Unfair Comparison of Marvel Comics and Japanese manga of Star Wars!

Unfair Comparison of Marvel Comics and Japanese manga of Star Wars!

Sci-fi blog io9 links to this article, edited by australian essay writing serviceson the official Star Wars site comparing the Japanese manga of Star Wars to the Marvel Comics adaptations.

it’s truly an unfair comparison to gauge how well Marvel Comics originally adapted the classic trilogy films against how Japanese artists did the same. The deck is definitely stacked in manga’s favor. For the Marvel adaptations, produced during each film’s post-production period, the artists had not seen the films—they were working merely from the script, with some key photography and maybe some concept art. Also, they had to conform to the page and printing standards of newsstand comics from 1977-1983. This meant that all the action of a Star Wars film had to be crammed into six issues (or, in the case of Return of the Jedi, a mere four).

What quickly becomes apparent, however, is that the manga adaptation had far more going for it than just a long, long lead time and flexible format. The manga also didn’t have to deal with the Comics Code Authority, resulting in a much freer style with some of the more violent moments of the Star Wars saga. Where a piece of machinery conveniently covers the action in the Code-approved American adaptation, the manga depicts Luke’s hand being cut off with brutality and finality. Where Luke and Vader’s cave confrontation is toned down severely in the American adaptation, the manga version depicts it perhaps even better than the original film.

The open manga style also lends itself better to capturing the spirit of the film in general. While the Marvel adaptations feature painstakingly detailed artwork, the cartoon style of the manga allows it to better capture the comic relief of the series, while also lending itself to true hardcore pulp moments like Leia’s revenge on Jabba the Hutt.

So perhaps it is truly unfair to compare the two adaptations – as is usually the case with Japanese and American comics, it’s a case of apples to oranges. But it certainly is interestingto compare them. And it’s even more interesting to me to see this kind of side-by-side comparison published by the licensing company itself.

The Best Review About Dispepsi

The Best Review About Dispepsi

Artist: Negativland

Label: Seeland / Mordam
Genre: Performance Art
Rating: ***• (3 1/2 out of 4)
Availability: Widely Available / eMusic Download

I don’t know what’s more disturbing. The content of Dispepsi—one of Negativland’s most famous albums—or the fact that I’d listen to it more than once.

Negativland’s music falls into that bizarre category between genres that can best be described as “performance art.” It’s too chaotic for pop, too melodic for absolute avant-garde, and not really anywhere near rock or electronica. Dispepsi created waves when it was first released over a much-publicized lawsuit from the Pepsi corporation. As a result of that lawsuit, Negativland was forced to release the album with cover art that did not feature the word “Pepsi” anywhere on it. To get around this, the original packaging featured the word “Dispepsi” (a play off of “Pepsi,” “Dispepsia,” and “Dis Pepsi”) scrambled and exploded so that the letters appeared at random around a blue and red yin-yang. The liner notes contained a toll-free number that you could call to learn what the title was when it had been unscrambled.

Listening to Dispepsi for the first time, it becomes obvious why Pepsi didn’t want their name featured on it. But once you’ve started listening, you’ll hear the name so much that you’ll get sick of it. And that’s kind of the point.

Negativland could never be accused of being pro-corporation, and Dispepsi is a bitingly satiric look at the lengths to which Pepsi goes to sell its products and the eventual uselessness of said products. When you think about it, Pepsi is a worthless product. A sugared soda that has no nutritional value but that is sold in such high quantities.

From the first track, “The Smile You Can’t Hide,” you know the way the album is going as Negativland samples a naive Pepsi executive expressing his hope that the album would be a “positive reflection” of the company’s marketing position. But Negativland shows quickly enough what it sees as the Pepsi business plan – mind control, ignorance, attack advertising, and the promotion of conspicuous consumption.

For such a biting album, it’s amazing how easy Dispepsi is to listen to. It’s political satire you can sing along with. The sound is both chaotic and melodic in that bizarre novelty-album sense that catches you and pulls you in. Suddenly, you’re singing “And my mind just turns to Pepsi and I think of it a lot….” (“Drink it Up”) It’s clever, musical, and horrifying all at the same time. A touch of paranoia (Was New Coke a marketing ploy?) and a touch of media analysis goes a long way—an entire album of it can make you so fundamentally disturbed that you see advertising in the brushtrokes of the paint on your wall.

That’s what makes Dispepsi so, so, so great. It lulls you in with its accessibility, and you slowly get more and more uncomfortable as its message gets clearer and clearer.

All You Need to Know If You Want to Be an Actor

All You Need to Know If You Want to Be an Actor

So you’ve decided that you want to be an actor. Wonderful. Welcome to the world of the theater.

