Hi everyone, here’s the press releases on the new book if anyone wants to know more about what this darn thing’s all about.
As promised, here’s the list of upcoming reviews in alphabetical order. If you don’t see something you requested, or if you’ve already contributed via Patreon and didn’t get a chance to request, leave me a comment and I’ll stick it on. I…may be doing this a while.
|A Monster In Paris|
|A Series of Unfortunate Events|
|Aladdin the Series|
|Alice in Wonderland (the Disney live action one)|
|Ang Lee’s Hulk|
Batman: The Killing Joke
|Bats vers Bolts: I, Frankenstein versus Dracula Untold|
|Bats versus Bolts: Nosferatu versus Frankenstein|
|Bolts versus Bats: Andy Warhol|
Daria: Episode 1
|Episode 4 of Death Parade|
|Episode six of Flip Flappers.|
|Evangelion: You are (Not) Alone|
|Felix the Cat|
Freddie as F.R.O.7
|Hercules and Xena the Animated Movie|
|Inherit the Wind|
|Into the Woods|
Joseph: King of Dreams
|Judgement at Nuremberg|
|Kung Fu Panda 2|
|Little Mermaid the Series|
|Lu Over the Wall|
|Metropolis (Osamu Tezuka)|
|Moomins on the Riviera|
|My Hero Academia: First 4 Episodes|
|Night of the Hunter
Once Upon A Time: Episodes 1 and 3
|Over the Garden Wall|
|Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure|
|Return to Oz|
|Rock and Rule|
|Romeo and Juliet Sealed with a Kiss
Sailor Moon R: The Movie
|Something Eastern European|
|Superman Versus the Elite|
|Tangled the Series|
|The Dark Crystal|
|The Fantastic Adventures of Unico|
|The Good Dinosaur|
|The Land Before Time|
|The Land Before Time 13|
|The Polar Express|
|The Quiet Man|
|The Swan Princess|
|The Third Man|
|V for Vendetta|
Hi everyone. When I made my big end of year humblebrag a while back there was actually another bit of news that I couldn’t tell you because negotiations were still ongoing. So here it is.
I’ve been signed by TOR for a two book deal.
One of the largest publishers of science fiction in the world offered to publish my novel When the Sparrow Falls (until recently called The Caspian Sea) for summer 2021 with a second book for publication in summer 2022 and I said “Yes. I find this agreeable.”
This deal will be for North America and most of the world. For the non-American Anglosphere, the book will be published by Rebellion, the UK publisher of Judge Dredd.
How’s you’re day going?
So, obviously this means I’m going to be spending a lot of time on edits and writing book #2 over the next three years as well as my usual work commitments.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Guys I hate to say it but it looks like I might have to shutter the blog…
Okay. EVERYBODY CHILL! HERE is what I’m going to do:
So I’ve put a pause on the Patreon and any patrons are not getting charged for June. Starting now I won’t be taking any more review requests because I already have a massive backlog. If you’re waiting for a review it WILL be done, but it’ll take time and with one book to be edited and a second one to be written over the next two years I will be shifting to a new schedule which means I simply can’t take any more reviews on.
SO. If you’re a $5 or a $10 Patron now would probably be a good time to cancel your pledge as I’m afraid I won’t be able to fulfill any new review requests.
After the conclusion of the Endgame review the blog will be shifting to an alternating monthly/bi-monthly schedule. As in, one month there’ll be one review, the next there will be two and then one again. I’m hoping this will just be temporary. I’m planning on taking a leave of absence from work later in the year to focus on being a full time writer and…wow I just wrote that. Really happening. Sorry, back on track. As I say, I will hopefully be shifting back to a twice monthly schedule in the Autumn but that will obviously depend on deadlines, workloads etc. etc.
Over the next few days I’ll be posting the complete list of scheduled, requested reviews. If you’ve requested a review that you don’t see listed leave me a comment and I’ll add it in. The reviews WILL be done, I promise.
