There’s a comic book out there for everyone and I want your help

I believe there is a comic book out there for everyone. There, I’ve said it.

Most people think that comic books equal superheroes. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. Super heroes is a genre. Just like drama, action, horror. Comic books are a medium. A very under-appreciated medium at that. Every single genre from horror to romantic comedy, from espionage to science fiction, from drama to social commentary is being covered in the medium right now. The Graphic novel influx in India has just begun, and the quality of the literature being published in the genre, as a whole, is arguable never been better. What is a Graphic Novel? The wikipedia has some interesting informationor you could take one minute and read this far more entertaining definition by artbabe. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back? Right, then. Like I said, there’s a graphic novel/comic book out there for everyone right now, they just might not know it yet. I believe that is the case with videogames too, but the spread across all genres in videogames is not so varied or dense. Plus the fact that all of you, whoever is reading this, you read. Which automatically means if a graphic novel is from your favourite genre, or is suitably well written and presented, you are more than likely to get entertained by it.

Sample this: in any given month, the number one selling book sells at most 250,000 units. In it’s opening weekend, something as universally panned as Catwoman sold 1,670,000 tickets. I think this is because most people are not aware that there exists material that would entertain them more than the latest syrup coated family wedding flick.

Though I am a misanthropist when I want to be, I refuse to believe people are so stupid that they will shun Sin City for Aashiqui Banaya Aapney. I don’t believe that at least a third of the people who watch Law and Order wouldn’t enjoy Gotham Central. I don’t believe for one second that one Lord of The Rings fan out of ten wouldn’t enjoy Conan. Likewise for George Romero fans and The Walking Dead. You can’t tell me that at least 10 percent of Ludlum fans wouldn’t enjoy Sleeper or Queen and Country. What about movies like Lost in Translation? Wouldn’t one person out of a hundred who liked the movie enjoy something like Blankets?

Not to mention older fans. People who just stopped reading comics after the superhero glut. They might be persuaded to pick up Transmetropolitan, and see that spandex and tights are not the be all and end all of comics. Won’t an old Superman fan love to see what they did in Red Son or Birthright? Or a wouldn’t Spider-man fan like to see the new Ultimate Spider-man line, and see what they’ve done to their favorite character?

If they were aware of these books.

This is where it all boils down, the point of the whole thing. Comment to this post, and I will recommend a Graphic Novel for you. If you think I don’t know you that well, please tell me three things from different genres, irrespective of media, that have recently caught your fancy, or that you like/love/enjoy a lot. If you don’t know how to get your hands on it, I will tell you.
One of you, and I mean a sum total of one from here and my LJ, gets to win a GraphicNovel I recommended to them, either digital or dead tree, depending on my poverty levels.

And the people who are even better read than I am (*cough* beatzo, gotjanx *cough*), start talking to your friends. Ask your pal who never misses an episode of CSI if he has heard of Gotham Central. Tell your girlfriend about Sandman. Tell your office mate who loves noir about Sin City. Tell your sister brother about Bone. Tell anyone about Planetary. Help me out with this post, let people know.

There is a comic book out there for everyone, and I want to help anyone interested enough to get started. If you’re still not sure about anything, email me at I’ll be more than happy.

Next, videogames. 😛

New comics?

This article poses a lot of pertinent questions and is a damn good read too. But the point I saw shining through it was out need to read something new. Something we can call ours. Something which was created with us.

And I don’t mean Hellboy. I mean a comic book that poeple in my country can relate to. Something that doesn’t have spider-man in it, and is exciting, fresh, cool, and fun to read.

I want to write one. I want to write one, and have brilliant people illustrate it. But most of all I want people to be able to buy it in huge numbers, so that I KNOW that a lot of people are reading what I wrote.


