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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #5

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boom_thomas_alsop_005It’s a constant struggle between Thomas and the public, as the world is slowly turning against him in his pursuit to save the souls of 9/11. His approach might not be the best, but his motivations seem solid. If only he could make it out of this with his reputation intact.

We start off the issue with Thomas interrupting a late night talk show. He comes in and uses his appearance as a platform to make an announcement about his current case. Jovial acceptance soon turns negative as Thomas talks about what he’s planning to do. Thomas says he’s going to perform an exorcism at the site of the towers on the 10th anniversary of 9-11. This seemingly crazy talk gets him permanently banned from the talk show. It seems the public is willing to go along with his paranormal talk as long as it’s good entertainment, but using the memories of people lost in tragedy is a step too far. I wonder if they will all forgive him if his plan succeeds.

Thomas keeps going on shows, talking about the case, and is continually labeled as insane. However, his promotion team is trying to spin the situation to their advantage. If they can make it seem like he was only kidding, if he tries for forgiveness, maybe his brief stint of craziness will be forgotten? But he’s not going to let anyone dissuade him, not even those closest to him. Finally, his producer gets fed up with him and casts him aside. Both public and private opinion is solidly against him.

And if that wasn’t enough, Thomas gets summoned to a meeting of the Five Families. They question his methods, mad over the fact he talked so publicly about the upcoming spell. Nothing really gets settled, and he leaves to hit some bars around town, tweeting his progress the whole way. It seems that Thomas has a motive for his actions. He is building up energy through public hate, meant to fuel his spell.

And with the last component, the hidden box, he would be in a good place to move forward with his plan. But that is going to prove to be the hardest to obtain. He almost has it, but then a ghost creature emerges and grabs it away. Will Thomas get the box back? Will he be able to go through with his spell and save all those lost souls? We have to wait until the next issue to find out.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel #3

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel–We’re Needed #3 by Edginton, Cosentino, et. al.

Review by Prof. Jenn

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In this, the concluding issue of the three-part “episode,” Mrs. Peel comes to the rescue of Mr. Steed by encountering help of a surprising nature. Of course, just like the TV show, the bad guys get their comeuppance and the good guys prevail. Differently than the show, however, is the open-ended flavor of the ending, suggesting sequels to come.

The art is still consistently good, dark outlines and vivid color adding to the mod feel of the ’60s show, and the flow of the panels show the action very well. The bizarre yet tight plot is well constructed in both the dialogue and the images, and overall this is a rollicking good tale suitable for inclusion In the best of the Steed/Peel TV eps.

Bottom Line: the third in this series is a high quality read. Highly recommended.

 

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New ongoing Groo series coming in 2015!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NEW YORK, NY—In time for New York Comic Con, Dark Horse announces a new ongoing Groo series brought to you by the award-winning team of Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier.

Each month of this yearlong series, Groo and his faithful pooch, Rufferto, encounter a different acquaintance—or enemy—with the usual dire consequences!

In issue #1, Groo crosses paths with Captain Ahax, the seaman with the world record for most ships sunk by the all-time stupidest character in comics.

Eisner-winning letterer Stan Sakai and colorist Tom Luth round out this all-star team.

Groo: Friends and Foes #1 is on sale January 21, 2015. Preorder your copy today.
Praise for Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier’s Groo:

“[Aragonés’s] style is so established, cartoony, and consistent that there’s never a doubt that you’ll get anything but pure magic out of him.”—Multiversity Comics

“Longtime Groo fans will find a lot to love here.”—Newsarama

 

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel #2

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel–We’re Needed #2 by Edginton, Cosentino, et. al

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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We’ve come to the part in the story (from the old Avengers TV series) when our heroes Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel are in such a pinch we can’t imagine how they will get out of it. Mrs. Peel is interviewing sinister twin criminals and following up on her clues, and Steed is in a particularly precarious situation, vulnerable to the villain of the story. It’s tense and investigatory, as a good Avengers episode should be.

The art continues to be consistently high quality (with an especially lovely cover painting of Mrs. Peel) and works well as storytelling. The characters look enough like Macnee and Rigg that we know who they are, but not so much like actor portraits that we are taken out of the fictional world.

Bottom Line: This is a great series and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #4

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boom_thomas_alsop_004The island’s connection to Thomas is weakening and the evil is increasing. It’s up to Thomas to fix all that’s gone wrong, and hopefully live up to the title he’s been bestowed. First order of business is reconnecting with his old friend and former band-mate, Emma Caldwell. He’s uncovered a disturbing situation and needs back-up. All the souls lost in the towers are floating there, at unease.

Thomas knows he’s off his game, and that’s why the ghosts got past him. He’s not the powerful man he used to be, with his connection to the island weakening. Thomas thinks this is due, in part, to the fact that he’s been doing the show. The island has pulled back because he’s corrupting the connection with his tricks, and that has weakened the bond. And he needs to set things right, because the evil that has been building and is about to boil over has been going on since the days of Neziah Bliss. It has been reawakened because of their former drummer Martin Delgado, a firefighter who was there when the towers went down. He recited the incantation that tied itself to Neziah’s, which is why it’s coming back so strong now.

The three of them were good friends, Thomas and Martin and Emma. And they used magic in their act, without a thought to the implications of their actions. Thomas’ father was none too happy about that, wanting his son to straighten up and take control of his destiny. Unfortunately, a young and short-sighted Thomas defied his wishes and actually stole a magic box from the collection because Emma had a plan to use a spell to get them a music contract. This action would have far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today.

The spell went wrong, of course. While they played beautifully, and actually caught the eye of a record executive, bad things were brewing, too. Martin saw the evil in all the audience and it was too much for him, so he quit the band. That same night, Thomas’ father was murdered, and soon after Emma left town. All of Thomas’ hopes and dreams were unraveled because of one action. And now he must set things right again.

Thomas thinks that if he retrieves the magic box that they stole and stashed, he can use it to overcome the evil that is permeating the island. Will his plan turn out to be a good one? Or will he create more havoc, throwing the island into a downward spiral from which it can never recover? We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Project Greenlight: Sexy Superhero

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IMG_1248Superheroes are larger than life and mythic in scope. Their clothes play an essential role in conveying their power. The dark silhouette of an armored Batman strikes fear in the hearts evildoers. The red cape and yellow shield of Superman brings hope to the hopeless. Wonder Woman’s bustier gives a great view of her breasts. Well, maybe that last one doesn’t have the same “effect” as the first two.

There’s long been a double standard in superhero comics, dating back to the very first female heroes. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been a fan of comic books. The hero is dressed to inspire, and the female heroine is dressed (or undressed) to titillate. Powergirl may be stronger and faster than Batman, able to shrug off bullets and lift tanks, but her clothes (which literally have a cleavage window) have all the subtext of eye candy, not hero.

It’s a problem that comic books still struggle with despite a century of progress in gender equality. You only have to look at the recent kerfuffle with Spider-Woman #1’s cover with a “painted on” costume to know we haven’t moved that far from Wonder Woman being tied up and fired at by phallic objects in the 1940’s. The move to mass commercial success with Marvel’s films has only exacerbated the problems. Black Widow’s representation in the Avengers proved fertile ground for the Internet meme machine, with her impractical cleavage and ludicrous posing.

Sexy Superhero is my addition to the ongoing conversation on this subject. It’s a short film that pokes fun of the impracticality of accepted female costuming in superhero fiction. I’m a big fan of superhero comics and movies. I wanted to create something that showed my love for the subject matter and share it with a larger audience. There’s a reason why comic fans are so passionate–Superheroes are great fun, and can be monumentally inspiring. I think everyone should be able to identify with his or her favorite hero without a cleavage window shutting them out.

