Yes, it’s that time of the week – for the first time this year – where Richard and Joe gather up some interesting news and links spotted over the last few days and present them in a handy cut out and keep format that is Stuff (& Possibly Nonsense):
The eleventh Manga Jiman competition – now something of a calendar event in Brit comics – will have its awards ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London on February 2nd, and as ever, there will be an exhibition of entries on show at the Embassy afterwards.
Bill Sienkiewicz often posts art to commemorate public and cultural figures we’ve lost. Over on Tripwire they’ve gathered a bunch of Bill’s commemorative portraits of some of those we lost throughout 2017. I’m especially taken with this one of the legendary Adam West:
Jodie Foster has been commenting on mega-budget blockbusters, referring to them as “bad content” and basically soulless productions designed to make the studios lots of money. And certainly there is a lot of this sort of criticism which can justifiably be aimed at the mega-budget spectacle film with great effects and little heart or character or plot, little doubt about that. But I don’t think all spectacle movies fall into the same commercial property with no heart trap, and I say that as someone who loves Jodie Foster and who sees an enormous amount of Indy, subtitled and Arthouse films (not to mention taking a week off each year for the film festival).
Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn also disagrees, although as SyFy Wire points out, he does so quite respectfully with regard to Foster and acknowledges that yes, there are certainly some of those problems she mentions with some films, but this is not an iron-clad truth:
“I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can’t be thought-provoking. It’s often true but not always. Her belief system is pretty common and isn’t totally without basis. I say not without basis because most studio franchise films are quite soulless – and that is a real danger to the future of movies. But there are also quite a few exceptions.
For cinema to survive I believe spectacle films NEED to have a vision and heart they traditionally haven’t. And some of us are doing our best to move in that direction. Creating spectacle films that are innovative, humane, and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.
“But, to be fair, at least from Foster’s quotes, she seems to see filmmaking as something that’s primarily about her own personal growth. For me, that may be part of why I do this, but spending many millions of dollars on a film has to be about more than that – it’s communication – so my experience is merely one spoke on that wheel. But I respect Foster and what she’s done for films and I appreciate her different way of looking at Hollywood’s landscape.”
Also on the movie front, the Guardian reports that the three largest-grossing movies at the North American box office in 2017 were all films with major female leads, which is encouraging news after the tsunami of sexual misconduct and assaults we’ve been reading about in recent months as the dam breaks. Star Wars: the Last Jedi, despite only coming out in December, took the number one spot as biggest box office earner, a film with major (and powerful) female leads in Carrie Fisher’s Leia and Daisy Ridley’s Rey, while the live action Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson came in at number two.
Third top box office spot went to the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot (one of my own Best of the Year picks). I’m especially pleased with that one, not just because I loved Wonder Woman, not just because it is a comics-based film, but because the makers had to put up with the likes of James Cameron mansplaining to them that they can’t really do powerful female characters, not like he can (he was eventually told to just stop if by none other than Lynda Carter). No, this doesn’t mean gender imbalances (much less the lack of different ethnic representation) in film (or any other cultural form for that matter) is finally sorted, far from it. But dammit, it’s encouraging and it is nice to see good news on that front, isn’t it?
Talking of encouragement, legendary schlock horror studio Troma runs a 15 Second Horror Film competition – yes, a mere 15 seconds to summon up horror or chills, not an easy task for an accomplished film-maker let alone fresh, new talent. But ye gods there are some wee crackers in here. I love this one that BoingBoing (whence comes the link) highlighted, the sixth place winning Good Night from Luma Films:
And here’s Daniel Limmer’s creepy winner of the 15 second horror challenge:
Check out a whole top twenty selection here on Troma’s YouTube channel. I love what can come out of these sorts of challenges, it’s like when our chums at the Edinburgh Book Festival challenged people to write a story on a theme in one Tweet (back in the 140 character limit days), it’s amazing how inventive and creative some of the responses are to these sorts of limits.
DC’s movie side is apparently re-arranging the upper echelon following the disappointing rception and performance of the Justice League movie, CBR reports, with Walter Hamada being promoted to president of production for DC Films. Previously this was an area managed by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg, who were, ironically, placed in charge of DC’s movie side after the disappointing reception of Batman Vs Superman… Johns remains as DC Entertainment’s president and chief creative officer. How this will affect their ongoing comics to movie slates is anyone’s guess, but clearly, Wonder Woman aside, DC has a lot of ground to make up by comparison with Marvel’s all-conquering film series (although I must add I don’t think Justice League deserved quite as much of a kicking as it got. While it wasn’t the hoped for success, I still found it enjoyable enough watching, certainly compared to Bat V Supes)
Fan(g) favourite (see what I did there?) Durham Red returns to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic this March. Alec Worley tweeted a teaser of artwork by Ben Willsher as the vampiric mutant returns to 2000 AD. One of the myriad of fascinating mutant characters created to people the world of Strontium Dog, Durham Red has gone on to become not just a recurring character in that series, but to command series of her own, becoming a solid favourite with 2000 AD fans, so it’s always good to see this character coming back.
The Lakes Comic Art Festival’s podcast features the brilliant Tillie Walden as their latest guest. We’ve raved about Tillie’s work, Broken Frontier has raved about it, so have many others. Frankly she is far too damned talented for such a young creator! Seriously though, Tillie’s work is among the new generation of comics creators anyone who loves the medium should be paying attention to, so do check out the podcast (and bookmark it, because they have a pile of others well worth a listen too)
(page from I Love This Part by Tillie Walden, published Avery Hill)
The awesome Gillian Anderson has confirmed that the new season 11 of the X-Files will the the final one she appears in, and that she has shot her last scene as Agent Dana Scully. This shouldn’t be a surprise as she has mentioned it before and also added that as she understood it, this was just a single season anyway, then done and dusted. I must confess to mixed feelings – I admire Anderson, and I love the X-Files, but I can quite understand why as an actor she can only go so far with a character after many seasons. And to be honest, while it was fun revisiting Mulder and Scully the other year, for the first time in a good while, it was, at best, a very mixed season. While I enjoyed some of it, there were quite a few episodes that left me at best unmoved or, worse, disappointed and wondering if the revival had been a good idea after all. The new season has just started in the US, here in the UK we’re waiting for it to appear on Channel 5. (via Den of Geek)
Matt Bors brings us “very solid 2018 prediction” for The Nib (here’s a taster, check the link for the rest):
Most amused by Dario Castillejos’s cartoon on Trump and Kim Jong-Un bragging about the size of their nuclear buttons: