Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meme Culture

Having had some time to distance myself from recent events there's a general point that I'd like to address. The blogosphere is usually a pretty friendly place, and often when someone says something on one blog another will respond. There have been days when When Fangirls Attack is composed entirely of links to various points of view about the same topic, many of which will reference each other. One blogger will come up with an idea and another will take it up and play with it. Only a couple of days ago Sleestak made a reference to Editorial Swimwear and linked to a post of mine that defined the concept. But it wasn't my original idea. I think it was first used by Dave of Dave's Long Box, but I'm not 100% sure.

EDIT: Close, but no bikini. Dave first discussed the subject, but calls it the de-nudifying effect. It was Tom the Dog, responding to Dave's article, who first used the phrase, but even there it's only the title. Tom still calls it the de-nudifying effect in the article, and even says "I have no reason to call it anything else." I'm beginning to wonder if I wasn't actually the first to use it directly. This turns out to be a great example of the blogosphere group mind at work.
And then there are the deliberate memes, where somebody has a notion and actively encourages other bloggers to respond with their take on the idea. It's a friendly sharing community.

So when somebody stands up and says "I object to other people using my ideas or writing about my topics" it throws a spanner in the works for everyone. Particularly when he does it retroactively, which makes it appear that he has been uncomfortably tolerating the practice for a year and putting a brave face on it by commenting positively when people do it. It makes everyone stop and wonder if they have been unintentionally offending someone they thought they were sharing a joke with.

There isn't an easy answer. If everyone sticks carefully to their own schtik for fear of offending anyone then we lose all the fun and the interaction that makes the blogosphere a community. If someone doesn't wish to participate in this to and fro they can prominently display a notice on their blog to this effect, but would it damage the community anyway?

I don't have a solution. I'm just asking the question. Feel free to apply your own thoughts to the subject, either here or any other forum. Just let me know so I can follow it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Return of the multiverse

So DC's next big thing is bringing back all the parallel worlds where different versions of their characters exist.

But you know what this means to me?

Handy guide to silver age writers

At the dawn of the Silver Age DC did not go much for crediting the people who created their comics. Even when Marvel arrived and made a point of including credits on all their books, it was a long time before DC followed suit in any formal way, so it can often be difficult to tell who wrote an given comic.

I've been studying the work of three writers in particular, Bob Haney, Bob Kannigher, and Gardner Fox. Although these three share elements of style and content, they can be told apart by their individual approach.

Bob Haney likes to ground his fantastic stories by inserting fashionable touches from the everyday world, but makes no effort to research these elements, and so often gets them wrong, with hilarious results. I particularly like the way the Teen Titans manage to be so popular with all the young people they meet while they are working for the government in the late sixties.

Gardner Fox, on the other hand, is more inclined to throw in some ludicrous plot element and then spend a page justifying it. The more technobabble that he can stuff in there, the better.

But Bob Kanagher. Ah, Bob Kanagher. Big Bob just does mad stuff and feels no need at all to either justify it or make it relevent. Often his work reads like stream of consciousness, where logic is a toy, and Cause and Effect are just the names of the henchmen.

To give you an example how this works in practice, say you have a story where our hero encounters a crashed spaceship.

Gardener Fox would have the spaceship crash and our hero would be led to it by some convoluted plot of the pilot to trap him in another dimension where he would fight dinosaurs, which for some complicated reason would enable the alien pilot to acquire a thermometer, and hthis would include a whole page explaining why the alien pilot couldn't just walk into a shop and buy one.

Bob Haney would have our hero hanging out at a beach party, surfing and riding jetskis up the beach when the spaceship would crash into the car park, cutting all the hot rods off from the main road and making it impossible for the cool kids to get home before curfew without our hero battling the aliens.

Bob Kannagher would just drop the spaceship in front of the hero and have an alien made of flowers jump out and steal his hat, just as a pirate ship arrives, looking for a quiet spot to drop off some foreign saboteurs with a bomb made of cheese.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bitter lemmings

I'll get back to some mad silver age fun real soon now, but in the meantime here's a lesson from Wonder Woman on the problems of being a super heroine.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pants on Fire

It's small and petty, but I really do not like being called a liar.

Last March I ran a little piece about Hal Jordan's brother being as clumsy as Hal.

Yesterday Scipio ran the same comment over the same panel. I did not believe that he had deliberately copied my article, but I knew he had been aware of the original, so I lightheartedly pointed this out to him, expecting an "oops, sorry" type of response, and that would have been the end of it.

Instead he disclaimed knowledge of my piece, claiming he had stopped reading my blog before this article was published.*

Once I'd shown that he had to have read the article because he had responded to it in the comments section, he then changed his tune to "pardon me for not memorizing everything that has appeared on your blog! How silly of me!" which is interesting because it's still refusing to acknowledge any connection between the two near-identical articles, while attempting to fudge the issue by implying that it is absurd that he should remember everything I've written.

