Posts Tagged Batman
TaliAdina on Jul 20, 2012
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In honor of The Dark Knight Rises debuting in theaters today, this classic review is dedicated to the Batman fans around the world.
Batman: FROM THE 30s TO THE 70s 1971
Introduction by E. Nelson Bridwell Editor and Writer of Batman newspaper strip.
1971 National Periodical Publications Inc.
Now onto something important.
As you may have heard, at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado there was a mass shooting and 12 people were killed and 59 were injured by a lone gunman who told police that he was the Joker. Now as we go forward we’re gonna hear people blame comics and movies for the violence and even blame a gun ownership laws or a lack Christian values in our country for what happened early this morning. Let me just clarify something right now: all those reasons are bullshit. There’s a saying (from a movie I believe) which states: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” and that is very true. This act was done by one person and one person alone. Don’t blame other people or industries. People were killing people way before comics and movies were around.
The question is what should we do now? If you were planning to go see The Dark Knight Rises like I am, go see it! Don’t let the actions of one individual stop you. If you would like to help the victims go here to learn how. Also I hear that the Denver Comic-Con is working on ways to help the victims.
That brings this Classic Comic Review to end. Stay safe, stay positive and I hope you enjoy the film.
TaliAdina on May 2, 2012
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Welcome to the Comicmaniac Spotlight! Here is where I will feature or interview a person or persons who are either in the comic industry or they’re doing something that’s awesome and geeky/nerd related. This weeks spotlight is author, actor, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., and Crazy Sexy Geek Alan Kistler. He has recently published The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew! and has two more books on the way. I sat down with Alan to talk about his book, his thoughts on writing, as well as what other awesome projects he’s working on.
How did you get into comics?
Alan: I found a rocket ship lying in a crater. Inside there was an indestructible red blanket, a living computer called Mother Box, and a very bitey radioactive spider. At this point, a robot dog appeared and gave me a key to a dimensionally transcendental time-ship that resembled a blue… No, wait, wait… Sorry, that’s all imaginary.
Honestly, it was an accident. Right place, right time. I was very into science fiction as a kid. I devoured Isaac Asimov and any book that dealt with time travel, parallel universes or space vampires. Loved Arthurian legends, Anansi stories and certain mythologies. When I was about 7, a friend/babysitter thought I’d enjoy a nearby sci-fi convention and took me. It turned out to really be a comic convention and there was a raffle at the door that I won, which left me with a dozen free comics. I knew some characters from cartoons, movies and TV shows. But for the most part, I had no idea who these characters were, these X-Men or Justice League teams or this blond woman in black called Ms. Marvel. I recognized Spider-Man but had no clue who his friends Iron Man and Black Panther were.
I read them over the weekend and my mind was blown. Whenever I watched TV or read books, I constantly thought, “What if these characters could all meet?” What if Columbo met J.B. Fletcher? Would they get along or get annoyed? But that would never happen. Comics, though, had shared universes! And sometimes the heroes didn’t win. The Flash in this comic had once been a sidekick named Kid Flash and the guy who had been the Flash before him had actually died! That was startling!
I talked about it with my grandparents and it turned out they knew Jack Burnley, who was a comic book artist during the 1940s. He worked on Superman and Batman and co-created the original Starman. So they took me to meet Jack and we chatted for a couple of days about Golden Age comics and Silver Age comics and what events in history inspired certain characters and stories. He showed me his collections of different Batman stories over the years, how the art, writing and personalities changed. After that, there was no going back. I was interested not only in comics but in their evolution and the history behind them.
What advice can you give writers?
Alan: You have an idea? Fantastic. Stop talking about it and do it.
It’s one thing to pitch an idea or share a premise with a friend, but so many writers, artists and the like get so enamored with the idea and don’t actually do anything with it. Or they think it needs to be perfect, so they focus solely on plotting and planning everything “perfectly” rather than actually taking the next step and creating something that can be developed and then shared. That’s as effective as imagining a relationship with someone you have a crush on but never have the guts to actually ask out. Make the damn thing. Write it down, beginning to end. You can always re-shape it later, but at least HAVE something to work with instead of just the idea of what it could be.
The other biggest advice I can give is to pick your battles when it comes to editing and criticism. Whatever you write or film or plan, changes WILL be made and sometimes we’re too close to our own work to see the edges that need smoothing out. Don’t ignore others or else you won’t evolve. That being said, if you feel passionately about the core of a story or what message the audience is supposed to get at the end, stick by it. The minute you stop caring and just do what you think others will like, the audience will sense it.
What inspires you to write?
