Modern Animation is Basically Fan-Fiction. And That’s A Good Thing!

 

 

finalspace-ch12_recap-3

 

OK, I know what you’re thinking, you look at the title of this article and shout  “This guy is insane!”  Comparing all the awesome toons we have now to pedestrian fan-fictions!?  How dare he!?   But I promise you dear reader that this is by no means an insult, in fact it’s a compliment, just….give me a chance to explain.

 

 

 

If you are an older millennial or Gen-Xer you probably remember how shows were back in the day.  Not saying they weren’t good, heck there’s a lot of great older toons out there, but it was quite obvious that they were scripted shows.  Heavy on exposition with the occasional stiff dialogue or cheesy uncle joke.  Action series, like DC & Marvel comic’s at the time followed a very rigid and strict structure and comedies while fairly witty at times also followed down a very narrow line of paths.  In modern times however we have seen a change in how content creators approach animated series.  While it is true these shows are still scripted out, the way in which dialogue is formed and even the way scenes are executed seems to have vastly changed over the course of the course of the decade.

 

 

The most notable change in writing is how characters dialogue seems to be more natural and organic.  animated television series aren’t afraid to have off-beat, awkward dry, and nerdy humor.  On top of this many animated series have been made with the characters as the main focus with the narrative and gags built around them to serve and develop them as opposed to the other way around which was arguably quite a common in many older series.    There is also a tendency to mix the tedium of daily life with the most extreme of fantastical occurrences (Such as the premier of Final Space where the lead character cared more about getting a cookie from the cafeteria and impressing his a woman who quite obviously hates him, despite all the over the top sci-fi antics abounding around him) creating both a nice relatibility and humanization of the characters while still making an interesting enough story for the viewer to remain engaged in and entertained by.   Series also aren’t afraid to have a deeper level of emotional aspects to their stories, series like Adventure Time, My Little Pony/Equestria Girls, Steven Universe and yes even We Bare Bears have all had heart-tugging and emotionally complex character and story moments during their runs.    Modern animation has truly redefined the level of depth writers can go to in the terms of both individual characters as well as character/group relationships and dynamics.

 

But how does this relate to fan-fiction you may ask?  Well the truth is fan-fics have been doing this for quite some time.   Many of the more well written works for franchises online (that aren’t just porn that is)  feature complex and in-depth emotional moments as well as just sweet mundane scenes and dialogues of the characters just enjoying daily life.  The fact that many modern animations don’t shy away from the more emotional or more slice of life moments as often as they used to really shows not only how far the medium has come, but also how the more flexible writing style of modern animated series has given writers and content creators a wider brush to paint their narratives with and greater ability to add more depth to their characters.

 

Also take into account many of the modern content creators were inspired by the things they were fans of growing up, be it Fantasy, Sci-fi, anime, hanna-barbera, video games, comics, film, what have you.  Modern content creators have taken their childhood loves and made wonderful original and revitalized content from inspiration of their own childhood loves, their own passions and fandoms.

 

So yes, in closing, modern animation, more so then ever before is fan-fiction, and that is by no means a bad thing!

Advertisements

18 Things To Look Forward To in 2018!

The new year is finally upon us and with it not only do we have a fresh start do do things better then we did last year, but also a years worth of new animations, comics, film and more to look forward to!  So without further ado, here are eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  In no particular order other then how I feel talking about them.  So let’s get started!

 

 

 

  1. Mary & The Witches Flower.

mry_banner_REDUCED

The first feature length film by Studio Ponoc is getting an western release through GKids and Fhantom Events on January 18th and anyone who is a fan of animation should be excited about this one!   The film which more or less apes Studio Ghibli’s artstyle seems to be full of not just quality animation but a genuinly enjoyable story with a main protagonist attending a Harry Potter-esque school while also uncovering a dark secret.  The movie based on the children’s book by the same name will no doubt be a delight for animation and film goers of all ages!

 

2. The Snagglepuss Chronicles

spchb

DC Comics has been making the most of their rights to publish books based on the classic Hannah-Barbara Characters as of late with their HB Beyond line which takes the classic toons and revives them with a modern twist and Snagglepuss Chronicles is no different. The book features an even more anthropomorphized version of the classic pink cat who is a gay southern gothic playwright during the “Red Scare” period of American politics.  The series despite being set in the past is extremely relevant to the increasingly disturbing state of American politics as of present and is sure to be a poingent socio-political tale as well as one of the best comics of 2018. So if you are a fan of classic Hannah-Barbara characters and quality socio-political commentary I say check it out!

 

 

3. Craig of The Creek!

craigofthecreek-pilot_recap

One of Cartoon Network’s new original series for 2018, Craig of The Creek is an animated slice of life adventure series about the titular Craig and his friends as the have various adventures in the forest nearby his neighborhood.   The show is more or less meant to be a stand in for the currently ending series Clarence though the visual style is more akin to that of Steven Universe and the general tone of the series going off the polite is far more relaxed and innocent.  Overall Craig of the Creek is another attempt at a modern version of a series similar to Reccess or Rugrats minus the occasionally manic tone of the latter, with seemingly a tiny bit of Bridge To Tarabithia thrown in, sans the sad parts of course.   If you are a fan of fun and relaxing toons I would definitely recommend checking it out!

