So anyhoo

Apr. 17th, 2014 07:32 pm
tilly_stratford: (Blue & Gold)
Got a job as an assistant editor for an ad company, been working there two+ weeks but they're really struggling financially (and with some other major issues) so we're sort of expecting the company to go belly-up any day now.

That's you up to date, now I want to talk about comic books again.

I know these days DC are trying to sorta make Harley Quinn into their own Deadpool (off-beat comedy, insane protagonist, fourth wall-breaking gags), but I don't see why they'd need to when they have Ambush Bug. In a sense he's more Deadpool-y than Deadpool, because he doesn't have a tragic origin story and everything about him is satire about something else.

Ambush Bug started out as a Superman villain in the early eighties (created by one of the guys who went on to make Justice League International) before he became one of the good (if mentally unstable) guys. His real name is Irvin Schwab (God I love that name) and he wears a mysterious costume that came from outer space, and it grants him the ability to teleport all through the Multiverse.

This character doesn't just break the fourth wall, he moves backwards through his own comics, switches genres mid-story, visits his own creators, namedrops Marvel characters (!!), all sorts of crazy stuff. There are more jokes than plot in Ambush Bug comics.

One recurring theme is how Ambush Bug just wants comics to be fun again, so there is a lot of ridiculing grim and violent trends in cape comics. Reading the eighties' comics had me going "Haha yeah I guess that was a trope" but now I've moved to the most recent A.B. miniseries I really get to explore just how upset I still am about a lot of DC editorial mandates (I swear DC fans still have PTSD after the death of Ted Kord. I get violent flashbacks whenever a comic revisits the line "Rot in hell, Max.")

tumblr_m9vln3jIVC1rqsmuro1_r1_500
Ambush Bug really gets me.

I guess I see why DC has largely moved away from Ambush Bug. They don't tolerate anyone making fun of them anymore, not even their own characters.
tilly_stratford: (HB: Steampunk Bush)
I've been looking too much at Phil Noto's brilliant "Avengers through the ages" drawings, which look like casual photographs -- people are out of focus, or out of frame, or in conversation. They're great. I'm no Noto, but I did say I wanted to experiment more with my art this year.

Of course, he does them as warmups and quick little asides. I've been working on this dumb image all week and it's still not what I wanted it to be, so I'm just gonna cut my losses and post it.

Instant photo )

I remember as a kid we had a Polaroid camera. I can't quite remember what kind, I don't think it was one of those where you had to peel the paper off. To this day I love the excitement of instant photo cameras.
tilly_stratford: (Lupin III: Go getter)
What a time to be a Lupin fan!

We recently got our first theatrically released Lupin film since 1996. It's another Detective Conan crossover, I haven't seen it yet but the fans (if not the critics) seem to like it. There's also a Japanese live-action movie in production right now (meh, boring). Maybe it'll be as insane as the seventies' live action film.

BUT THE MAIN THING: There's gonna be another animated theatrical release this summer, it's gonna be our first officially Jigen-centric movie ever, AND it's made by the same dude who made the 2012 Mine Fujiko TV series (which, okay, I had my problems with but the action and art style was uh-MAZING).

The title's gonna be The Tomb of Jigen Daisuke, and I.

I just love Jigen so much.

Look at that promo image oh my God.

There's a very adamant rumour that it's gonna be the send-off for Jigen's voice actor, who's famously held the role since 1969. I refuse to even think about, because obviously Kiyoshi Kobayashi is both gonna live forever and voice Jigen for all eternity.

No. Shush. All eternity.

New season

Mar. 21st, 2014 02:18 pm
tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
My crocuses (croci?) have started blooming!

crocisz

Planting something in autumn to see it bloom seven months later feels like cheating somehow, like it shouldn't be allowed. And I've moved around so much in my life I was half convinced I wouldn't even be here when spring came and then all that work (it wasn't really that much work) would have been for nothing. But here I am, and here they are, and sometimes things work out like they should. There's also the tulip bulbs, which I look forward to blooming later in the spring.

I've got a lot planned for the garden this year, though seeing as I've finally landed a job (after a year of unemployment) I might have to dial it back a little bit. In any case I'm definitely gonna make a new flowerbed, away from the scorching heat that gets reflected from my building's red brick wall. Somewhere along the fence, where it might catch a little bit of shadow from the neighbouring house, and then I'll keep the first flower bed for succulents and things that can tolerate the heat (last year the poppies thrived, so they can stay).

I've been dreaming about making a small vegetable garden in a corner of our (immense, empty) garden, but that might just be more work than it's worth. Anyway, there's the watering issue -- last summer I had to carry all the water into the garden. This year I'm looking into hooking up a hose to my kitchen faucet and running it out the window, but it's still gonna be cumbersome. So we'll see about my dream victory garden.
tilly_stratford: (LS: Please run)
The age-old adage goes "The thing about running is: Nobody else gives a shit about running." Cardio, it seems, is something my more active friends subject themselves to in order to become better at some other athletic activity (lifting, skiing, handball, dancing). Me, I just want to be a runner.

(I call what I do running; It's really jog-walk cycles, as per my couch-to-5k programme's instructions). I'm still a far cry from the sleek, gazelle-like runners I pass on my route, but comparing my aerobic base to what it was a year ago I really have made progress, and I'm pretty proud of myself.

