Posts Tagged ‘marvel’

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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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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

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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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A Tale of Two Press Releases

July 6, 2010

Last week saw some big news from both comics giants. Let’s compare, shall we?

Marvel is forming a TV division to develop its properties into live action and animated offerings for that enormous television audience. They named Uncle Jeph (that’s Jeph Smallville-Lost-Heroes-The Long Halloween-Hush Loeb to the uninitiated) to head it. Back when Disney first bought Marvel, I said “Now we got us a fair fight.” I meant that Disney had the synergy of a multi-national corporation that has its fingers in many, many pies, a depth and breadth that Marvel lacked, and a knack for getting all those diverse operations working together to make the most of their properties. I know some of us wrinkle our noses when we hear our beloved characters described as “assets” or “properties,” but honestly, as a fan as well as a stockholder, I am all in favor of Disney’s efforts to get every dime they can out of every character they own. A higher ROI for me as a stockholder means MORE STUFF for me as a fan. It really is a win-win if the company knows what it’s doing.

And this is where I planned a contrast with Time Warner, which has that diversity in terms of the divisions listed in its balance sheet: there’s a movie studio and television as well as music and publishing, even if some are on life support.  But they’ve never been able to get it all working together very effectively. Even after Martha Stewart gave them a humiliating billion dollar tutorial on the process, they just don’t get the click going: strip the old science fiction series that had a cult following, build a new audience for new merch and a season-by-season DVD release, soundtrack, new novels, games, and then potentially a new series or feature film. As I said, that’s the compare and contrast I had planned, until *koff* the Amazon made her appearance. Thursday, DC announced their plan to give Wonder Woman a new origin and costume. They announced in the mainstream media, which is usually an indicator that they know their readership is long gone and they have to venture out into the world beyond Wizard, CBR and IGN to get a message through. (c.f. previous week’s Superman article in USA Today.)

It’s not the nature of the Diana news that interests me, however. Like West Wing’s Bruno Gianelli, I only have so much RAM in my head. I have to prioritize. I have to throw some things overboard. One of the things I’ve chosen not to care about is whether or not Diana of Themyscryra gets a new outfit. The thing about this episode that did get my attention was the contrast with Disney/Marvel’s announcement in, well… scope.  The latter is moving with a sure hand into new waters where movies, video games and even theme park attractions feed into each other, creating a capital-F Franchise that is more than the sum of its parts.  And the reactions to the news are a beautiful illustration of reaping what you sow: “OMG, he wrote Teen Wolf? I didn’t know that!” and “Wasn’t Heroes great! Remember those viewing parties we had? Did you know Tim Sale did the paintings for that show?” “Long Halloween was the best  comic I have ever read in my life. 10 years later, it’s not dated either.”

Meanwhile DC is creating this tempest tiara in a teapot, working a shrinking readerbase into a lather over a “controversial” new costume. The only people bothering to fight over this are that 1% of 1% of 1% that didn’t write this guys off by 2007. And in contrast to the Jeph news, reactions include the phrases “latest atrocity” “You read it for me, I’m afraid to look,” and “Oh good God, what are they doing now?” Says to me that 1% of 1% of 1% who haven’t jumped ship aren’t exactly enthusiastic. Is it possible the only reason they haven’t jumped is they don’t know how to swim?

Maybe it’s not a fair comparison. I would probably be the first taking the new regime to task if they tried moving forward without setting their house in order first. There are too many sins unadmitted and unatoned, so much so that if a typo slips into one of these articles: “Superman is Daily Planet reporter Bark Kent” everyone’s first assumption is that they’re replacing Clark in a new campaign to stick it to the old school fans. That is a problem that should probably be addressed before trying to weave the comics into the movies, cartoons, and gaming worlds where these characters thrive. But they better do it fast because Jeph is getting a head start, and history has shown us when he comes out of the gate strong, there’s no stopping him.

Chris Dee
www.catwoman-cattales.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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Monday Again. Time for The Week in Cat-Tales

May 3, 2010

Chapter’s done! It should go up later today. Still waiting on a beta who is, in all probability, still hungover from a wild Beltane weekend. So we’ll see. It’s coming soon.

