So many of our Saturday mornings were spent deep inside the imaginations of Sid and Marty Kroft. Now a new generation will have the same opportunity as Marty returns to TV with a new show, MUTT AND STUFF, for Nickelodeon. Marty talks about that plus the classics like BANANA SPLITS and SIGMUND. Then, reality show pioneer, Tami Roman (THE REAL WORLD, BASKETBALL WIVES) explains about how she is shaking things up on WE TV’s MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP.
I was going to write about something else today. Actually, I had several topics to choose from. Then I had a conversation with Glenn Hauman, the invisible hand of ComicMix, and then this screed shot out of my fingers.
As this new medium flourished, I was excited about the opportunity for anybody to communicate in virtually all ways (print, audio, video; instantly, eventually, historically) and to do so directly without outside interference. As I’ve said before, I am a first amendment absolutist: people should be able to express themselves the way they want, in the form they want, using the language they feel most appropriate. The Internet, I felt, allowed all of us to communicate without these ridiculous and unwarranted barriers.
Sure, there’s a price to pay. There’s a lot of bullshit out there, options and outright lies presented as fact. And the rush to judgment that we see on cable’s 24 hour “news” channels (which, oddly, don’t offer very much in the way of news) is exceptionally prevalent. I literally come from the “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” school of journalism. But those are growing pains, and the outrageous lies and distortions generally are limited to sites where they wear their prejudices on their sleeves. I don’t except a eulogy about the three teenagers Hamas slaughtered in Israel to appear on an American Nazi Party website. Or vice versa.
I don’t want or need big business or the government – any government – to tell me what I cannot say… to the extent that there’s a difference between the two. But it didn’t take very long before big business did exactly that by banishing that which they find objectionable from their services.
Ironically, for me this started with Apple. They do not distribute magazines or books that they find violates their standards. Do they have the basic right to do this? Of course. It’s their tubes and wires. But they enforce these standards in a hypocritical manner. There is a ton of music, television and movies for sale on iTunes that Apple would not sell in electronic print form on iBooks, had that content been presented in that medium. And if the object in question is from a big name author or has an enormous amount of buzz about it, well, often it manages to be listed on their service anyway.
Does this differ from, say, Wal*Mart? No… except that Wal*Mart (et al) is consistent. If it doesn’t meet Wal*Mart’s standards, popularity or mass-salability doesn’t enter into it. Playboy could have an interview with Jesus Christ and Wal*Mart wouldn’t stock it.
And then we have Google.
Google may very well be the Doctor Doom of the Internet. They have so much information on each and every one of us that the National Security Agency actually tapped (taps? who’s to know?) Google’s files in their spying-on-the-citizenry jag. That’s bad and ugly and evil, but for the purpose of this particular column it illustrates their corporate culture.
If Google divines what you’re posting is objectionable, they de-list you. In fact, this almost happened to ComicMix. If you’re de-listed by Google, you are screwed. You are left alone in outer space, where nobody can hear you scream.
There’s a good graphic novel in that. But I doubt Apple and Google and their fellow travelers would allow you to use their tubes and wires to sell it.
“Meet your new boss,” Pete Townshend famously wrote. “Same as your old boss.”
And I won’t get fooled again.
“I have called on the Goddess and found her within myself”
Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
Feeling very Hemingway-esque because I am sitting here in front of the computer sipping a glass of merlot and smoking a cigarette while I write – although the truth, according to the website Food Republic, is that while the Master was “notoriously fond of drinking…he refrained from indulging while writing [and] when asked in an interview if rumors of him taking a pitcher of martinis to work every morning were true, he answered, “Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”
Not to mention that Hemingway’s favorite instrument for writing was the (lowly?) pencil. “Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it… It also keeps it fluid longer so that you can better it easier” he wrote in his book On Writing. Although he would then transcribe it to his typewriter – over his writing career he used the Corona No. 3 & No.4, an Underwood Noiseless Portable, various Royal portables – aha! My first typewriter was a Royal portable – and a Halda portable (which, according to www.myTypewriter.com, was recently sold in an online auction, although the article doesn’t state the final bid).
