Posts Tagged ‘comic books’

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Ask Catwoman; Ask Chris

November 8, 2013

It’s readers and fans that make Cat-Tales what it is. I love hearing from them in the forums and social media, and occasionally even Selina gets involved through her Ask Catwoman feature.

catwomans-costume-the-first-fitting-kittlemeiers-back-room

Catwoman’s Costume: The First Fitting in Kittlemeier’s Back Room

Most recently, a young reader asked about her costume, her flexibility and training. Catching her in a good mood (eh, possibly creating the good mood by mentioning their own cats), Selina was moved to reply here: Ask Catwoman #15: About her costume, training and origin.

Quite a lot of her answer is familiar to long term readers from her origin story: Cattitude so to give those fans a little something extra too, we made up some new artwork: Catwoman’s Costume – The First Fitting.

And finally, there have been a few questions for me over on Tumblr.  Check out The Continuity Fallacy and if you haven’t heard the Cat-Tales origin story before now (you have), I’ve gone and told that again right here.

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Dear Santa, All I Want for Christmas is… Wait, does Barbie come with a latex catsuit?

September 1, 2011

catwoman-selina-kyle-anne-hathaway-princess-little-girls-castles-when-i-grow-up-i-want-to-be-2Goggles aside, Catwoman fans and Cat-Tales fans in particular have three very good reasons to be excited about Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises. We can’t know what’s in the script, naturally, but there were two recent episodes that lead me to believe that, as far as the actress is concerned, this is a Catwoman we can get behind.

Most of us made the acquaintance of the beautiful 28-year-old actress waaay back in 2001 when she starred opposite Julie Andrews in The Princess Diaries. At the time, Anne told Access Hollywood, “a lot of questions that I used to get asked were, ‘So, every girl when she grows up wants to be a princess, did you want to be a princess when you grew you?’ And I so wish I’d said what I felt back then, because the truth was, ‘No, I wanted to be Catwoman!’ And now I am… That dream came true, for sure.”

That’s it. Game. Set. Match.

She wanted to be Catwoman. The way some little girls dream of fairy tale castles, handsome princes, white weddings and My Little Pony (not necessarily in that order), some of us dreamed of being Catwoman. When modern comics have gone off the rails, it’s because they forgot that core truth: we want to be these characters. Look, up in the sky, it’s Superman! You’re a kid, you’re small, you’re weak. Imagine being able to fly! Imagine being strong enough to pick up a train and hurl it like a javelin! We grow up wanting to be these characters.

Ms. Hathaway has clearly not forgotten. “That dream came true, for sure.” So far, so good.

Now obviously there is only so much an actress can do if the material misses the mark. Back when Tim Burton was making Batman Returns, Sean Young was clearly in touch with her childhood dream to be Catwoman. Her stunts to get Burton’s attention got her a ‘crazy actress’ label and no role, but there is perhaps a better insight into the desire we girls have to become that powerful and sexy feline fatale than there is in what actually hit the screen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Burton’s movies at the time, but his Gotham is, by his own admission “a freak show” and his Batman and Catwoman are the very much product of that era’s comics: damaged freaks that no sane person would want to be. His Catwoman’s power, like so much what comes out of the comics origins, is not a natural part of the woman animal. Selina isn’t simply beautiful and sexy and smart and strong because she is born that way. As if beautiful, witty and savvy women don’t occur in nature, her amazing power to make the Dark Knight… rise must be explained with an origin. It is, invariably, a reaction against oppression, exploitation, or abuse.

We’re getting back to Anne in a minute, I promise.

How exactly does a smart, sexy, witty and talented woman react when she’s been misrepresented in the press? When she is not a damaged psycho that can only snarl and hiss, when she has a sense of humor and a playful instinct for mischief? In Cat-Tales, Selina uses her celebrity as Catwoman to mount an off-Broadway show and uses that spotlight to call out the tabloids about the lies they tell about Batman, about Catwoman, and what really goes on in Gotham after dark.

It’s not exactly the same, but Anne Hathaway recently appeared on Conan and vented her frustrations with the paparazzi – seriously – in a rap in the style of Lil’ Wayne.

anne-hathaway-catwoman-selina-kyle-rapping-paparazzi-on-conanThat’s… Selina!

That’s my Selina. I don’t know what Messers Nolan, Nolan, and Goyer have written for her, but that woman could play the Selina Kyle of Cat-Tales without bothering to act.