 

4. Cosmo

cosmo-social

The latest series for Archie’s all-ages action imprint. Cosmo is a revitalization of a silver age comic series brought back to life by popular Sonic Scribes like Ian Flynn, Tracy Yardly and more!  The series follows a young alien Cosmo and his crew as they go on various intergalactic adventures.  This series is just starting and if it’s anything like Ian and co’s past work it is no doubt to be a hit!  Infact the first issue came out this week so go to your LCS and pick up a copy why don’t yea!?

 

5. Black Lightning

hebhmby5coxzelsokcco

The latest CW/DC Superhero series which premiers on January 16th stars the company’s first African American hero coming out of retirement to help save his home town from an ever growing criminal element he thought he had defeated.  The series is sure to be the most relevant and socio-political charged series in the DCTV Universe to date and you would be crazy to miss out on it!

 

6. Teen Titans GO! To The Movies!

teen-titans-go-movie-art-header

While the television series is infamous for being rerun on CN far too often the fact its getting a movie could be good for animated films in the long run.  If this movie does well enough there is a chance WB could be open to more 2D &/or traditionally animated films in the future and possibly more animated films based on DC properties as well. So even if you hate how much CN airs the show on TV, i’d say at least give the movie a chance. I mean, c’mon you do want that Young Justice movie someday…right!?

 

7. Equestria Girls: Digital Series

eqgds.PNG

The Doug Meets Sailor Moon style Spin-off of My Little Pony which features the characters as candy colored magical teenage girls instead of sentient magical horses recently received a digital series that will be having a new episode every week throughout most of 2018.  With a first season spanning forty-five episodes and a second season currently in production fans of these ponies turned teens are sure to have plenty of laughs and friendship lessons for sometime to come.  *If the Discovery Family App would stop leaking them before they get their YouTube premier that is*

 

8. Krypton

Krypton_blog_logo_01

The long awaited series about The House of El and Superman’s home world pre-explosion is finally going to premiere in March of 2018.  The series has been loosely described as “Game of Thrones in Space” and while that will most likely end up being a bit of an exaggeration the series is sure to intrigue Superman fans both young and old.

 

9. Bingo Love

bingo love

An original Graphic novel by Tee Franklin and Jeen St-Onge showcasing the life of a same-sex couple from 1963 to the present day, Bingo Love seems to be setting itself up to be an important and heart warming love story for the ages.

 

10.  BumbleBee

Transformers-Bumblebee-Movie-Spinoff-80s-Setting

A Transformers Movie focusing on a fan favorite character and NOT directed by Micheal Bay!?  This could be a TF fans dream if things come true and with some of the same talent that worked on Kubo & The Two Strings behind the helm we might just get our first genuinely good live action Transformers film!  Fingers crossed!

 

11.  Summercamp Island

scip

Yet another Cartoon Network Original Project Summercamp Island is a surrealist slice of life fantasy series about two friends at their first summercamp which is much more than meets the eye.  With a visual style hearkening back to old Nick Jr. series such as The Busy world of Richard Scary and Little Bear and a cute meet weird style reminiscent of Adventure Time I have no doubt that Summercamp Island will be another hit for the network!

 

12. Aquaman

Aquaman-Movie-Production-Start-Date-Australia

The King of the seas is finally getting his own film and with this James Wan helmed film we are no doubt going to get an entirely new take on DC’s classic character!

 

13. Sailor Moon: Eternal Edition

new_sailor_moon_manga_covers_book_1_sailor_moon_naoko_takeuchi

A new deluxe edition style re-release of the classic Sailor Moon manga with a new translation, color pages and more.  This is the definitive edition of the Sailor Moon manga and a must have for fans of the pretty sailor gaurdians

 

14. Miles Morales: Spider-Man

miles-morales-sonys-spider-man-animated-movie-225785-1280x0

Sony Animation’s first super-hero film may just end-up being their best film in years!  Though it still doesn’t make up for that gosh awful Emoji Movie!

 

15. Persephone

persephoneF

An original graphic novel taking inspiration from greco-roman mythology sure to delight readers of all ages!

 

16.  Unikitty

unikitty.0

The popular Cartoon Cat-Unicorn and her friends from the LEGO Movie finally have their own cartoon and it is awesomedorable!

 

17. Sonic The Hedgehog

IDW Sonic

IDW is bringing back the 90’s gaming Icon in comic form and it’s sure to be a blast for readers young and old!

 

18. Black Panther

black-panther-movie-cast-1009497-1280x0

I may despise Disney but even I realize the success of this film is bigger then one studio.  Black Panther performing well could mean a better chance of more diverse and progressive leads in films to come.  Plus it might finally convince DC to green-light a Vixen or Static Shock flick, so there’s that as well.

 

 

And ther you have it.  Eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  There will of course be plenty more to enjoy that’s not on this list but this should be a fun little taste none the less. Happy new year everyone!

Thoughts on: How To Improve Cinematic Universes

energy-shift-multiverse

 

For better or worse Cinematic Universes are becoming an ever prominent part of the modern movie goers cinematic diet.  And like with any other form of art and entertainment each has their own strengths and weaknesses, though what those are will of course vary from person to person.  However as a fellow purveyor of the cinematic arts I though I would give my two cents on how studios, critic and fans alike could possibly improve on these in the future.  So without further ado, lets get things started.

