Archive for December, 2013

Joss-Whedon-and-Neil-Gaiman

One thing that bombards certain authors and creators that have set benchmarks of the long-winded conversation known as the strong female character is the question of “how?” In a recent interview, author Neil Gaiman was asked how he writes such strong female characters and references Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  His response was great…

Gaiman: I always feel like the wrong person to be asked when I get asked that question because people say, ‘Well how do you write such good female characters?’ And I go, ‘Well I write people.’ Approximately half of the people I know are female and they’re cool, and they’re interesting, and so, why wouldn’t I? In the case of making the TARDIS a person, you make her the kind of person you’d like to meet.”

Alderman: This gives me nothing to help people with who cannot write good female characters, and they do exist.

Gaiman: I think the big thing to point out to people is, you know, possibly they should go and hang around with some women. And also, it’s worth pointing out that people, unfortunately, misunderstand the phrase ‘strong women.’ The glory of Buffy is it was filled with strong women. Only one of those strong women had supernatural strength and an awful lot of sharpened stakes. And people sort of go ‘Well yes, of course Buffy was a strong woman. She could kick her way through a door.’ And you go ‘No, well that’s not actually what makes her a strong woman! You’re missing the point.’”

Whedon is probably even more well known for his strong women leads, being the the man who made Buffy what she is today. When asked the very same question that was posed at Gaiman, his response is a little more agitated…

“I think that the romance, and the supernatural and the lure of the vampire, which is, you know, timeless, that all seemed to go over pretty well. The self-actualized female who was in charge of things didn’t land quite as solidly. I think people are un-used to it. I grew up with it, it just makes sense to me. You know, we write the things we either want to see or always have. Buffy was both, and I, too, have been somewhat disappointed. I mean, there’ve been great shows, great roles, but when you look at the shows somebody would lump in with Buffy the Vampire Slayer they’re, you know, very passive girls choosing between the cute boys. It feels almost like a backlash – we want to inoculate ourselves against this by giving you everything it had without the feminism. And, needless to say, slightly problematic for me.”

The heated discussion about the “strong female character” has been tossed around for a few years now, often being misunderstood as a female with supernatural and kick-ass abilities, or a female pinning over men who aren’t worth the time of day. Putting a woman in a lead role doesn’t automatically make her strong. The question now is, how did everyone misunderstand what Whedon was trying to do with Buffy?

Comics have been getting hit pretty hard recently with the recently coined concept of “Women in Refrigerators,” where women, whether strong or weak, are used as disposable plot devices to further the male’s story – sometimes women are muses, sometimes they are killed, and sometimes they are the reason a man is capable of performing death defying feats. But hardly ever – with exception to the heroines with their own self-named comic book series – is care given to their own personal story. Thus follows the need for the woman’s part in a story to be handled, not delicately, but intelligently.

Thoughts on this issue are welcome.

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Amazing artist, stjepan sejic, put together a creative alternative look at the Dark Knight. Read it through and it all makes sense, especially if you connect it all to the new 52.  Check out his deviant art page – really cool stuff going on there!

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An award winning animated adaption of Neil Gaiman’s poem, celebrating Christmas in the creepiest way possible. Why does Christmas always have to be happy and chipper? We need a little horror in our Christmas season right?

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Artist Michael the Pure posted some fantastic Burtonized Doctor Who art that is absolutely stunning. I’ve always been of fan of combining stories and fandoms, and I do it myself in my own head, (Maybe I should consider doing some character combos myself…hmmm) but even to this day I’m often blown away by the creative concoctions looming in the artistic vocabularies of artists…

To top it all off, the said artist has now released animated GIFS of his own artwork! I wonder if some fan film could be in the works? There’s got to be someone out there with the know-how to make an epic short of all these Burtonized wonders! In any case, by itself, this is something to be recognized.

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Before your nerd rage goes into over-drive, realize that this image is, in fact, sarcasm. It’s obvious Wonder Woman is the film comic book fans want – generally at least. With the right director behind the wheel and a fantastic writer as well, Wonder Woman has the potential of being the best superhero film ever made.

Of course those conditions could apply to every superhero movie, huh? I think the reason why people want a Wonder Woman movie so bad is because of how incredible her character is and how she’s constantly getting the shaft from WB. DC Comics treats her well, but for some reason a movie seems to be unrealistic to the movie makers.

In any case, all the reason for NOT making a Wonder Woman film are wrong.

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Andreas Englund, a Swedish artist takes us through the life of a superhero who probably reached the end of his illustrious crime fighting career a couple of decades ago. Without intending to, he follows the same idea that Alex Ross had with his masterful book, Kingdom Come. However, the difference is THIS anonymous superhero isn’t in any position to reclaim his vigilante status.  Yet, here he is, kicking in the faces of evil doers everywhere.

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Determined yet tired. A proud moment for this chap indeed.

