August 7 2013 Round-Up

This may be how Americans view the other kind of Football.

George Clooney may have been right in his observation that anyone in the film industry shouldn’t refer to Waterworld as a historic flop. It’s always odd when a term becomes a metaphor, but you recognize the imperfections. On the one hand, it’s much better to have a shared frame of reference. But you also don’t want to be wrong. This is why Darmok can’t happen with humans.

A former beauty pageant winner got arrested for an interesting reason.

An interesting project: Cover designs for Lolita.

A fantastic Ted Talk on arguments. Technically, it’s one of those licensed TedX talks.

In 1960, Kurt Vonnegut offered his services to the John F Kennedy presidential campaign.

Professor Ian Duncan of Community is the source of a surprising amount of memes.

Departing Community star Donald Glover has a new project, which fits his talents.

2590080-31

Timothy O’Neil considers the state of affairs at DC Comics now.

Look back at DC in the late 90s: many good creators were given a lot of freedom to create distinctive and memorable series under the general auspices of the mainstream superhero line. The very best creators were pacified with creator-participation deals from sub-imprints like Vertigo or (later) Wildstorm – the real value of which, for the company, was never the books themselves (although they certainly liked having a number of bookstore ready perennial sellers like PreacherTransmetropolitan, and 100 Bullets), but rather the good will gained by giving A-list creators the kind of selective carte blanche that meant they would also be motivated to stick around and craft more IP for Batman and the Justice League. Eventually the Powers That Be noticed the discrepancy between what the company received from creators in exchange for their loyalty and the benefits the creators reaped from their participation agreements, and Vertigo contracts were changed accordingly. Multiple sources have reported on Warner Brothers’ unhappiness at learning that they didn’t own the media rights to some of what they had believed to be their most lucrative properties. There is every reason to believe that this situation proved at least partial impetus for many of the corporation’s recent, risible, and eminently logical decisions.

Even though Marvel has always sold more comics, in the late 90s DC sold smarter comics. WIth a few noble exceptions, Marvel in the late 90s was in piss-poor shape – years of ruthless downsizing and poor corporate governance leading up to bankruptcy had rendered the company afraid of its own shadow, locked into a series of conservative editorial choices that led to years of stagnation and diminishing returns. Now the situation is precisely reversed. It’s not simply a matter of Marvel consistently making better comics than DC, although few would seriously argue that the median quality of the DC line comes anywhere close to Marvel’s at present. Marvel is still Marvel, and their more creator-centric approach (or, to put it more precisely, an approach that offers the appearance of more opportunity for individual creative voices to influence editorial direction) is certainly capable of producing as many different types of stinkers as DC’s suffocating top-down storytelling-by-fiat approach.

The next volume of Bob Dylan’s bootleg series is outtakes from Self-Portrait, one of his most notorious albums. If you ever need to troll a Bob Dylan fan, tell them that you’ve listened to some of his stuff and you didn’t care for it. You bought that album with Like A Rolling Stone, and it’s just not your thing.

The Latvian responsible for the Gozi malware will be extradited. As an Estonian, I’m always pleased to see someone from the Baltics getting international attention.

A fantastic webcomic with a philosophical debate on questions and answers.

Kostas Kiriakas also had another interesting webcomic: Lost and Found.

After-Earth

Another piece about why there have been so many box office bombs. Reason #4 suggests expensive box office may be counterproductive.

There’s no doubt that memorable action set-pieces and larger-than-life creatures can be a major draw for moviegoers (sometimes it’s just fun to be wowed), but with many competing CGI-heavy films in theaters, epic visual effects aren’t always enough anymore. Much of the marketing forR.I.P.D. attempted to sell the film on its whacky odd couple setup (with a paranormal twist) along with a host of digital monsters. In spite of a $130 million budget, audiences mostly ignored the film, dismissing the premise and the CGI action as a less-inspired version of Men in Black – one that wasn’t worth dishing out money at the box office. Taking the previous page into account, R.I.P.D.‘s heavy reliance on special effects were never going to be enough to compete with RED 2 and The Conjuring, not to mention holdovers likePacific Rim and Despicable Me 2, in a summer movie spot.

Even after solid reviews, the muddled ticket sales and subsequent second week falloff for Pacific Rim shows that casual audiences are more discerning about which CGI blockbusters they’ll support in theaters – meaning that even giant robots and monsters are not enough to guarantee solid studio profits.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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