 

 

 

  1. Accept That Different Tones are Good & Necessary.

One of the sad truths of cinematic universes is that they can all to easily become rather repetitive or monotone in nature.  This can be in the form of being far to light hearted or “fun” as some call it, or far to grim & dower.  This is rather restrictive as many times the comics or properties these universes are based on have many characters with content of various tones and themes.  Not every movie needs to be light hearted and “fun” or dark, serious and philosophical.  There is room for both extremes mind you, but like the characters themselves the movies should be able to have more then one tone to them.  For example, it is OK to make a movie about Thor more serious then a movie about the Guardians of The Galaxy, even though Marvel sadly doesn’t seem to think that is the case.  On the DC side of things if they ever made a Blue Beetle & Booster Gold movie, I would expect it to be more comedic and light hearted then a Batman or Deathstroke movie.  It is important to make the tone of the film match the tone of the character as opposed to everything having to fit into a narrow “fun & lighthearted” or “dark & serious” extreme.  Superheroes have a very diverse range of tones for stories and Hollywood would be wise to explore more of these, and critics and fans would be wise as to be more open minded to superhero stories with these characters that don’t just follow the generic MCU mold.

 

2. Stop The Juvenile Fan Wars.

Fans on both sides of the fence, be it the MCU or DCEU have become highly toxic towards each other as well as to themselves.  what is even worse is so called professional critics also engage in this ridiculous behavior to fan the flames of drama and controversy thus like a cruel right wing politician legitimatize and normalize such juvenile and toxic behaviors amongst both fan and critic communities which is unhealthy not just for set fan bases but for CBM’s, cinematic universes and the art of cinema as a whole.  This false sense of elitism and pointless desire to create division and rivalries where none are needed is as old as human culture itself, but like with any part of life it serves no purpose but to harm and like with those other aspects it must be fought against and stopped.

 

3. Do More Then Just Superheroes

As much as I love comic books and superheroes there is potential for non CBM universes as well.  Decades of animation, film and literature have also provided ample opportunity for cinematic universes based on beloved cartoon and movie properties of the past, and if utilized properly and given to diverse voices to direct and produce you could make unique and entertaining worlds for all to enjoy with them.

 

and finally

 

4. More Diversity in Directorial Positions and Film Decisions.

Despite what the bigots of the world may say, diversity is a natural part of the human experience and a natural part of life in general.  So yes we do need more movies with female directors, more movies by Men & Women of color, Asian, Hispanic, middle eastern and LBGTQ directors, writers, producers and staff.  We need diverse heroes like Static Shock, Vixen, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, Miles Morales, The Ray, Midnighter & Apallo, etc .

 

 

Overall I believe these small changes and acknowledgements could greatly improve the future of CBM’s and cinematic universes in general.  But hey, that’s just my 2-cents.

My Little Pony The Movie (2017) Review

My Little Pony and all related works are property of Allspark Pictures/Hasbro & Lionsgate

Warning: Spoilers. Adorable Spoilers!

 

DMmIAtfVoAAMAeQ
A Reformed Tempest Shadow Helps Twilight & The Rest of The Mane-6 Restore The Kingdom’s Lost Magic

 

 

 

On October 6th 2017 The My Little Pony movie based on the popular Saturday morning cartoon of the same name opened up in theatres nationwide to the excitement of not only hardcore fans of the series but to animation fans as well as it was the first traditional/2D animated film to be seen in theatres since 2011’s “Winnie The Pooh”.  And while the movie was of course like many non-Disney animations crucified by critics, there may just be more to this fun little romp through the magical land of Equestria then so called professionals give it credit for.  Lets take a look and see if Friendship really is magic or if magic talking horses are a bit too 80’s for modern audiences.

 

 

 

The film starts out with a delightfully cheesy ponified version of “We Got The Beat” as a group of Peguses, pegausi(?) fly towards the capital city of Canterlot and we see a multitude of the candy colored ponies of this world doing so as well as dialogue filled with ridiculous horse puns abounds.  Once the opening music dies down we get the story started as Twilight is nervous about her meeting with Celestia, Luna and Cadence, the nations rulers (yes like with Transformers Hasbro likes to put politics and economics into their toy based worlds) to help get their approval for the final touches on her Friendship Festival. She of course gets rejected as they tell her she can make the party great on her own. This leads to her meeting with her friends and into the first big musical number.  And overall while this set-up is admitingly simple and cliché and this does lead to the first six or so minutes of the movie being far too saccharine and sweet it is all a purposeful deception to help make the juxtaposition of the introduction of the film’s villains even more poiganat.

 

 

 

As soon as the party begins a dark black cloud of smog is seen overhead as a steampunk style zeppelin lands in front of the crowd and this is where the story really kicks off.  A tyrant named the Storm King has sent his commander a scarred unicorn with a broken horn named Tempest to interrupt the festivities and demand the rulers magic.  This of course goes about as you would expect as they refuse to cooperate and Tempest and her army of yeti like Storm beasts begin their attack with Twilight and her friends narrowly escaping leading to the grand adventure that makes up the rest of the film as they travel beyond their utopia’s borders to the world beyond to find help.