A statement was made by Philipp Windmüller describing point of Englund’s gorgeous oil painting series, talking about how the accomplishments of the elderly need to be remembered and recognized:

In a kind of tender comic on a huge canvas, Englund describes the hero who is slowly but surely spending his remaining years with human traits as a link between the artist himself and the viewer. It was extremely important to Englund to portray the aging process with an intensified presence. If you want to accord credibility to a character, the character himself needs to face up reality and the aging process. He has to acknowledge to himself that he cannot live up to expectations and that the “perfect life” is nothing more than wishfulness. Englund’s artworks are focused on the maturing process. Even in the old age it is still possible to achieve something valuable although someone’s drive and vigour won’t bluster out explosively. Nevertheless everybody in his advanced age deserves to be recognised and respected for what he has achieved in life.

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Even superheroes get scared.

Englund’s photorealistic paintings can be found on his website and are available for purchase.

I’ve always been fascinated by stories that depict the superhero lifestyle in realistic terms, making it seem not so glamorous as many comics tend to do. I love superheros. Everyone of you who follow me here at Heretical Jargon should know that. However I also understand and accept the ridiculous and unrealistic nature of the superhero genre. Superheroes have a direct connection to the classical Greek and Roman “Heroes Quest” type of stories; a hero has to face him or herself against immeasurable odds, coming to terms with their inner demons…that and fighting giant monsters, space baddies, and intergalactic evils which threaten the very existence of humanity. (More or less) So I can appreciate artists and storytellers taking a step back to remind us that superheroes, if they were real, would be a laughable lifestyle.

But Philipp Windmüller is right on target with his comments about the elderly and recognizing their achievements in life, no matter how small or big they are.

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The man himself, Andreas Englund, hard at work in this incredibly ambitious piece.

I know I’m a tad bit late, but if you follow me on Facebook then you’ve already seen this. For Halloween this year we, the Nerd Company, decided to continue the annual tradition of having a themed costume party. Last year we decked ourselves out as famous rock stars, me going as red shirted Alvin the Chipmunk, and two years ago we gathered up all the ingredients needed to throw the most epic Harry Potter party, with me playing the part Ron Weasley going to the party in his great Aunt Tessie’s dress robes. This year we put our heads together and decided a Space Age theme would be perfect for this year’s Halloween frivolity.

It took some time as I muddled around the idea of going as Mega-Man, Green Lantern, and I even entertained the idea of putting together a Marvin Martian costume. But none of these ideas could top what would become my greatest creation…the AT-ST walker costume!

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If you’ve seen Star Wars then the AT-ST isn’t a foreign concept to you. However, if you aren’t a fan of the famous movies series, or simply don’t pay attention to the names of robots and contraptions, then let me explain. This costume idea was no simple task and required a lot of planning and constructing – wheel and ball bearings, movable legs, holding straps, etc etc. It took about two and a half weeks to complete so I decided to document the entire process with photos.

Phase 1 – The Head
I decided to start with the head piece as I found that to be the most design-specific part of the entire ensemble. I decided that if I wasn’t able to get the head together, then I would need to look at other costuming endeavors. The head was rather large because I had to account for my shoulder width as well as making sure I had room for my arms to move. I was able to acquire a lot of cardboard from my part-time job, did some measuring, a little math, and cut five large sheets out and glued them all together.

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Phase 2 – Painting
My next task was to make sure this was going to LOOK metallic enough to work. So I bought some metallic colored spray paint and sprayed the crap out of the head. I did this early in the morning on a Saturday and allowed the paint to dry for a few hours in the sun. After that I got a big black sharpie and marked out the lines for the window eyes and other parts that needed those defining features.

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Phase 3 – The Legs
Now came the most difficult part. I didn’t need an incredibly substantial construction for the legs, yet I knew I needed them to be sturdy enough as to not bend so easily. I made eight leg pieces, four for the top portions and four for the lower portions, and cut out some smaller pieces to splice them all together using pipe cleaners to do the binding.

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Phase 4 – The Waist, Feet, And Leg Movement
I didn’t want to stick the legs to the head so I knew I needed a waist piece. I poked some holes where it was neccesary and used some nuts and bolts to get motion out of the legs. I was starting to run out of time since the party was in two days so for the feet I simply cut out larger strips of cardboard, wrapped them around my feet and glued it all together. Bad engineering maybe, but it worked. I used duct tape to act as straps to hold the waist up, and did the same thing with the head to keep it rested on my shoulders.

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Phase 5 – Testing It Out
I needed to make sure I didn’t put all of this together for nothing so I put it on to see how well it would all work out. I found that the feet kept ripping through the holes of the legs so I had to reinforce them a lot more, and that still didn’t work too well but it held well enough for the party.

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Phase 6 – Finishing Touches
I spray painted the rest of the costume and put the final touches on the head with my black sharpie. I was so happy with how it turned out even though there were other complicated details I would have LOVED to add to the entire costume. However I was lacking on time so I simply had to be fine with what I finished at this point.

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Cardboard is an awesome medium to work with when it comes to costuming, and if you’re ambitious enough you can construct some epic costumes. The whole costume bent a little in places when transporting it to the party venue, but I was expecting that.

If I were to change anything it would be how the feet connected to the legs as well as reducing the length of the head. I’m planning on redoing this costume using perforated plastic which would hold up better as well as making the needed additions to turn this costume into something I’d feel proud to wear at events like Comic-Con!

And just so you can see this beast in motion, here’s some videos…