Alan: I’ve wasted a few opportunities and I’ve seen my share of death and it’s made me sensitive to use my time as best as I can. Admiration and anger are both good motivators. A story that excites me also makes me want to cause the same reaction in others. On the flipside, a story with a decent idea but terrible writing makes me shout, “I can do better than this!” And then the other side of the brain says, “Really? Stop talking about it and do it.”
But more than all that, the actual act of writing inspires me to write. Sounds hokey and evasive, but that’s the truth. Even when I plan things out, I never know exactly what’s going to happen when I start writing. You just have to get into that rocket, launch it and then improvise with whatever strange, new worlds come across your path.
Imagination and thought are the results of chemicals and lightning in your brain! What’s not inspirational about that process? When I finish one project, I never say “well, that’s done then,” I prefer to ask, “What’s next?”
As a comic book historian, what fascinates you about comic book history?
Alan: There are comics that are very personal stories, of course, but if you look at the large picture of the industry and the big superhero genres, then you can see that like art or fashion or a lot of sci-fi in film and TV, the comics reflect society. What are people afraid of and what do they hope to achieve in the future?
Superman comes out of the Depression Era and first focuses on fighting gangsters, slum lords, abusive husbands, war profiteers and corrupt politicians. We were angry, it was a dark time, and here came this brightly colored guy who said, “You’re right, this isn’t fair. Let’s do something about it.” In the 1960s, we’re in the space race and Clark’s focused on meeting aliens. Now, Superman’s been relaunched and he’s fighting aliens still, sure, but he’s renewed a major focus on corrupt politicians, slum lords, gangsters and our new recession era fears. None of that is an accident.
Superhero comics in particular give me hope for the human race because most of them are morality tales. Help others, don’t abuse power, don’t give in to base emotions, don’t take the easy way out all the time. The original Avengers line-up is basically a fairy tale about cooperation. The literal god of lies and manipulation shows up and who fights him? A self-absorbed rage ogre, an arrogant knight, an anachronistic prince, a social butterfly and an introverted explorer. And these people all have to learn that they are stronger by working together and embracing their differences than they would be if they all worked alone and did things their own way. The fact that we’re still telling these morality tales gives me hope for society. Obviously, we still think there’s merit in such lessons.
Where did the idea for the The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew! come from?
Adams Media was aware of my work and asked if I’d be interested in doing an Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I enjoyed Martin’s books, so I said absolutely. It wasn’t as easy as that, of course, I still had to write samplers so they could see what kind of book I wanted to write and what recipes I’d put together and whether or not this was what they were looking for. But fortunately for me, they really loved my samples and after that, we were off and running.
Besides the cookbook, you also have two more books coming out: The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge. Can you give some background about the creation process for these two books?
Alan: Writing those books was one of the most insane experiences of my life. Basically, Adams Media was really happy with my cookbook and wanted to use me again since they knew my forte is history and trivia related to superheroes. With both Batman and Spider-Man having movies out this summer, they wanted tie-in quiz books covering the comics, tie-in novels, newspaper strips, foreign interpretations, video games, films, TV shows, etc. At least 800 questions each book and also several information sidebars for each chapter.
They offered that I could write either book or both. Here was the kicker, though. This project had been proposed a bit late in the game, but they still wanted the books to come out in time for the movies rather than a couple of months later. So whether I agreed to write one book or both, I had about five weeks and that was it. So I had to ask myself, can I research and write 1600 questions in one month for two characters with decades of history? Or do I just want to play it safe and only write one book? But how could I choose between Peter and Bruce? I love both characters so much.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a dare. Two books? Sounds like an exciting challenge. Finally, I spoke to my friend Kiri Callaghan, a great writer herself whose work Funeral Potatoes and The Lily or the Tiger can be found on Amazon. And she said, “Dude… What would Captain Kirk do?”
And that was all I needed to hear. I said yes to both and started writing that night. It was a damn marathon for several weeks, but I did it and they liked it and I’m excited to see the books hit shelves soon. You can pre-order them already on B&N’s web-site and on Amazon.
Alan: In a way, it started when I was a kid. Not many people know this now, but I used to draw quite frequently when I was younger. I used to carry a sketchpad around at all times and I often drew what I called “comparison” pieces. I’d have a page full of Spider-Man in different costumes or different temporary transformations. I’d have Superman flying alongside Bizarro and Superboy and the Superman of the 853rd century. The Adam West Batman standing next to the original, Bob Kane Batman. The differences in design always interested me.
