Happy Saturday and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at a fan’s shelves. Today’s collection comes from Marc in Hong Kong, who shows us how he uses the limited space he has available to display his stuff.
If you’d like to see your collection featured here on Shelf Porn, check out the submission instructions.
And now here’s Marc …
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
There’s a nice, if too-short, video interview with graphic designer, author and comics writer Chip Kidd conducted last month at AGI Open London and which he discusses book-jacket design — he’s behind those for Jurassic Park, The Secret History and Black Hole, among countless others — and, yes, his lifelong obsession with Batman (first documented in 1996′s Batman Collected).
Of course, Kidd isn’t merely a fan of the Dark Knight: He teamed with artist Dave Taylor on the 2012 graphic novel Batman: Death by Design.
“I’ve written a Batman graphic novel. That’s a completely different thing,” Kidd says in the video. “That’s the most fun, because you’re adding to the legacy of the character, and it’s challenging because after 75 years, it’s like, what do you do that hasn’t been done, or that you feel you haven’t seen.”
What is the most basic, most fundamental function that a hero performs, one so integral it can be used as a way of defining the term hero? There are several ways to answer that question, of course, but one would be the act of saving others.
By that definition then, Batman is most certainly a hero, and not merely because of all the fictional women he’s saved from attempted muggings or all the times he’s pulled Robin out of death traps. Batman has saved real people, too, despite the fact that character isn’t himself real in one of the stricter senses of the word.
He saved Dean Trippe, and Trippe’s phenomenal autobiographical comic Something Terrible tells the story of how it happened.
The Internet virtually ripped in two when Warner Bros. announced Ben Affleck as its new Batman, with message boards, social media and comment sections exploding with opinions on whether or not the Oscar-winning director has the acting chops to do the Dark Knight justice, much less convincingly go toe-to-toe in an all-out battle with Superman.
And while we’re still a good two years away from finding out how well the actor fills the boots left vacant by the departing Christian Bale, Affleck’s casting isn’t done upsetting the cosmic balance just yet. Yesterday, Good Job Brain, a podcast dedicated to quiz shows and trivia, tweeted a photo illustrating how something as simple as casting a new Batman can have implications that reach far beyond the world of comics and film … to family game night.
This week’s Batman Black and White #2 features a short story by Rafael Grampá. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time the Brazilian comic-book multi-threat has ever drawn the interiors for any Batman story, despite having produced several illustrations of the character that proved popular enough for Grampá to be given the job of designing one of the DC Direct black and white Batman statues. I was a big fan of his Mesmo Delivery (so much so that I gave away a couple of copies to assorted pals over the years), and have been waiting and wondering patiently for his planned post-apocalyptic project Furry Water, despite radio silence on that one since posting an image from it to his Flickr in 2011.
Grampá is, like Paul Pope, possibly getting distracted from his core business by new and glamorous multimedia offers of work, like working on vodka advertising. He plays drums in a band, and he’s now a highly sought-after cover artist both in the United States and in his native Brazil. The lack of traction on Furry Water is understandable, even if it does set the teeth on edge of my inner spoiled-and-entitled fanboy. Anyway, he posted this page from “Into the Circle,” his Joker-centric story, on his Facebook page:
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
With only five days to go before the Breaking Bad series finale, there’s a lot of spillover between the beloved, critically acclaimed series and the comic book world — including a Vulture essayby Lost co-creator and Star Trek Into Darkness co-writer Damon Lindelof that makes the seemingly unlikely comparison between DC Comics icon Batman and morally-questionable-at-best Breaking Bad lead character Walter White, as played by Bryan Cranston in multiple Emmy-winning seasons.
The thrust of Lindelof’s argument is simple: Much like the way in which Batman is frequently considered the character’s true persona and billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is the facade, Walt’s meth kingpin alias, Heisenberg, is who he always truly was. To illustrate his thesis, Lindelof points to the period of the show where (Breaking Bad spoiler follows) Walt’s cancer was in remission as evidence.
This is the equivalent of Bruce Wayne’s parents suddenly reappearing to him and saying, “We had to fake our deaths when you were a kid and we’ve been in witness protection all this time, and we’re so sorry, but the guy who shot us was actually an FBI agent helping us and he wasn’t even a criminal and we love you, so can we have our pearls back and NOW YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE BATMAN ANYMORE!!!”
But would Bruce stop being Batman?
No. He would not. Because he is Batman.
This isn’t the first time the worlds of Breaking Bad and Batman have collided — artist Jeff Matsuda drew a well-circulated sketch of Walt as Batman and Jesse as Robin in 2011, and last month Cranston was the subject of unconfirmed reports that he might be playing Lex Luthor in 2015′s live-action Batman/Superman film.
