Sunday
Jan122014

What's 12¢ worth these days?

I couldn't help but read this assessment of the current state of American film culture by Manohla Dargis and think of the comparisons which have always been made between cinema and comics over the years. And with all the comic book movies that have been (and will continue to be) released, I literally laughed out loud when I read this bit from her article 

 

The critical consensus is that 2013 was a good year for movies, but that’s only true if you ignore a lot of the junky titles, like “Iron Man 3,” that dominate the top of the box office
She mentions Iron Man 3 once more 
...as tough as it is to get any movie made, it’s even more difficult to produce and distribute genuinely original, nongeneric, non-groupthink work, which is one reason the big studios are now largely in the recycling business (“Iron Man 3” and the regurgitated like).

 

After finishing reading (and enjoying) the article, I looked up the NYT movie review of Iron Man 3 and was not at all surprised to see that it was Ms. Dargis who reviewed it. Here's a quote from that review

...originality isn’t the point of a product like “Iron Man 3,” which, despite the needless addition of 3-D and negligible differences in quips, gadgets, villains and the type of stuff blown up, plays out much like the first two movies.

 Ms. Dargis goes on to deride the film as well as its cast and crew. In regards to director Shane Black, she states

For his part, Mr. Black made his name scribbling breezy action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout,” which wed violence to jokes and irony. His only other directing credit is for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (the title of a Pauline Kael collection), a cutesy, self-conscious 2005 action flick with Mr. Downey.

(Apparently, Ms. Dargis is not a fan of the James Bond franchise; since "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was John Barry & Leslie Bricusse's unused composition for the opening of Thunderball(1965), which predates Pauline Kael's 1968 book. Let me also clarify something before I continue: I am not getting down on Ms. Dargis' POV. I believe she presents very astute and perfectly valid points in her writings. I don't necessarily agree with her assessments/opinions on comic book movies, but I respect them.)

Back to Ms. Dargis' review of Iron Man 3...

She points out how Mr. Black's film makes connections between Tony Stark's PTSD (after dealing with the alien invasion which occurred in The Avengers) and America's collective PTSD as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC in 2001 as well as numerous others since, including the Boston Marathon bombing which occurred just weeks before thew film opened. (Heck. The title of her review is “Bang, Boom: Terrorism as a Game” for criminey's sake.)

She quotes a speech made by Steven Soderbergh at the San Francisco International Film Festival

He wondered why a studio would spend so much money to release a big franchise sequel like this: “Is there anyone in the galaxy that doesn’t know ‘Iron Man’ is opening on Friday?” More instructively, he also suggested why studios have become so dependent on big movies, including money, fear, lack of vision and leadership. Studio executives deserve much of the blame for “pushing cinema out of mainstream movies,” as he put it, but “what people go to the movies for” has also changed since Sept. 11.

Mr. Soderbergh said he thought that the country still has post-traumatic stress disorder “and that we haven’t really healed in any sort of complete way and that people are, as a result, looking more toward escapist entertainment.”

She continues to lament the state of the film industry in her review

...it has become difficult for filmmakers to make midlevel studio movies for adults who value thought over action, narrative ambiguity over blunt spectacle. Good big movies are still released and sometimes even produced by the studios. Among the most satisfying films of the past decade are some from “The Dark Knight” and “Harry Potter” franchises, both of which, in their different ways, engage Sept. 11 and the world it made while transporting viewers into fantastical realms. “Iron Man 3,” by contrast, at once invokes Sept. 11 and dodges it, and does so with a wink and a smile.

In Ms. Dargis' review, she concludes that

...movies like “Iron Man 3” don’t have any business taking on tough issues. The point is that if they are to be worthy of the art, worthy of the audience and its time and its money, worthy of the legacy of those Hollywood movies that comforted and cheered Americans through world wars and bleak times, they should take on the toughest issues — not just exploit them. 

Phew! That sure is a whole hell of a lot of baggage to unload onto a movie like Iron Man 3

So... what are my thoughts on this? 

Hm.

It might seem trite, but I'll simply say this: I am of the opinion that Manohla Dargis would be better served by lightening up a little and relaxing. I honestly don't believe that Kevin Feige, Drew Pearce, Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr. and all the hundreds (thousands?) of people who were involved in bringing Iron Man to the silver screen were thinking "let's make a serious movie for thoughtful adults.” I am of the opinion (I could be wrong, I mean, wtf do I know) that they wanted to celebrate and share with the world the comic book character that Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby brought to life over 50 years ago in the four color pages of Tales of Suspense #39.

That's my 12¢ worth, anyway.

Wednesday
Dec252013

Merry Christmas!

Monday
Dec162013

The Blink Book Shoppe is Open!

You can now order Blink books and prints directly from me through my Storenvy shop! I just set it up and am pleased with how simple and versitile it is. I've got books and I've got postcards (available for pre-order). 

 

Wednesday
Dec112013

Comic Creators For Freedom

There is a problem. Will you be part of the solution?

Children are being trafficked and raped daily and slavery is one of the darkest stories on our planet. Love146 works toward the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through Prevention and Aftercare programs. 

Make a donation of any size and get a wallpaper featuring the awkward school photos of your favorite webcomic characters! My personal goal is a mere $100... but the TOTAL GOAL for the fundraising drive is $5,000. Please donate whatever you can to help spread the love!
http://comiccreatorsforfreedom.com/

(For anyone who donates $5 or more on my fundraising page, I'll send a signed BLINK/STAR WARS X-MAS postcard to you in the mail!) 

There are only 3 days left!

Please donate here: 

Thanks!

Sunday
Aug252013

Yet Another “New Beginning”

I wrapped up work on Chapter 2 weeks ago (you can buy it here or here), and shortly thereafter I got to work on writing Chapter 3. It took me a month to write it… 50 pages of total and complete Blink awesomeness. I started drawing on Thursday and here here are the first four panels (out of 6) from page 1 to give you a taste of the sweetastic-ness that I’m talking about:

01 [panel 1-4 pencils]

Notes for context: the panel borders are bus windows… and all of the places pictured are located along High Street, running north to south.

BONUS! Here is the mock-up (with inserted photos) which I used as a tracing guide:

01 [panel 1-4 mock-up] copy copy

I anticipate that I’ll have the inks done by tomorrow (I have a separate project that I need to work on tonight/tomorrow before I can get back to work on page 1). When I do finish the page, I’ll post it here.