Well, be that as it may – and also because I never could get into Faulkner, maybe because he is just waaaay too morosely Southern for this New York Jewish chick – Ernest still lurks beside me while I work today on my Mac desktop. And the merlot is very fine, fruity and yet exquisitely dry, from a Chilean vineyard I never heard of, but I loved the name on the bottle…
Anyway, since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I wanted to write about mothers, but in a different way …
I’m currently rereading, for the thousandth time, The Mists of Avalon by the late, and very great, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Simply put, it is Le’Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, perhaps better known to you as The Once and Future King by T.H. White or The Idylls of the King by Tennyson, or the movie Excalibur, produced, directed, and co-written by John Boorman, or Camelot 3000 by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, published by DC Comics over three years (1982 – 1985), which makes it DC’s first maxi-series. It is the great medieval romance of King Arthur, Queen Gwenhywfar, Morgaine of the Fairies, Lancelet, and the court of Camelot and the Round Table.
Except that Bradley tells it from the point of the women.
But more than that, Bradley uses the tale to spin a story of the ancient, and original, Celtic women-as-life-bearers, Mother Goddess-centric religion of the British Isles and its battle, with a patriarchal Christianity in which women were looked on, through Eve, as the source of original sin.
It is a story of women struggling to maintain their dignity, their wisdom, their power, and their equality in a world in which masculinity is uprooting their place in it.
At the end of Mists, Morgaine, sister to King Arthur, High Priestess of the Goddess, and the Lady of the Lake, goes through the mists that hide and separate the world of the Mother (the enchanted isle of Avalon) to visit the tomb of her mentor and aunt, Viviane, the greatest of the Ladies of the Lake, which now rests on what it is called the Isle of Priests or the Isle of Glass (Glastonbury) in “man’s world.” (Avalon and Glastonbury are also symbols of the duality of nature and humankind that Bradley discusses throughout the novel, as both are the same island, separated only by the mystical planes of existence). At first distraught and bitter that Viviane’s final resting place is in the world of the patriarchal Christians that call the Mother Goddess “demon,” Morgaine comes to a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus…
And there she realizes that the Mother she worships has not left the world of men, but only taken on a new form; forever and ever, she realizes, the Mother Goddess will live in the hearts of humankind.
I searched Google to see if anyone had adapted The Mists of Avalon into comics form, and found none, though there were many, besides Camelot 3000, that adapted the Arthurian legends in one way or another. I think it would make an amazing adaptation; two artists that come immediately to mind for it are Jill Thompson and Charles Vess. And yes, of course I would love to write it, because it is a story, I think, which is particularly relevant today in our comics world.
Martha Thomases and I have written here about the negativity, bigotry, and the outward hatred being displayed towards women in comics and its related fields (such as gaming and cosplay) and it would take little more than a quick Google search to find other articles and blogs written by Heidi MacDonald, Corinna Lawson, Janelle Asselin, Alice Mercier, and, unfortunately, too many more. But as I reread Mists, I think some of the power of the Goddess comes down into my soul, and I feel uplifted; not angry or bitter or even snide about the abuses or the abusers, but actually sorry for them; that they are so consumed with fear and jealousy, and, oh, just so much negative emotions that they are unable to allow their feminine side to come out into the light.
Because, oh yes, these men do have the Goddess within them, just as we women have the God within us. As is said so many times by so many of the players in Mists, in different words and in different ways, but all still meaning the one truth: “All the Gods are one God, and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and the one God and the One Goddess together are the Initiator, and the Initiator dwells within us all.”
May She bless you all on Mother’s Day.
Banned from Google adsense again over this page. http://t.co/U1QpeCWYV1
— Heidi MacDonald (@Comixace) April 24, 2014
Since this was my 2nd violation I've been removed from Adsense for serving nudity and pornographic content. Because the Beat is a porn site
— Heidi MacDonald (@Comixace) April 24, 2014
Okay, two can play that game. We’re taking off all of our ads from Google until they reinstate The Beat. We call on other comic sites to do the same.
In related thoughts, have you donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund lately?
UPDATE: Round 1 voting is over. Vote in Round 2 now!
The people have spoken, and the brackets are ready for the Mix March Madness 2014 Webcomics Tournament!
Thanks to the thousands of people who voted in the seeding process, as well as all of you who added your favorite webcomics to the list. We’re adding all of the webcomics you suggested to our directory.
But now, the challenges start!
Story ideas are pretty malleable. I once presided over/rode herd on/sweated out an 1,100+ page continuity that began as a plot for two 15-pagers. Hemingway is credited with writing a story in only six words. (Go on. Google it. I’ll wait.) I did something a while back, just a bit over 500 words, that, I think, qualifies as a story, though some might disagree, (and because we cherish the First Amendment, if for no other reason, we welcome their dissent.)
