Tagged: Astro Boy

Joe Corallo: “It’s Only A Sailor Moon…”

sailormoon-artbook-2-16-17

Recently I’ve been reading through the Sailor Moon manga that my friend David has generously been lending me. I used to watch the anime when I was kid and had been curious about tackling these books for a while. Reading through these books made me reflect on the greater world of comics and an aspect of it that I haven’t addressed here yet: branching out beyond American comics.

I love American/Western comics. It’s certainly the bulk of what I’ve read. Not just the superhero stuff, but comics and graphic novels like Stuck Rubber Baby, Fun Home, March, Blankets, The Sculptor, and many many more. Many of the comics I go out of my way to read are either from women, LGBTQ, or minority creators or they at least tell a unique story from a perspective that makes it stand out. However, I have a big gap in my knowledge and familiarity with materials outside of Western comics.

Over the years I’ve made it a point to try and read comics and graphic novels that have really made an impact on the medium and influenced creators for decades to come. In my preteen years that involved Archie Comics. In my high school and college years I tackled the works of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Neil Gaiman. Since then I’ve gone back and read comics predating the Golden Age of comics like Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo strips through to classics like Maus, A Contract With God, and It Rhymes With Lust.

While some of these stories did tackle things outside of my life such as the Jewish experience, I was finding that I wasn’t reading a lot of stories from women, queer, or minority creators. It would take effort on my part to look for those stories. I’ve made myself more aware of comics with more diverse people working behind the pages, and for a little while I thought that might be enough. It’s not.

Diversity in comics isn’t just in the characters on the page and the talent behind the pages. It’s also where the pages come from. Manga is a huge portion of comics’ sales across the globe. One Piece alone has 82 volumes and has sold over 300 million copies. Dragon Ball and Naruto have both sold over 200 million each. Astro Boy has sold 100 million copies. Sailor Moon, which I’m currently working my way through, has sold 35 million copies. All these sales from comics originating in Japan.

uojlg8dsdr0 Art of Charlie ChanThese are huge numbers. This is a portion of the comics world that should not be overlooked by fans of the medium, but it’s something I put off for too long. Sure, I’ve read the occasional manga here and there. If you haven’t read Akira, stop reading this column and go read it right now. That’s still a pathetically small amount of reading in such a large segment of the comics world.

Other countries have big and growing comics markets as well. Singapore based artist Sonny Liew had his graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye premiere here in the states earlier this year. I was lucky enough to meet him when he was in town for MoCCA Fest and get a signed copy. It was an absolutely fantastic read blending in the unique history of comics in Singapore with Sonny Liew’s creative narrative supported by his brilliant art which I fell in love with last year as I started reading his work on Doctor Fate at DC Comics written by Paul Levitz.

Graphic-India-1-600x338Another big and growing market for comics is India. Graphic India has been gaining more visibility here in the states as you’re seeing more of their comics on the shelves. They even got talent like Grant Morrison to write for them so more of us will give it a try.

After I finish Sailor Moon I fully intend to start reading comics from Graphic India. I’m going to put more effort into reading comics from outside America and the Western world. There are a whole lot of stories and ideas I’ve been missing out on by not branching out sooner.

Don’t make the same mistake I did.

REVIEW: Marine Boy Season One

MarineBoyS1_1shtThe first wave of anime to arrive in America was usually found in syndication, filler in the mornings and afternoons for the off-network stations in the New York area. It all started with Astro Boy but was quickly followed by Eighth Man and Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion to the Amazing Three. And then there was Marine Boy, the first of the color animated series to be broadcast in America. In his native Japan, the name translated to Undersea Boy Marine and was therefore Americanized.

Produced by Minoru Adachi and Japan Tele-Cartoons, there were 78 episodes in total and the first season or 26 episodes, have now been collected by Warner Archive, which is fitting since Warner was the company to distribute the series back in the 1960s.

Sometime in the future, there lived a boy, maybe 15, remarkable enough to serve as a full-fledged agent of the Ocean Patrol. Their mission was to troll the seven seas and ensuring that the undersea ranching, mineral and oil exploitation, research, and undersea habitats were safe. With all this prosperity above and below the surface, there seemed to be an unending supply of single-minded villains out to seize control of some portion of this prosperity for themselves.

