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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Better Than The Book

It's common knowledge that a movie based on a book will be the lesser of the two, as the book can do more with the story. Whether that's getting you inside the heads of the characters, or just delving deeper into the story than you would be able to in 120 minutes, the books will treat the subject matter better than the movie.

This isn't always the case, though, and here are a couple of examples for you.

Moby Dick (1956)
I once read the novel Moby Dick and, to put it as generously as I can, it was a slog. Even if I read every other chapter, which are the only ones actually dealing with the plot, it was tough going. It might be the writing of the time period, but I just don't think Melville communicated the ideas behind his story very well.

If you want to really get a good version of the tale, I would recommend the 1956 movie. It stars Richard Basehart and Gregory Peck, with a cameo by Orson Welles, and was written by Ray Bradberry and John Huston (who also directed). This is a great tale of the sea and how obsession can get the better of everyone, not just the captain. I watched this movie again this weekend for the umteenth time and I still love it.









Jaws (1975)
Like Moby Dick, I also read Jaws. This wasn't an issue of the story being boring, but the characters in the book are just so ... despicable that I was routing for the shark to eat them all. Martin and Ellen Brody have a marriage on the rocks, to the point where Ellen has an affair with Hooper. No one in the story, in my opinion, is sympathetic.

Compare that to the movie, where they are real people with flaws, but the majority still do the right thing. Even the mayor comes around eventually. The only real "bad" person in it is Quint, and even he gets some sympathy with the Indianapolis connection.











There are a few more examples that I have, but they're a touch more controversial. What about you? Do any of the readers have some examples of where the movie, or even TV show, was better than the written source material?


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Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Evolution of Comic Covers - Marvel Edition

Last week, commenter Kirk asked for a Marvel version of my analysis, so here it is. I took one of his suggested titles, The Amazing Spider-Man, but I decided to do it a little differently. Since Marvel hasn't been around as long as DC (regardless of the 75 years hype), I chose to start with Amazing Spider-Man #1 and then go with every 60th issue beyond that (61, 121, 181, etc) to give a nice 5 year span. Let's see what we can learn from this.


We start out, as I said, with Amazing Spider-Man #1. As was the style of the time, we have a picture representing one of the two stories in the book. The Comics Code stamp is easy to see, as are the price, issue number, and the fact that there are two stories in the book, the first of which deals with Marvel's highest selling book. Spidey has a speech balloon, but that probably should be a thought balloon. While the book's title isn't in the position it would take up later, is it is the same style we would come to know. Also note the little "MC" in a box, the only indication that this is a Marvel comic.



Five years later we have a more dynamic picture and the corner box has appeared. We have the title of the story on the front, but no speech balloons. The Comics Code stamp is slightly smaller than before and off on it's own, still. We also have "MCG" in it's own box, even though "Marvel Comics Group" is in the corner box.



Now in the 70's, we see the appearance of the "Marvel Comics Group" banner across the top of the cover. This links the corner box with the Comics Code Stamp, which looks to be the same size as five years earlier. We have a lot of text on this cover, both in Spidey's word balloons and Gerry Conway's description of what the consumer can find within. Note how the Spider-Man in the corner is not actually in the corner box, but just next to it on the cover. The image on the cover, though, isn't a scene in the story, just a representation of what's probably going on.



60 issues later and the banner/corner box set-up remains largely unchanged. The only exception here is that the corner Spider-Man is now in a separately colored box as part of it. Much less text here, just the story title, but the Amazing Spider-Man title is larger, now going over to the arm of the Spidey in the corner box. Not being familiar with this story, I'm not sure if what is shown here actually happens inside, but it looks like it could.



We're now in the 80's and, except for the image in the corner box, most is the standard stuff is unchanged. The series title seems to have shrunk back down to where it was, though. No text on this one, just John Romita, Jr's art letting you know what to expect. With the eyes floating over the Vulture, I'm going to say that this is a poster image and not a scene from inside.