 

IMG_1218Luke Patton is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. Sexy Superhero, a short film he wrote and directed, is one of the top 20 finalists in the Project Greenlight competition. To watch Sexy Superhero and place your vote in the competition please follow the link below.

http://www.projectgreenlight.com

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Comic Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle vol. 2

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Comic Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle vol. 2 by Al Kilgore, et al

Review by Prof. Jenn

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Maybe the first volume was fresh and new to me and now the novelty has worn off? Maybe the stories collected in the first volume were actually better overall than the second? Maybe it’s a matter of quantity getting in the way of quality as far as an enjoyment palette? In any case, volume 2 of the Rocky and Bullwinkle comics didn’t delight as much as the first collection. Again, I can’t blame it on the makers, I’m thinking it’s a matter of overdose.

Don’t get me wrong: I love these guys, and I love the authentic style of both the writing and the art. It’s like watching a bunch of episodes. Maybe that’s it–maybe seeing this many episodes in a row is too much.

Bottom line: This collection is honestly just great. If you have kids who are getting into the franchise, if you’re a fan (or especially collector) yourself, this is a great collection to have. Either collection is a good collection for a coffee table or a bookshelf anyway, if I’m perfectly honest.

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My Friend Dumped Me

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Welcome to Ask The Nerds. Have a burning question? Go ahead and email us and we will do our best to answer it for you! We always keep our questions anonymous so you have no worries!

 

Hi nerds,

I have noticed a lot of in-fighting in the nerdy girl world lately and it really bothers me. One of my friends recently turned on me to hang out with the “cooler” kids here in LA and it really hurts! Is there anything I can do to get my friend back or is she gone to the darkside for good?

 

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Beloved Abandoned Nerd Friend,

Fighting is only cool if it involves otherworldly weapons and accompanying background music. Since most fights don’t involve these things, the reality is that fighting is the absolute worst. This is especially true when it involves one of the rare people we call a friend. Your pain over being abandoned by this friend is completely warranted, and I’m giving you the biggest cyber-hug right now because no one should ever be traded in like that. I can’t guarantee that there is anything that you can do to get your friend back other than be your usual awesome, nerdy self and hope that she realizes that the “cool” kids really aren’t that cool (because they seldom are), and comes running back desperate for some sort of nerd movie marathon or gaming session. This is completely possible. When I was in this situation, all that came of it for me was I watched the girl who I had memorized Harry Potter spells with turn into someone I didn’t like at all. However, I realized something important when this happened: she was not a good friend.

I can’t predict whether your friend will or will not come back, but I would like you to consider a couple of things.

1) Do you really want a friend who would abandon you for other people like this? It is completely possible to hang out with more than one group of people. If she was a good friend, the kind you want in your life, she would never have dropped you at the prospect of being with other people. She would have kept you in her life and been friends with them AND you. The fact that she dropped you for these kids is an insult to you, and no one deserves to be insulted like that.

2) Do you realize how great of a friend you are, and don’t you want a friend who will reciprocate that back to you? Seriously, look at you right now. This friend went off and left you for another group of friends, and all you are concerned about is having her back by your side. You’re not being angry or venomous about it. You just want your friend back, and that says a lot about how much you care for her. You obviously care about this girl a ton, and guess what? You deserve a friend who cares about you, too!

3) Friendship isn’t just about finding someone you hate less than other people or share a few interests with. Friendship is a mutual relationship between two people who enjoy each other’s company and care about one another. Friendship is a team. It’s a partnership. You want someone who will stand by your side and fight, not someone who is going to switch sides on the battlefield because the other guys have better costumes! Can you imagine if in the middle of everything Tony Stark just stopped and said, “But, look at Loki! He’s FABULOUS!” and switched sides?! The Marvel universe would IMPLODE.

So, maybe she will come back. Maybe she won’t. To me, it sounds like you lost someone who was always going to get lost eventually, and I cannot stress the fact that you deserve better than that enough. There are plenty of other nerd girls out there, and I’m sure there are some who will treat you better and never make you question if another group of people is more worthy of attention than you are. Find those girls, befriend those girls, eat nachos with those girls, and get yo nerd on with those girls, okay?

Ps. You’re wonderful, and your “friend’s” poor decisions are not at all a reflection of you or your self-worth. You’ve got it together, and she’s still searching for herself. That’s all this means. Keep being awesome. Greater things will come your way.

