they decided to roll the dice. Although it paid off in spades, that roll of the dice did not occur overnight, instead it was years in the making

The Gatekeepers
When the Gatekeepers take on a new project, ideally this group of executives, in their infinite wisdom, will stack the deck in their favor by selecting the most qualified candidates. In terms of selection and creation there is no hard science to it.

It was only when Jerry Seinfeld began to establish himself as a standup comedian, that he was approached by NBC to do a sitcom, which would be “Seinfeld”. He was under the impression that NBC had a vehicle for him to walk into and found out that NBC was actually looking at him to create the show. Regardless of all the market research and analysis, at the end of the day no one knows the outcome until the project comes to fruition which is why they hire people like Jerry Seinfeld to produce the content.

All About The Benjamins
Money is often touted as the best way to enter the sphere of power and establish a career in Hollywood. It will not make you an overnight success but it will definitely put one on the fast track, especially during these economic times.

When the last recession occurred, credit dried up and like all industries, Hollywood works on OPM. It got to the point that Hollywood was desperate enough to take money from the son of an enemy of the state. That is until his funds were frozen when his father was overthrown. If all was well in the financial markets, it is highly doubtful that this person would even have his phone calls returned.

But just because you have $100 million at your disposal does not guarantee success. Ever heard of the Warriors of Virtue? A family of doctors is responsible for not one but two of these films which are now fodder for the cult classic community. Which proves that money and a medical degree does not result in great movies.

Some people with access to that type of cash are a lot smarter and make an effort to educate themselves. Cue the Ellison kids. David Ellison graduated from USC Film School and has experience in acting and producing. His sister Megan did a year at USC film school and began producing independent films on her own.

But what really got everyone’s attention was the successful remake of True Grit which they both served as producers. One person that took notice was their own father Larry Ellison who gave them access to more capital. This resulted in David and Megan forming their own production companies and producing their own slate of films including Zero Dark Thirty, Star Trek Into Darkness and the upcoming Terminator: Genisys.

Obviously having Larry Ellison as their father was a huge advantage but even David and Megan Ellison had to prove themselves to get to this point in their careers.

The New Way Of Doing Business Is The Old Way

One commenter on that post chimed in that the Amazon network would serve as a way to circumvent the business practices of the industry. Lee Goldberg pointed out that the content providers for Amazon are already established names in Hollywood. The commenter replied that it was still a good time for a newcomer with new ideas to come in. And again this perspective fails to take in account the other variables that are involved for a newcomer to make their way in the business, which include timing and whatever qualifications they bring to the table, assuming they have any.

Although Youtube and other online video distribution systems allow you to make your own content, it will be on your dime and time. If you can make money or have a high number of followers or both, you will get the attention of the mainstream players. Youtube star Freddie Wong recently cut a deal with Lionsgate but before that he spent a couple of years uploading his videos onto Youtube and establishing a record of providing content.

But what if you do not have a massive bankroll or a network of connections? The solution is quite simple.

You do it by writing whatever your heart desires, whether it is screenplays, poetry, novels, short stories, just write. You take classes on writing. And if you do not have the money or time, then you sign up for free online classes that you can take whenever your schedule allows it. You research the industry and the trends that are occurring. You search for a community where you feel comfortable enough to share your work with. And you look for a platform where you can self-publish your work.

You want to make a pilot for a TV show? Go right ahead. Make as many pilots as your heart desires. All you need is a Smart Phone, a Youtube Channel and you are good to go. Post your work so the entire world can see it. You have no idea how to make one? Google it.

You will be entering a world of hurt because you will be judged. Harshly. With each scathing word, welcome the gold that is placed in your palm, even if it is just flecks. If there is none to be found, discard it and move on.

There are no assurances, but if you put in the time and effort, your probability for achievement will be higher than sending pitch emails. Because when the Gatekeepers see that you not only did the legwork but you are also bringing in significant numbers, they will unlock the doors.

Most importantly, cleanse any notions of overnight success out of your mind. It will only add more frustration and stress in achieving your goals in an industry that is known to eviscerate its own.

As I mentioned in a past entry, you are looking at least a decade of hard work. If that bothers you, just remember that Lee Goldberg has been doing this for over 30 years and he just got his second wind.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Myth Of Overnight Success

A Palmful Of Gold

“When someone criticizes me, they are putting gold in my palm.”

I first heard that from Larry Hama at a symposium on the role of Asian Americans in comic books at the Museum of Chinese Americas. In Lee Goldberg’s case, expect him to back up the entire dump truck onto your lawn.

My introduction to Lee Goldberg occurred earlier this year after perusing Mark Evanier’s website and finding an entry where he mentioned Lee Goldberg in the same breath as Colleen Doran. Seeing that he was being placed in such esteemed company, I decided to delve further into his work.

Lee Goldberg cut his teeth as a television writer then rose to shot caller status as a show runner and producer. He displayed a forte for mystery shows which included Diagnosis Murder, but he also worked on shows from different genres including Baywatch and Sammo Hung’s American television debut Martial Law. He also wrote an episode of The Highwayman starring Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones, which I fondly remember and established himself as a New York Times best selling mystery writer and blogger.

Recently he reposted an entry titled “Stop Looking for a Short Cut” from his Mail I Get section of his blog which was a response to an email proposal from a reader to collaborate in developing a pilot. Lee Goldberg provided a very blunt and honest explanation of why he was rejecting the proposal and instead of taking the gold that was placed in his palm, the reader got “butthurt” over the response and refused to recognize the critical knowledge being provided to him free of charge.

Disheartening but not surprising.

What the general public often overlooks are the parameters of quality assurance that are required to comply with in order to work in Hollywood. It is no different than a landlord who runs a credit check on prospective tenants and a company that requires an interview and background check for candidates applying for a job.

The best explanation of these controls is the following exchange that takes place in the Tony Scott classic True Romance where Dick Ritchie explains to Clarence the difficulties of selling a suitcase filled with an illicit product indigenous of South America.

I’m offering a half a million dollars worth of white for two hundred thousand. How difficult can that be?

It’s difficult because you’re sellin’ it to a particular group. Big shots. Fat cats. Guys who can use that kind of quantity. Guys who can afford two hundred thousand. Basically, guys I don’t know. You don’t know. And, more important, they don’t know you.

Now I am not equating Hollywood as a drug haven, of course some would beg to differ, but the point I am making is that the movers and shakers are not prone to allow outsiders within their inner circle so easily. This inner circle maintains a defensive perimeter of gatekeepers, sentries and other barriers of entry in order deter any outsiders who do not have the proper introductions or have not been indoctrinated in the culture of the industry.

Because of the highly competitive nature of Hollywood, these safeguards are in place to keep the teeming masses at bay and this infrastructure is present all over the industry. Did you know that Steve Spielberg has a department dedicated to cataloging gifts that are mailed to him? So the old sneak the screenplay in a fruit basket is not going to work.

Is this system perfect? Hell no. Does it get abused? Absolutely.
However, the rules of engagement are in place to make order of the chaos.

Although it is highly unlikely for an outsider to bypass the system, it is not impossible to circumvent it. When Fast and Furious 6 star Sung Kang first started out, finding representation proved quite difficult for him to acquire and without representation he was unable to audition for roles. So Sung Kang and some acting buddies created a front for a fake management company and even hired a courier service to drop off head shots because there was no way Sung and his acting friends would ever be allowed onto the studio lots. It led to his first professional assignment and his first agent. This creative solution that Sung Kang utilized was the result of his time in the industry. This acumen, which has successfully allowed him operate in Hollywood, could not have been developed by staying home in Atlanta.

Every day at LAX there are arriving flights filled with people armed with just a dream and possibly no job prospects. They start from the bottom as an assistant, production or otherwise, and they work their way up building a network and mastering the nuances of the business. But there are no guarantees of success because of the unpredictable nature of the industry. Tastes change, people change and executives change. Careers live and die on every film and television show. And when the pendulum swings, it swings with unforgiving speed.

Which is why, regardless of the potential upside, every new project is a risk in Hollywood and explains why there are currently a massive number of films based on comic book properties and why Disney is ready to carpet bomb the general public with even more Star Wars movies. These films have established a past performance of profitability and the studios mitigate their risk by producing them.

Lee Goldberg must act as his own gatekeeper and mitigate his risk by protecting his reputation, his network and more importantly his time. It is hard enough for professionals to navigate this highly competitive and unpredictable arena. Why would Lee Goldberg or any established professional want to handicap themselves by collaborating with someone who has no proven track record, no basic understanding of the entertainment industry or even the desire to learn as this disgruntled reader has demonstrated? A collaboration of this nature would be akin to sending money to someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince. Lee Goldberg would just be endangering a career that is the result of many years of hard work.

What the reader fails or is unwilling to realize is that at the core of Lee Goldberg’s response is self-preservation. And he is to be applauded for it because not only is he giving a palmful of gold, he is demonstrating how to protect it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Palmful Of Gold

Review of Declan and Chang Sweet F.A. Issue #4

Declan and Chang Sweet FA. Issue #4 opens with a flashback of Victor and Luisa starting their new life together and presents more details of the traumatic incident revealed in issue #3 that changed both their lives.

It is a change of pace from the last issue where we last left our heroes. Declan and Chang, along with Luisa and Victor were about to be carpet-bombed senseless and their new best friend Roscoe was on his way to his first blind date with the Jersey Devil courtesy of the villain now matchmaker Doc Awesome.

What was thought to be a bomb is actually a delivery vehicle with a payload that is just as deadly called a Haridan, which is a psychotic killer robot that talks trash in barcode. Declan, as always, goes off the handle, much to the chagrin of Chang and it nearly becomes a repeat performance of their disastrous encounter with the Jersey Devil until Luisa joins the fray. It seems like old times as the trio successfully triple team the Haridan, however they learn a harsh lesson on why the double tap also applies to artificial intelligence.