This is certainly a poster image and not showing what's going on in the book. We do have some text telling us what to expect, if not the story title. We now see a corner box more like what evolved over at DC, where the issue number, price, date, publisher logo, and Comics Code stamp are all in one place, along with an image of the hero.



Ah, the 90's. While the art is heading the way that most Marvel did in that decade, the corner box is the same, other than the new Marvel logo. We now have the "Part One" box, indicating the larger story going on. This is also the first time we've seen some non-banner text above the series title. Again, I don't remember this story but I'm pretty sure that something like this image could have occurred inside the book.



Later in the 90's, the corner box has been paired down somewhat. The Comics Code stamp, now about half the size that it was, is off on the right side of the cover again. The image of Spider-Man has been replaced by his logo only. We're back to a poster style image, but we do have what appears to be the story title.



In the early 2000's the corner box, and the Comics Code stamp, is gone. We do now have the creator names added to the cover for the first time. The image seems to be something from the interior of the issue, but we have no text telling us what's going on.



Later in the decade and we have our first change to the series title, with the creator names above it. There is also a banner down the left-hand side with the story title and it seems to be coming from a modified corner box. The main part of the cover is a painted poster of Spidey "Back In Black", which has to be at least the 3rd time he's been in a version of that costume by this point.



Five years on and we certainly have a stunt poster image, since J. Scott Campbell did not do the interiors, but I'm pretty sure it boosted sales. We have the creator names for not only the main story but also for the back-up, but no indication of what's going on in either of them.



The last cover we're going to look at dates from 2011 and, in many ways, is a throw-back to much earlier. We still don't have a corner box and the creator names are there, but not only do we two descriptions of what's going on inside, but we also have word balloons! We haven't seen those since issue 121! We also have a scene that is representative of what's inside the pages and not a poster.

From looking at these covers, it seems that Marvel was on a steady progression with regard to design. That was probably due to the "house style" being part of the entire comic production and not only in the character designs. It started to loosen up towards the more recent years, but even into the late 90's it was a pretty consistent style across the whole line.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Evolution of Comic Covers

Due to a project that I'm doing for Paul over on Back to the Bins, I've been seeing a lot of comic book covers recently. What has struck me is that we are pretty much back where it began. Let me explain that by using Batman, a character continuously published for 80 years, as an example.


This is a cover from the 1940's. What we have is a "poster" image that may or may not reflect what's inside the book. Other than that, we have the title, publisher logo, issue number, date, and price. Very simple and, except for the Joker's presence, we don't get any information about the story.



This cover comes from the 50's, and now we have the Comic's Code stamp prominently featured. In addition to the information we had in the 40's, we now have a speech bubble indicating that Ace is a new member of the team, so he'll probably feature in the story. We still don't know what that story is, though. (Yes, I chose this cover because Ace is on it.)



Here we are in the 1960's and now, in addition to even more speech bubbles, we have the titles of the two stories inside, one of which is represented on the cover. There's much more information to help the consumer decide whether this is an issue that they may want to pick up. Note how the Comic's Code stamps has shrunken from it's premiere.



Now we've made it to the 70's and the cover is less verbose, with only a few speech balloons and no story title. The image does seem to represent something that happens in the story, so maybe a title isn't necessary. The Comic's Code stamp is even smaller now. We also have the beginnings of a corner box, where the issue number, date, and price are all in one place.



In the 1980's we have the corner box also including the, now even smaller, Comic's Code stamp. No speech bubbles but we do have a story title and the promise of a reveal inside the issue. We also have the addition of the creator names, which is a nice touch.



In the 90's, the pendulum started swinging back. We have no story title or word balloons. Everything else is still present, even though the Comic's Code stamp is even smaller. The image seems to be more poster-like and probably not representing something that actually happens in the issue. We do get the obligatory crossover title, though, something there was a lot of starting in this era.



In the 2000's the Comic's Code stamp has practically shrunk out of existence, but the story title is back. This is definitely a poster image, though. The corner box has also been broken up, with the price moved to the UPC box.