Slick magazines, back when my mother was reading them, featured stories complete on one page.
Superman’s origin, which, you might recall, involved an exploding planet – we’re not talking small, here – was originally told on one page and the first Batman story ran a mere six pages, but it was very close to a Shadow novel that must have been in the neighborhood of 45,000 words.
[[[The Great Gatsby]]], often cited as a great novel, is 47,094 words. [[[War and Peace]]], ditto on the great novel label, goes 587,287.
So, is there a point to all this? Let’s try to find one.
Story ideas, and literary forms, might be malleable, but that doesn’t excuse scriveners from the labor of plotting and structuring. You can’t just plunk yourself down at the keyboard, decide you’ll do an 1,100-pager and begin to perpetrate the opening of this Sahara of a continuity. No, check that: you can begin the aforementioned perpetration, but a prudent person might advise against it. The danger is that, toward the end, you might find a lot of loose ends that defy knotting, or you might have given your characters problems that they can’t solve and still stay true to whatever else you’ve established. Or you might just run out of plot. Then, you begin to improvise. You fake it. You pad. Are you, by now, boring the reader? Admit the possibility, anyway.
It happens. A person far wiser in the ways of Big Media recently confirmed what I’d read somewhere. Sometimes, writers and producers of television entertainment begin a protracted and complicated storyline with no clear idea of how they’ll get from A to B. They make it up as they go along. Sometimes they get away with it. Sometimes.
I know that some Nineteenth Century literary luminaries – Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoyevsky to name two – serialized their novels before publishing them in hard covers. I wonder: did they make it up as they went along? Did they do outlines? Plot summaries?
What we did, my comic book colleagues and I, was make pretty detailed outlines, in consultation with our freelancers. We all knew what story we wanted to tell and had a reasonably firm idea of how it should end. There was a few small disagreements: some of my merry men wanted the outline to be detailed; I wanted to leave wiggle room and preserve the option of someone having a better idea along the way. But we generally knew where we were going and how to get there.
One more thing: that outline assured us that we had enough plot to justify the number of pages we were planning to occupy. We could and did permit side plots to run in parallel with our central story, but we wanted none of that padding stuff.
Is here any padding in the preceding 551 words? Well…
On October 17, one of the hottest animated series returns for a second season as Frederator Studios unleashes all new episodes of the breakout hit Bravest Warriors exclusively on its Cartoon Hangover YouTube channel.
From Pendleton Ward, the creator of the Emmy-nominated Cartoon Network smash hit Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors chronicles the out-of-this-world futuristic adventures of four teenaged costumed heroes as they warp through the universe to save adorable aliens. Joined by fan favorite characters Catbug and Impossibear, the Bravest Warriors split their time between intergalactic adventures and hanging out in their invisible giant robot hideout. The new season will feature 12, 5-minute episodes with new installments debuting every other Thursday at 4pm ET.
Upon its premiere last Fall, Bravest Warriors became an instant hit. The 11 episode first season has garnered more than 32 million views to date, and won the Shorty Award for Best Web Show of 2013. Its appeal has also attracted the attention of the licensing community, with more than 15 manufacturers signing on to develop an array of merchandise featuring Catbug, Impossibear, and the warriors that is now rolling out to Hot Topic, Wal-Mart and other retailers.
The Bravest Warriors second season premiere episode , “Aeon Worm,” directly follows the season 1 finale cliffhanger “Catbug,” with the secret of the mysterious, unlockable door sent from the See-Through Zone where their parents have been trapped for two years. The new season will feature episodes written by Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Nickelodeon’s cult-hit Invader Zim, and rising star Noelle Stevenson, best known for her Internet Comic Nimona. The roll-out of the new season is being supported by a multi-platform social media campaign across YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Google + and Instagram.
The show is the flagship series for Frederator Studios burgeoning Cartoon Hangover YouTube Channel and the new episodes are part of an aggressive programming expansion planned over the next year. Conceived and developed by Frederator Studios’ head Fred Seibert – the animation luminary whose executive producing credits include such animated blockbusters as Adventure Time, The Fairly OddParents, The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory – Cartoon Hangover ranks as one of the fastest growing channels from YouTube’s 2012 funded channel initiative. Since its launch in November 2012, the channel has generated more than 13 million unique viewers (source: YouTube Analytics), over 55 million views of its programming, more than 156 million minutes watched of its shows, and over 780 thousand subscribers. Cartoon Hangover is part of Channel Frederator, a new multi-channel network devoted to animation and entertainment.