Of course I never suggested that he had done any such thing, but the possibility that when he saw the same panel again recently, the comment I had associated with it resurfaced in his mind seems far from impossible**. I know I look at images now and then that have all kinds of sensual associations. There was even one picture that would make me feel nauseous when I saw it for a long time because the first time I saw it I was sick.

But rather than admit the possibility that the two articles might be connected, even unconsciously, he takes pokes at me when responding to other people on unrelated matters. As if calling me names will absolve him of his error. At this rate it's only a matter of time before he blames me for the whole thing.

Update: Scipio has now locked comments on that particular thread so he could get the last word in. In this final post he:
a) suggests that I was copying him for posting at all on the subject because he was the one that started looking for examples of Hal Jordan getting hit on the head, so presumably anyone else who posted such images was also copying him rather than sharing the joke,
b) suggests that my post was so much in his traditional style that it's copying him anyway,
c) says that he'd consider it acceptable to steal stuff he'd seen on my blog and post it under his own name because I have so few readers that nobody would notice, and finally
d) sneers at my request that he show a little respect.

I'm actually quite stunned that something so trivial could spawn quite so much venom and all around nastiness.

*In fact the most recent comment I can find from Scipio is a response to a post published six months later.
**In his final word he alludes to a sense of deja vu about the article, but only wonders if he has posted it before. It doesn't occur to him that it might be someone else's work.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Get in line

Line by Yua Kotegawa

So many manga go on for volume after volume that it's a surprise to find what appears to be a single volume stand alone story. The trouble was that by the time I got to the end of this one I was so involved with the characters I wanted to know what happens to them next...

It's an intruiging, if not entirely original premise. Girl finds an abandoned cellphone and before she can hand it in to lost property it rings, throwing her into the middle of a fast paced thriller. I intended to just read the first chapter, but found myself unable to put it down until I'd finished. And I think I may reread it again in a couple of weeks. The first time you are mainly concerned with the plot, but there are interesting character developments, particularly in the relationship between the two main characters, and I think it might be worth reading again to focus on that aspect of the story.

The art is attractive, showing you everything you need to see in an uncomplicated fashion. It serves the story very well without being so flashy or clever that you stop to admire it - something a lot of comic artists should consider, whatever their nationality.

I liked this so much that I went looking for other work by Yua Kotegawa. The only thing I could find immediately was the multi-volume Anne Freaks. I may have something to say about that in the future.

Rape cancelled

While I still believe that there is a need to catalogue the number of times rape is used as a plot point in current comics in order to make it clear how overused it is I'm not in a position to continue with monthly updates.

I don't read many current comics and I'm not able to check every new comic published, so it's not possible for me to keep track without help. If someone wants to take over who can do a better job, let me know and I'll make sure to link to it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Spoiled Space

Some people like to know all the exciting stuff first. They can't wait for Christmas day to open their presents and they can't bear not to know the big twists coming in their favourite comics or TV shows months beforehand.

Me, I'm more the sort that will give the boxes a shake and try to guess what's inside, but the last thing I want is for someone to tell me. So I avoid spoilers whenever I can. Unfortunately they are sometimes shoved in my face without my choice, and that really annoys me.

It's bad enough when some outside agency feels obliged to reveal all the good stuff for their own purposes, like TV stations running trailers that give away the big twist - I may hate them for it and plot to burn them down, but I can understand that their priority is to get people to watch the show. Once they are actually watching it, the PR machine is too busy screaming at you to watch the next thing to care about how they have screwed over the current one. But what's worst is when the guys producing the original feel the need to give away the ending. Like putting it on the cover of the comic.

The all time worst spoiler cover for me was the X-Men annual (I forget which one) where the story involved mysterious happenings and the big reveal of who was responsible didn't ocur until well into the story. Unfortunately he was prominently displayed on the cover, so the dramatic tension was nonexistant.

The latest issue of Manhunter isn't quite in that league, but cover featuring the old Blue Beetle and then not having him appear until the final page feels like a cheat. It's misleading, and does a disservice to an excellent comic that is worth reading for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with the cover.

Sign of Light

Fifty Two #35

First chronological appearance of Doctor Light II since her depowerment (officially 52 #2). It's only one panel, but she's in costume.

So my guess that the resolution to her depowerment story would occur in 52 is now completely busted (as they say on Mythbusters). Will we now even get to see Kimiyo's big comeback story at all? My magic 8-ball says "Outlook not so good".

Okay, the original story was bad in so many ways, but is Judd Winick's tawdry little opus simply going to be quietly ignored? Are those few fans who were emotionally moved by their heroine's plight now to be told "Get over it; it didn't happen"?

Not to mention it would be such an opportunity to produce a hugely empowering kick-ass story about a character coming back from the brink of death to confront her abuser and take back her power and her name.

I really want to see that story.