This is a cover from a few years ago. What we have is a "poster" image that may or may not reflect what's inside the book. Other than that, we have the title, publisher logo, issue number, date, and price. Very simple and, except for the the fact that it's part of "Zero Year" in "The New 52" era, we don't get any information about the story. So we're right back where we began in the 40's. No corner box, no Comic's Code stamp, although we do have the creator names added.

It's an interesting cycle to look at, but I think the most balance was struck in the 70's and 80's. You get a good amount of information about what's in the issue, but it doesn't overwhelm the cover itself. Too much or too little on the cover doesn't do the issue any favors, in my opinion.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Excitement is Building

As we get closer to our upcoming cruise vacation, the excitement is building in our house. This will be Kira's first cruise and plane ride, and it will be Michelle & my first decent cruise. (We went on a really rinky-dink cruise 20 years ago that was part of a vacation package, which is why I don't do vacation packages any more.)

Here's a walk thru of the ship that we'll be on:



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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Robotech


With all of the talk of the new Robotech comic on my news feeds (which sounds really good, so I might pick it up), I'm reminded of how I missed the show as a kid. I watched Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets whenever I could find them (which I remember being REALLY early on Saturday mornings), but I only caught a couple of Robotech episodes.

As I was pretty much the only one of my friends to watch these shows, I didn't know what I was missing. At least not until middle school when I was invited to play the Robotech RPG from Palladium. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and, if memory serves, we only played the game a couple of times. Still, it was enough to make me seek out the show in college.

To this day, I haven't made it past the first few Dana Sterling episodes, even though I've watched the Macross Saga (aka Season One) three times through. You can see just how they try and jam multiple anime series together into something resembling a coherent story. Maybe I'll eventually get through the rest of Season Two and see Season Three, but I don't think that will be any time soon.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

Through a quirk of timing, today is Valentine's Day, so I thought that we should celebrate with one of the longest relationships that I know of.


Yup, Mickey and Minnie are celebrating 90 years together (having both premiered in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928). Here's hoping that your relationships last as long and are as happy.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Intermission

Lots going on this week, so I didn't have time to write a proper post. Consider this an intermission.



More stuff in the coming weeks.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Daily Disney?


This past weekend the subject of Walt Disney World came up while I was with a group of friends and they asked me how often I could go there. My answer was, "If I lived down there, every damn day." They were puzzled, so I thought I should sit down and explain why there is such an attraction there.

First of all, there are the childhood memories. I'll never be able to ride 20,000 Under The Sea again, but finding the Nautilus images around that area of Fantasyland brings back the fascination I had with the ride. We only went twice when I was a kid, but The Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center left their mark on me.

Secondly, there's just SO MUCH to see. I've been there 6 times in my life and there are things that I haven't been able to search out. I don't mean any of the attractions or restaurants, but the little things that the Imagineers worked in. I just want to wander around Liberty Square or Echo Lake with no deadline, no "we only have X days to get it all done." If I could, I'd take my time and see it all.

Third, there are the special events that I've never seen. We went to Star Wars: Galactic Nights the last time we were there, but we've never been able to make Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Very Merry Christmas Party. Yes, they're "extra ticketed events", but with Kira in school we can't go while living up here.

Finally, nothing stays the same. WDW is always growing and changing. Trying to see all the new stuff while visiting old favorites on a vacation trip once every 3 years is just not realistic. If we had the option to go as often as we wanted, we could all be up to date on everything.

Yes, it's a dream to be able to be at the parks whenever we want to go but, as the song says, "Tomorrow is just a dream away."

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Traveling?

In yet another follow-up post, one of the things that I've seen more than once on Live PD is the concept of a "Traveler" or "Sovereign Citizen". Here's an example:



Now I tend towards libertarian thinking, in that if what you do doesn't harm, or have the potential to harm, someone else then have at it. That's a lot different than these people, though. "I don't like it, so I'm not going to do it and the law doesn't apply to me because of that" is just stupid, especially where driving is concerned.