There are any number of reasons that you may have decided to become an actor. There are about as many reasons for pursuing acting as there are actors who pursue it. That’s one of the great things you’ll learn about this profession – everybody’s in it for a different reason.

I’ve always maintained that there is no bad reason for working in the theatre. If it inspires you and moves you forward, it can only be good. Whether it’s a love for the art form, a burning desire to be heard, or the fact that you’ve noticed the most beautiful women / gorgeous guys hang out in the theatre department. Any reason is a good reason.

Now, let’s talk about good reasons not to make it your career.

First of all, you might not get paid. If you’re in college and pursuing acting as part of your department’s productions, chances are good that you won’t get any money for doing it. Instead, you’ll be expected to take your payment in the form of experience. This is not all that bad an arrangement. The fact is that the more you act, the better you get at it. The best way to learn how to act is to act – and learning is what you’re in college for. Once you get out of college, however, you have to face the reality that this might not be a job that will help you pay your way.

The first semi-professional theatre gig I ever had was a two-month gig with two different runs of the show. For the entire thing, I got paid a grand total of $250. At the time, that was one month’s rent – and the only reason I was in town was to do the show. A lot of the time, the work that you do you will have to do for passion. Fame, money, glory – they’re all the things that cancome, but they don’t come overnight.

At any given time, most of the actors in the United States are not working as actors. They have jobs as tellers, copywriters, bus drivers, and – yes – waiters. Check out Actor’s Equity – the professional actors’ union – for the exact number of actors who have found work as actors in a given year.

As an actor, you may get rich. But there’s a difference between “may” and “will.” You cannot guarantee wealth as an actor. Very few actors will get rich overnight. They’ll walk into the right agency and – bada-bing – they’ll have a multi-picture deal slapped down in front of them. This, however, is very rare.

 

A few more actors will not be able to make their fortune overnight, but they will make a small fortune. They’ll work their way up the hard way, climbing the ladder rung by rung. An independent film here, an off-broadway show there. They’ll scrape together enough of their own money to run a one-man show for a week in an off-off-off Broadway house (the kind that only seats twenty audience members – as long as none of them breathe). They’ll work long and hard to be noticed and to reap their rewards.

A much larger number of actors will be able to make their livings doing theatre. They’ll live comfortably, but they’ll be the 9 to 5 workhorses of film and theatre. Occasionally, one will manage a bit of notoriety in the public eye (for being “that guy,” if for nothing else), and sometimes they’ll break through to wealth. But for the most part, they’ll remain the unsung heroes of the acting profession.

But the significant number of actors out there will spend their lives doing theatre in addition to other things. You’ll do theatre while waiting tables, theatre while licking stamps, or theatre while teaching theatre as a liberal arts college. You will do other things to supplement your acting career. Maybe with time you’ll become a local celebrity – but you may never get much farther.

I had a professor once who gave me some very valuable advice. He said to me, “If you can do anything else, do it.” It’s easy to see that advice as cynical and short-sighted, but it is the truth. There are people out there who starve to be actors. People who scrimp and save every penny just to pay their rent because they know that they want to act. They’re hungry for work – and they’re willing to be hungry for it, because it’s their passion.

It’s not a statement that says you will fail. If you are dedicated enough and work hard enough, you can succeed. Acting, like any other profession, is one that you can excell at if you only take the time and the effort needed to do so. The difference is that as a management-wannabe in the mailroom, you stand a much better chance of being noticed. As an actor, you will be fighting to be noticed among hundreds of thousands – if not millions of actors in your own nation alone. That’s why Professor Greg Justice of Virginia Tech got it right when he said: If you can do anything else,

Elfquest Reader’s Collection: Rogue’s Curse

Elfquest Reader’s Collection: Rogue’s Curse

Author: Pini, McKinney, et al
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy Adventure
Publisher: Wolfrider Books
Cost: $13.95
Rating: **• (2 1/2 out of 4)
Availability: Widely Available

Rogue’s Curse is number 9 in the new Elfquest Reader’s Collection series. The series reprints all of the stories from ElfQuest’s long and winding road, and presents new material on occasion.

When you’re dealing with something like Rogue’s Curse – a later installment in what has become one of the most successful indie comics franchises ever – you’re dealing with something that has quite a few expectations stacked up against it. This is made even more true by the fact that the franchise is ElfQuest, and Wendy Pini’s readers are used to a certain high standard of writing and art. The day that ElfQuest opened its doors to new artists and writers was the day that those writers opened themselves up to a heap of scorn and resentment from the fans. It was also – very nearly – the day the music died.