 

 

 

Overall in terms of story the movie is pretty straight forward.  Heroes taken by surprise by big bad and having to go on epic adventure across dangerous fantasy world to find whatever person or mcguffin can save their kingdom.  Nothing new but the film still manages to make the concept work well enough none the less. It also doesn’t idle as it like the upbeat and fast paced songs throughout it is determined to hit beat after beat of the story on point. Which while frustrating at times as it seems it is causing some of these new locals and environments to go to waste, it does help keep viewers on the edge of their seat throughout as it gives you the sense that you too are doing your best to stay one step ahead of the villains.

 

Speaking of villains the antagonists of this film are very well done overall.  Tempest Shadow is actually a well defined villain, looking past her over edgelord appearance for  such a cutesy series her imputes for her actions actually makes her character work quite well.  After being abandoned by her friends and presumably family as well after an Ursa  (A giant bear made of stardust) attack left her with a scar and a broken horn as a child she left her homeland in hopes of seeking out a way to restore what she had lost.  This makes the character of Tempest rather sympathetic despite her initial cruel nature. She is an individual that was the victim of a traumatic event that effected her physiologically as well as psychologically and was abandoned by her friends when she needed them most, thus causing her rather dark outlook on life and her resentment towards her people.

 

 

maxresdefault2
The Storm King Mocks Twilight & Tempest as he prepares to create the ultimate storm.

 

The Storm King while much more 1 dimensional also serves a purpose as a looming threat to the land.  And when he makes his full appearance we see the reason for his character.  Just as Tempest represents loss the Storm King, a large white monkey like creature represents greed and cruelty as his only desire in life is ultimate power and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt or how many nations he has to conquer to attain that.  In terms of personality he is flamboyant yet menacing, and overall while he may not have as much depth as Tempest, what he represents does. The Storm King is arguably an analogy for the dangers of colonialization, capitalism and white supremacy as again we see from his actions in the film he cares about no one but himself and will betray even his own commander and non chelauntly put his solders in harms way just to get his way.  So yes, while he may not be as well defined as Tempest, his message still rings quite clear.

 

As for the other new characters introduced in the film, while they may only be plot devices to move the story forward their personalities and designs still shine through.  Capper is a suave conman cat who could just as easily fit in a classic WB or Disney animation as he does this film. Captain Celano and the rest of her pirate parrots are visually appealing characters and Princess Skystar and her Mother Queen Nuvo have a nice contrast against one another as the young princess of the Seaponies bubbly and energetic personality seems to be quite annoying to her much more serious mother. Overall while these may not be the most well developed characters you do get a good sense of their personalities and the film does give them all ample screen time alongside the mane six.

 

In terms of animation, while not the most beautifully animated feature the use of Toon Boom does make the movie more visually in depth then its Satam toon counterpart which is primarily animated in Flash.  Though admitingly the colors aren’t quite as bright or vibrant because of this.  It does however give a more genuinely cinematic and timeless feel to the adventure which helps immerse the viewer into the world as it unfolds.  On top of that the character’s facial expressions and movements while a bit more subdued do feel more organic and sincere which helps the emotional beats come off as more powerful then usual.  The only real problem is some of the CGI backgrounds for areas like Canterlot & the desert city of Klugetown do look a bit unrefined in comparison to the 2D characters and landscapes.  Overall though the animation is a step above the television show which does help the film in the long run.

 

The music is honestly the main event of the film however, as the songs while quick and upbeat are all inspiring, heartfelt and catchy.  And even the more somber ones like Tempest Shadow’s menacing and “Be Prepared” inspired number “Open Up Your Eyes” and Sia’s melancholic “Rainbow” are songs that will be stuck in your head for quite some time.  Infact, like Moana before it all the songs are well worth listening to on repeat ad nauseam, especially Pinkie & Skystar’s adorable “One Small Thing” Number.

 

 

In closing, while the My Little Pony movie may be seen as just a shameless cash grab by ever aging and outdated critics, unlike other toy or app based films you can see a genuine amount of effort and heart was put into it’s creation just like the Discovery Family cartoon it is based on.  Like Princess & The Frog before it, while it may not break any box office records, currently being at only a little over $28 million world wide, it does show there is still a need for traditional/2D animation in cinemas.  And like the Disney & DreamWorks films of the mid to late 90’s it is most definitely worth a watch for animation fans of all ages.

 

 

Final Grade

Story: 8 Out of 10

Animation: 7 Out of 10

Music: 10 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 Out of 10.

 

My Little Pony The Movie is now playing in Theatres Nationwide.

 

 

LEGO Ninjago Movie Review

Ninjago & all related elements are the property of LEGO/Warner Animation Group

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

lnj_trlr1_njg210_scp_txt_e05c01_bt1886_012317.0002135

 

Back in mid-September the LEGO Ninjago movie opened up in cinemas nationwide.  And while it opened with little competition it also sadly seemed to open-up to little fanfare as well.  But is the film really the dud mainstream critics say it is, or is it just a different kind of playset.  Let’s dive in and take a look shall we.