Thankfully, Dr. Mariner and Professor Fumble were on hand to grow and equip the OP with the gear they needed to keep fish and man safe. Various-sized craft were dispatched but the series focused on the P-1, manned by the comedic duo of Bolton and Piper along with the title character. Marine Boy is an all-around all-star, the perfect athlete, swimmer, tactician, etc. He was beloved by all, including sea life in the form of the friendly dolphin Splasher. Since he insists on heading into action, he’s been equipped with a special wetsuit that allows him to withstand the varying pressure changes underwater along with a ring that can whistle for dolphins and the frequently-used oxy-gum. Odd for the water, but he uses a boomerang with deadly accuracy.

He’s also accompanied by Neptina, a slightly younger girl who just happens to be a mermaid. Little was revealed about her race but she wears a pearl around her neck with a wide array of convenient magical powers.

The vocal work is weak, largely because Corinne Orr, best recognized as Speed Racer’s Trixie, performs the roles of Marine Boy, Neptina and Cli Cli, a small boy who idolized Marine Boy. Sharp-eared fans will recognize the tones of Jack Grimes, Peter Fernandez, and Jack Curtis.

The stories are all long before ecological issues were common so were far more typical adventures such as investigating what happened at drilling Satellite Station 23 or the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Pacific Empire. There’s a certain simple charm to them even if the criminal mastermind of the week grew a little tiring.

Growing up, I never warmed to the show although my siblings liked it well enough. It was certainly engaging enough back in the day and was clearly a stepping stone to the American market and other projects.

REVIEW: Starzinger: The Movie Collection

StarzingerWithout realizing it, I grew up exposed to the earliest anime, shows like Astro Boy and The Amazing Three and Kimba the White Lion. It was a quiet invasion overshadowed by louder, more colorful and kinetic American animation on Saturday mornings and classic Warner cartoons on weekday afternoons. As a result, I missed the next great era of American anime such as Space Battleship Yamato and Robotech. It certainly developed a large following in the 1970s and 1980s with the airwaves packed with these shows. In fact there were so many that several shorter-run series were packed together as Force Five. The Wednesday show was known as Spaceketeers and ran for 26 episodes, edited down from 73 episodes and never quite concluded the story.

Now, Shout! Factory has taken the series, which was edited into three different films by Toei in 2009 and is releasing them on disc. The new version was written and directed by William Winckler, no stranger to adapting anime for American audiences given his earlier work on Tekkaman. Starzinger the Movie Collection is 326 minutes of an earlier era of anime and definitely has its fans. Sadly, I’m not among them.

Princess Aurora is a young human surrounded by a trio of cyborgs en route to the Great King planet to restore the Galaxy Energy. Apparently, the Great King’s aging Queen is causing this disruption throughout the universe and balance needs to be restored or life as we know it comes to an end.

The series is based on a serial that first ran in Terebi Magazine with art by Gosaku Ohta, but gained far greater notoriety in animated form (which ran in 1978-1979) thanks to the work done by Leiji Matsumoto, best known for his Captain Harlock work. In both cases, the story is a science fiction updating of a Ming Dynasty story, Journey to the West with Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, now a naïve, teenaged girl.

The original 16th century antecedents were further twisted out of shape when the Japanese was translated into English and the brutal editing shifted the story to that of a mission to the Dekos Star System to stop peaceful beings from being turned into evil mutated lifeforms. A good portion of the story shows Jan Kugo, Sir Djorgo, and Don Hakka, think the Three Musketeers (Spaceketeers, get it?), protecting the Princess during the 30,000 lightyear journey to the source of corruption.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because the classic Chinese tale also served as inspiration for Dragon Ball and Saiyuki among others. By taking the core story and using elements in each of the three parts, this structurally works as a trilogy and the voice cast — Paul Oberle (Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun), Kyle Rea (The Mythical Detective Loki), and Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Queen Lacet – do a serviceable job.

While the actual animation and design work is fine, it’s also not terribly imaginative nor do the episodes really do anything with the characters so there is little growth over the journey or depth to the characters. If you’re not a diehard anime fan, this grows tedious very quickly.  Still, for those who worship Matsumoto’s work, this becomes a must see production.