Sincerely,

Daliya Risik

@TasteTheChaos


 

Hello fellow nerd,

Friends don’t always agree on everything or have the same goals. That’s OK, as long as you’re still there for each other equally and have compatible priorities. If that’s not the case and one person is giving a lot more than the other to preserve the friendship, then it’s not ok. Unfortunately, people tend to value different things, and that’s why friends grow apart. But this may actually be positive since you don’t need someone in your life who values superficial connections more than real significant relationships. It’s always hard when things end, and it’s certainly normal to want to try and get your friend back with some inspired act of awesomeness, but you’re only going to end up hurt and resentful, and, most likely, wasting your time.

As you get older, you’ll realize that you only have a certain amount of time and energy to put into relationships, so you’ll want to make sure you’re only putting significant effort into people who make you happy, not the ones who bring you down. People grow apart. It’s part of life. At some point, your friend might catch up with you and you’ll both be on the same page. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s ok too. You will have other friends who won’t put a Hollywood douchebag first, because they know what truly matters.

And the same thing goes for nerd girl on nerd girl fighting. Remember to always be direct and sincere. Don’t believe all of the gossip. Be objective. When someone is talking shit, and you don’t agree with them, say it. Stand up for your friends, but don’t get caught up in high school like drama; that needs to stay between other people (i.e., people who are not you). However, if somehow it does manage to include you, don’t talk shit, confront the person directly, and make sure you politely tell them you don’t want any trouble and you’re available if they ever want to chat. There’s already so much real drama going on in this world that we need to stop attacking each other over petty matters. Actual cool kids aren’t dicks. They’re inclusive, giving, loyal, and treat other nerds how they want to be treated.

 

Hugs and tacos,
@evildorina

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“I’m not a female filmmaker, I’m a filmmaker”: Breaking through the celluloid ceiling

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I always kind of knew that being a woman in the film industry would be tough, but I never realized how tough it would be. I mean, it wasn’t until 2010 that a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, won an Oscar for best director. For god’s sake, they even played “I am Woman.” Patronizing much? What about “I am Director?”

In 2008, when I went to grad school for film at USC, which is the best film school in the world according to The Hollywood Reporter, only 13 of the 50 incoming filmmakers, were women. It wasn’t until 2010 when USC finally made a point of admitting 50% women, calling themselves “forward-thinking” and patting themselves on the back. What is this, 1950??

When I said I wanted to go into directing, my graduate advisor even told me “maybe pick something else, there’s not many women in directing. Try editing instead, women do that.” Being stubborn, I disregarded his advice and pursued my path and won the Harold Lloyd award for directing twice, and became the only woman selected to direct a major film in my year with a $12k grant and Academy-Award winning mentors.

Even after film school, when I became a television producer, I would regularly be told in executive meetings that they “wanted a woman at the table” but that I “shouldn’t speak to the clients, we just need a female presence.”  The boy’s club of executives would often criticize me for being too “aggressive” and “bossy” compared to other male producers.

Well screw that! I made sure that every executive meeting, I piped up and made my ideas heard, and it worked. I was able to create and produce my own primetime show, City Walk, before the age of 30, I created and directed a web series called Best Friends Book Club to encourage literacy in teenaged girls, I worked with Martin Sheen, Comedian Dane Cook, Adam Devine of Workaholics, Kevin Nealon of Weeds, Adam Carolla of The Adam Carolla Show, and many other talented actors.

I’ve also directed several films, including a documentary about third-wave feminism and pole dancing called Polar Opposites – despite the fact that a male colleague told me “no man will ever want to watch a film about just women” and another male filmmaker publically posted “I’ve got a pole they can climb” on our webpage. The joke’s on them, because after the film’s successful festival circuit, it was bought and broadcast by the Documentary Channel and I’m fairly certain those great ratings weren’t from women alone.

Now I’m a working director and producer, but it hasn’t been easy. I worked hard, but the very fact that we even need to have a Bechdel Test shows how far we still have to go in terms of women in the film industry.