While Roscoe is getting smacked around by his date or in her mind engaging in foreplay, the Jersey Devil strongly hints of another agenda emerging. Which only reinforces the ominous implication of the cover of issue #4, that Doc Awesome has more strings to pull.

Considering her last encounter with Declan and Chang, the Jersey Devil should have hollowed out herself a Roscoe canoe to use at Camp Crystal Lake. Instead it appears that the Jersey Devil is sweet on Roscoe. If there is a spin off, it should be with these two. They are tailor made to have a sitcom, let alone their own comic and if the comic book business does not work out, the Yuan Twins have a future in Tijuana Bibles.

As a child of the 1980’s, one of the shows I watched was “Knight Rider” which featured David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, an ex-cop who was shot in the face and left for dead. He would recover with a new face, identity and a mission to right the wrongs with his car K.I.T.T .

K.I.T.T (Which stands for Knight Industries Two Thousand) was an A.I on four wheels and voiced by William Daniels. For all you 90’s kids, he plays George Feenie from “Boy Meets World” and the sequel “Girl Meets World”. K.I.T.T was to Knight Rider to what the Fonz was to Happy Days. K.I.T.T would blast into our living rooms with his turbo boost, looking all sleek and powerful with his black molecular bonded shell. He was also quick on the lip even with a smart aleck like Michael Knight.

One of the motifs of Knight Rider was that every season there was at least one episode where K.I.T.T would get destroyed. Those episodes were the best because K.I.T.T would get completely wrecked and then rebuilt with even cooler features. I suspect the reason why there were so many of these types of episodes was because it was an easy way to refresh the series. Let’s face it, the show is about a guy and his talking car and there is only so much you can squeeze out from that concept.

In the episode “Junk Yard Dog” K.I.T.T is dropped into an acid pool while Michael helplessly watches. K.I.T.T is rebuilt but shows symptoms of PTSD and is crippled by the fear of being damaged. Michael has a heart to CPU talk with K.I.T.T where he confesses to K.I.T.T that he secretly dealt with the trauma of nearly dying in the pilot episode. It is through Michael’s help that K.I.T.T is able to overcome this obstacle. The reason why this particular episode sticks out is that what could have been a predictable episode has been made more memorable was psychological aftermath of K.I.T.T being destroyed.

I appreciate this episode because I realize the writer was putting a fresh spin on a theme that was starting to become a cliché, which was a huge risk on their part because it was revealing both K.I.T.T and Michael Knight in a very vulnerable state.

As I mentioned in my past review of issue #3 there was one line of dialogue that piqued my interest and led me to review the past issues which only confirmed my suspicions that Doc Awesome was not merely stacking the deck against Declan and Change but he was dropping it on their collective cybernetic heads and despite being largely absent, Doc Awesome’s presence is strongly felt in this latest issue

Another benefit of reviewing the previous issues is that I am developing a better understanding of how the Yuan Twins work. Every storyteller has certain motifs. Martin Scorsese uses religion. Hitchcock uses doubles. The Yuan Twins utilize the cliffhanger.

Whatever expectations the Yuan Twins have laid out in the first three issues were met and then blown off the table at the last minute, making issue #4 the game changer. Through a combination of brute force, cunning and luck Declan and Chang have been able to face and overcome getting the short end of the stick. Now they are getting beaten with it. Severely.

Just as the Knight Rider episode “Junk Yard Dog” was putting a twist on the motif of K.I.T.T being destroyed, the Yuan Twins put their own twist on the cliffhanger motif. The cliffhanger from each previous issue has served as the setup for the next issue, resulting in a rhythm. In issue #4, the Yuan Twins have effectively broken the rhythm by using the same motif which is quite an accomplishment because it is hard enough to establish a coherent storyline but any disruption to the arc itself is very risky since it may violate the rules that have been laid down.

What makes this issue so unique is that it distinguishes itself with a cliffhanger that raises a lot of more questions than the previous ones and will require more than one issue to answer. Instead of resorting to gimmicks and tropes, the Yuan Twins are still using the same recipe; the only difference is what is being cooked.

Now begins the crescendo because issue #4 has taken the storyline in a direction where the next two issues will have a huge impact on the characters. This is referred to as “Crossing the Rubicon” because now nothing can be taken back.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Review of Declan and Chang Sweet F.A. Issue #4

10 years

If you were born anytime after 1970, Mark Evanier was a part of your childhood. His IMDB profile alone will carpet bomb you senseless with his credits and that just represents a fraction of the work he has done. Mark Evanier wrote a series of columns on the trend of creative professionals being conned, I mean, asked to work for free by the “The Unfinanced Entrepreneur”. In lieu of payment, the lure of bigger and lucrative prospects is dangled by these individuals. What Evanier has discovered, to no one’s surprise, is that working for these people is a complete a waste of time and energy.