Serioussam Begins

Every time someone disses a movie I like, I try to defend it, but mostly give up. It’s a testament to my slacker virtues that movies like Ocean’s Twelve( hates it, and with good reason), The Mummy (everyone loves to hate it), and Crouching Tiger(well this one actually is kinda overrated, but you get the picture) go undefended.
I try to abstain from actually starting flame wars on what are just 2 hours of pulp entertainment. Plus everyone deserves their own opinions. Therein, of course, lies the dilemma. You can come up to me and say, hey Sam, I am of the opinion that duck billed platypuses pee from their mouth, are devil’s rejected children, and the eggs they lay are actually made of solid gold.
Sure you have that opinion, but that doesn’t mean you’re not wrong. Anyone can tell you they hate Pulp Fiction cause, hey, that’s their opinion. But you know, you KNOW, that they’re wrong.

So yeah, let’s talk about the new Bat movie.

*evil grin*

I’ve always thought that remaining absolutely, steadfastly, honest to a source material is not necessary for a movie adapting a book or a comic. I understand that there are a lot of decisions that need to be made to adapt a work of literature into cinematic form, and some changes may have to be made. I can live with that. It all depends on how successful you are in pulling it off. I have never cried over the exclusion of Tom Bombadil or the inclusion of organic web shooters, nor do I ever intend to.

If you want to look at the most honest adaptation of a comic book superhero, Daredevil’s director’s cut is the closest, and we all know how well it did. Begins comes close as hell. So close it is to some aspects of Year One that I was surprised not to find a special thanks to Frank Miller somewhere in the credits.

Of course, there is no “definitive Batman”. In his long, long, time in the club of most recognized superheroes the world over, he has gone through so many re-imaginings, creative visions, makeovers and whatnot that he may mean a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people. This movie does not attempt to give you a definitive Batman, but it does borrow a lot from some specific comic book issues. If those issues constitute a definitive Batman for you, you are going to come back pretty happy. If your idea is maybe a bit different, say the Adam West series, you might want to sleep on your decision to go watch it.

The last few years have seen superheroes being taken seriously, especially the movies they star in. They might have met with varying degrees of financial and/or critical success, but all of them have tried to take themselves as serious movies, not frivolous, psychedelic, camp movies (Bat 3 and 4, I point my fingers at you). Movies like Spider-man and Hulk have delved deeper into the psyche of the men behind the mask (or as the case may be, big green body). Begins takes this further.

Batman, along with Superman, has the best known origin stories of all the superheroes in the world. Why then, the need to retell it? Maybe Nolan wanted to take the franchise in a direction where he only could do so by starting at the beginning. I was a bit skeptical about it, but it blew me away. That is the best stuff in the movie.

Batman Begins is divided sharply in half is a serious drama, the story of a young man who leaves his home and fortunes to find himself and his place in the world. He is taken under the wing of a mysterious man called Ducard who provides him with a father figure to look up to. Ducard becomes his anchor in a world he is trying to understand, and Bruce flourishes under his training. Under Nolan’s skill, this complex and dark story acquires a whole new resonance. It becomes fresh.

The second half of the movie deals with Wayne returning home after finding out that the League of Shadows wants nothing less than the destruction of Gotham. Bruce starts collecting his gadgets and items, slowly reaching a defined figure that will become a symbol to save his city, a symbol that he will operate under – the symbol of a Bat. Christopher Nolan understands the tumult inside Bruce Wayne, and all of it is subtext. When the subtext becomes the theme, he starts losing the thread.

Nolan understands Bruce as a man on a quest, and he has some fantastic actors at his disposal to make that work. The film starts as a film about people, the decisions they make, and the effects those decision have. As it moves into the second half, Batman becomes someone who reacts only. It becomes about the big action pieces and car chases. It may be because of a fantastic first half that we want more grit and drama, but the second half does feel a bit out of place with the first half.

The second half, and especially the third act puts Batman directly in the seat of an outsider. Things keep on happening, and he reacts to them, punches a few people, blows holes in walls, and..whatever, I don’t care. It may be my idea of a definitive Batman speaking, but I think the detective deserves a better treatment than to play second fiddle to Lucius Fox’s problem solving skills.