 

 

 

In terms of story the film does seem to be a bit more reserved then the previous two LEGO films trading an over the top adventure for a slightly more down to earth and self-contained tale about a teenage boy named Lloyd having to lead a double life as a regular highschool student and leader of Ninjago’s ninja heroes that protect the city from the nefarious Lord Garmadon.  The twist being that Garmadon is actually Lloyd’s father and his civilian self is constantly belittled and ridiculed by his neighbors and classmates for being the son of the villain with many stating “his dad ruins everything”  And this overall ends up being the impetus of the films story.  Lloyd trying to reconcile his feelings towards his father and wanting to understand why the villain abandoned he and his mother.  Thankfully he gets a chance to confront these feelings and his father after the dreaded Meowthra, a giant cat is unleashed on Ninjago and the group of Ninja along with Garmadon have to go on an adventure through the jungle to find some mystical McGuffins to stop the beast.

 

Overall the story of the film is an interesting one, like the first LEGO film it focuses on a strained relationship between a father and a son though this time completely within the confines of the LEGO world.  The real world only being set-up pieces for the start and end of the film.  And while the story may not be as energetic and extravagant as previous pieces, it still manages to do what it needs to do quite well, even if it is more subdued then past installments.

 

The animation for the film is of course the next area of note.  The overall visual style of the movie is indeed the same as previous LEGO films using a modified CG animation to give an authentic LEGO feel. However it is somewhat obvious the film didn’t have quite as extravagant a budget as the past two installments as some character movements do look a bit stiff, even by LEGO standereds.  That said however the mix of non-LEGO made backgrounds in world does give it a somewhat unique and organic feel that helps the movie stand out enough to make it as visually appealing as its older siblings.

 

The voice cast aslo does a phenomenal job as Dave Franco’s performance as Lloyd is a solid portrayal of a moody angsting teen and Justin Theroux does a great Will Ferrel meets Saturday morning cartoon villain for Garmadon.  Abbi Jacobson, Zack Woods and co also help give life to the rest of the Ninja friends that come along for the ride.  And Jackie Chan is a serviceable Master Wu.

 

At the end of the day while LEGO Ninjago may not be the strongest installment in Warner Bros. LEGOverse, it is still a decently enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor, that like past films preaches the importance of family and friends. As well as teaching viewers that no matter what others say you can work to better yourself as a person and a parent.

 

Final Grade

Story: 7

Animation: 7

Overall 7 out of 10.

The Importance of Neurological Diversity in Media

Neuro divers

 

Over the course of the 21st century we have seen a slow but steady increase in the amount of diversity presented in various forms of storytelling, art and entertainment media.  The majority of the focus has been on things such as racial and sexual diversity though lately other types of diversity such a body diversity have begun to make headway as well.   I personally feel though there is another type of diversity of equal importance that often gets overlooked in the debate.  and that is neurological diversity.

 

 

While true many characters in various animated series, comic, films and television programs are given diverse personality types and some of these could be attributed to various neurological conditions or quarks, very seldom do we see such things actually addressed within the context of the work.  Though thankfully this too is slowly changing.  This year Sesame Street introduced an Autistic character named Julia onto their program to both reach out to young autistic children and teach other children from a young age that some children may act/behave differently than them and that’s OK and should not prevent you from wanting to become friends.  And while Autism like many things in the realm of human existence is a spectrum and one character can only cover so much, the character’s inclusion into the children’s program is a small step in the right direction.

 

Other then that we have seen many other television programs address unique character quarks but not all have quite tackled the issues head on.  The character Jeff from Clarence has expressed to his friends how he has his own way of doing things and how many things other kids do make him feel uncomfortable but outside of over exaggerations of typical OCD & Germaphobic tendencies the show hasn’t always gone too in depth towards Jeff’s neurological quarks from a serious perspective outside a few speeches by the character himself.  I am not saying  the character can’t properly represent neurologically diverse individuals, just that this type of teasing is noting new in animation.   Other then that many other all-ages and adult animated programs have also touched on or introduced characters with various neurological quarks as part of their character traits that while engrained in their character’s habits and personality are not always explored as deeply as they could be.  Steven Universe is a masterpiece in its emotional depth and maturity but even it like most other programs can shy away from the more serious psychological issues at time.  The cult favorites My Little Pony/Equestria Girls have characters like Fluttershy & Sour Sweet that represent conditions such as severe generalized & social anxiety and disruptive personality disorder but these elements are only used as obstacles to over come social issues & friendship problems more often then being something the character has to live and work to control on a daily basis.  Then of course you have Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burger’s who is also a very socially awkward character but her unique quarks are often just played up for cringe or laughs.

 

Now again I am by no means saying that these characters cannot be inspiring to viewers that share the same or similar unique neurological diversity to them, just that with media’s slowly increasing willingness to talk about so many other types of diversity and to talk about things like emotional maturity and true morality in a more refined, serious yet still easily digestable manner that it would also be beneficial to neurologically diverse viewers and society as a whole, as everyone has some sort of quark or imperfection that helps make them uniquely who they are, to discuss characters neurological diversity in a more open, casual and mature manner as we have seen other issues brought up within media over the course of the 21st century.