Evanier’s series is quite relevant for we live in a world where a writer can exchange their efforts for the Double E of experience and exposure instead of getting a paycheck. Artists can also get on the action where they can work for free.

“The Unfinanced Entrepreneur” series is worth reading since it reveals the business side of the entertainment world and exposes the “getting something for nothing” trend plaguing creative professionals.

Mark Evanier wrote these columns in 1998.

No creative profession is safe from this trend. I know of a well-respected professional photographer that has posted on his Facebook wall about assignments he has lost to competitors who have waived their fees in order to get the experience of being a professional photographer. There really is no clear winner from this arrangement. Photographers may get the chance to practice their trade but there will be no compensation for their time. The clients may have saved a couple of bucks, they get what they paid for.

Webcomics are a huge hit in South Korea. In 2010 the popular webcomic Moss was made into a film. But artists are struggling with the fact that they are not being paid for their work. Even in the land of the morning calm, compensation is a problem.

Recently the Guardian published an article about the latest woes afflicting authors in England. Work is scarce for even the most prominent authors and current advances are lower than they were in the past. The comments are probably the more memorable aspects of the article, particularly the ones demanding writers should get day jobs because writing is not a real profession.

Society undervaluing the creative class is not a new trend. Of course creative types have peaks of recognition when one of them does something remarkable. But they are far and few. Not everyone can be J. K. Rowling and Andy Warhol.

Don’t get me wrong. There are people who greatly respect and value the contributions of the creative class towards property values. They are called real estate developers.

Here is the good news. There are ways for the creative professional to maximize their efforts even during these hard times.

In his 44 year career, unemployment has not been a pressing issue for Mark Evanier, even though in his line of work job security only lasts as long as the assignment. He is able to maintain a steady workload because he is a freelancer who operates like a salesperson.

Whether it is real estate, cars or women’s shoes, salespeople only eat what they kill. The more deals they make, the more they collect in commissions. The commission based sales career has a very high attrition rate because of the lack of salary in a high-pressure environment. One of the tactics of successful sales people is to make sure that after one deal closes, there are at least several more awaiting them in the pipeline.

That long list of credits on Mark Evanier’s IMDB profile is the result of stacking the deck in his favor by working on multiple projects and making the effort to find leads for upcoming assignments. When one assignment ends, Evanier has several more awaiting him. One of the benefits of conducting his career in this manner is that Mark Evanier is able to roughly estimate how many assignments he will generate from the amount of people he meets.

It is a simple process but the execution is far more challenging since it requires a huge commitment of time and energy, involving countless meetings, phone calls and tons of rejection. Which is exactly how successful sales people work. If this sounds unappealing to you, go look at Mark Evanier’s list of credits on IMDB again. The results speak for themselves.

Always be closing.

There is the famous story about Picasso where he asks for a large sum of money for a sketch that he draws on a napkin, The admirer is shocked and asks why would Picasso charge so much for something that took a minute to do? Picasso responds by saying it actually took him 40 years.

Picasso is not the first or last artist that has been put in this position. Mark Evanier recounts an incident that happened to Sergio Aragonés when a convention attendee scoffed at the 100 dollar price tag on sketches that took Aragonés a half hour to make. Aragonés took it upon himself to calmly explain to the attendee that he was not being compensated for the half hour but the years it took for him to master the skills to draw the sketches. Instead of tearing this person a new orifice, Aragonés handled himself with a great deal of grace and made the effort to educate this person. That incident just goes to show why Sergio Aragonés is such a beloved figure among fans and the comic book community.

John and Matt Yuan AKA The Yuan Twins responded to this type of behavior in a more entertaining manner. Recently a group of customers entered their comic book store the Cool Cats Comics and Cards and after looking at some original art by the Yuan Twins, one of them remarked to his friends “I could do that.”

Whether it was it was intentional or not this individual initiated what is known as a “Gong Sau” which in Chinese martial arts circles is known as a challenge match and the Yuan Twins were more than happy to accommodate him. The customer was presented with a piece of art board and a marker in order to make good on his word.

Five minutes later, the customer realized that he could not live up to his initial claim and left the store without a peep and his dignity.

There is nothing wrong with enlightening someone and being polite about it. There is also nothing wrong with handing someone a shovel when they have made it clear they want to dig themselves a hole, especially if that person has been a jerk.

Joss Whedon got a first hand look of the financial hardships of his profession from watching his father who, like a snowboarder on the half pike, had an erratic career trajectory of highs and lows. From the beginning of his career, Whedon would take his first paycheck and in his words “put it in the goddamn bank” and he did the same for the second check. He never wanted to take a job just for the money and that is the reason why Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series is the show we all know and love. The moment he sat down to pitch the series, Whedon made it known that he was willing to walk away from the deal if it did not follow his vision.

Colleen Doran, recently posted on her official Facebook page that although the last couple of years have been fruitful, she is well aware of the financial straits that she may face in the future. That awareness has motivated her in leaving nothing to chance and she is constantly seeking projects that fulfill her artistically and financially, particularly ones that include a back end deal. And she is also aware that current state of the comic book industry is not the most favorable in terms of career longevity and so she takes the necessary measures to ensure that she is not expendable which includes making her deadlines, submitting top quality work to her clients and being the “commodity not the product.”

Saving for a rainy day is not only financially sound but also mentally and spiritually stabilizing. However in order to maintain that nest egg, the right deals have to be made. And sometimes the best deal is the one you walk away from.

There is no secret sauce. There is no secret formula. Just lots of time and lots of hard work in doing what you love. How much time? According to Jay Leno if you stay in show business for 7 years, you will be in show business for life. Just to be on the safe side, give yourself an added buffer of 3 years. So you are looking at least 10 years of hard work. How hard? Well, how badly do you want it? Once you figure that out, the rest should fall into place. Just be aware that is just the first step in a long line of steps.

If you are looking for ways to circumvent this nonsense about years of hard work, all I have to say is that there are no shortcuts. Trust me. I have looked.

There is luck. But you have to recognize what luck really is which is an equation of preparation meeting opportunity. Lucky breaks are not to be trusted. Just because the stars lined up for one person does not mean it can be replicated which makes it completely unreliable. You are better off positioning yourself in taking advantage of an opportunity, which includes developing your talents and embracing the virtue of hard work instead of focusing on what may or may not happen. The opportunities will present themselves, so be ready.

People like Mark Evanier and Colleen Doran are the people you want to learn from because they will give you the knowledge to develop and manage your career. And they will do it for free. You will also spare yourself a significant amount of heartache by avoiding the pitfalls that usually befall creative professionals by researching the experiences of your betters.

Talent alone is not enough, although it helps to have it. A creative professional must stack the deck in their favor, which involve developing a strong work ethic, planning and evaluating their progress. And this is just the foundation. There are a whole other series of skillsets that need to be acquired in order to be successful.

Think I am full of it? Fine. Go see for yourself. In fact that is the point of this essay. I want you to see the reality of what you will be facing. I want you to seek the truth because whatever you learn will give you a fighting chance as a creative professional.

I do not offer any guarantees expect for this one and it is one I do not relish; If you disregard what you have just read and proceed without proper preparation, you will enter a world of hurt.

Even if you make all the right decisions, you are still going to accumulate more than your fair share of battle scars. But that is not entering a world of hurt. Entering a world of hurt is realizing that you were standing in your own way all this time.

I will see you in 10.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 10 years

The Only Game In Town

To be a fan of Colleen Doran is to be her student, because you will learn so much from her.

Recently Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviewed Colleen, who discussed her career and her keen insights on the comic book industry.

If you have a career in the creative arts or considering a career in that arena, this interview is required reading because it demonstrates how Colleen Doran was able to succeed in a business that is known for crushing hopes and dreams before lunch.

After a momentous debut, Colleen found herself in the role of a jobber rather than the main event.

When you start out in this business, they pretty much decided whether you’re going to be a star or a journeyman. And if you get put on the journeyman track, ow. You’re going to be the poor son of a bitch who gets a two-week deadline for the full issue. The fill-in artist. You’re going to be one of those… you’re going to spend a lot of your time getting the jobs that need to be done in a short period of time, and you get the crap anchor. You can either decide to suck it up and take those jobs in the hopes that something better will come along and realize that’s how people are going to see you: you’re the crap artist that got the job while they were waiting for the good person.

For about ten years she lived in a world where failure was not an option. I would argue that this was a critical period in her career because it forced her to develop a strong work ethic and time management skills due to the insane deadlines that were imposed upon her. She was not just paying her dues or apprenticing, Colleen Doran was being put in a forge where the extreme heat and pressure of her environment was turning her into a professional.

During this period a cloudy perception developed around her that she was only good for taking journeyman assignments which created a vicious cycle of being given a steady diet of low hanging fruit without any indication of career progression. It required her to develop her mettle as an artist in order to endure that experience.

It is actually quite common for a successful person to go through a period of self-doubt where his or her dreams are put on hold. Jim Carrey bombed his first time doing stand up and did not return for almost two years. Early in Howard Stern’s career, he was told he was a horrible disc jockey and for a period of time he worked behind the scenes of a radio station. Colleen Doran was no different. In 1986 she strongly considered ending her career as an artist and applied for a job at UPS. She never started her career in the world of shipping and logistics due to an opportunity at Marvel Comics. Despite telling her agent that she was leaving comics, he asked her to give it one more shot which proved to be a career enlightening experience.

My agent was a gentleman named Spencer Beck. He took me on the rounds with my portfolio, and Marvel started hiring me again. I hadn’t worked at Marvel in a while. I was ready to chuck it. He said, “I think people just don’t know you’re available.” Because I don’t go to New York that much… which is not the brightest thing in the world. I’m just not like that. So he said, “You need to be more visible. You need to get up here more often.”

This pivotal moment in her career provided two critical lessons. The obvious one is never give up on your dreams. The second lesson was the value of face time when Colleen realized the importance of making herself accessible to her clients.

Face time is not to be underestimated. I know a well-known artist who was working for a company that had a publishing deal with DC. This business arrangement required him to bring his work to the DC office. Even when he did not have any work to drop off, he had a routine where he would visit the DC office to socialize with the staff. Those informal visits paid off when the company he worked for shut down and he started the next phase of his career at DC.

Another aspect of Colleen’s success is her understanding and application of taking the long view in her personal and professional life

I don’t think… I was concerned about this stuff when I was in my twenties. I was already thinking about what am I going to do at this age, this age and this age. Will I have enough money for retirement? Do I have a home? Is somebody going to take my house away from me?

I remember the first time I bought a home, having a cartoonist who I won’t rat out saying, “Don’t buy a home. That’s a waste of money. You should live very frugally.” I’m so glad I didn’t take that advice. I sold it for twice what I bought it for and always had a roof over my head that nobody could throw me out of at a moment’s notice.

It is in my opinion that the cartoonist’s preference toward renting was due to the unpredictable nature of his career. It was probably feast or famine in terms of getting work and renting was probably more convenient because if he could not make the rent, he could just leave and start over somewhere else without being encumbered with home ownership. Short term, it makes senses. Long term, it is a recipe for disaster.

Although frugality plays a critical role in personal finance, the cartoonist was being unrealistic in thinking that simply living below his means would ensure his financial security. The biggest challenge in maintaining a frugal lifestyle is the rising cost of living. When done correctly, home ownership can be a huge asset in establishing financial security, however Colleen’s colleague only saw the challenges not the benefits of buying a home. In exchange for convenience, the cartoonist was throwing money away by renting and not building any equity.

Unfortunately, he is not the exception.

Currently the cost of living in New York City, particularly housing, has skyrocketed which has resulted in an exodus of artists. This massive migration has led creative types to more affordable cities. However, unless they buy, they will be living a nomadic existence because their presence will cause gentrification which will raise property values, resulting in rising rents. Eventually those artists will be priced out and will be back to square one.

Regardless of what she was told, Colleen developed a realization that although home ownership would be somewhat of a challenge, it was attainable and it would provide a great deal more security than renting.

I would also argue that home ownership played a key role in Colleen Doran’s career. The capital outlays for buying a home can be significant since it requires a down payment, monthly mortgage payments, property taxes and maintenance fees. In order for Colleen to cover those costs, it meant that she had to maintain a high output of work and if that output was not adequate then she had to figure out really quickly how to increase it or else she would also find herself in the rental market.

On a professional level, taking the long view has proven quite beneficial for her career.

I’ve always thought about the long-term. In fact, a lot of the assignments that I take are with the eye for the long-term. I look at the back end. Ninety percent of the stuff I take is because of the back end. I don’t think a lot of people do that. I’m not sure if it’s because they can’t do it or don’t understand how to do it or don’t have the option.

This mentality has allowed Colleen Doran to qualify her projects, which ensures they fit her scope of work. I assume she examines prospective assignments with a fine tooth comb before accepting them because she needs to make sure the ROI is there. She is also motivated to do her best work because if the quality is sub par then she is not going to make any money. This is what is known as “putting your skin in the game”. Clients love that and they show their appreciation with repeat business.

Another key component of her success is the awareness of the changes that are taking place in her industry.

What we’ve got are people that want to be authors. They want to be lifelong creators and owners or the works they produce instead of workers for product. As somebody who thoroughly enjoys working on licensed product [laughs] and gets a kick out of a lot of it, I certainly understand the appeal, but the likelihood you’re going to have a long term career working for some of these companies is very small. Even some of these people that have been working there for decades find it’s harder and harder and harder to make that pay off.

There’s a huge pool of talent out there. Your competition in 1980s was who could get to New York with a portfolio. Your competition now is worldwide. And that is a really big deal

The bellwethers that Collen Doran discusses brings to mind of the recent announcement by DC to consolidate all of their resources and move all operations to California resulting in the closing of the New York office. Because of the changing landscape of the industry and the advances in technology, people are not required to be physically present at a specific location which means a New York City presence is unnecessary. Another added benefit of this transition is the money that would be saved since the rent and operational costs of maintaining an NYC office are astronomical. And anyone unable or unwilling to move to California could easily be replaced from that worldwide labor pool that Colleen speaks of.

DC is not the only company to experience radical shifts within their infrastructure. Since Disney bought Star Wars, that were was immense speculation that the licenses for the comics would go back to the Disney owned Marvel. Speculation became fact when it was announced that 2014 would be the last year that Dark Horse would publish their Star Wars comics. Since 1991, Dark Horse has greatly benefited from Star Wars however even they knew this day would come and the fact the Star Wars titles made up to 4 to 6 percent of their profits indicates the efforts Dark Horse put into their other revenue streams in order to lessen the impact of losing Star Wars.

It is even harsher out in the trenches. Heidi Macdonald of The Beat wrote about how 2013 was a year of struggle for some her colleagues in the comic book industry. In fact Heidi herself experienced some challenges when she wrote in detail of her computer issues which were resolved by Tom Spurgeon, who rallied the troops and was able to raise funds for Heidi’s repairs.

These changes are occurring across the board in all media industries. Huffingtonpost is considered to be one of the most profitable news aggregators, part of the reason is because a large number of people volunteer their services and forgo payment in order to be published. Hollywood looks at Youtube to find the next big thing and who will probably do it for less money. Many video game companies are outsourcing their work to South Korea to kids who are still in high school because the quality of the work is on par with professionals in the states however it can be done at a fraction of the cost.

At the end of the day, media companies are a businesses and a business exists to make a profit. Cutting overhead is a surefire way to profitably, along with having a massive and talented labor pool where some members are willing to work for free.

Because of her awareness and understanding, Colleen Doran knows that sustainability is elusive in her line of work.

But I know I can be replaced. If any creator knows what’s good for them, they need to be the commodity — not the product. You need to be the one place to go to get what you do.

Her statement reminds me of a story about Larry Hama. Back in the 1980’s when he was writing G.I.Joe for Marvel, he was hired by Hasbro to produce content for the famous file cards that were on the back of the packaging of the G.I. Joe action figures and toys. In fact Hasbro got the idea from Larry Hama because he had his own file cards to keep track of the constantly expanding cast for the comic book. During his tenure, Hasbro implemented a very brief interruption in his work which proved quite costly for the company. Hasbro, in their infinite wisdom, decided they would produce the file cards in house and politely told Larry Hama that his services were no longer needed. A short while later Hasbro realized that producing the file cards was far more difficult than they initially perceived and offered his old job back. His response was that he was available but his rate had just gone up.

Colleen Doran’s attitude may seem clinical and cold but guess what? Business is clinical and cold because everyone is expendable. The sooner you accept and adapt to that reality the better off you will be.

If there is one thing that you can learn from this interview, it is that complacency does not exist in Colleen Doran’s world. Even with her immense talents and accomplishments in art and writing, she takes nothing for granted. Which is why Colleen Doran is the only game in town.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Only Game In Town

That Cosplay Reality Show

Even before it premiered, HOC created quite a buzz in the cosplay community and lot of it was not positive. And when it finally debuted, that buzz remained the same.

I have seen the first two episodes and plan on watching the rest of the season out of my own morbid sense of curiosity,  although I will not be presenting a review, I feel that this is the best review of the show which sums up my perspective perfectly.

And if you are interested in how masquerade/cosplay competitions really unfold, then this brilliant young lady has got the goods.

What is of great interest to me are the overall reactions from the segment of the community that HOC is portraying which are referred to as “Cosplay Elites or pro cosplayers or people who can build really cool stuff”.  For the lack of a better term, I will be referring to them as “Cosplay Elites”. These cosplayers are prominent on the masquerade circuit and the WCS. If they are not competing they are treating conventions as their own personal runway and reap certain benefits through their cosplays. And even with my limited interactions with this segment of the community, even I know that this is not an accurate portrayal of this group.

However this group has barely made a peep of criticism. In fact most of them have been downright diplomatic. There is one well known cosplayer who is more than happy to share their views about anything, regardless of whether you want to hear them or not. When this cosplayer presented their opinion on this show there was not an ounce of disdain in their words. In fact what they did not even critique the show. They just stated that if cosplayers do not like the show, they should ignore it and leave it at that. Quite altruistic and polite of them to do, however it sounds more like CYA.

As I stated before, there are benefits of being a member of this circle. Among them are being sponsored and being invited to attend conventions. And even better, getting paid for promotional appearances while wearing their cosplays. The more well known they are, the more opportunities come their way. Cosplay is a very expensive hobby, so it is in their best interest to taken advantage of any chance that will allow them to earn or save income. Especially because these slots are far and few.

Which is why it is not in the best interest of this cosplayer or any other member of the “Cosplay Elites” to air their grievances in private because they would risk antagonizing the powers that be of the entertainment industrial complex. Besides risking future television appearances, once word gets out about a cosplayer’s rabble rouser streak, they might lose future sponsorships and the welcome mat at conventions could be pulled from underneath them. It is not worth it, especially when they can make their hobby into a full time careers.

Even the cosplayer that was called out by YYH and was not even part of the cast has been very vague in their response regarding the matter. This cosplayer would be justified in giving both barrels to the producers and YYH, however they are not going to rage, at least not in public, about the matter in order to avoid any actions that could potentially burn any bridges. Therefore any flame wars will occur in the rest of the community because those cosplayers have nothing to lose.