Review: “The Book of Human Insects” by Osamu Tezuka

Some writers love their characters, and can hardly bear to have anything bad happen to them. Osamu Tezuka, though, is not one of them: particularly in his books for adults, like MW, Ayako, Ode to Kirihito, and Apollo’s Song, he creates profoundly damaged — and damaging — characters, and then sets them up to bounce off each other like frenzied fighting cocks until he’s satisfied.

[[[The Book of Human Insects]]] is another work in that vein, though even more so — its main character is a cuckoo of a woman, who “steals” the creative abilities of every person she comes into contact with, doing what they do just a bit better and more impressive and leaving them wrung out and ruined when she moves on. It’s from that period in Tezuka’s career when he was focusing on comics like this — it was serialized in Play Comic during 1970 and 71, at roughly the same time as Ode and Apollo. And, to be honest, the people that Toshiko Tomura (or any of her many other names) steals from aren’t much better than she is — they’re certainly not innocent, or anything more than slightly better than she is.

Tomura has just won a major literary award with her first book as Human Insects opens — but, as we come to see, that means it’s time for her to move on, since she can only have one great achievement in any field. (Since they’re not her achievements, really, except in that she takes them and makes them hers.) Human Insects follows Tomura as she stalks forward into new territory, and we also slowly discover the people — men, primarily; this is a story from the early ’70s and could be read as a curdled take on a certain kind of feminism — that she’s already met, seduced, co-opted, and abandoned already.

A Western story of the same era would probably spend a long time psychologizing about Tomura, explaining why she is the way she is, with references to her childhood traumas and whatnot. Tezuka, coming out of a different tradition, just presents Tomura: we see some hints of her past, and she clearly doesn’t have a healthy relationship with that, but there’s none of the deadening “now I’ll explain everything to you” that an American would have felt compelled to include in 1970. Tomura is nasty and manipulative and utterly self-centered: that’s just who she is. And, because that’s who she is, she will win, even when faced with men more powerful and seemingly as ruthless as she is.

Human Insects is not the most pleasant read, in common with Tezuka’s other books of this era: in a world full of scoundrels and bastards, there is only nastiness and back-stabbing. And Human Instincts doesn’t have the supernatural majesty of Ode to Kirihito or the epic family-saga sweep of Ayako (or the pure feral energy of MW), so it’s pleasures are at a more human scale, and driven by schadenfreude and bemused head-shaking. These are nasty people doing nasty things, but we recognize them all: Tezuka makes them all very real nasty people, doing exaggerated, large-scale versions of the kind of petty slights we see every day. Human Insects is a misanthropic book, as you’d expect from the title, but not an unconvincing one.

REVIEW: The Adventures of Tintin

Growing up, I devoured just about all the animated adventure programs on television at the time, meaning I saw early anime series like The Amazing Three and Astro Boy in addition to the adaptations of Belgium’s classic hero Tintin. As a result, I have always known the teen hero and have respected Hergé’s amazing output of graphic albums until his passing. I even paid a visit to London’s Tintin store, amazed at the variety of offerings that were nicer and less kitschy than the American tonnage devoted to the most meager of properties.

It always surprised me that a live action Tintin movie was never made so was excited to hear that two legends, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, were going to collaborate on a series of films. The quirk was that it would all be done with state-of-the-art motion capture plus shot for 3-D. Since Robert Zemeckis first explored motion capture, the technology has been continually refined, but full-length features have always fallen short (remember Beowulf?). I am also not one of those who has embraced the latest round of 3-Ds; both proved factors that kept me away from The Adventures of Tintin when it opened over the holidays.

A chance to evaluate the film has arrived in the form of the Blu-ray edition, going on sale Tuesday from Paramount Home Entertainment. I still have vague, pleasant memories of some of the adventures I watched as a kid and was looking forward. As it turns out, the script drew from three of the albums — The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944). What amazes me is that Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright, all highly pedigreed screenwriters in their own right, mined these and came up with what felt like an exceptionally thin story.

Largely, it has to do with the descendants from two families dating back to the days of pirates, one seeking hidden wealth and one hiding from his legacy inside a bottle. When Tintin becomes accidentally embroiled in the search of the legendary treasure from the sunken ship The Unicorn, things are moved forward. As a result, there are many, many differences from albums to film and yet, it all feels incredibly weak, just excuses for chase scenes.