 

One example I think television could take some level of inspiration from would be comics.  In recent years we have had characters like Jessica Cruz pop up to many a readers delight.  Jessica Cruz for those that don’t know is the newest Green Lantern of Earth and is unique not just in the fact that she is the first female Green Lantern to hail from our blue orb but also because she is a character who has openly dealt with the trauma of extended bouts of sever anxiety and depression and was still able to over come these and become a hero.  The book doesn’t ignore the issue though and early issues show how even as a hero Jessica still is working to overcome and control her anxiety and that it is her true arch-enemy the same way the Joker is to Batman.

how-green-lantern-jessica-cruz-fights-anxiety-attacks-3

This extremely open and human portrayal of Jessica is what helps make her work as a character and seeing her overcome her fears and anxieties to become a hero is an inspiring story for readers of all ages.

 

Overall I do think that the representation of neurological diversity is becoming more prevalent if not somewhat more slowly then its ethnic/sexual/physiological counterparts.  I just hope that our favorite cartoons and comics will continue to push the envelope so to speak and continue to add episodes and stories giving open dialogues about neurological diversity and neurologically diverse charters so young children and adult viewers alike can continue to be empowered and inspired by these characters that give us all the courage to dream.

The Importance of Self-Care in Troubled Times.

Rick-and-Morty-Dr-Wong.jpg

 

 

OK, there’s no nice way to say this, the world is shit right now.  We have an idiot in the white house who is openly enabling and empowering Nazis and white supremacists and helping the most corrupt political party America has had in decades push through horrible legislation that harms and oppresses innocent men and women just because of their religion or ethnicity and not to mention all the damage all the EPA regulations being rolled back that will only hurt/endanger the environment and make people as well as all other life on this planet sick .  So yea, our current social and political climate is probably the worst it has ever been it has ever been in the past 30 or so years, so what does that have to do with this article.  Well honestly, everything.  Weather we like it or not we are part of this mess of a world right now, and while I know many of you are doing your best by protesting and fighting against the current admin and all the Nazi goons empowered to walk through the streets, as well as donating to organizations like the NAACP & SPLC that fight hate groups like this, the fact of it is these monsters probably aren’t going to go away anytime soon, so while we must never stop resisting or give-up on the fight it is also important to maintain proper self-care so we can keep our mental and physical health at a place where it is good enough to keep up the daily battle for life, liberty & freedom for all.

 

Collected here are some simple tips for self-care that can help bring some momentary peace to our lives in these troubling times.

 

 

  1.  Light Exercise:  Yeah I know it’s not particularly fun to jog or walk on a treadmill/elliptical.  But 15-30 minutes of light cardio in the morning before work or school can help get your body ready for the day, and hopefully get you pumped up enough to handle anything.

 

 

2. Read A Book (or Comic):  Sometimes all you want to do is sit down and  read a book, and for good reason.  Books can take us to worlds beyond our own, show the good and bad man is capable of and teach us as well as inspire.  Weather its a reread of an old favorite or a new venture you can never go wrong with a good book!

 

3. Watch some cartoons!:  It may sound silly to some, but between the bright colors, off beat antics, meaningful morals and life lessons watching a good cartoon to make you laugh, cry tears of feels & joy or just genuinely put a smile on your face can be a good way to make a bad day better.  Weather your tuning in to Steven Universe on Cartoon Network, Loud House on Nick, Rick & Morty on Adult Swim, or popping in a Equestria Girls DVD you can’t go wrong.  If a cartoon can make you happy that’s some worthwhile self-care!

 

4. Take A relaxing Bath/Shower:   On top of the obvious important of cleanliness, many cultures throughout history have viewed water as a source of rejuvenation and purity. A nice warm bath or shower can help take the edge off a long hard day.

 

5. Remind Yourself that you matter, you are special and you are loved: Look in the mirror and tell yourself how unique and awesome you are, look at photos of friends and family that have supported you, talk to friends on the phone and online, play with your ever loyal pets.  And just never forget that you can make a difference, that you matter!

 

So yea, I know this isn’t much for my first post in over a month, and I know it may come off as cheesy or pointless. But hey, we’ve all got to remember to take care of ourselves so we can be there to take care of and help others when they need it.  So, thanks for reading.  And stay awesome!

Rant: The No Good, Very Bad, Ugly Problem With Marvel Comics

 

 

b776ed5bf78f3810b0c691ae4b7a63a9

 

As many of you in the comics community are aware of by now Marvel has come under fire as of late for what by many have arguably viewed as fairly poor choices.  And I feel now is the perfect time to take a look in full at these bad choices and practices that have led the once prestigious publisher down such a dark and disturbing path.

 

  1. Never Ending Events:  This one is pretty self explanatory.  While it is true DC & Marvel have done event comics off and on for decades Marvel comics has become increasingly dependent on these big event comics over the course of the 21st century.  We have gone from having just one big event a year to two, to three to six.  After the success of events like House of M & Civil War Marvel comics became obsessed with event comics and over time their addiction has only gotten worse.  It has gotten to the point where one event will bleed directly into another without giving the reader or the cast of characters active in the event any time to breath or recover.  This is bad because not only can it lead to many a reader easily getting event fatigue which can make them lose interest in the books they are reading, but it also interrupts the natural flow of many titles narratives, new characters are thrown into events just to trick readers following set characters book into following the event and can cause readers of these newer characters to become angry or discouraged that the adventures of this new hero or heroine have been pointlessly interrupted to plug a big event which can lead into a drop of sales for a book some of which never recover their previous sales after event tie-ins.  The never ending events are also a strain on readers wallets as Marvel seems to ignore the fact that most comic book readers don’t have an endless well of finances made solely to spend on comics, we aren’t all Bill Gates you know!