A couple of years ago, I met Tim Gunn and realized he had a respect and knowledge of superhero comics. And I just thought, wait, what an interesting thing this would be. Me and this affable fashion authority gabbing about different designs a hero or villain had and discussing what worked. We did a couple of videos together and it was great.
I then started thinking that there must be a website out there that showed a clear, linear evolution of all the looks a particular hero or villain would have. And to my surprise, I couldn’t find any. There were several sites that showed dozens of Spider-Man costumes or Batman uniforms, but the images weren’t in order and they gave you no context. I thought, there really should be something that does that, maybe I can do it. I had already spent a couple of years writing various articles on different web-sites discussing the histories and character evolution in comics. Maybe I could evolve that style into a fashion/design history.
A week later, I got an e-mail from David Pepose at Newsarama who had seen my videos and wanted to know if I could thought I could write a few articles along the same lines. It was perfect timing and I said sure, so we agreed to have me write about six pieces and we’d see if they got a reaction. After the fourth one, I was told ok, people really like this, we’re making it a column.
Moral of the story? If there’s a product or a story you really want to see and you can’t find it, make it yourself.
Alan: Yeah, the videos were something I did first, but I never had a stable crew and various circumstances led to there being no set schedule. Later, Jill and I were talking about how we found certain podcasts wanting and we decided to do one ourselves. She said we should just continue using the “Crazy Sexy Geeks” label I’d used on my videos since it was a good title. In future podcasts, we’ll be chatting with more comic writers, more novelists. Possibly more actors. Definitely a couple of cosplayers. We’ll also be focusing a bit more on people who make independent content in comics and web-shows, etc.
I’ll be doing some new web-videos too that will be focusing on the history of the superhero genre. It’ll be educational for new fans and pretty funny for old fans, I hope.
On Twitter, you’ve mentioned that you’ll be doing a radio play later in the year, can you talk more about that?
Alan: I’ve been scripting out a radio play mini-series based on a classic science fiction story that is now public domain. I have a crew and equipment. The script needs to be finished and edited and then we need to hold some auditions, but after that we’ll be rocking it out fairly quickly I believe. I’ll be in the cast as well. If it goes nicely, I’d like to continue by either adapting another classic sci-fi story or ancient mythology.
I love radio plays and it’s a shame to me that the United States considers them “old fashioned” and practically irrelevant. I love listening to new audio plays from the BBC and Big Finish Productions. It’s such an interesting medium and a great way to tell some stories when you don’t have a budget of over $90 million.
What other projects are you working on?
Alan: Wait, seriously? The radio play, upcoming podcasts, upcoming web-shows, and weekly column aren’t enough? No, wait, you’re right. There are still empty hours in the late night, after all. Have you noticed how many stories and songs reference 4 am as this hour where bizarre events and strange feelings happen? For me it’s sometimes the best part of the night.
Along with the projects I’ve mentioned, I’ve been cast in a friend’s web-series pilot and may become a recurring character. We’ll be shooting the pilot very soon. I’m also co-writing a film with a friend that may involve a woman hero physically kicking ass. And when I finish a couple of these projects, I’m moving on to getting a web-comic published that I can’t discuss but involves a penguin with a gun at some point and a steampunk dinosaur villain. When you hear the villain’s name, you will laugh. It’s awful and funny.
I’m also writing another book right now. This is a much more involved book, inspired partially by Grant Morrison’s wonderful work Supergods.
Who’s a favorite comic book character of yours?
Alan: Oh, God… You know, it often depends on what kind of story I want to read. My absolute favorite comic book characters are Spider Jerusalem, Izzy S, Batman, Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, Barry Allen, Vixen, Wonder Woman, Superman, Anya Corazon, the Joker, Dr. Doom, Carol Danvers, Captain America, Supergirl, and Reneé Montoya. If I have to whittle it down further, Batman, Spider Jerusalem and Barry Allen.
Batman is so interesting and admirable because he has so many reasons to become a villain yet chooses this heroic path and is selfless to a fault. And we all need a little Spider Jerusalem in ourselves, this angry voice that says stop kidding yourself. Truth no matter what.
As for Barry Allen AKA the Flash… well, on top of having his amazingly designed uniform, his story is the dream of every superhero fan. He grew up on comics, wanted to be a superhero and then one day, thanks to chemicals and lightning, it happened. He became a superhero and wound up fighting alongside Superman, traveling through time, visiting parallel Earths, hanging out with aliens, and discovering secret societies of intelligent gorillas. He was a dreamer and a scientist and one day all the impossible worlds became real. Basically, he’s imagination incarnate. No wonder he never stands still!
And wouldn’t you know it? Answering this question just gave me an idea for a story.