Saturday, February 12, 2011

DC Insists I not Read Their New "Static Shock" comic

I wasn't reading superhero comics when the Milestone line was introduced.  I remember looking at "Static" in his Malcolm X hat on the rack, thinking "if I were reading superhero comics, I would try out this new line."  And then "Why did they put him in a cap that's part of a fashion fad?".

Static would go on to get picked up as a Saturday morning cartoon on the Kids WB!, which I really liked.  Static was always a bit in over his head, and somehow the show managed to make him likeable despite its many cliches and trappings of the teen-aged superhero schtick (including the best friend who just happens to be a techno-wiz).

I've since read some of the earlier Static stuff, and its pretty good.  I'd pick up a new series, or would I?

A while back, DC started hiring TV writers who feigned enthusiasm about comics, including writer Felicia Henderson, whose credits include Family Matters, Sister, Sister, and Gossip Girl.  Not just shows outside the superhero milieu, but not shows known for their superior plotting or character development.*

So, yeah, great.  TV credentials.  I blamed this mostly on Dan Didio, who came from TV and tried to bring the serial sensibility with him, and what passed for his Hollywood connections to get TV writers on board.  the results were pretty much uniformly unreadable, and, sadly, I'd include the few issues of Henderson's Teen Titans I tried to read once they added some of my favorite DC characters like Blue Beetle and Superboy into the mix.  Frankly, those issues were "I am becoming angry this was how I spent $3"-bad.

She has been handed Static, which is a bit of a disappointment, but then DC is putting Scott "look how fast I can draw!" McDaniel to the art is one of those things...  some people are into McDaniel's work, which I find...  perfunctory.  I mean, that is definitely comics art, but when DC hires him it often seems to be because time is of the essence, and if a leg looks like a ham, then, okay.  He's just not my cup of tea**

I genuinely don't know what DC is thinking launching Static under Henderson, except that its possible they severed their better connections with Milestone originator Dwayne McDuffie during the JLA fiasco of 2007-2008.   And while I see no reason Static shouldn't be tried out again (although it seems a little too little, too late when the show has been off the air for years), why launch under Henderson?  What could she bring to the table that a hundred hungry young writers couldn't? 

*Did I do thaaaaaat?
**While I like the Shane Davis/ Ivan Reis school of design, I do appreciate stylized work.  I grew up thinking Breyfogle and Miller were pretty keen, after all.  McDaniel never feels so much stylized as he feels rushed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My final days (as reported by social media)

A brief tale of social media and my final days, inspired by a conversation had with friends while watching the Super Bowl

-Ryan has checked in at St. David's Hospital (South) ER
"Ate some fish at the sushi place on Manchaca.  My face and toes are numb, and I barfed."
"I am tired of barfing."
-Ryan has checked in at St. David's Hospital (South) ICU
"Oh noes!"
-Ryan has checked in at St. David's Hospital (South) coroner's office
-Ryan has checked in at The Weeping Fern Mortuary
"Don't know if you guys have used LegalZoom, but I am way out ahead on this."
"Ok.  Jamie changed a bunch of stuff.  So no shrimp buffet, and they don't have coffins with airbrushed flames, but it should still be fun, so ya'll should come."
"Not many folks here yet, but we're going all night, so ya'll come on down."
-Ryan has checked in at The Pearly Gates
"Wow, this line is crazy.  Customer service clrly not a priority."
"Just noticed, I have no pants.  WTF?"
"This St. Peter guy is kind of judgy."
-Ryan has checked in at Firey Pits of Unending Perdition
"That went poorly."
-Ryan has checked in at The Hoary Hosts of Pandemonium
"I totally just saw Howard Taft."
"Just remembered, I was kidding about leaving my life insurance to @JefftheCat on the form.  I don't really have a corporeal form anymore, so someone should make sure that gets sorted."

and, scene

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quick Wonder Woman post

I wound up watching "The Line Up", a film noir with Eli Wallach. It started very slow, but its a pretty good picture once Wallach shows up. By today's standards, perhaps a bit clumsy, but its got its clever bits, too, and uses San Francisco to good effect.

The picture above is an Adam Hughes cover to Wonder Woman.  Frankly, I don't remember the story behind the cover, but ever since Waid and Ross's Kingdom Come, armored Wonder Woman has been sort of one of those "oh, she's really going to kick-some ass now" signifiers, like, I guess when the lions finally come together and form Voltron. 

I can take or leave CosPlay, as so much of its done poorly, but this young woman has been showing up as Armored Wonder Woman, and I tip my hat.

Reminder: Sunday 7:00 PM - "Big Trouble in Little China" at the Alamo Ritz

What better way to get a jump on Valentine's Day than to take your sweetie-pie out for an evening of thrills, chills, and romance? John Carpenter's seminal 1980's masterpiece, Big Trouble in Little China is mostly forgotten by people who don't like things which are awesome. However, those of us who do like things which are awesome will be at the Alamo Ritz on Sunday evening for a screening of one of the best flicks Hollywood ever produced.