Don’t get me wrong, though, there is something very very right about the movie. The actors. Christian Bale plays Bruce so well, that he ends up being the most fully drawn out Bruce Wayne in cinema. His Batman is a little rough, however. He can’t decide on a pitch of voice, and the mask makes him look fat in the face. The movie, is bay and large about Bruce Wayne, the title notwithstanding, and Bale nails that.

Michael Caine is fantastic as Alfred. Alfred has always been the heart of Batman, the soul behind the machine, and Caine gets that. He plays his role magnificently, and keeps it understated enough so as not to appear a Father Figure to Bruce.

Gary Oldman has a thankless job, that of depicting a pretty straight character, with not much to do in the first movie of what is quite possibly the second beginning of a franchise. So, it’s almost heartening to see him play Jim Gordon as a weary yet good policeman in a city corrupt and festering with crime.

Liam Neeson is Ducard, Bruce Wayne’s mentor. The role is quite simple, and he’s done that already in Star Wars, but Neeson keeps his character grounded. The character is very underplayed, and the chemistry with Bale hits the bulls eye.

Tom Wilkinson is Carmine Falcone, played with aplomb, and a little twinkle in his eye – I loved him. Cillian Murphy can’t control his accent in the movie, and his Crane comes across as a creepy doctor, with a nothing villain in a mask as his alter ego. I don’t wanna talk about Katie Holmes.

The again, maybe I do. Comparisons of this movie with the first Spider-man is inevitable, however futile it may be. One thing they both have in common is badly realized leading ladies with facial deformities. (the droopy eyelid for Dunst and the retarded lopsided grin for Holmes) While someone may say that Holmes is worse that Dunst, I have to point out that Dunst is Mary Jane, while Holmes is another addition in a long list of unnecessary bat-girlfriends. They have to get the former right, no matter what, and I will not except a whiny, weird chick in substitute. I don’t care for Katie’s character. At all.

The third act of the movie is something that I have very harsh words for. Explosions and blasts are used as closure, and things just keep on spiraling out of control for the director. It turns it’s back to the excellent(and may I also add relatively CGI less) character drama that preceded it. The finale tries to make up for it to quite an extent, and as always, Oldman is dependable.

Never pre-judge a movie – the golden rule that every serious movie fan should follow. I always try to steer clear of the influence being exerted by all the hype and posters and trailers. I like to walk in, and let the first ten-twenty minutes of the movie grab me. Which they did, in this case. This is probably why I found the third act disappointing. It has no relationship to the first and the second acts of the movie.

The finale however, is something that is just sprung on you. The cheers in the auditorium drowned my emphatic screams of, “Year One, Year One”. Yeah, it’s that cool. All in all, a great movie that is sorely let down by it’s loose third act, but a good movie nevertheless.

Hell, but that is just my opinion. 😛

My back, my back

[My back, my back.]

You know its been a long time since you posted when pun23 raises from the dead and make posts about Joe Orez, the badass actuary.

Ahem. So apparently, contrary to what you thought, dicks are always surrounded by nice people. beatzo, thyla, and arunjeet have chosen to buy/send me cool things, despite me being, well, me. They rock, and you should read their journals, and always remind me to make sure they’re safe when Armageddon comes in about 14 months.

I am going to catch Spider-Man 2 the first day it hits India, and that rocks as well. Of course I’ll let you know of my unwanted opinions on it, but I suspect on a scale of one to sauce the movie would be fucking ravioli.