What the script does nicely capture if Tintin’s youthful exuberance and inexperience, so he’s not a perfect hero with all the answers. It also takes him around the world to exotic locales, which Hergé painstakingly researched and Spielberg nicely realizes.

The idea of a motion capture Tintin versus a traditional line-drawn animated was certainly an ambitious one but it is jarring to see Tintin’s hair swoop and Captain Haddock’s bulbous nose in three-dimensions. (Having said that, I adored the animated title sequence.) In fact, so much of life-like mixed with the exaggerations culled from the source material that the final product looks right and wrong at the same time. Where the motion capture excels is when the characters move and there’s plenty of movement. At times, the story feels more like an excuse for set pieces that leave you breathless or checking your watch.

Jamie Bell makes for a fine Tintin and was well cast, paired nicely with Andy Serkis’ hard-drinking Haddock. It reminds us that Serkis is more than a guy who moves well, but a guy who acts and moves well. This is a strong performance. They’re well supported by the likes of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the bumbling Thompson and Thomson and Daniel Craig as Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine. Snowy is all digital and steals most of his scenes.

The biggest problem for me with the final film is that it was pretty to look at but there was not enough character bits or story to make it worth sitting through the prolonged action sequences. John Williams’ first score in four years even sounded overly familiar.

The 2-D Blu-ray transfer is wonderful with excellent sound so you won’t mind sitting through this at home. The film is supported by a series of featurettes that, strung together, run 1:36 and give you just enough information on Tintin, Hergé, the casting, and the laborious production process. Some of the best bits are the early tests for Snowy and Jackson filling in as Haddock. You get a sense of how directing and filing a motion capture production works but there is a lot of the same movie footage recycled and it gets tiresome. And despite celebrating Hergé, there’s no real image of him or footage of his widow complimenting the film. It would have been nice to have provided a checklist or digital album sampler to direct people to the print version.

Overall, I had high hopes and was left visually pleased but ultimately dissatisfied with the final results. Word is, work is already proceeding in developing a sequel and we’ll see if the content matches the technology.

EDITORIAL: Why ComicMix Is Against SOPA

In 2009, we ran an article about Astro Boy and the then-upcoming movie. We got some grief from the law firm representing the movie studio IMAGI, complete with cease and desist letters, over using earlier released concept art as an illustration for the article. We responded by posting the C&D letter, and telling Imagi that we would remove not only the image, but all articles about the Astro Boy movie, and would no longer provide coverage for any IMAGI properties, just to be safe. The President of IMAGI apologized for the “error” and backed off.

Luckily for us, SOPA was not a law.

If it was, the law firm could have simply decided to not even contact us at all, but instead simply shut us down. Completely. Without warning and without legal recourse.

This is a prime example of what SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (and the US Senate version of the same bill, PIPA) is intended to do by design: a law written by Hollywood interests that give them the right to shut down a website for “copyright infringement”. Ostensibly the law would protect against piracy, but as written, the law is overly broad and dangerous, putting the burden on website owners to police all material and allowing for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites without notification and without exemptions for fair use, and no safe harbor provisions. Small sites such as ComicMix won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves, let alone survive a protracted shutdown.

We here at ComicMix believe that SOPA is designed to give corporations the ability to silence any web site they don’t like, with no oversight and no appeal. We are further disturbed that not only have DC and Marvel’s corporate parents, Time Warner and The Walt Disney Corporation, have come out strongly in favor of SOPA, but that Marvel has gone above and beyond in declaring their support for it.

One simply has to wonder how much Marvel would like SOPA if the heirs of Jack Kirby decided to shut down Marvel.com.

Numerous other sites such as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, and WordPress have gone dark today to signal their opposition to SOPA and PIPA. We add our voices to the chorus, and ask that you contact your representatives and senators today to add yours.

For further information, read this brief from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

NYCC 2011 Cosplay, Part 2: White Queen vs. Dark Phoenix, Catwoman, Dr. McNinja, and Two-Face

Still churning through some great photographs, although sadly my photos of Banana-Wolverine didn’t come out at all (just for the caption “In Canada, banana slices you! </yakovsmirnoff>”) but luckily, ComicsAlliance caught him.