Join us at The Alamo at 7:00! Jason, Jamie, AmyD and SimonUK will all be there!

SimonUK sends along this music video featuring the end credits theme song to the movie. Yes, Carpenter likes to do his own music for his own movies. Your mileage will vary.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GL Halloween Costumes Are Astoundingly Bad

If these are our intergalactic saviors, we are in trouble
Well, this just doesn't inspire much confidence or say "Galactic Guardian" to me.  Looks like promo images for Halloween costumes are already making their way to buyers, and costumes from the summer film Green Lantern are making the rounds.

First:  That is not the actual head of the guy on the left.  That dude's head is way out of proportion, and his body is lit and colored much differently than his head.

Second:  Good lord, why did you paint abs onto those sack-like outfits?  Its just a reminder of what is not happening under the flame retardant material.

Third:  The white dots on the fellow on the left make it seem as if he's supposed to be an animal of some sort.

Fourth:  The Sinestro mask looks less like Sinestro and more like "Functionary from a post William Powell Hollywood picture".

Fifth:  I will be very curious to see what kid and/ or party-going adult says "Oh, @#$%, yes.  I'm gonna be Sinestro!".  You know how I would have been Sinestro as a kid?  Jason would have found the GL costumes, and I would want to be Hal, also, and he'd be all like "no, no.  We can't both be Hal.  You can be Sinestro."  And then when the sequel rolled around, I'd be all sad because, @#$%...  Sinestro.

HomeAway pulls Superbowl ads - The one with the smushed baby

I suppose it will be the new annual sport to see which company will have to pull its @#$% of an ad campaign by Tuesday after the Super Bowl when their "edgy" ad campaign backfires.

I'm not sure who told HomeAway that accidental injury to babies was hilarious, and, yes...  I get that it was a doll, but...  you've got 30 seconds to sell a somewhat new idea.  Did you want to spend it smushing a baby? 

Its pretty clear HomeAway wasn't advocating baby-violence (the doll was labeled "Test Baby", etc...), so I'm not sure I buy that particular argument.  And I admit, I laughed when baby Carlos got smacked with a police car door in The Hangover

Mostly, I just wasn't sure their joke was funny, and it hadn't had 20-odd minutes of screentime to get to that point.  It was a one-trick pony of a baby getting smushed, and from the banner ads that popped up on Monday enticing you to upload photos to the HomeAway site (so you could smush your friends' faces), it was pretty clear somebody planned to build a whole campaign around the idea of the smushed baby.  Smushed baby = the next Spuds McKenzie.*

But credit where credit is due:  If I wanted to tell Groupon how to handle ad controversy, I'd point directly to what HomeAway chose to do:  pull the ad, and make a very apologetic public statement.  Its even okay to say "look, we tested this and we thought it was okay", as long as you finish with "but we were wrong, and we're taking steps to fix it".  I think people know that young companies try new things during the Super Bowl, and you need to try pretty hard to get folks' attention.  So, sometimes there's a misfire. 

Frankly, I missed the part where on Tuesday, they'd pulled the banner ads. 

I'd liked the Vacation-inspired ad from last year.  That had seemed kind of funny, and it made me remember the product.**  That said, I find the idea of living in someone else's home totally creepy, so, no... I didn't use the product.  God made Marriot hotels for a reason.

*if you have to ask who Spuds is/ was, you're going to make me feel very old
**anybody else get creeped out that Beverly D'Angelo seemingly will not age?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Groupon Super Bowl Ad Fiasco and Not Getting How this Works

I was kind of sad to learn that Christopher Guest directed the Groupon ads during the Super Bowl.

For those of you not keeping up at home, Groupon hired mid-tier celebrities to begin a commercial seemingly earnestly pleading about an issue that draws charitable contributions or is a social issue.  Its a staple of Super Bowl advertising (see last year's Haitian relief effort).  But about half-way through the ad, the celebrity would basically laugh, say "F That!" and explain how instead of getting together to help, say, the whales, you should work together via Groupon to save money on extravagances for yourself.

Groupon works, I guess, by getting people to use social media to figure out that if, say, 50 people by a coupon from Groupon, they can all get, say, a pedicure for half off.

Groupon spent Monday online figuring out that, apparently, some people didn't find this approach funny.  And they really missed the part where, supposedly, Groupon was actually pleading for people to help the whales, the struggle in Tibet, etc...  Which, apparently, they thought they were doing.

Except for the part, of course, where they told you "ha ha!  @#$% those guys!  Let's rent a party boat!".

I'm guessing a few assumptions were made:

1)  30 seconds is a lot longer than it actually is
2)  People are actually engaging with your ad and trying to decipher what it is you're subliminally trying to get them to do
3)  Lots of people already understand the model of Groupon - they do not
4)  Anybody outside of the Groupon company was aware of their past as a company that developed similar technology for non-profits and charities - this has been a big part of their justification (that's some serious @#$%ing hubris, right there)
5)  People find making fun of fairly serious issues hilarious - they do not
6)  People actually notice what ads are for on a first viewing - again, they do not

Supposedly Groupon actually believed that making fun of these issues was highlighting the issue in question.  Which kind of makes me think nobody at Groupon has ever watched how advertising works during football games.  Football games are where commercials still make fun of people in glasses* and "regular guys" take pride in not knowing shit and believe that "cold" is somehow brewed into beer.  Seeing an ad that mocks not just a cause but the sort of jerk who would want to support a cause (you know, that guy in the sweater you know is somehow threatening and it just makes you want to smash his stupid face?) is not outside the realm of what happens during gametime every Sunday.