Not wanting a driver's license is fine, and I know at least one person who doesn't have one and won't get one. However, if you don't have a license, you aren't allowed to operate a motor vehicle. The license indicates not only that you are trained to operate said vehicle, but that you're continually able to do so properly. That's why those that can't have their driving privilege, and it is a privilege and not a right, suspended.

The fact that the officers dealing with this kind of thing can stay as calm as they do is amazing. I don't think I could take that level of stupid every day without losing my mind.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

What'cha gonna do when they come for you?

I'm old enough to remember one of the first "reality" shows on Fox, which followed the men and women of law enforcement. Of course I'm talking about COPS.

As the son of a former Police Officer, this was "must see TV" in our house. It was, of course, edited to give you the most bang for your half-hour buck, but it became it's own cottage industry. The show has lasted for 31 seasons (starting in 1989) and over 1,000 episodes.

The next generation of this type of show started three years ago on the A&E network. (Aside: Does anyone else remember when A&E stood for Arts & Entertainment?) This show is Live PD and does what COPS did, but ... wait for it ... LIVE! That's right, you can ride along with officers on Friday and Saturday nights and see the kinds of things they have to deal with.

One thing that struck me while watching Live PD, which we can now do with an Amazon Fire Stick and Hulu with Live TV, is just how much stupid there is in the country. People driving on a suspended license, others running from the cops over an infraction that would have just gotten them a ticket, and, worst of all, people that tell the officers how to do their job! That's right, there are those out there that tell the police, "You're not going to arrest me." That's right up there with telling them that you pay their salary.

If you have any interest in law enforcement and just what these men and women have to deal with, try and catch either the main Live PD show or the "Police Patrol" spin-off, which gives you certain incidents from the show but continuously. Be warned, though, it's a bit of a rabbit hole.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Module vs World Creation


Last week I mentioned using a module when I run my Marvel Superheroes FASERIP game (which you can listen to over on the Class 1000 podcast). I thought that I should expound on why I chose that.

The main reason that I'm running a module is that I'm rusty. I've run games in the recent past, but I haven't run a FASERIP game in over 20 years. So I thought that it would be a good way for me to ease into the system again. This way the villains, plot, Karma awards, pretty much everything is laid out for me. That doesn't mean that a GM running said module is on autopilot (especially not with the players I have), but it does make things a bit easier since I know where things are going.

Then there's the fact that Classic Marvel Forever exists. This site has EVERYTHING I could want to run my game, and part of that are the adventure modules. The one that I'm running is something that I don't remember ever coming across, and even if I did I wouldn't remember the particulars. The fact that it's the first part of a trilogy helps quite a bit as well, since I can keep the story going if everyone is having as good a time as I am.

For those systems that I'm more comfortable with, I have no problem creating worlds of my own, even just using the published material as a starting point. That can allow me to be more creative, but I do need that solid foundation of being familiar with the rules as a starting point. I don't think I've ever created a full campaign world from scratch, though. The best that I've ever done is base my world on something else.

What about the GM's out there? Do you prefer modules, world building, or some kind of hybrid?

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Railroading

I've done quite a bit of tabletop role-playing in my life and one of the things that gets on my nerves is "Railroading". For those not familiar with the term, it means a set of situations where the Game Master gives the Players a single option and will not allow any other possibilities. In many instances, this can be handled effectively without making the Players, who are controlling the heroes of the story, feel like they have no agency. Playing around with their suggestions and throwing up barriers works, especially if the GM handles it with good humor.

Several instances of Railroading occur when playing through a module, which is a pre-written adventure. In most of those, there are a few options but only one correct one. The game that I'm running for the Class 1000 podcast is like this, which has certain events in a certain order. I try to work with the players, though, to make sure they feel engaged.

The major issue is with GM's that create their own story and they have such a great idea that the players just HAVE to go this way. Again, this can be handled effectively, but when the GM doesn't even give the possibility of other ways to handle the plot, it causes the players to get frustrated. This leads to a game that is completely against the point of playing. It's supposed to be FUN, but taking away the free will of the characters involved sucks all of the fun out of the experience, meaning that the game will fold sooner rather than later.

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