Despite the nerd rage, more of this type of reality programming is already in the pipeline. A nerd version of the Real World will be airing on the same network where a bunch of nerds of different stripes intern for Stan Lee’s convention while living under the same roof and if the ratings are decent for HOC expect more seasons of this show. What makes reality programming so popular with the networks is that the capital outlays for reality shows is dirt cheap and there are a massive number of fans willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of bad taste for a chance of 15 minutes of immortality.

Speaking of sacrifices, there will be definitely more cosplayers who are interested in only cosplay fame and there has already been a trend of professional models who have been using cosplay as a stepping stone to the entertainment industrial complex even though they have no idea what the difference is between a light saber and phaser which will bring more fodder for the geek girl myth.

Expect to see more masquerades and even masquerades without conventions. It would not surprise me that NYCC would reconsider returning the masquerade to their programming schedule.

YHH is definitely the clear winner of the show so far. By wrapping herself with a Pikachu sized coat of false modesty she has made claims of being referred to as the queen of cosplay, which is probably news to a lot of people, but prefers to be called the ambassador of cosplay therefore anointing herself as the authority on the subject. In her interviews she is well spoken and demonstrates a keen mind behind that pretty face. She is also able to make use of all her assets even when she is not in cosplay. Those low cut tops that she wore during the interview segments are not a coincidence. Which brings me back to the second episode where she expressed her “concern” regarding a cosplayer falling under the negative influence of JN because of JN’s alleged use of sex appeal over craftsmanship in her cosplays and that YYH believed that cosplay should be all about the craft. It is kind of funny hearing that from someone who uses their full figure form to their advantage, which of course she got called out on by a cast member she once mentored and the rest of the internet. She also got a lot of flack for comments regarding body shapes and sizes. Many of her supporters have stated that through the magic of editng, those negative moments were manufactured. True as that maybe, a lot of those words were not put in her mouth. However, it is not going to harm her brand, in fact it may ingratiate her to more people because it shows that she stands for truth, justice, fair play and high SAT scores by her position as being the “voice of reason” on the show.

I would not be surprised to see YYH leveraging the publicity of HOC by expanding her cosplay merchandising line to other products or she could possibly be the first member of the “Cosplay Elites: to make the transition to the mainstream. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that that one of her goals is to have the YYH brand acquired for a very large payout.

Whether we like it or not nerd based reality show programming has now become part of the entertainment industry. And there is no doubt that future programs will outrage the community which is probably what the industry wants. After all, everyone watches a fight.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on That Cosplay Reality Show

Man of Steel

This morning I saw Man of Steel. Overall it was better than Watchmen.

Although I could write a dissertation about the film, I am only going to focus on how it addresses the Superman mythology.


In the Superman mythology there are two rules.

1.Superman does not kill.
2.Lois Lane does not know Clark Kent and Superman are the same person.

In the comic books those two rules have been broken repeatedly but not without consequences.

Superman actually killed General Zod and his lieutenants in Superman #22 published in 1988 which was part of the Supergirl Saga.

Despite the justifications, Superman experienced a severe amount of guilt over his actions and he reflects upon it during his self-imposed exile in space that began with issue #28 published in 1998.

One of the enjoyable aspects of the Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman dynamic was that Lois Lane had no idea who Superman really was. The big payoff was when Lois Lane eventually learned the truth that they were both the same man which was years in the making regardless of the medium.

One of the problems of being bound to a mythology is that the stories are in danger of becoming stale. Therefore the challenge is to shake things up without radically changing the mythology itself. I empathize with that the Man of Steel team and I understand why they took these actions. But by breaking these rules, they created potential plot issues for future films. For instance, if a villain wants to know who Superman really is, all they have to do is follow the trail that Lois Lane left out. In fact they could go to Lois Lane herself to find out what she knows. When Superman face another villain who is more dangerous than Zod, there will be an expectation that he will have to kill that villain. See where I am going with this?

Man of Steel is actually based on the Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright which is an amazing retelling of Superman’s origin. However, like the Dark Knight Rises, the film would have been better off using more of the source material.

The film was also way too long and it felt like they rushed the ending of the film because they realized “Holy Crap! We spent so much time on Superman’s origin we barely have enough time to wrap things up with General Zod.” Visually speaking the muted colors did not work for Superman and a little flare would not have hurt.

On the brighter side, Man of Steel has a great cast thanks to the amazing Kristy Carlson.

The special effects were excellent and I agree with Io9 that it featured some of the best super powered combat I have seen in awhile.

In the end, it does not matter since Man of Steel is on its way to make a bazillion dollars, so any criticism will fall on deaf ears filled with cash. But Nolan, Snyder and Goyer are going to be in for a rude awakening if they do not make any efforts to change their game.

Posted in Reviews | Comments Off on Man of Steel

Do not press the Press Room

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Do not press the Press Room