Posts Tagged ‘comics’

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Q&A: Rewrites, Flashbacks and Firsts

February 12, 2013

I opened up my Tumblr to take some questions about Life, the Universe and Everything, and the first round gave me a chance to talk about some of the pivotal moments in Cat-Tales, from the decision to tell Selina’s origin story Cattitude to the famous “Clips episode” Do No Harm – to stories like Red Cape, Big City and Deja Vu All Over Again that weren’t flashback-intensive but revealed some of the most important moments from the past slowly and incrementally.  And oh yes, if I could do it all over again, what would I change?

ask-chris-dee-anything-on-tumblr


If you could rewrite Cat-Tales in its entirety, are there any story lines or characters which you would handle differently now?


Are you planning on writing another flashback story like “Do No Harm” or just planting little bits here and there?

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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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10 Years of Cat-Tales

March 4, 2011

Cat-Tales 10th Anniversary Poster 2 from A Girl's Gotta Protect Her Reputation

Here’s another poster for the 10th Anniversary of Cat-Tales which is IMO another winner.  Incorporating a few of Dorothy Rose’s gorgeous panels from the Graphic Novel Prologue, it puts the focus squarely on Cat-Tale #1: A Girl’s Gotta Protect Her Reputation rather than the series as a whole, which is certainly appropriate since the 8th is not just kicking off the year of anniversary celebrations, it is also celebrating the debut of that particular tale.

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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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West Coast Sunrise

December 28, 2010

Back when Disney bought Marvel, I said “Now we got us a fair fight,” and almost immediately afterwards, I retracted it. Because Disney has always been integrated and focused when it comes to synergy: getting the movies, the toys, the theme parks, the music CDs and the TV shows working together and feeding into each other, which leads to more toys and DVDs and games… Hell, Disney was the first movie studio to embrace television while the others were running scared. Walt used it as an outreach to build interest in his nascent Disneyland project at a time when other studios were still clutching at Cinemascope, Technicolor and 3D to win their losing battle against change.

I said “fair fight” because with the Disney buy, Marvel now had that same corporate synergy muscle as DC did with its parent Time/Warner. I retracted because while Disney has historically known how to use that muscle, TW has not. Well, the Times maybe are a-changing.

There were a couple tantalizing developments in comics news this month. Arkham City released 2 trailers—that was very smart because, while the game is quite a ways out yet, people are shopping for new computers and game systems now. The timing also perfect in order to remind everyone at this festive time of year when our credit cards are out how much we like Batman. Meow.

The interesting thing about the Arkham stuff is the subtextual (and in some cases brazenly textual) thread running through the audience reactions: as long as it’s not from the comic book division, it’s probably good. As long as it’s not comic people behind it. If it’s Nolan or Rocksteady Studios (Arkham Asylum) or the new cartoon The Brave and the Bold or even that live show in the UK, it’s assumed to be fine. It’s assumed to be Batman. If it’s from the comics, the default is that it’s bad. If it’s not, the default is that it’s okay.

Whew.

Okay, moving on to the second development: Conan O’Brien paid a visit to the Warner Bros lot which is only a few steps outside his studio… and is the home to DC Comics.

*Jim Aparo look of astonishment.*

What’s that? It is? The Warner Brothers lot is the home to DC Comics? Heeeey, it is. Because “DC Comics” is now DC Entertainment, and the last few months have seen an overdue flushing of New York positions and reassigning everything except the comics themselves to the West Coast, under the Warner Bros part of the company in practice as well as in name. A part of the company that… how to put this delicately… knows what it’s doing. Didio’s merry band came up with “Superman walks across America in a hoodie” and “Diana gets a new outfit.”  They were the last major comic company – scratch that, they were the last comic company – to go digital.  Alterna Comics got there first. You could get Jesus Hates Zombies on Android and iTunes while DC was still running plays from that 1972 playbook of theirs.

Team Coco paying a visit to DC Comics home on the Warner Bros lot is huge because, to paraphrase one of those non-subtext critics, the DC whose home is on the West Coast is able to achieve a cross-promo spot on Conan to chat with an animator, drop the names of the Big 3, and plug The Green Lantern. Welcome to the 21st Century, DC. Most of you are going to like it here.

Now then, Cat-Tales update. Well first, I do apologize to all those who rely on this blog for Gifts to Make Your Catwoman Purr for not finding out about nOir Jewelry’s Long Claw ring until a reader informed me. Then again, might be for the best. Now you’ll have something to exchange after you return that iPod-Docking Toilet Paper Dispenser.

The holidays are always a slow season for the tales, so I took advantage of the lull to roll out a few updates. Support for Social Networking is much improved. You can now share, tweet, stumble upon, email, and otherwise distribute individual tales, selected spinoffs, as well as the CT Collection as a whole. Selina decided to answer some reader letters in Ask Catwoman, Random Equinox finished his spinoff Don’t Fear the Z, and oh yes, if you missed Christmas in Gotham, the Cat-Tales Visitor Center will be decked out for the holidays until January 5th.

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

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