Making Comics: A Resource

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Do you want to make comics, or maybe just have a better understanding to be able to critically read and evaluate? These two desires drove me in high school not only to read and draw my own, but also to try and find resources on how to effectively tell stories in the comic book medium. A great tool that I found was the book Making Comics.

What NOT to expect

If you are looking for a step by step guide of any kind, or if you are looking for an anatomy introduction or beginners course in perspective look elsewhere (Figure Drawing for Dummies). Scott McCloud, the author, is interested in principles, not formulas. While this does not mean that the above are not present in abbreviated form, this book’s primary focus is on broader principles. McCloud is interested in presenting options and information, not teaching a color by numbers approach.

What to expect

Scott McCloud’s book is unique in that it is actually a comic book itself. This means that while he is teaching principles, the book itself is demonstrating the very things he is talking about. He discusses in depth the use of page layout and its interaction with pacing and intensity. He talks about art, and using it on its own and in conjunction with words to most effectively communicate ideas, emotions, and story. All the while, the pages of his book visually reinforce everything he is discussing.

Conclusion

Scott McCloud’s book Making Comics is by far the most valuable resource I have found for learning the principles surrounding effective comic making. It is easy to read, but eminently approachable and useful since it is in comic book form itself. Scott has studied this art form his whole life, and he is able to concisely communicate core ideas in a natural way. Whether you want to make comics, or simply be better equipped to read and evaluate the comic books in your personal collection, this is an excellent resource.

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PHD Humor

Created by a PHD student, PHD Humor gives a humorous look into the academic life. Discussing writing papers, Murphy’s law, eating Ramen, and many other topics that most college students on upward will find amusing, Jorge Cham weaves humor into the daily events taking place on a university campus. Great for a quick humorous jolt for your day.

Cheers!

Flint

Jessica Jones

If any of you were fans of the Daredevil series put out by Marvel earlier this year, you have probably already heard of the recently released Jessica Jones. Although I came into this series expecting much of the same that Daredevil had delivered, I was surprised to find a new, but fascinating superhero story told in the style of a psychological thriller. Featuring characters that drive the story, and a narrative that is suspenseful, Jessica Jones proffers a show  that will give those tired of over-the-top action films a chance to come back to the superhero genre.

Characters:

JessicaJones  Jessica Jones is the, you guessed it, main protagonist of the show. She is a former superhero who has traded a life of using her powers to police New York City for the more reclusive life of a private investigator. With an abusive past that is gradually revealed through the show, the series paints a picture of someone trying to initially run away from her problems, and then turn to face her demons, not only for herself, but for her friends. The supporting cast for the tv show is absolutely superb, and I would say that the way the writers make use of all the characters surpasses the job they did with Daredevil. There are no two-dimensional characters in this show, but even the cast that play only insignificant roles come across with realism -the writers make the best of each line of dialogue and action to give information to the viewer. As a result, the show is rich with depth. Characters such as Trish, Luke Cage the bar owner, and Malcom the druggie from down the hall, are interesting to watch, and they come across as sympathetic and relatable. However, in addition to Jessica herself, the villain, Kilgrave, is probably the most fascinating part of the show. Played by David Tennant, Kilgrave is a complex and intriguing, though insidious, character. However, more on him in the next section…

Story:

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Jessica Jones continues the trend of telling a dark and twisted story much like its earlier sibling. However, unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones is notably less violent, and plays out much more like a psychological thriller than traditional action show. That being said, the show features an arguably darker story line than its predecessor. I will admit that I doubted David Tennant as a villain when I first saw him listed on the cast. However, he executes the role flawlessly. Kilgrave’s ‘power’ is the ability to control people. He can tell somebody to perform an action, and they comply without question. Throughout the series Tennant does a masterful job of capturing the insidiousness of his character: a man who can get whatever he wants and is willing to manipulate those around him to his own ends. This leads to some grim and twisted moments throughout the series, and is why I consider Jessica Jones to be a much darker story than Daredevil.

