Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame. But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury. Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV. Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).
These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up! you cannot be a wine-nerd. You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush. Pick one. But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.). But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list... comics were for children. Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.
Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.* Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics? What were we even doing?
Friday, January 25, 2019
Just getting in another viewing of the movie. Still stunned by the world building, well-written characters with top-flight talent to bring them to life, and how the challenge of the "villain" informs the protagonist to be a better man and king. First class storytelling, and in a superhero movie no less. What it were that more of these superhero movies understood the power of a great ensemble script and cast.
As much as Star Wars or Harry Potter drops you in a universe and you fall into it immediately, so, too, does Black Panther. Anyhoo... here's to their chances on Oscar night, and I look forward to whatever they do next for a follow-up.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Format: Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
Warning - this write-up will have spoilers. Do not read this post until you've seen Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Hey, it's an all-new podcast!
AmyC and I got together and talked Black Panther. Join us as we chat on the movie and cultural force! Sort of Guest Starring Scooter, the very nice kitty.
Folks are generally really enjoying this movie, as did we, and that's uncharted territory here at the Signal Watch Podcast.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Watched: 02/15/2018 and 02/25/2018
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane/ Alamo Village
Viewing: First/ Second
I'm supposed to schedule with AmyC to do a podcast on this film. I need to get that done. In the meantime...
Writing about Black Panther (2018) is, perhaps, not terribly useful at this point. The movie is a legitimate phenomenon in box office and in cultural conversation. Both of these things are yet another sign among many of the past few years that we're undergoing some tectonic shifts in Hollywood, unlearning the rules of the industry when it comes to what audiences actually do want. As of this writing, Black Panther had raked in $700 million worldwide, and, if my sold out 7:00 on a Sunday show was any indication, shows no signs of stopping.
As a white dude who is as much of a white dude as you're like to meet, I get the basic contours of what this film has meant to a Black audience, in America and abroad, but I won't pretend to have been more than an observer.* By this late date, it's possible or likely you've seen photos of people who've "dressed" for the movie, watched video of kids attending crowd-funded screenings... and more than likely you've read one or five of the dozens and dozens of think pieces circulating. So I don't know what new I can add, and I'll try not to belabor those points.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Monday, October 16, 2017
This is the most excited I've been for a Marvel movie (beforehand) since Guardians of the Galaxy. Everything about this surpasses what were my biggest hopes for a Black Panther movie.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
You're going to see the names Jack Kirby and Jacob Kurtzberg a lot today. Jack Kirby is the pen-name of the greatest comic artist and creator to grace this orb we call planet Earth.
Here, on the centennial of his birth (August 28th, 1917), it's possible to suggest that Jack Kirby may be one of the most important artistic and literary figures of the past 100 years. The recognition came late, decades after his passing, and, still, his name is hardly a household word. But the creations he unleashed upon popular culture from the 1940's to the 1990's would either be taken up directly by the public (at long last), becoming part of the parlance, or influence generations who could never produce that same spark of imagination, but built either directly or indirectly upon what he had done before.
There are Kirby bio sketches out there a-plenty (but no definitive monograph that I'm aware of), a magazine dedicated to the study and fan-splosion around his work, and Mark Evanier - who apprenticed under him - has become the living memory of his professional life while his grandchildren have taken up the cause of preserving the memory of the man. Now there's a virtual museum (which deserves a physical location), and a charity it's worth considering giving to sometime. And a slew of collections and books celebrating Kirby's influence and work.
Kirby was not first in when comics became a way for kids from the rougher neighborhoods of New York picked up a pencil or ink brush to start bringing in bread, but he was there really early. He was a workman who put everything he had into the work, comic by comic, year by year, becoming better and better. As they tell you in art-school, master the rules before you start breaking them - and that's what he did, finding his own unique style, his own way of creating action and drama, and eventually shattering what it meant to create a comics page.
Taking from mythology, from science-fiction, from films, from his colleagues and the bottomless well within, Kirby created whole universes, pockets within those universes, and held the lens to each character, bringing the internal life of gods, men and monsters to life.