So what can we do to promote equality in film and media?

 

o   Write better women characters

    • We don’t need any more films with Megan Fox being objectified, or damsels needing to be saved and sexy teenaged girls being pursued by a slasher. Write complex characters that have their own minds, their own lives, and their own flaws and problems. Check out Ms. Marvel who’s an amazing new superhero who not only battles supervillains, but also sexism and xenophobia towards her Muslim heritage.

o   Share your expertise

    • For years, we’ve been taught that women are all out to get each other. Surprise! We aren’t! And you can help even more by giving another woman a hand. Be a mentor, join a message board and share answers, help problem-solve. You might just get help yourself in return.
    • Get involved by supporting organizations working to change the inequality, such as Women in Film, Women’s Media Center and Women Make Movies.

o   Think equally

    • We often hear about “women’s films” and “chick flicks.” Guess what? Women are the majority of the world population, so maybe we should just call them “films.”

o   Support your fellow women

    • There are so few women in the film industry, so why not go out and celebrate how kickass they are! Nicole Perlman was the first woman to write a Marvel film and it’s amazing!

o   Neutralize your language

    • The days of “actor/actress,” “director/female director,” “cameraman” and “sound guy” are over. And it’s about time we found a new term for “Best Boy!” What about “First Assistant Grip” and “First Assistant Electric?” Language has power, and words can change minds. Many a time I’ve been on set with an amazing female “best boy” and it just s
    • Marvel is a great example of this when they announced that the new incarnation of Thor will be female and they made sure that their language reflects it: “This is not She-Thor,” senior writer Jason Aaron said in a Marvel release. “This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

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*Infographics courtesy of the New York Film Academy*

 

Caitlin Starowicz is an award-winning writer, director, and producer for film and television. She has been recognized by Women in Film and Television, DocUtah, the LA Times, Buzzfeed, Women Make Movies and The Documentary Channel. She can be reached through her website at www.caitlinstarowicz.com and is always willing to help a fellow filmmaker.

 

 

American Horror Story — Halloween parts 1&2

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This two-part episode packed in a lot of information, while somehow raising more questions than it answered. Look out for AHS Murder House spoilers ahead.

First, it’s time to celebrate, because I was actually right about something! One of my (many) speculations about Tate is true–he is Constance’s son! That small tidbit was overshadowed by the questions about him brought up in this Halloween two-parter. For example, in one of the scenes he was wearing the rubber suit. Does that mean he is always the guy in the rubber suit? I’m hoping not, because gross. There’s a weird discrepancy with him. He seems to understand the minutiae of the Murder House, and appears to be able to manipulate some of it to his will (as in the episode in which he scared Violet’s bully). But then we are introduced to the dead high-schoolers who claim to have been murdered by him, and he unravels into genuine bafflement. It’s difficult to reconcile these two parts of Tate. More importantly, is he one of the many walking dead on the show? (I’m guessing probably yes).

I was absolutely shocked by Addie’s death in this episode. Addie was mowed down by a car whilst trick-or-treating, in such a casual way it almost seemed an afterthought. I wonder if it will ever be revealed how the dead function in the show. Will Addie be able to come back because Constance pulled her to the Harmons’ lawn? If she can come back, it seems like it could be difficult to keep this secret from Tate.

Hayden returned in this episode. I find her storyline tired, but I did like her better as a vengeful spirit, and the scenes between her and Vivien were powerful and needed. Vivien is really starting to get on my nerves. I’m glad that she finally had the guts to kick Ben out, but SHE was the one who wanted to leave that house, and with good reason, so why was HE the one who left? Wasn’t that a good opportunity to get her and Violet out of there? Why do the characters in AHS have that typical horror-themed lack of good judgement?

Wild speculation time. Because I can’t take any normal people for granted, I’m going to say that there’s something off about the security guy who Vivien is becoming attached to. I fully expect everyone to die by the end of this season, but I still have my fingers crossed that Violet will make it out.

Addie and the dismembered baby delivered to the original house owners bring the House Death Toll to 16.

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