“The internet is ushering in the next golden age of animation. We created Cartoon Hangover to hurry it up and give tomorrow’s hitmakers a platform to show their creations to big audiences who deserved and are craving quality animation, wonderful writing and great characters. Bravest Warriors reflects the type of highly-innovative and imaginative entertainment Cartoon Hangover will deliver as we look to lead a whole new animation revolution,” said Mr. Seibert.
Bravest Warriors is directed, written and executive produced by Breehn Burns, with Frederator Studios serving as series producers. The show was developed by Breehn Burns, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (Pete & Pete, Sanjay and Craig).
Also this month, Cartoon Hangover will continue to unveil new animated shorts that could serve as the inspiration for new series on the channel. This includes Dead End, created by Hamish Steele and animated by Mel Roach, who has also created the popular Cartoon Hangover short, Rocket Dog. Dead End tells the tale of the dynamic trio of Barney, Norma, and Pugsley who discover that a ghost is haunting their Wifi, and clogging up their Internet connection with ectoplasmic goo. The Dead End pilot is slated to release just in time for Halloween on Thursday, October 24.
The new season will feature 12, 5-minute episodes with new installments debuting every other Thursday at 4pm ET.
The debut episode has already gotten 1.6mm views.
Editorial cartoons are one-panel comics that told an entire story that commented on the news of the day. It wasn’t long ago that this stuff was run on the front page of many, if not most, great American newspapers. Everybody had one on staff – except the Metropolis Daily Planet, which, oddly, didn’t seem to hire many cartoonists. Most newspapers also deployed syndicated editorial cartoons as well. Many weekly newsmagazines reprinted them, and The Week still does.
There were brilliant editorial cartoonists. And by “brilliant,” I mean text-book phenomenal. My favorite was Bill Mauldin; other greats include Ron Cobb, Paul
Conrad, John Fischetti, Herblock, Thomas Nast, Carey Orr, John T. McCutcheon (there’s a rest stop on the Indiana Toll Way named after him) and Theodor Geisel. Yep, that’s Doctor Suess. There are brilliant cartoonist out there today, although they’re a bit harder to find. These include Steve Brodner, Mike Luckovich, Pat Oliphant, Mike Peters, Ted Rall, and Tom Toles.
Just to name a few. If you’re unfamiliar with either the concept of editorial cartoons or of any of these great people, go Google around. You’ll be glad you did.
What confuses me is that this is simply another part of newspapers divesting themselves of that which makes newspapers unique, in the name of “being contemporary” and in the cause of losing less money. That’s throwing out the baby and drinking the bathwater.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently fired all its staff photographers and gave iPhones to its remaining street reporters. Newspaper photography shows us a moment in time that does not, and cannot, exist on television or in any streaming media. Historically, newspaper comic strips were the second-most read part of the paper – just below baseball box scores (in winter, the football betting line). Now that there are very few two-newspaper markets, everybody has pretty much the same comic strips, reduced to the size of postage stamps.
The Sunday newspaper supplements are a thing of the past. A few survive, but have little worthwhile. Some gossip, a nice puff piece about some ersatz celebrity, the horoscope, and now that Macy’s owns all the department stores, a dwindling number of advertising pages. It’s been so long that even I had to count on my spell checker to make sure “rotogravure” was spelled correctly. It was, but that’s because my nostalgia gene is hyperactive.
And now, editorial cartoons rapidly are going the way of the buggy whip.
It’s all very sad, and I can say that without tingling that nostalgia gene. The editorial cartoon is an important part of what makes a newspaper great.
Oh, yeah. I know. Some of you younger folk are going to have to Google the phrase “newspaper” as well. Go ahead. You’ll learn something about what made this nation great.
THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil
THURSDAY EVENING: The Tweeks
In celebration of the upcoming holiday, here are some recent cosplay videos available on YouTube:
San Diego Comic Con – I Just Want To Be A SuperHero – Cosplay Music Video
10 Extraordinary Cosplayers w/James and Oliver Phelps (aka The Weasley Twins)
See the full videos at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH4vPrhnbbn8w1hScFfSoyCu
Love Cosplay! Anime Expo Music Video