But we have photos of everything else, from Astro Boy to Avengers, from Slave Leia (of course) to the littlest Sinestro, and Optimus Primes both large and sub-Optimus… let’s take a look!

 

Peter Fernandez, voice of Speed Racer: 1927-2010

Peter Fernandez, voice of Speed Racer: 1927-2010

Cynopsis reports that Peter Fernandez, best known as the American voice of the title character in the Speed Racer television series from the 1960s, died last Thursday from lung cancer. He was 83.

Peter also was the voice for Speed’s brother Racer X and other characters for the Japanese anime series that was dubbed in English. He voiced other characters for Lupin III, Astro Boy, Gigantor and Marine Boy. Additionally, Peter made a cameo appearance in the Warner Bros.’ 2008 live-action Speed Racer film.

Born in New York City, Fernandez started as a child model for the John Robert
Power Agency. He then appeared on both radio and Broadway until he was drafted into
the Army at age 18, late in
World War II. His radio appearances included roles on “Superman”, “Mr. District
Attorney”, “Let’s Pretend”, “Gangbusters”, “My Best Girls”,
and “Suspense”, as well as on many soap operas. After his discharge from
the Army in 1946, he became a prolific writer for both radio and pulp
fiction.

In later years, he was the voice director for numerous animated series, including Adventures
of the Galaxy Rangers
and
Courage the Cowardly Dog, which he
has said was his favorite. He made cameos credited as “additional
characters” in several episodes, including his role as the voice of Robot
Randy.

We hope that his eulogy will be delivered in a very rapid yet perfectly understandable style.

ComicMix and IDW on the iPhone and iTouch

ComicMix and IDW on the iPhone and iTouch

We are proud to announce that our publishing partner IDW has launched new iPhone apps that will allow it to sell digital comics in dedicated storefronts; one for all IDW and ComicMix titles, and others specifically for Transformers, Star Trek, and G.I. Joe comics.  Each app is free, and comes with different free comics.  Consumers can then buy other IDW titles from within the apps.

ComicMix titles currently available are:

  • GrimJack: Old Friends (available for free)
  • GrimJack: Killer Instinct #1-6 (issue #1 available for free)
  • GrimJack: The Manx Cat #1-2
  • Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail #1-6 (issue #1 available for free)

We’ll be adding more in the future, of course. The app also has everything from Astro Boy and Bloom County to The Rocketeer and Tank Girl.

IDW is the first comic publisher to offer in-app purchases (although several third party companies, including Comixology, Panelfly, and iVerse, all offer in-app purchases of the titles they offer).

So please, download the free app and try it out, and post any and all feedback here in comments. We want to know what you think, and how we can keep improving what we’re doing.

A reply from Imagi about ‘Astro Boy’

A reply from Imagi about ‘Astro Boy’

With regards to the recent C&D letter from Imagi’s lawyers, we’ve received the following:

August 4, 2009

Mr. Glenn Hauman
ComicMix.com

Dear Glenn:

Imagi Studios apologizes for any misunderstanding or inconvenience caused by the legal letter of July 29 regarding the image posted with your story about Astro Boy. This letter, which truly resulted from a miscommunication, was sent in error, and is hereby retracted. We thank you in advance for your understanding.

We would only like to point out that the image which appeared on your site is not from the movie as it is early concept art, and therefore we would greatly appreciate it if you could replace this image with one of the new stills from the Astro Boy movie, which are attached herewith.

Imagi Studios prides itself on being collaborative with the media by providing images as well as access to filmmakers and executives, and we hope to further our relationship with you in this way as well. We would also like to express our warm appreciation of your support and that of ComicMix.com to date, and we look forward to sharing updates on Astro Boy and future projects with you and the ComicMix community.

Best regards,

Erin Corbett
President, IMAGI STUDIOS U.S. & Chief Marketing Officer Worldwide

Erin, your apology is accepted. We’ve restored the articles to the site, and while we won’t replace the image, lest we be accused of histroical revisionism, we’re happy to make an annotation to the article indicating it’s early art and share the newer images with the rest of the world– starting with the one above, which I think is one we haven’t seen before.