Publishing | Viz Media, the largest U.S. publisher of English-language manga, is poised to jump in to a new market: India. Kevin Hamric, the company’s director of publishing and marketing, was there this week, and he says the demand is there. “With India’s growing book and reading sector we have identified it as key to our growth,” Hamric says. “We receive many, many requests each and every month from fans in India to bring our product here.” [The Hindu Business Line]
Comics | As the Avengers turn 50, Noel Murray recounts their history and explains why they work so well as a super-team. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | The founder of this month’s incredibly successful Salt Lake Comic Con — it drew about 70,000 attendees in its first year — is planning a spinoff event for Jan. 9-11, the weekend before the Sundance Film Festival. [Salt Lake Tribune]
I talked about it last week, but there’s a lot to unpack in the recent Williams-and-Blackman-leave-Batwoman imbroglio. Part of it is DC Comics’ apparent need to keep characters relatively unchanged, which these days includes being young and unmarried. Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has already explained this in terms of heroic sacrifice, so I suppose that’s as close as we may get to official company policy on the matter.
However, before DiDio made his comments, I was wondering whether DC didn’t want the non-costumed half of Batwoman’s main couple to remain single and uncomplicated. After all, Maggie Sawyer goes back further than Kate Kane, and has appeared in both the animated Superman series and in Smallville. Thus, a certain part of the TV-watching public probably associates Maggie Sawyer more with Superman than with Batwoman; and DC might not want to have her tied permanently to the Bat-office.
This, in turn, brings up the issue of DC as a “content farm,” providing material for future adaptations. Obviously the publisher has almost 80 years’ worth of characters and stories ready to provide inspiration. Indeed, over the decades, that inspiration has gone both ways. However, more recently it seems like the adaptations have been influencing the comics to a greater degree than the comics have been influencing the adaptations, and in the long run that’s not good for either side.
When Bruce Wayne was searching for a symbol to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, he decided that, “Yes, father, I shall become a bat.” When Blake Wilson was searching for a gift for a child’s birthday, he discovered a Batman mask in the toy aisle and decided … he would become BatDad.
That twist of fate, a mere three weeks ago, has both entertained and annoyed his wife and children (honestly, judging from a couple of the Vine videos, Jen doesn’t look too amused), and transformed BatDad into a bit of an Internet sensation. You see, Blake shoots video of himself wearing the mask as he, with a Christian Bale-like growl, shouts things like “Where is she?” at his young son, “Jen! Make sure you wash my pajamas!” at his startled wife, and “Wake up! It’s time for breakfast!” at his sleeping daughter.
Yeah, raspy-voiced BatDad shouts a lot, which may eventually put his jumpy family on a path toward Arkham Asylum. See some of the videos below, and more of them here.
Stoopid Buddy Stoodios — the minds behind Robot Chicken — and L Studio recently debuted Friendship All-Stars of Friendship, a series of stop-motion animated web shorts that brings together two celebrities who could be friends for a hilarious parody combination (for example, NPR’s Ira Glass and Garrison Keillor, or director Guillermo del Toro and his longtime collaborator Ron Perlman). However, the web series took it to the next level in its most recent episode, as it united parody versions of all the actors who have played Batman on the big screen — Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale — for a massively ridiculous Bat-sleepover.
The short features a cameo from Tim Button (a stuffed facsimile of director Tim Burton), but regrettably Ben Affleck was not on the invitation list for the sleepover. Maybe after the Man of Steel sequel comes out, he’ll get a chance to play pranks on Val Kilmer, too.
Aaron Lopresti has been drawing comics for 20 years, but the project that comes out this week is something he’s never been able to do until now.
With DC Comics’ digital-first series Legends of the Dark Knight, the veteran artist of Wonder Woman and The Amazing Spider-Man was given a chance to write a draw a Batman tale on his own terms. Titled “I… Batman,” the story finds Batman at the mercy of a Murderer’s Row of villain, with Lopresti able to depict the rogues in the signature styles of some of their most popular artists. Brian Bolland’s rendition of the Joker from Batman: The Killing Joke, Bruce Timm’s Clayface from Batman: The Animated Series, and more. And for Lopresti, he gets to dream up a twisted Frankenstein-like version of Batman as seen above.
Lopresti spoke with ROBOT 6 about this unique assignment, his burgeoning career as a writer/artist, and the homages in this three-part story.
Devotees of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — particularly those who hoped a follow-up might center on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake — may find a lot to enjoy in The Dark Knight Legacy, a seven-minute fan film that debuted this morning on Machinima.
Directed by Brett Register from a script by Woody Tondorf and Chris Landa, the short picks up a year after the events of The Dark Knight Rises, as Blake (as Nightwing) tries to “protect the symbol of Batman from the lethal, relentless attacks of a masked vigilante known only as the Red Hood.” (Fan-favorite character Stephanie Brown also makes an appearance.)
The producers hope to transform The Dark Knight Legacy into an actual series, and to that end they’ve turned to Indiegogo in an effort to raise $30,000. Watch the video below.
Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought about Brain Boy, King’s Watch and more