Back when the casting was first announced, Christopher Nolan said when we see the movie in 2112, we will understand why Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy are perf…

Oh wait, I said three reasons, didn’t I?

Sexy. DC Comics is relaunching their universe today and the writer of their new Catwoman comic apparently used the word “sexy” 40 times in an interview. That shouldn’t surprise anyone outside of the comics world. Catwoman = sexy. Everybody knows that. And let’s face it, what we’ve seen of the zip-up biker chick outfit isn’t. But everything we have seen of Ms Hathaway exudes that confidence and good humor, that energy and vivacity that is the essence of sex appeal. I don’t know about still photos, but seeing her interviews of the past few weeks, I think the lady can be sexy wearing sack cloth.

So, Christopher Nolan said when we see the movie in 2112, we will understand why Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy are perfect casting as Catwoman and Bane. In the former case, he is 11 months ahead of schedule.

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.com
cattales.yuku.com
cattales.wikispaces.com

catwoman-selina-kyle-anne-hathaway-princess-little-girls-castles-when-i-grow-up-i-want-to-be

Article first published as Santa, All I Want for Christmas is… Wait, does Barbie come with a latex catsuit? on Blogcritics.

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Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing

May 18, 2011

Comic books and fairy tales.  Stories we revere from childhood that fired our imaginations and at the same time slipped in some principles on how to live our lives, what we can become, what we can achieve.  Some of our parents thought we had to put that aside when we grew up, but since the Baby Boomers came of age, we’ve embraced the idea that this doesn’t have to be kid’s stuff.  From Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings to Nolan’s The Dark Knight, we’ve seen that fantasy, science fiction, and comic book stories can be told for adults.  Of course, every good story is grounded in a battle between Good and Evil.  There’s a reason for that.  We tell these stories to prepare us for life, and in real life, that battle between Light and Darkness rages.

ABC’s Once Upon a Time has the potential to bring that battle elegantly and beautifully into the mainstream.  From the writers of Lost, the world begins as we might expect: with a tantalizing mystery.  28-year old Emma Swan finds herself in Storybrook, a mysterious place where some strange rules seem to apply – rules that don’t quite seem to jibe with the laws of nature. In the First Look video…


Okay, a young boy tells Emma it’s all the work of a wicked queen, “She sent everyone from the Enchanted Forest here” and they don’t know that they’re characters from fairy tales.  Sounds kinda cool, I liked The Sixth Sense and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.  But none of that is what made me sit up and take notice.  What did it was that moment after the screen went black  and those 4 gleaming words appeared:

THERE ARE
TWO SIDES

And so there are in every genre that touches on those cherished childhood memories.  From comic books to movies, there are those who claim writing for an adult audience means a nihilist and cynical world in which there are no real heroes and no real hope.  Those who cannot dream will always try to destroy yours.  They have been trying to poison our childhood memories and destroy our heroes for years.  Until Geoff Johns’s Infinite Crisis and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, that divide in the comics world was confined to the non-fictional arenas.  Nolan’s Dark Knight fictionalized it in a battle for Gotham’s soul.  Joker’s view being the cynic’s “When the chips are down, all these civilized people will eat each other”  and Batman believing in the people of Gotham City.  When his faith is proven right, when the people of Gotham decine to “eat each other” as Joker predicted, he asks pointedly “What was your point, that everyone is as ugly as you?”

Will Once Upon a Time take that battle to the next level?  Is this a tale of Darkness and Cynicism versus Light and Hope?

I give you two moments from that FIRST LOOK: 

Trollish man in a cage:
Everything we love will be ripped from
us while we suffer for all eternity.

v.

Girl:
Believing in even the possibility of a
happy ending is a very powerful thing

FIGHT!

Once upon a time Hope fought Despair.  Once upon a time Light fought Darkness.  Once upon a time Good fought Evil.

Once upon a time…  Damn, I’m there.

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.com

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Celebrating 10 Years

March 7, 2011

Cat-Tales 10th Anniversary Poster 3

Combining  “Mask for Mardi Gras” with another page of panels from the Graphic  Novel Prologue, this might be my favorite of the posters kicking off  Cat-Tales 10th Anniversary tomorrow.

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Why Do We Fall?

January 25, 2011

Remember this moment? Remember this question? “Why
do we fall, Bruce?”

So we can lie on the floor stubbornly insisting we haven’t?

So we can sit with our aching ass on the cold terrazzo insisting that gravity is a myth?

How about repeating like a politico’s talking points that it’s not the floor at all and we are, in actuality, on Dancing With the Stars foxtrotting with Jennifer Gray?