Thank you all
Guys, some of you have been with this blog since the days when I didn’t even know how to properly crop an image. I would not be the writer I eventually became without your support. It’s been a crazy, wonderful eight years. Thank you all so much. Virtual group hug. Bring it in.
One of the hardest things about telling any story is sticking the landing.
A bad ending is not only bad in and of itself, it’s like a cancer that reaches back in time and kills everything that went before it. I can’t enjoy Sherlock anymore. All the clever writing and great performances and wonderful little tricksy puzzles turn to ash when you remember that it’s all leading up to Sherlock defeating his previously unknown little sister with superpowers.
If I had had to write the script for Endgame I’d probably have gone mad with the pressure. I remember marvelling (heh) at Joss Whedon’s script for Avengers back in 2012 and how it managed to juggle seven (SEVEN!) main characters and serve as a satisfying conclusion to five (FIVE!) films. My, how young we were. So imagine the weight of expectation resting on the shoulders of Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and the Russo Brothers, having to juggle a story with dozens upon dozens of named characters AND has to serve as a capstone to a 22 film cycle. I mean, Christ. I’ve only had to review these things and it feels like I’ve climbed Everest.
Did they pull it off? You probably have your own opinions on that but, well…this thing made 2.8 billion dollars at the box-office so somebody liked it.
So, because this thing is over three hours long, this review is going to be a two-parter. Also, I’m not going to do a big introduction explaining the history of these characters and the background to this movie because, well…
Do a google image search for “Movie stars of the 1940s” and you’ll probably get something like this.
But if you do a similar image search for the current decade and you get this:
So my point is, racism is over.
No, obviously not. But, over the decades there has been a definite shift in American media as film and television has come to (somewhat) more closely resemble contemporary American society. Now picture something for me. Imagine Humphry Bogart and Carey Grant and Errol Flynn were all still alive, never ageing, and still acting in movies with hundreds or thousands of roles under their belts. Imagine how difficult it would be for new actors, particularly female actors or actors of colour, to break into the business and make a name for themselves. Imagine a world where the Golden Age greats almost never died, and even if they did someone always brought them back to life.
Picture that world, and then you’ll understand why it’s so damnably difficult to introduce more diversity into comics. Clark Kent is never going to get old, retire and pass on the mantle to a young Hispanic boy (not permanently at least). Superman is part of the Western collective consciousness now. He’s not going anywhere, any more than Robin Hood or King Arthur. And to be clear, I don’t want him to. A world without Superman, and I mean this with absolute dead seriousness, would be a far, far worse one. But the problem remains, there are only so many comic books one company can put out in a month and there are only so many seats at the table. And opportunities for promotion are vanishingly rare.
A few years back, DC rebooted their universe and established a new origin for the Justice League which now included Cyborg as a founding member, thereby implicitly placing his as one of the seven most important superheroes in the DC universe. And there was of course a lot of harrumphing that DC were pandering to political correctness by including this new Johnny-come-lately diversity hire who hadn’t earned his place on the team. Think about that. A character who first appeared FORTY GODDAMNED YEARS AGO still was deemed to have not paid his dues. Which is not to say that publishers don’t sometimes try to shoehorn diversity into their books in a way that both alienates their long-time readers while also coming off as insultingly pandering and utterly tone-dead attempts to woo a new audience they don’t remotely understand.
Cyborg is a non-white character with an original gimmick who managed to break into the top tier but in that respect he is very much the exception and not the rule. Far more common is for a new character to take on the powers and costume of an older hero, what’s sometimes called a Legacy Hero.
Introducing a new character to take on the mantle of an older, storied hero is a bit like defusing a bomb. There’s only one way it can go right, and a million ways it can go wrong. Probably the best case study of how not to do this would be the passing of the Green Lantern mantle from Hal Jordan to Kyle Rayner.