Conclusion:

So should you watch Jessica Jones? That is going to depend on a few factors. The story is much darker than its earlier sibling, but I don’t know that I would categorize this as a fault. Certainly it may require a certain mood to want to actually sit down and watch, but good tales can be told with both happy and dark narratives. However, at least for me, the bigger factor is that it contains strong sexual content (of which Daredevil had none). That being said, I personally found it to be an entertaining and refreshing approach to the superhero genre, and after talking to others I would say that the biggest draw for the show are the characters: they have depth, they feel real, and their backstories, actions, and emotions are masterfully played out in a meaningful way. If you are looking for a dark and suspenseful thriller, or just a break from the flashy superhero films, look no further.

 

Note: this review can also be found at thousandmilewalk.wordpress.com

Superman Redux

I am not the Man of Steel’s biggest fan. In fact, I am quite the opposite, because while I have enjoyed the occasional superhero tale that includes Superman (most notably Justice and Kingdome Come), he has never impressed me as a solo act. I found Superman’s most recent film, Man of Steel, to be predictable, the motivations of its characters contrived. In general, Superman’s array of powers–his strength, speed, ability to fly, x-ray vision, ice-cold breath, and eyes that shoot lasers–makes him one of the most overpowered superheroes in the history of comics.

And in most cases, I find this monotonous. His only weaknesses are Kryptonite, Lois Lane, and (possibly) his desire to help people. Character flaws? Practically none. Is it difficult for me to identify with such a character? Absolutely.redson1

So imagine my surprise after picking up Superman: Red Son (written by Mark Millar), and discovering a really interesting “what-if” tale: what if Superman crash-landed not in America but in Russia just prior to the Cold War? What if he absorbed his Communist upbringing and sought to spread the Soviet regime worldwide? And what if Lex Luthor (Superman’s nemesis) was a brilliant American scientist seeking the means to defeat this Russian superman?

This is the story of Superman: Red Son. Without significantly altering Superman’s character, this comic shows how Superman’s goodness blinds him to the hurt he is causing humanity in his attempt to spread his Communist ideas. This is a complex, layered tale that left me thinking long after I finished.

The cover artwork and costume coloring in Superman: Red Son are styled after Soviet-era propaganda posters, giving the tale an appropriately vintage look:

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Though I stand by my criticism of Superman as a character, I have found a welcome exception in Superman: Red Son, a story which gives a more interesting, albeit different, portrait of the Man of Steel. If you found this review interesting, you may want to have a look at Flint’s review of Kingdome Come.

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An Ant-Sized Movie Review

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Synopsis: ex-convict Scott Lang, after struggling to find work because of his criminal record, is recruited by researcher Hank Pym to steal a critical piece of technology from a crazed weapons researcher.

More a comedy with a dose of action than a superhero movie, Antman has a lighter tone than many other superhero films of late. The movie doesn’t have the large set pieces typical of Marvel movies–there are no flying aircraft carriers, floating cities, or world-flattening Tesseracts. This is appropriate; the movie is about Ant-man, after all. The filmmakers have fun with the idea of shrinking a person down to ant-sized proportions and uses it to full comedic effect.

Overall, this movie was one of the biggest surprises of the summer for me–I went to the theater expecting a dumb, boring wannabe superhero movie, but instead I found a film that, despite its small proportions, was highly entertaining.

Daredevil

Thousand Mile Walk

After last weeks review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I closed by remarking that it would not hold a place on my shelf like, among other things, the Netflix series Daredevil. Daredevil is far different from any superhero genre story that the silver screen has ever had (at least as far as my experience goes), and in the following paragraphs I will try and do it justice.

Characters:

Daredevil_CharacterRoster Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Matt Murdoch, Claire Temple, and Wilson Fisk

The characters in the show Daredevil are what drive the series and make it great. Matt Murdoch is the main protagonist, and whenever he is not fighting corruption through the legal system as a lawyer, he is traveling the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen by moonlight. Matt’s character is interesting to watch as the show progresses -revealing his backstory, as well as the struggles he has within himself. Matt is portrayed as a Roman…

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