Did Groupon know this?  Maaaaaybe.  Picking real causes tells me they didn't think about it a whole lot.

You can't help but think a winking disclaimer and a URL to go donate NOW would have saved them a world of explaining.  I went to college.  Heck, I went to TV COLLEGE.  And I still just thought:  "wow, these guys at Groupon are incredible jerks.**"  Maybe the hosting I was doing and cooking of burgers distracted me too much from looking at the screen, and getting it, but "wow, these Groupon guys are incredible jerks" does not make me turn away from my guests, pick up the laptop and check out their product to learn their secret agenda for philanthropy via a dickish Timothy Hutton.

And maybe shame on me for thinking that Groupon might think that way, but have you been watching cable news lately?  Or looked at the internet?  A LOT of people seem to think its every American's duty to go out and buy a new hot tub before making sure kids get fed or learn how to read. Seeing someone jump on the "yeah, @#$% those guys" attitude seen in public discourse, news analysis, governmental budget cutting and what people seem to want their legislators to do... to further their business goals?  Of course I think someone is going to incorporate that sentiment into their marketing sooner or later.

And, no, I don't know anything about Groupon, so why not those guys?

In the CEO's blogpost, while kind of apologizing, he goes on to suggest that what they were doing was obvious (ie: it wasn't that we weren't funny or the gag flopped, its that you weren't clever enough to get it).  Which...  yes, you have to do some spin doctoring, but fer chrissake...  Just apologize, admit your ads sucked, sue somebody, and get on with it. 

*correction, they make fun of men in glasses.  Any woman in glasses in an ad during a football game is a sex machine gone incognito
**I did not use the word "jerks"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Catching up on Sunday and Monday

Sorry for the lack of posting on Sunday or Monday.

Sunday we watched the Super Bowl and ate until we threw up. No, I was not enamored with any particular Super Bowl ads, and, no... I don't like the Black Eyed Peas in general, or Christina Aguilera, so I see no reason to bag on them in particular now when enough people like them that they got hired to do the Super Bowl (even if both performances were sort of disastrous).

As per the actual game, I used to be a big Green Bay fan, but slacked off my viewing the past... 8 years or so. So, yes, I cheered for them and was pleased they won.

On Monday night, Jamie and I went to a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a seminal movie for sci-fi nerds, film score dorks, Dreyfus goons and Devil's Tower and mashed potato enthusiasts.

srsly, geology?
The screening was part of a "Film Score Focus" series, hosted by the guy who runs a radio show here on our local classical station, KMFA.  The program is dedicated to understanding film music. As my film score knowledge extends only to about six composers (one of whom may or may not be Prince), and I'm usually pre-occupied on Sundays, I rarely hear the show, but its a good time when I do tune in.

If you've never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, its Spielberg's wish-fulfillment movie about an unlikely way to get out of a dead-end marriage without involving Kate Capshaw. Wait, that is not what its about at all.*

Its about "Ohmigodlook. UFOs!"

The movie has a killer score and is just a lovely, optimistic film that makes you wonder: What happened between this and Hook, Steven?  I do think the movie might be a smidge dated at this point in structure, audio design, etc...  but that's okay.  The story itself is compelling enough and detailed enough that its still a good watch.

So, anyway. No real review. No real post.  Thanks to SimonUK for coming out for the show!

*Because the most fantastical idea is that Teri Garr circa 1977 would be someone I'd want to escape.

Happy Birthday, AmyD

So today is the birthday of Jason's lady-friend, AmyD. We actually have a present for her (let's hope she's of the "it's the thought that counts" school of gift receivership), and we hope Jason doesn't screw this up.

This, btw, is not Amy
I hope your B-Day is buckets of fun.  Make sure you exploit your birthday status at every opportunity.

Animated Superman Fan Film is Huge Retro Fun

You'll note I broke the borders of the blog to show this video.  I thought it was totally worth it.

CanadianSimon sent along the link to this video, and I highly recommend you give it a whirl.  It includes the cartoon, plus a quick behind the scenes. 

I don't know director Robb Pratt from the online Superman world, but it seems that he completely "gets" the Golden Age of Superman and what made the character fun, and he's obviously a fan.  If you have a couple of minutes, give the video a whirl (and then hope WB notices the cartoon, because it would be great to see WB consider this style for a show).

Also, bonus points to Pratt for landing John Newton from the Superboy TV show. His voice totally works (which shouldn't be a surprise)b.

If you've never seen "The Mechanical Monsters", the inspiration for this cartoon, I recommend you check it out.