No. Why do we fall? So we learn how to get up.

I recently saw a piece on the 10 biggest WTF moments in comics. Not surprising which company took home the trophy for the big #1.

In 1998, DC made the mother of all WTF decisions when they opted to change the character of Superman. This character that had stood for 60 years, and had just been killed off a few years prior to show his utter importance not only to comics but to the world, was out the door…

A change of costume or marriage status is one thing, but completely altering everything that established the character as an American icon in the first place is something else entirely.

Several readers marked this as the first pock of the disease which has now consumed just about all the DC characters, the first warning sign that those entrusted to write these characters have no understanding of what defines them or of their iconic significance in the greater world outside their Thursday To-Do list.

But not me. For once, I’m going to stand between DC and the ones throwing stones, because here’s the thing: as soon as they realized the ground had given way under their feet and they were falling into a deep pit with a bunch of angry bats baring their teeth and hissing bat-spittle into their faces, they changed him back. The article itself admits “the explanation to get him back to normal was quite vague, probably a result of the severe backlash of comic book fans and (DC’s) desire to fix the problem as quickly as possible.”

They didn’t tap Wizard to call it a giant step forward in comics, they didn’t embark on a PR campaign to try and convince the terminally stupid that unsweetened lemon juice tastes just like water, they didn’t figure there would be a new crop of gullible half-wits who would be coming along any minute to replace the 80% of their readership heading out the door. They didn’t think up even worse things to do to Superman to punish the fans for not accepting the fiasco. They got up. That’s why we fall. And if we can’t get our asses out of that hole on our own, we scream for help before the rest of the ground gives and we fall farther.

Remember a few weeks ago I said The Reaper is out there, and DC’s attitude that it’s okay to mess things up further/they’ll fix it (or not) next year was horrifically out of touch with the reality that there may not BE a next year? Anyone who thought I was being melodramatic, please turn and wave goodbye to Wizard. It’s gone, as of yesterday. All staff let go. If a new online magazine transpires to replace it, the focus is to be on pop culture generally and the non-comics media where these characters still thrive. Not  print comics.

Do I have your attention now, boys?

Fantastic Four is snuffing a major character today. What makes this different from past fan-inflaming stunts is that it’s the first under Disney. That means if it doesn’t work out (and by “work out” I don’t mean by the comics definition ‘everyone hate it’ but the definition of everyone else on the planet), then those responsible are going to be introduced to a concept that is new to them but familiar to everyone else who works for a living: consequences. You make a bad decision, you piss off customers, you materially damage a company’s assets, there are consequences. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s not going to be a pleasant adjustment. Growing up often isn’t. But it’s pretty much the only choice the medium has if it wants to survive.

Why do fall?  Well, eventually to learn how to get up.  For some though, there is an intermediary step: to learn to recognize the hole, and then to accept that the hole is not the place to be.

On a lighter note, it’s a big week for Cat-Tales. The Dracula spinoff Capes and Bats releases its penultimate chapter today, and there’s a plot twist that absolutely nobody saw coming–but which was right in front of us the entire time. I have to admit, I was floored when I read it. Scared the cat with my gasps of surprise. We’re also less than 48 hours from the launch of a new feature to make life easier for our mobile friends. Work is underway on the new chapter of Trophies, while reviews continue to come in on À Bon Chat, Bon Rat.

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.com
cattales.yuku.com
cattales.wikispaces.com

Thank you for reading. If you are viewing this post anywhere other than The Catitat you are reading a mirror. Please visit the original posting in The Catitat to leave a comment.

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The Dressing of Cats is a serious matter…

January 21, 2011

So it’s to be Catwoman and Bane in Dark Knight Rises… Meow!The Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes #1 Anne Hathaway

I haven’t put forth any opinion on Anne Hathaway simply because I know enough about actors to know what I don’t know. If it’s a bad actor (Katie Holmes) you can see a train wreck coming without knowing any particulars of the role. In all other cases, none of us out here have seen enough of most actors to know what they are capable of. You watch Mr. Mom, you would never dream Michael Keaton could play Bruce Wayne. You watch The Doors, you would never that dream Val Kilmer couldn’t. So good luck, Anne! I have already mentioned the je nes se qua of Selina, as I see her, is best seen in Jennifer Ehle’s Eliza Bennet. She is about 120% more alive than the rest of us, there is a core of fun, joy, and good humor that makes a perfect foil to the dour intensity of Mr. Darcy…

Now, performance aside, there has been a certain concern raised about her “Complexity” – non comics folks, let me explain. There is a particular idiocy among a certain subset of comics readers that think cup size is inversely proportional to a complex and sophisticated portrayal of the character. A curvy and bouncy Catwoman that men enjoy looking at can’t possibly be a serious, realistic and complex treatment of the character, because of course, big breasted women don’t exist in nature. Fear not, fellas. What you saw in The Devil Wear’s Prada is creative costuming. Anne Hathaway is plenty lacking in complexity.