This is where it starts to get a little bit confusing. Rogue’s Curse follows the story of former desert-dweller Rayek and the spirit of his dead lover, Winnowill. Both are members of an ancient race of elves who fell to the world of two moons (“Abode”) many centuries ago. Rayek and Winnowill were both proud, ambitious, and a little bit stuck on themselves. The primary difference between them was that Rayek had friends, while Winnowill only had tools. When Winnowill was killed in the collapse of her lair, her spirit was unleashed. She would have brought untold horrors upon the world, except that Rayek willingly took her spirit into himself and made himself her jailer.

That all takes place before the book begins.

In the course of the book, Rayek is accompanied by his mentor, the wizened partial-amputee Ekuar. Rogue’s Curse abandons the tribal world that has been part of ElfQuest from the beginning in favor of a much more medieval world. In the course of the book, Rayek and Ekuar join a circus, act as bouncers for a high-class madam, and take comissions from a travelling knight to bring back his kidnapped daughter.

Along the way, Rayek is constantly reminded of the dark spirit that he keeps in check. When he lets his guard down for the merest moment, Winnowill takes the chance to cause whatever chaos she can. She mutilates two thieves in a back alley – turning one into a walking corpse and the other into a giant sewer rat. She uses her powers to found a cult and takes human sacrifices. She kills person after person – and Rayek cannot stop her.

As I said, ElfQuest very nearly lost something when people other than Wendy Pini began working on the book. Pini has set a high standard in terms of her lushly beautiful artwork over the years, and her writing has made the characters so real that they can seem at times to be friends of yours. The influx of new talents trying to emulate Pini came close to destroying the special rapport she had built with her fans.

It is books like Rogue’s Curse that saved the ElfQuest franchise. Ironically enough, one of the reasons that Curse works so well as ElfQuest is because it is so different from what Pini used to do. Certainly, you recognize the characters and the situations. But the world of Curse is truly a world to itself. Nothing else in ElfQuest compares to it. From the schizophrenia of Rayek and his relationship with his internal demon to the high adventures that he has on the road with Ekuar, Curse allows various artists the opportunity to put their own stamp on ElfQuest. The artwork ranges from simple black and white to high-contrast impressionism, and the stories range from tales of dark internal struggle to tales ripped from the pages of Robin Hood.

Of course, the crowning achievement of the book is the very last story, when Wendy Pini herself steps in and takes control of the character who has come so far and been so different from what he was. Once again, she puts everybody else to shame and shows that – even stepping away from her usual storylines – she can still prove that the characters are hers.

ElfQuest: Rogue’s Curse loses one star for two reasons. First, it’s got a story by Barry Blair (late of his own comic series, ElfLord). Sadly, it’s a wonderful story – but Barry Blair’s round-faced artwork never quite meshed in my mind with ElfQuest. Second, it’s not a good book to hand to somebody to introduce them to the series. While it’s true that ElfQuest – not being a situational story – has never been something you could just pick up in the middle, the reliance on references to past events makes this story particularly opaque to new readers. If you’re not an ElfQuest fan already, do yourself a favor and start from Book 1: Fire and Flight. If you are an ElfQuest fan, pick this book up for yourself – but get Fire and Flight for your unenlightened comrades.

On the Value of Genre

On the Value of Genre

I was reading through issue 00 of Doorways Magazine (free from Wowio – link at the end of the entry) when I came across this little gem from Gary A. Braunbeck.

Doorways: It’s been said before, by you as well as others, that your work isn’t easily definable—you often overlap horror, dark fiction, sci-fi, and even fantasy and mainstream fiction, as well as writing stories that fall easily within those boundaries. Where do you feel the majority of your work belongs, in terms of general category?Gary: The more I write and publish, the less I care about categorization—categorization is purely a marketing tool, a necessary evil that mid-list writers like myself—in my case, barely a mid-lister—have to accept and deal with. I was exceptionally pleased when Leisure decided to drop the word “Horror” from the spines of their books and replace it with, simply, “Fiction.”

He then goes on to talk about how he advises his writing students to “forget genre” and instead just tell the story as it should be told—which is great artistic advice, even if it’s a bit dicey commercially.

I, for one, have been disappointed making the rounds of my local bookstores and discovering that none of them have “horror” shelves. Instead, the horror titles are mixed in with the rest of the “fiction” section. The marketing reality of this is that if I’m looking for new horror—which, as someone working on horror manuscripts, I am—then I pretty much have to already know the title and author of the book I’m looking for instead of browsing or looking at a “new horror” section. Especially since my local book stores tend to fill over half of their floor space with the fiction section, making just general browsing a day-long activity. This is unlike the Science Fiction or Mystery genres, where I can walk over and take a look at one to two shelves of “New Science Fiction” and “New Mystery” and acquaint myself with what’s recently published.