Which is all the more reason for me to treat with cynicism, trepidation, and horror, the travesty that is called Pavitra Prabhakar [read Beelzebub’s son.] Consider this part of my post, “mere ko gussa kyon aata hai” part the second. First the names – they sound like some bad Shiv Sena joke about Spider-Man, not to mention reek of unoriginality. If the head honchos at Gotham are chuckling at their own brilliance, I really pity them, and their sense of humor. Second the redone origins (Sadhu baba, if you didn’t know) – utter, pure hatred seeps from my very soul at the talentless fucks who decided to write this comic. Not a single trace of originality is visible in sadhu/tantrik/mystic dude ‘granting’ spider-like powers to a boy. The art, then, in chronological order – isn’t so bad. Its been lambasted as mere poster art(which it is), and spitting copies of Romita Jr and Alex Ross artwork (thats a bit iffy, but I can see that too). But if whatzizname Genius Chang something can draw good, coherent sequential art, (no proof yet on either camps), at least it won’t be an utter failure. But, BUT the dhoti sucks ass. We hatess it. Nasssty dhoti. Not only does it make as much sense as foreigners wanting to see “Hungry India, Poor India”, it also seems highly impractical for an superhero to wear a tight fitting jersey or something on top, and wear a loose flowing cloth for pants.
Some people are very, very opposed to the whole transcreation, Indian translation bit in principle. These are probably the same people, who say, “Yuck! Hindi Movies?!” at the barest mention of catching a flick in their own mother tongue. I would very much like a good Indian superhero comic. And if all your originality peaks at Nagraj, sure go ahead and create an Indian spidey. But make it well. Brian Michael Bendis was given the task of creating a spidey for the new generation of comic book readers, a today hero. Well, Ultimate Spider-Man happens to a triumph, in my books. Since genetic experiments make more headlines than vague radioactive ones, the origin was modified. A school kid as a photographer was a bit tacky, so they made him a web designer at the Bugle. These, and more such choices in all the super funky issues make the new transcreation a thoroughly enjoyable, as well as a very successful franchise. Makda Maanav is meretricious, and you know it.

Still on comics, but away from my object of cynicism – Gotham finally started The Ultimates. By the time they catch up with my reading, though, it will be another year. Along the fun ride that I know you’ll have, there is a discussion about which actor would play which Ultimates member in a Hollywood adaptation. Funny, considering the entire series is an experiment in cinematic storytelling in comics. Ironic, really. The funniest part is when Fury contends that he’d like Samuel L Jackson(THE man) to play him. If you look with one eye closed and the other gazing lazily, even then you’d be able to make out that the artists have draw, colored, inked Nick Fury in the image of Sam Jackson. Maybe this is some post modern shit that I can’t get (this ain’t video games, honey.) Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that Val Kilmer would make a good Captain America, Michael Jai White should play Nick Fury, Johnny Depp should (please) play Tony Stark, Quentin Tarantino as Bruce Banner, and Viggo Mortenson as Thor. There you go, that is what I call a blockbuster. Oh, and Ashton Kutcher should play the dumb civilian who gets squished when the Hulk squats to take a dump. 😀

I put in Michael Jai White as Nick Fury instead of Sam only because I prefer Gaiman’s interpretation of a hard as nails, muscular Fury from 1602 over the attitude over action one in the Ultimates. Neil Gaiman course being one of my favorite comic book script writers, as well as, uh, authors. I’ve read a lot of books by him lately, and of them, American Gods is a book that has become so personal, I don’t even know or care if you’ll like it. I like it, and thats that. Coraline, Stardust, and Good Omens, however, I can recommend with ease and quite a bit of confidence. Books remind me – ! heads up. Bill Bryson’s A short History of Nearly Everything is out in paperback. Its been out for some time now(a month, I think), but then its been more than that since my post, eh?

I have also finally converted all of my regular LAN party people to Battlefield 1942. *takes a bow*. The game is frantic, and huge scoops of fun, and all of you who don’t play it really should. If you’re in India, you can get good pings on Kawabonka, you really must try. The best part of course is Indian players NOT sayin things like, “ur a fagat. fagats dont go to heaven.” when you kill them. Ragnarok Online has also started their India servers. Its no World of Warcraft, but its better than nothing. Its free these days, and later the monthly fee is 250 INR. People with sucky PCs have a chance too, now. Go here, and they’ll actualy send you a free disk. And you should all start saving your money to upgrade your sorry machines. Doom III cometh.