So, that’s Anne. The first thing most of my male friends and readers brought up immediately after hearing the casting was – no surprise here– the costume. I can certainly appreciate the desire to start forming that mental picture asap, and since it’s going to be quite a while until we learn anything about the production, let’s have a little survey of Catwoman’s looks over the years.

As all Cat Fans know, Selina made her debut way back in Batman #1 as an uncostumed jewel thief known as The Cat. She was modeled after sex-goddess of the day, Hedy Lamarr, looked smashing in an evening gown, and the first thing Batman noticed was her very shapely legs. Her first “costume”consisted only of a full face furry cat-mask, which wasn’t exactly flattering.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - The Cat

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - ClassicAlmost immediately she moved to the Classic Skirted Costume which is most familiar to modern fans from The Brave and the Bold cartoon. It is easily her most enduring look, having been the original costume in the 40s, returning in the 70s and remaining unchanged right up until Crisis on Infinite Earths, returning in numerous Elseworlds and other comic appearances since, and now in the Brave and the Bold and its related games and merchandise.

Now that’s the 4-color world. Up until Batman Returns in 1992, her best known look to non-comics fans was certainly Julie Newmar’s from the 1966 series, which the comics promptly copied, changing only the color.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Julie Newmar

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Go Go BootsIn comics, the “Go Go Boots” look came next. It seems to be universally known as the Go Go Boots Catwoman despite the fact that the ’60s hair and domino mask version is actually wearing the low ankle boot more often associated with the Classic Skirted Costume. Go figure. In any case, like all bad hair and clothing choices of that period, it was quickly changed and forgotten – a lesson the present comics could learn from, god knows. Admit it was the quaaludes, change it back, and move on.

But back to Julie. I always say that a lot of boys became men watching her in that black catsuit, and in 1992 history repeated itself with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The influence of the ’66 look can easily be seen, and the ’92 was in turn inspiration for Dolce and Gabbana interpretation in Vogue.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Iconic Body

That bring us, at long last, to the Jim Balent, the iconic look released on the cover of Catwoman #1. This costume drew upon the Classic Skirted Original, obviously, updating it for a more modern flavor while retaining all that connected Catwoman to her Bob Kane, Batman #1 roots.

Definitive History of Catwoman - Jim Balent

Batman the Animated Series wisely adapted it, opting (foolishly, IMO) to recolor for their Gotham palette which erred on the side of black.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Jim LeeThat brings us up to a present rife with mistakes. The less said of the Halle Berry disaster, the better. The movie was a mistake from start to finish, but more than a few industry watchers have observed that the multi-million dollar fustercluck could have been avoided if DC had admitted the disaster of their Volume II comic. If you put Catwoman on the cover – or the title of a movie – and you do not deliver a Catwoman story or the true Catwoman character within, then you will fail. The Darwyn Cooke goggled costume is a warning sign (Arkham City game designers, take note!) It means “This ain’t Catwoman.” It means you have been taking notes from the comics division which failed because it rejected, ignored, or tried to rewrite the DNA of the character and failed accordingly. Goggles mean you have probably got it wrong. You’re starting with two strikes against you. Even if the look were feline and attractive, you would not want that.

But it’s not feline. It’s based on Aviator Snoopy. I like Charlie Brown, don’t get me wrong. And I like his dog. But Snoopy the dog has nothing to do with Catwoman. So there’s that.

There is also the fact that they look markedly unattractive and bee-like. Jim Lee is the only artist on record who can make them kinda-sorta not nauseating, and he a) had scenes like this to work with, b) got them off her face every chance he could and c) is Jim Lee. Let’s face it, most of you aren’t. Nuff said about the goggles.

What the Nolan movie will do? We’ll have to wait and see, but there is a rich history to draw from. It should be fun seeing what they come up with.