Instead, I have to depend on outside resources like, well, Doorways Magazine, for a start, and those nifty cardboard standees at the front of Barnes & Noblesse Oblige. I’ve scanned those standees, by the way, and based on them, here’s the ideal back cover blurb for your latest horror masterpiece. You will adjust your plotlines accordingly.

The streets of [London/New York/Paris/Romantic Western Urban Locale] are dark and mysterious. Real mysterious. Not just episode-of-”Monk” mysterious, but, like, mys-teeer-ious. Life is dull and grey for [reporter/student/other career that involves words] Jane Merkinson [or insert favorite name of your choice]. Little does she know that soon her boring, comfortable life will be ripped asunder as a dark, sexy [vampire/vampiress] leads her into the blood-soaked, sensuous underworld of the undead. 

All You Need to Know About Creative Differences

All You Need to Know About Creative Differences

One of the things I always find odd is how long animation in the United States has remained a children’s medium. Which is not to say that there haven’t been animations aimed at mature audiences – but for the most part the commercially viable animation has been in the children’s section. And yes, we can talk about the rise of anime in the marketplace, but that’s still not American animation, now, is it?

Every now and then, we catch glimpses of what might have been in American cinemas if the artists had had their way – Ralph Bakshi notwithstanding. There’s Walt Disney’s concept images for The Song of Hiawatha – a darker movie in tone than anything else he had ever produced, which was ultimately abandoned in favor of the more kid-friendly Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There’s the still kid-friendly but more wild and woolly The Thief and the Cobbler, which was canceled midway through production and the unfinished footage sold to hackwork animation studios that have released it in butchered form on DVD.

Introducing: Cuppa-Joe- and Ray-Gates

Introducing: Cuppa-Joe- and Ray-Gates

Boy, has this election season gotten ugly. With nitpicking over individual words used in campaign speeches, you could be forgiven for thinking you had walked out of the Presidential election and into a mid-semester session of Remedial English Grammar. At every turn, somebody says something or pulls some minor infraction that feeds the cable news beast – and, frankly, appears to be sickening the electorate.

It is, of course, too early to assess what lasting impact this story is going to have on the race, but the way the audience at the Alliance For American Manufacturing forum in Pittsburgh received the candidates, and reacted to the issue, will be heartening for the Obama camp. Obama, who greeted the crowd at 8:45am, raised the issue and received applause. Clinton, addressing the same crowd later in the morning, brought up the remarks and received mostly silence, with a few audible impatient jeers.

It’s nice to see people getting sick and tired of the “He/She used word ‘X’ – that makes him elitist” attack. But Goddess forbid that we at the ArtMachine should ever let an opportunity to show our moral outrage slip by. So here are two stories I’m sure will be all over the news.

First – Joe Lieberman thinks that Barack Obama needs to answer the question of whether or not he’s a Marxist. This, I’m sure, would be the story of the year—if anybody aside from conservative wonks really cared what Joe Lieberman thinks any more. Then again, Joe Lieberman thrives off of media attention, and cable news is heavily populated by conservative wonks these days. So who knows? Maybe we’ll hear more about Cuppa-Joe-Gate in the future.

What’s more upsetting is what I’m lovingly calling “Rachel-Ray-Gate,” or just “Ray-Gate” for short.

On a section of McCain’s site called “Cindy’s Recipes,” you can find seven recipes attributed to Cindy McCain, each with the heading “McCain Family Recipe.” Ms. Handel quickly realized that some of the “McCain Family Recipes,” were in fact, word-for-word copies of recipes on the Food Network site.

I don’t it offensive that Cindy McCain (or one of John McCain’s staffers pretending to be Cindy McCain—oooo, kinky) plagiarized Food Network. No, what upsets me is the selection of recipes that Cindy McCain (or, again, one of John McCain’s costume-fetish indulging political staff) chose in order to give their campaign that down-home, man-of-the-people feel.

  1. Ahi Tuna with Napa Cabbage Slaw
  2. Passion Fruit Mousse
  3. Farfalle Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Peas, and Mushrooms

Dude. I’m a whiny, bitter, liberal elitist Food Network watcher (with degrees from those two great ivy league institutions, Virginia Tech and ETSU), and even I had to go to the article three times to convince myself I’d spelled “farfalle” right. I’m still not even sure it’s a real word. This is how you convince people that your family is a real, salt-of-the-earth group? Feh. I call a ”-Gate” on that.