New post over at Smash Cut Culture!
You might have heard about this little show on AMC called The Walking Dead that’s based on a comic book series of the same name, which has been going strong for something like 138 issues now.
For now, let’s just look at those first six issues, which are collected in the Days Gone Bye trade paperback, and compare them to the first season of the AMC show, which also happened to number six episodes. SPOILERS ahead (but just for that first season/first TPB).
Though they are different beasts, the similarities don’t end there.
The comic was created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore. Kirkman has written every issue of series, though Moore left after issue #6, and Charlie Adlard has kept things going from then on. The television show was brought to life by Frank Darabont of Shawshank Redemption fame (though he’s no longer the showrunner), and Kirkman has written some of the episodes.
That short first season of television is a mixed bag. The pilot episode is masterful. The second episode has some great tension. And then it’s a steady slide into mediocrity from there. The comic is more consistent in its quality level, though reading the first issue after watching the pilot makes the source material feel like the abridged version. An hour-long television show simply has much more room to breathe than a 20-or-so-page comic.
Read the rest here, please…
New post over at Smash Cut Culture!
Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ahead!
Don’t read if you’re still planning on seeing it! Avert your eyes!
The Silver Age of comic books arguably ended with a two-part Spider-Man storyline from 1973 titled “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.”
Written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Gil Kane, the story delivers exactly what the title says—though, to Marvel’s credit, they didn’t reveal the title until the end of the first part. Unlike in today’s spoiler-filled world, Gwen Stacy’s death came as a shock to ‘70s readers.
In the comics, Gwen was Peter Parker’s first love, first appearing way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #31 in 1965. Mary Jane Watson, whom Peter would eventually marry, was introduced as a romantic rival in #42. But Mary Jane wound up being the livelier character—a vivacious young woman who initially came across as shallow and flighty but was simply masking her true heart. Gwen, on the other hand, was just a nice girl.
So, to prevent Peter Parker from marrying a one-dimensional woman, the folks at Marvel decided to kill off Gwen.
It was one of, if not the first time the hero failed to save the girl—and not just Spider-Man, but super-heroes in general. Sure, they’d screw up from time to time, especially the Marvel ones, but outside of their origin stories, they seldom or never experienced irrevocable failure.
The rest can be found here.
I never gave much thought to the question, but maybe a helpful infographic will come along and shed some light…
Oh, look. Here’s one, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood grammar checker, Grammarly.
Honestly, I usually stay away from the battle of the sexes. (I come from a female-dominated family, majored in theatre, and work in an otherwise all-female office. I’d lose.) The above can be a fun statistical experiment, but it ultimately emphasizes generalizations and de-emphasizes the outliers. Lots of men and women are great writers. Lots of men and women are terrible writers. The bottom-line data says 59 percent of men and women believe women write better, which isn’t a huge margin and suggests gender is not a great predictor of a writer’s quality.
The data on sentences did jump out at me, however. Over 75 percent of women are more likely to write long, descriptive sentences vs. about 34 percent of men. That’s a statistically significant difference, and it backs up a trend in my dialogue. My female characters tend to be more verbose or prone to rambling, whereas my male characters use fewer words. Just compare Serissa and Rip in RIP. But there are exceptions, like the terse Mariana in Earths in Space. Don’t want to neglect the outliers.
I love writing those chatty women, probably because I’m not at all chatty. It’s a nice change of pace.
I don’t know if women or men are better writers. I don’t think the question matters all that much. But one thing I do know—men in general can do a better job of writing female characters.
Trust me, guys. It’s fun. And it’s not as hard as you might think, because you’re still just writing people…just potentially chattier people who are more likely to write long, descriptive sentences (but not necessarily!).
Buzzfeed posted an article titled “If Hermione Were The Main Character In Harry Potter.”
When I saw the headline, I was expecting a story about a muggle-born witch rising out of humble beginnings to achieve greatness no one ever would have expected of her. Maybe Hermione would even going so far as to defy the prophecies surrounding “The Boy Who Lived” that everyone around her was taking so much stock in, and she’d be the one to defeat Voldemort, not Harry, because she built herself into a person capable of doing so, to heck with whatever was preordained when they were babies.
That could be a great self-made person story — and it would serve the cause of gender equality better than that Buzzfeed article about Hermione vs. The Patriarchy (though I don’t recall the actual Harry Potter series being sexist — after all, it gave us Hermione).
I get what the article is trying to do, but if that were an actual series, it would read like the feminist equivalent of Atlas Shrugged. On-the-nose preaching just doesn’t work as entertainment, and preaching doesn’t change minds. Show, don’t tell.
New post over at Smash Cut Culture!
Let’s go back to the early days of the super-hero movie trend, to the first X-Men movie from 2000. (Spoilers ahead, but it’s been nearly 15 years.)
That movie featured Wolverine and Rogue as our viewpoints characters, and it built a friendship between, which culminated in Wolverine—at great risk to his own health—allowing Rogue to borrow his healing ability so she could recover from life-threatening injuries. I can’t find that scene on YouTube, but this is the music that plays during the moment.
I’m guessing that scene was inspired by the events ofUncanny X-Men #172 and 173 from 1983, which were written by main X-architect Chris Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith. This pair of issues serves a double purpose—to follow up the excellent Wolverine miniseries Claremont had just completed with artist Frank Miller, and to establish Rogue as a bona fide X-Woman. By the way, that Wolverine miniseries influenced aspects of The Wolverine movie from 2013, but that’d be a whole other article.