Oops, almost forgot the Cat-Tales news!  A new tale has begun! Trophies from the Latin tropaeum, a prize, memento, or monument to an enemy’s defeat. Of course in the Batcave, it might mean something else.   We’re also just days away from a lifting that “Beta” tag on the iPhone front end, and making the catverse much more accessible to mobile readers (Yes, that means you Android and Windows Phone people too.)

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.com
cattales.yuku.com
cattales.wikispaces.com

Thank you for reading. If you are viewing this post anywhere other than The Catitat you are reading a mirror. Please visit the original posting in The Catitat to leave a comment.

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How to Succeed in Comics Without Really Trying

January 3, 2011

Had a few comics-related conversations over the holidays, and particularly their similarity to theatre. Comic books, like stage productions, cannot show elaborate cinematic scenes. They suggest, and the audience (or reader) fills in the rest from their imagination. Panel 1: close up on a Bat-glove, fist cocked. Panel 2: DEMON minion lying on the floor. You don’t SEE Batman attack (reminder if you haven’t seen the Arkham City trailer, you haven’t seen CGI Keysi Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be played), you create it in your own mind, and that folks, is why fanboys are more INVESTED in these characters and these stories. We are more possessive because they truly are OURS more than something we only see in a movie or on television.

Because of that similarity, and because theatre has had to reinvent itself for thousands of years to keep entertaining in a changing world, the modern comics professional can learn a lot from the theatre world. The big one to consider today is literally the difference between a theatre that failed in the last 10 years, and one in the same city that kept its lights on and is still performing shows. The philosophy is simplicity itself:

Look on every single performance of every single show as your one and only chance to win over someone in that audience and make them a lifelong theatre goer. Someone out there has never come to the theatre before, and what they see and hear and experience tonight could be so overwhelmingly magical for them that they are hooked for life.

Look on every single performance of every single show as potentially the last straw for someone who has seen one bad show too many.

Remember The Dark Knight? That movie brought people into comic shops for the first time. They were looking for Batman. If what was in the comics DELIVERED what they wanted, some of them would have come back. (And maybe some comic shops that have closed in the last 2 years would have weathered the storm, but that’s a question for another day.)

But it doesn’t take a movie. It doesn’t even take a cartoon. SOMEONE is be walking into a shop for the first time EVERY DAMN DAY. Every issue of every comic is a chance to win them.

Every issue of every comic is also a chance to LOSE them. There is a misconception out there that because fanboys howl and complain, because they have always howled and complained, that it’s fine and even desirable, to anger, disappoint and insult them. And it isn’t necessary to master or even understand the basic tenets of storytelling because a bad story will pass the time for the next 6 months as well as, or better than, a good one. There is a reason it is writers with roots in or ties to other media who are having exponentially more success than the hacks: because they understand real readers and audiences. They know that those hundred guys on forums are not representative of anything. The vast majority of readers you never hear from either way. They like it and they buy again, or they hate it and they don’t.

Things can be bad enough for long enough that the most vocal and committed fans decide enough is enough. We’re seeing that happen in increasing numbers, but those are the extreme cases. Every issue of every comic IS a chance to lose one of those diehards, but it is also infinitely more probable it will lose a hundred casual readers. Particularly when the actual goal is to cause maximum offense. It’s not okay to know something is wrong but wait until next year to fix it. Every single issue of every single comic is an opportunity to win or lose. And like life, you simply don’t know how many chances you have left. The Reaper is out there, folks, and there are major titles whistling in the graveyard, acting like it doesn’t matter, they’ll fix it next year. It really doesn’t seem to occur to them that there may not be a next year.

It’s a new year, and I wanted this entry to be an optimistic one. I want to offer more encouragement to those pros out there who honestly do seem to be trying to fix this. I know things that have been breaking for 20-plus years can’t be fixed in a day, but unfortunately, that’s what’s required here.

There’s another theatre principle: the miracle. It’s 30 minutes to curtain, the paint is still wet, they’re finishing off the second act costumes with a glue gun, the props table fell over, breaking the decanter we need for the first scene, the leads are having a shouting match in their dressing rooms, the fire marshall is seizing all the pyro earmarked for the end of the first act, and the ASM is locked in the costume loft. But the show goes on because even though it is f-ing IMPOSSIBLE to overcome all that in less than half an hour, we dig in and do it, because we gotta. Because we give a damn.

So maybe, just maybe, this can be an optimistic entry after all. All you guys need to do is dig in and give us a miracle. If it sounds like a lot to ask, look at your cousins in theatre who’ve been doing it for just over 5,000 years.

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.com
cattales.wikispaces.com

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