There’s also still lots going on behind the scenes, stuff I can’t talk about yet, unfortunately, but I can say it’s going to be a wild and wacky summer for Cat-Tales. The heavy lifting IS over, however, so it shouldn’t be taking time away from the writing for a good long while. But as long as we’re on the subject of my crazy schedule, I did receive one suggestion which I’d like to open up to the forum regulars and blog followers. It doesn’t happen often, but I do occasionally go into these very busy periods where several weeks may pass between chapter updates. It was whispered in my ear that we could have some kind of entertainment in that hiatus, like reposting a favorite scene from the early tales. Given the incredible reception to the flashback tale Do No Harm, that seems like a very good idea. There is certainly a lot of interest in and affection for those early stories.

Now, I’d like to do something more than just pull a scene and say “Here. Summer rerun!” I’d like to make it an event, an opening for current readers to roll up their sleeves and get creative like we all did for the 5th Anniversary contests. So what if I pulled a scene as an invitation for fan material based on it? “Here’s the set-up. Make a faux motivation poster, write a drabble intersecting it from a minor character’s POV, make an animated icon or even a youtube video if you’ve got the equipment and expertise.” Anything you can think of, whatever occurs to you, and at the end of, say, two weeks, we’ll take all the submissions and have a big chat party or something. Anyone interested?

On an unrelated matter, a new era has begun at Marvel Comics. We all knew the most interesting aspect of the Disney buy (other than Karma catching up to someone we don’t care for) was the union of Marvel heroes with the Juggernaut that is Disney Marketing and Merchandising. If you’re on the right mailing lists, you’ll already have seen their arrival in Disney Stores nation(world?)wide.

Income Stream, this is Marvel. Marvel, this is…. Ooo, you look scared. Okay, Marvel, just stay calm. Breathe into this paper bag for a few. Now, you see that big green tidal wave coming at you? Don’t be alarmed, it’s just the untapped potential which has been there all along, snuggled inside the love people have for these characters–which your old overlords didn’t know how to harness because, apparently, they think that love is something to trample and mock rather than cultivate.

Really, don’t be scared. I know this is a new idea for most of you. All it means is that the excitement and energy and good will generated by something like a major motion picture about one of your characters will now FUNNEL RIGHT INTO YOU!

Now then, if there is another comics executive out there who, just speaking hypothetically, was unable to ride the wave of a record-breaking viral followed by a record-breaking box office… who, so far from capitalizing on a flagship character’s popularity soaring to unprecedented heights, actually LOST MARKET in that critical period… that individual should be scared. Because Disney is about to school his parent company as well as his peers about this thing called The Customer.

(It helps if you imagine the following in that Mickey Mouse voice)

The customer is not the enemy. The customer is the one with the money. Trying to think up ways to piss the customer off even more than last time, that isn’t what we do here. Ha-ha. That KEEPS the money in their pocket, y’see, and that’s not the idea. Seriously guys, you should have had this in class.

A cat person probably shouldn’t say this, but some days, I just love that little mouse.

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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When you wish upon a star…

January 27, 2010

I was once a little girl who went to the movies and saw that big, gilded storybook opening at the start of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  I grew up with all those classics where, political correctness be damned, a Prince Charming arrives in the final reel to right the wrong, slay the dragon, save the princess and generally bring about the Happily Ever After.

As I grew up, I’ve become as cynical as most adults about those childhood tales, but every few years the godspark of great storytellers weaving great stories worked their magic.  The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story (Yes, I knew it was more Pixar than Disney), Wall-E (Ditto)… I was pixie-dusted all over again.  But losing myself in a great story is different from still believing in the fairy tale rescue of a Prince Charming.  Until today.  Prince Charming is wearing mouse ears…

First look: Marvel Comics’ ‘heroes will be heroes again’
Marvel superheroes are leaving the dark side.

After seven years of grim and grimmer story lines, including a superhero “civil war” that pitted Iron Man against Spider-Man and the death of Captain America, Marvel Comics will usher in a more optimistic “Heroic Age” approach in May.

“Heroes will be heroes again,” says Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada. “They’ve gone through hell and they’re back to being good guys — a throwback to the early days of the Marvel Universe, with more of a swashbuckling feel.”  –Full story, USA Today

Anyone who wishes to believe Joe Quesada, the man who mandated the Peter Parker/MJ split (since y’know, happiness isn’t realistic), that this sudden appearance of a storytelling sensibility in a medium where it has been lacking for more than a decade has nothing at all to do with the new player in town, have I got a deal for you.

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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