Rogue only joined the team in #171, and before that, she was primarily known as the bad guy who stole Ms. Marvel’s powers and memories—in an Avengers comic, since no competing studios were keeping Marvel’s mutant and non-mutant characters apart. Ms. Marvel was a friend of the X-Men and of Wolverine in particular. In today’s comics, Ms. Marvel has become Captain Marvel and is more popular than ever, and she’s set to star in her own film in 2018. But the ‘80s were not kind to her.
Read the rest, please.
Attention, Flash fans new and old — I’ve written a post over at Smash Cut Culture that might be of interest. Anyone else remember this storyline?
Barry Allen, like many comic book characters, used to be dead. But unlike most others, he stayed dead for over twenty years. Oh, he’s alive and well now—more so than ever, thanks to The Flash television series on the CW. Nevertheless, DC Comics once killed him off, giving him a heroic death in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, and he didn’t return until 2009’s Flash: Rebirth.
During that time, Wally West, the former sidekick Kid Flash, took over as the Flash. Wally was introduced in the late 1950s as the young nephew of Barry’s girlfriend Iris. (Unlike their TV counterparts, Barry and Iris were together from the Flash’s first appearance, and they did not grow up together.) When Barry and Iris eventually married, Barry became not only Wally’s mentor and idol, but his uncle as well.
Wally’s series ran for about 250 issues from 1987 to 2009, and his time as the Flash can be read as a coming-of-age story. He progressed from a self-centered, twenty-year-old kid to a family man and stalwart member of the Justice League of America.
A pivotal chapter in his growth occurred in a storyline called “The Return of Barry Allen” in 1993, which spanned issues #73 to #79 written by Mark Waid and drawn by Greg La Rocque. The story isn’t some good vs. evil struggle, but one with very personal stakes. It’s about the balance between idolizing your hero and becoming your own person, the importance of protecting a legacy, and the dreaded possibility that your role model might not live up to your expectations.
Read the rest, please.
Over at Smash Cut Culture, I’ve started a series looking back at the comic books that inspired the films and TV shows. And where better to start than a great Avengers storyline featuring the titular villain of the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film?
Avengers stories are at their best when the stakes are both huge and personal, and that’s what we get in the “Ultron Unlimited” storyline that ran in The Avengers (vol. 3) #19-22 in 1999, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez—two top, veteran talents in the comics industry.
The cast includes a few Avengers moviegoers have already met—Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor—as well as some they’re about to meet—the Scarlet Witch and Vision—and even a couple whom they might meet versions of in the upcoming Ant-Man movie—Hank Pym and the Wasp. The Black Panther, who’s got a film in the works, rejoins the team for this adventure. And then there’s Wonder Man, who filmmakers will probably get around to eventually if the super-hero trend keeps up long enough; Firestar, who ‘80s kids might remember from the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon; and Justice, who…well, they can’t all be in the pictures, can they?
In this storyline, Ultron is taking another shot at his usual goal of replacing organic life with robotic life. But this time includes some twists. He actually does destroy an entire small country as his opening salvo, which gives tremendous gravity to the proceedings. And he kidnaps his “family” so that he can use their brainwaves to generate unique personalities for the robotic life he wants to take over the world.
Read the rest, please.
I was babysitting my 4-year-old niece the other weekend, and she posed a deep philosophical question.
“Uncle Danny,” she asked, seriously, “do toys come to life at night?”
That immediately created different philosophical questions within my own mind—What’s the right age to take away that magic? And do I want to be the one to pull the trigger?
Normally for this type of inquiry, my response would be, “Let’s see what Mommy thinks.” But my sister was working, so the buck could not be passed. The kid was looking to me to fill her in on the secret lives of toys, because naturally Uncle Danny is an expert in such matters.
I initially tried to hedge a bit: “That sort of thing might just happen in our imaginations.”
“But I think they do come to life,” she insisted. Continue reading
This continues to be an eventful year for Veronica Mars fans. First we get a long-awaited movie, then the launch of a series of novels co-written by series creator Rob Thomas, and now…a digital series about a fake spinoff.
Yeah, that last one is especially random, but it’s also kind of fun, judging by the first episode, which was released recently on the CW Seed.
Play It Again, Dick features actor Ryan Hansen playing a fictional version of himself trying to create a spinoff series for his Veronica Mars, character Dick Casablancas. Most of the VM cast members are set to play themselves as well as their characters. It’s all very meta, tongue-in-cheek, and perhaps even a bit self-deprecating.
The first episode runs less than eight minutes. Hansen discusses his idea with an extremely skeptical Kristen Bell and then pitches to the CW. We also see a potential theme song. Continue reading
It might be right for you. Or it might not. I’ve posted some considerations over at Smash Cut Culture.
Here’s the beginning:
The short answer is yes, you should start getting your work out there and building an audience. This applies not only to novelists, but musicians, filmmakers, theatre artists—all creative fields.
But let’s focus on books. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.
Advances in technology mean we don’t have to follow the conventional wisdom of decades ago. Traditional publishers are still relevant, important, and deserving of respect, but they don’t have to be the sole gatekeepers of the literary world. Readers can do an excellent job of that, too.
If you’re a writer who yearns for a career in fiction, self-publishing should be your proving grounds. Show the world you’re capable of developing a professional-quality work, and demonstrate the thick skin of letting readers form their own opinions about it. Make connections with other authors, and conduct yourself as a professional.
But becoming a self-published author is not for everyone. Here are just a few considerations, and this list is by no means exhaustive:
Read the rest, please…