 

2. Holding Stores Hostage: One of the most down right insulting moves by Marvel is how they hold stores hostage with their event comics.  No matter how much fans or retailers complain about the never ending events all Marvel says is “if you don’t want em, stop buying em” which is a flat out ridiculous and crude statement as Marvel very well knows that with them being one of the big two publishers along with DC they are half of what props up the industry, comic shops can’t just afford to stop selling Marvel comics, doing so would be a sure fire way to make a store go out of business, so stores are forced to put up with Marvel’s bullish attitude and order the bare minimum of each title for that crowd that will follow the publisher no matter what so they are able to continue to keep their businesses afloat, even if a good chunk of the books they order don’t sell and end up in the dollar bin or the trash.  The sad fact is even with the rise of popularity of indie publishers, DC & Marvel are still the companies that keep comics going and help stores stay in business, Marvel knows that and they take every advantage they can to abuse that fact, which for me makes them no better then a gang going into an old mans store and asking for protection money.  Its a flat out dirty tactic that is a complete mistreatment of the men and women’s who’s stores have been selling your products for decades.

3. Overshipping: Marvel has a bad habit of overshipping titles to stores at a rate anywhere as low as 10% or as high as 30%.  They do this to purposely artificially inflate their sales numbers and maintain that #1 spot to help make it look like they are doing better than they actually are.  like with the previous tactic this also hurts shops as it can have them stuck with even more books that won’t sell than beforehand.

4. Lack of Returnability:  Admitingly this isn’t solely a Marvel problem other publishers make their books none returnable at times as well, however this is even more damning for Marvel given as previously mentioned they severly overship books at times which makes the lack of returnability even more annoying to shops.

 

5. Everyone is To Blame But Me!:   It is not uncommon for an individual or corporation to look for a scapegoat to blame their failures on, however when it becomes a constant habit to blame everyone but yourself at every turn and deny or dismiss any wrong doings or criticisms it becomes unwearyingly unprofessional and unfair to those who have followed and supported you in the past.  Marvel will never admit they are wrong they will blame everyone else, the stores, the fans, the artists, diversity, critics, social media, everything and everyone except the man in the mirror.  It also doesn’t help they seem to encourage their writers to do this as well, as people like the highly infamous Nick Spencer has displayed this attitude quite frequently over the past year and especially over the past month!

 

6. The Disney Effect: No I won’t come in here and start screaming about how Disney is evil or anything like that, Disney like any corporation is not inherently good or evil and is only as much to either affect due to the people working at the company.  The problem with Disney and how it relates to Marvel is how the corporation has functioned for most of the 21st century.  The sad fact is that for better or worse Disney have become I.P. Hoarders between buying out Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012 the corporation has become determined to collect as Many I.P.s as they can to get even more of that sweet sweet easy money as they ride the pop-culture & nostalgia waves straight to the bank.   From a business perspective this may make sense, however the companies Disney buys out often end up floundering in one aspect, their ability to be patient!  Disney is a company that is used to being on top, they are used to being #1 and they are used to seeing quick results.  This however is not how every company defines success or how every company is able to achieve it.  Disney weather they wish to accept it or not has an unrealistic and short sighted view of success, they and many of the companies they own, Marvel included are far more focused on the short term than the overall long term success of a product.  This mindset has arguably caused an already impatient Marvel comics to become even more so over time, not only due to their own bad habits, but to please their parent company Disney.   Look in comparison to how companies like Warner Bros. & Turner do things.  Warner Brothers which is DC’s parent company like Disney has been around the block for quite awhile, they have had their highs and lows and known the sweet taste of being at the top as well as falling down and eating dirt.  Overall over the past 20-30 years WB has become accustomed to being in second or even third place in the never ending race of entertainment, because of this their various branches as well as their own parent Turner have learned to adapt, experiment and find out what does and doesn’t work for them, overall they are much more focused in what they can do to maintain a stability long term as opposed to short artificially created bursts of success to keep them up top.  Don’t get me wrong, they to can and have gotten greedy and impatient and we have seen the negative fallout from this, but for the most part places like Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. & DC Comics have learned to play it safe and maintain stable steady growth which is a model one could argue Disney, Marvel and the like have not become accustomed to practicing.

 

7. Lies, Lies, Half-Truths & More Lies:  Marvel Constantly lies & misleads readers on their plans or intentions with their books and characters.  While I can understand misdirection to keep readers intrigued or to not reveal an important surprise or plot-point later on in a storyline,  Marvel utilizes this practice far to often which gives readers much less reason to trust them.

 

8. Re-Re-Re-Relaunches and early cancelations:  Over the past 5 years marvel relaunches or releases new books from issue #1 so often that a first issue has become meaningless and the traditional ongoing format has become all but dead to them, this creates instability in the staying power of titles and many readers young and old alike especially those new to comics that Marvel is claiming to go after can easily become discouraged and flat out annoyed by this practice.  when a book you read is going to get canceled or relaunched after just five or six issues you don’t really have much reason to stay with it or trust the publisher to make a book that will be around long enough to find a steady reader base in the future either.