Now on paper, this was a transition that had a lot going for it. Green Lantern is a fantastic concept that was often let down by a pretty dull central character. Hal Jordan was a stodgy, by-the-book military man whose most memorable storyline involved him travelling around America with Green Arrow and being wrong about literally everything. Oh, and it had the most “seventies comics” panel in the history of seventies comics.
The idea therefore was to replace Hal Jordan with Kyle Rayner, a young artist. Y’know, a guy who actually uses his imagination professionally and might be able to use a cosmic space ring to conjure something more visually interesting than a giant green fist for the billionth fucking time. Plus, you get the interesting contrast of a young man with no experience as a superhero suddenly having to deal with being one of the most powerful capes in the DC universe. Not a bad idea at all.
How did they fuck it up?
Firstly, they had Hal Jordan go insane and slaughter the entire Green Lantern Corps and become a super-villain called Parallax. Then, while Green Lantern fans were still coming to terms with a character they’d followed for thirty five years turning into Charles Fucking Manson Kyle Rayner was foisted on them without so much as a by your leave. And, to really drive the point home, every second character who met Kyle was sure to inform him that he was now the “one, true Green Lantern”.
The fans naturally enough, rolled their eyes but decided that it wasn’t worth getting all worked up over nah I’m just kidding it was like the fall of Saigon out there. The Green Lantern fandom splintered and became a toxic mess that really only healed when Hal was restored as Green Lantern in 2005.
So what’s to be learned from that? I think it boils down to respect. Rather than simply replacing Hal Jordan, or allowing him a heroic death saving the Earth, DC elected to destroy him, to trash the character so badly that readers would (they assumed) flock to Kyle Rayner as their one true lantern. They didn’t respect the character or their audience’s love for him and so they were completely unprepared for the backlash against the new guy who they (rightly) saw as the reason why Hal was done dirty.
On the flipside, for an example of a Legacy Character being introduced about as well as can be, look to the introduction of Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man.
The Ultimate universe was an imprint started by Marvel at the turn of the millennium to have rebooted versions of their heroes that weren’t constrained by 6 decades of continuity. It was also intended to allow creators to take riskier approaches with classic characters and answer questions like “What if Captain America was a dick?”, “What if the Hulk ate people?” and “What if Hawkeye was just the worst?”
By far the best thing to come out of the Ultimate Universe was Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s run on Ultimate Spider-Man, a run which I will always recommend to anyone who wants to get started in comics. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel. It’s just the story of fifteen year old Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and encountering his usual rogue’s gallery. But the art is gorgeous and the writing is sharp and sweet and funny and it’s probably my favourite run of Spider-Man and yeah, I include the original Lee-Ditko run in that. But what made Bendis and Bagley’s version of the story of Peter Parker so memorable was that they were actually able to give it an ending. The Green Goblin attacks Peter Parker’s home and tries to kill Aunt May, with Peter sacrificing his life to save his aunt.
Okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Just don’t show the panel with him meeting Uncle Ben in heaven…
I won’t say that there was no backlash to the introduction of Miles Morales because look what planet we’re living on, but his introduction went about as smoothly as these things can, and there’s a reason why Miles Morales was one of very few elements carried over to main Marvel continuity once the powers that be finally stuck a pillow over the Ultimate Universe’s face. Because Peter’s story was concluded on such a deeply affecting note, Miles felt less like an interloper and more like a fresh start. It also helped that Miles, like the fans, was someone who greatly admired Spider-Man and was grieving his death. That created a connection between the character and his new readers and made them more willing to accept him.
Let’s be honest, the omens for Into the Spider-Verse were not good. Firstly, it’s an animated film by Sony, who have probably the worst track record of any of the major American animation studios. Secondly, it’s a Spider-Man film by Sony, who have definitely got the worst track record of any American studio that has ever made Spider-Man movies.
Of course, there is a simple rule in Hollywood. Think of the worst idea for a movie you can; a comedy reboot of an old police procedural? Two hour long toy commercial? Movie where weather is food? Give it to Phil Lord and Chris Miller and they will spin that shit into gold.
Guys. I’m really scared. I think this might be it.