 

and finally…

Lack of Respect:  Marvel comics does not respect anyone or anything, while many companies are accused of it, they are obviously one that does indeed only care about and worship the almighty dollar!  They don’t care how many creators works they ruin, they don’t care how many groups of people they insult or harm with their books, they don’t care about the negative real world implications of their actions, weather it is turning Captain America into a Nazi in a time when fascism is on the rise all around the world thus giving actual fascists the ability  to use a symbol meant to oppose them as one to support them, or marginalizing and attacking already oppressed divers groups when their books don’t sell or attacking and cannibalizing the very industry they along with DC, EC and the like helped create.  Marvel will happily step on anyone and everyone just to make a buck, and it is this mindset and practice that makes them a truly horrible comic book publisher.

 

In closing, I know by now a lot of you will attack me and accuse me of just being a jerky DC fan boy who is trying to besmirch Marvel’s good name however I assure you that is not the case.  Growing up I didn’t care if a cartoon, comic or movie was DC or Marvel, I just wanted to enjoy my time with the heroes, I loved watching Spider-Man & X-Men just as much as Batman & Superman,  and the first superhero comic I ever bought wasn’t a DC book, but a Marvel one, an issue of Captain America in the late 90’s.  I don’t know what drew me to it, I knew nothing of the character back then, but over Batman or X-Men I chose an issue of Cap, and while it didn’t entertain me as much as the cartoon counterparts of superheroes at the time it did make me realize that superhero comics were still alive and well and from then on aside from the kids comics I already bought I would also get books like Justice League, Flash, Spider-Man and later on Teen Titans, Infinite Crisis, X-Men, etc.   And that is why this bothers me so much, DC & Marvel are the creators of heroes and the custodians of modern mythology they have an obligation to use their power for good but lately, it seems all they are doing is using it for evil.

 

And that my friends is why I for one cannot forgive Marvel comics for what they have done as of late whether it is the bastardization of Captain America by turning him into a Nazi/Fascist power symbol or the unfair blame put on diversity and crappy practices of the publisher, there is just to much dirt in the pie to make it worth eating.

506cbd058dcf646b17e4b920281c73f2.jpg

 

Thoughts On: Why We Love Samurai Jack!

Samurai-Jack-Collider

 

On August 10th 2001 Cartoon Network premiered Samurai Jack, an original series created by  Genndy Tartakovsky who had previously made a name for himself with one of the network’s earlier hits Dexter’s Laboratory as well as helping Craig McCracken out on the much Beloved PowerPuff Girls.  This however would end up being  Taratkovsky’s biggest hit yet. But why is it so beloved?   Well, I cannot speak for everyone, but here is my two-cents on the subject.

 

If you look at Jack’s success in its simplest form it is arguably one of those in the right place at the right time situations.   Jack aired when action based animations were still popular acquisitions and anime had been rising in popularity in the west over the past five years, so you take an original series that is action oriented while still having the style of comedy one would expect from the Cartoon Network brand at the time mix that with some Asian themes and boom you have yourself a show that could grab multiple demographics in one foul swoop.   This explanation however is vastly over simplifying Jack’s success and is more of something you would hear in a cooperate boardroom then an average animation fan such as myself.

 

The true reason for Samurai Jack’s success is in the execution of the show, the series used the animation medium in ways that are still a delight on the eyes.   Taking the traditional simple shapes of cartoon characters and juxtaposing them with even more simplistic yet beautiful painting like backgrounds having a characters motion and sound effects fit perfectly with the music, making every little sound as crystal clear as what little dialogue came from the characters all made for a truly unique and enjoyable experience.  Yes unlike so many cartoons that depend so heavily on dialogue to move their story forward Samurai Jack depended on action in a literal sense.  There were whole episodes where jack would hardly or never speak at all, episodes that fully depended on the movements of the characters and world around them to tell the story.  This also helped the series have a cinematic feel to it which made things feel as if they had even more depth and weight to them.  This in my opinion is why Samurai Jack was so successful and why the series has resonated with so many for so long, it was something genuinely unique in comparison to other animations on television at the time, it fully took advantage of animation as a form of visual storytelling.  It was a simple as it was complex, and as refined as it was innocent.  Even by modern animation standards it is a series that truly stands out.

 

Sadly Samurai Jack ended its initial run in September of 2004 but its legacy would endure.  The series continued to get new adventures in comic books from both DC Comics and IDW Publishing over the years and constant on again off again rumors of a feature film, reruns on Boomerang, and fans demanding more adventures kept the flame alive and finally after over a decade Adult Swim,Cartoon Network and Genndy Tartakovsky  have answered fans demand and greenlight a 5th season to wrap-up the storyline which began airing on Toonami on Saturday nights as of March 11th 2017.

 

Overall Samurai Jack is a series that so far has stood the test of time and continues to be one the most beloved original series Cartoon Network and Tartakovsky have produced.  And while true the Adult Swim revival is a bit more bloody and intense then the original, for the most part it still manages to retain the spirit the original had and continues to be a genuinely enjoyable piece truly showcasing animations legitimacy as an art form.

 

So welcome back Jack, and thanks for all the memories.

 

This post is dedicated to Mako Iwamatsu, the original voice of Aku and Last Airbender’s Uncle Iroh.