I mean, I know we’ve had our share of close calls and near misses, but I can’t shake the feeling that this really is the big one. This is finally how it all ends.
I mean seriously, I am concerned. Have you heard about Raya and the Last Dragon? It’s the next canon movie, due for release in November of this year, which feels like a long time because we’re all doing jail time right now and time passes slower on the inside but it’s also really not that far away. And after that?
There are no officially announced Disney canon movies after Raya. And, while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not as plugged into the Disney fandom as I used to be I can’t say that I’m sensing a lot of hype for Raya. Plus, c’mon Disney. You’re really going to make a CGI Dragon movie? That’s, like, Dreamworks’ one thing that they still do well and you’re going to try to take it from them? For shame.
I mean, you don’t see Dreamworks trying to copy your movies. Ahem.
So it’s starting to feel like the Disney canon’s in trouble. Maybe that’s just me jumping the gun. Admittedly, not everyone feels the way I do about Wreck It Ralph 2. And maybe I’m just letting my impressions be coloured by the Disney company’s drift away from “movie company” to “Lexcorp-esque colossus of super-villainy”. Because I am all kinds of outraged about that. I mean, not enough to cancel my Disney + subscription or alter my spending habits in any way. But outraged enough to loudly proclaim how outraged I am on the internet? Oh yes. I am willing to be the hero this world needs.
But anyway Frozen 2. Usually before diving into a review I’ll give some background as to how the movie came about but how about we cut the shit? I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you how one morning Jennifer Lee shot bold upright in bed, struck with the inspiration for the next chapter of the Arrendelle saga that simply had to be told. We’re all grownups here (I hope, otherwise I really should lay of the cussin’). Frozen gifted the Disney company a fortune, and that fortune wanted a little brother or sister. A movie makes a certain amount of money, and a sequel is no longer optional. That’s why James Cameron is still threatening to smite the Earth with Avatar 2. And look, maybe it’s fine. Getting a bunch of talented people in a room and hoping the lightning strikes twice isn’t the craziest way to make a good movie. Maybe there is room for the story to go. Maybe Olaf’s character does need further exploration. Maybe the worst is behind us.
A belated (isn’t it always?) thanks and welcome to new patron Calvin van den Elzen, a Dutch grand master famous for his hyper-realistic landscapes. Unfortunately, he devoted his talents almost exclusively to portraits of ducks, at which he was competent.
It is with the greatest embarrassment that I must admit that despite reviewing and writing about animation for almost eight years now I had never heard of Don Hertzfeldt. I know, I know. That’s like saying you’re really into rock music and never having heard of The Common Sense. It’s like putting yourself out there as an expert on Renaissance painting and knowing nothing about Vincentio.
For crying out loud, it’s like saying you’re obsessed with American history and not knowing about William Batholomew Brockholst.
Hertzfeldt is one of those guys who makes you go “oh, this fucking guy”.
At 18, he single-handedly animated and scored Ah, L’Amour which won the Grand Prize Award for “World’s Funniest Cartoon” at the HBO Comedy Awards. This launched him into a career where he basically became the indie-animation Pixar, except he’s not an animation studio, he’s just one dude and if anything he’s gotten more critical acclaim and he never made Cars. He’s been nominated for an Oscar twice but never actually won so you know he’s not a sellout. And his films have frequently been named as the greatest animated films of the year, decade or all time. He also looks younger than me despite being six years older and he probably does yoga.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day is actually three of Hertzfeldt’s short films strung together (seems kinda lazy to me, but what do I know?): Everything Will be Okay, I am so Proud of You and It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Despite being made over several years, the three films integrate seamlessly into a flawless whole because of course they fucking do.
Heeeeeeeeeey so things have been a little more immediately apocalyptic around here than usual, huh?
Hope you all are staying safe and indoors. For obvious reasons, this review is going to be on the short side.
Anyway, this is going to be less of a plot point by plot point recap and more…a sort of…movie review if you can imagine such a thing.