Anyway, nobody but runners give a shit about running. I've started becoming unusually interested in other runners' habits and techniques and diet. I particularly enjoy learning what music other people run to -- it's hardly ever music I'd put on my running playlist, but I find it fascinating anyway.

So hey, here's some songs I friggin' love running to right now.

Like a speeding bullet )
tilly_stratford: (LS: Please run)
After my knee stress injury cleared up I returned to my beloved Zombies, Run! 5k fitness app and I'm happily running myself ragged again.

I've never been very good at mentally picturing characters I have no visual frame of reference for -- when I read novels or listen to audio plays I only have this cloudy vague humanoid blur in my mind's eye, it's much more important to me how they feel or act. That's why I hardly ever make fanart of those things, even though I consume a lot of non-visual media and fanart is my usual reaction to falling in love with a piece of fiction.

But then ZR happened and hey, time to just plain decide on a look for these characters because I feel a MIGHTY NEED here. Especially Sam Yao, the sympathetic and traumatized radio operator who acts as your link to the safety of Abel Township.

It was never about the zombies )

I don't run as often as I'd like, which means I don't get to listen to as many ZR episodes a week as I'd like. But still, it's pretty funny to me that an audio drama can make me do an activity I spent all my formative years hating.
tilly_stratford: (HB: Steampunk Bush)
I'm not entirely sure what brought it on, but I had this idea I'd watch all the big Robin Hood movies in order. And then, I dunno, compare them I guess.

So I've seen the 1922 Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks, regarded as one of the first big business Hollwyood productions (a cast of thousands, humongous sets, and the first ever movie gala premiere); And a bloated, overlong melodrama it is too. Over two hours long, and Fairbanks spends more than half of it as plain ol' Earl of Huntingdon, knight to King Richard.

The entire first act of the film deals, oddly enough, with Richard thinking Robin (sorry, Huntingdon) spending all his time wrestling with his manfriends and shunning women is all a bit inappropriate, and he lays several plots to force Robin to like ladies. Then of course comes Marion and fixes Robin's homosexuality shyness.

Despite the film's length, the story is very pared down compared to, say, every single other Robin Hood film. Prince John is the primary villain, obviously. Sir Guy spends most of the movie in The Holy Lands, even after Robin leaves for home, and the Sheriff I forgot was even in the movie until he was mentioned in the climactic scene.

Most of the scenes where Robin comes head-to-head with authority reads more like Keystone Cops gags than tense melodrama, except once in a while Robin stops to murder one of his pursuers and immediately throws his head back and laughs like the cold-blooded motherfucker he is.

I'm probably being too hard on the film. It's 1922, that's pretty damn early. In any case it had some absolutely beautiful posters:

l_102856_0013556_86969e89l_50247_0013556_0621e9bc
tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
Yes, time to confirm it: My newest obsession is definitely John Barrymore in his silent era. Which is a relief, I mean-- I've spent a couple of months just half-heartedly liking things. That's not me at all. Thank God something came along.

I don't want to burn through all his best silent movies in just a few days, so my rule is only one (...ish) every week, with some of his early talkies (I'm ignoring everything after 1934 because yeesh, his alcoholism and mental issues really took their toll) in between.

His silent films are great fun though, even the ones that aren't particularly good. There's a lot of action, and even more romance. I've been infatuated with lots of actors and obviously I always enjoy when they get a love scene, but Barrymore love scenes really are next level stuff; Hands trembling, chest heaving, eyelashes fluttering... If you're really lucky it's all shot in profile, like in When a Man Loves (I've never seen an actor shot as much in profile as Barrymore):

*

Congratulations, you've just seen Drew Barrymore's grandparents making out (they married the next year). Share my shame.

When a Man Loves, incidentally, is a ridiculous, melodramatic film (he plays a priest, but can suddenly fence like a champ in the last reel) and I wouldn't recommend it to anybody, but it sure has a lot of sweet scenes.


*This is the first time I've had to fix the image quality of a film before I could gif it. Usually I gif a video file exactly as-is, but my copy of this film is kinda blurry and glitchy. That said, giffing silent films, turns out, is a cinch compared to seventies' BBC video transfer.

Again

Feb. 9th, 2014 02:56 pm
tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
I've had another go at reading Peter Milligan's comic Shade the Changing Man, a surreal horror title from the nineties. This time everything clicked.

Something about this comic really resonates with me. It's rare that I read a comic and think, "Yes. I get this. My mind works just like this"; I'm tempted to say I haven't really felt like that since I read Gaiman's Sandman comics a decade ago (there's a bunch of similarities between those two, actually). Like Sandman was perfect for the headspace I was in ten-something years ago, Shade the Changing Man really suits me now (and in an amazing bit of coincidence, Shade the character is exactly my age!).

It's a very surreal comic (which usually isn't my thing at all), as Shade has come to Earth to battle an epidemic of madness, which he continually gets pulled into. There's a lot of meta text and archtypes and complexity. At the same time I find Shade more relatable than for instance John Constantine; Shade is a shy and sensitive young man who's trapped on a strange planet; He falls in love and worries about his masculinity and sexual adequacy (and at one point, transgenderism).

I've only read the first twenty-something issues so far (DC has failed to rerelease the entire run in trades), but I'm enjoying the hell out of this ride. Here's a cool little presentation from Cartoon Network:

tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
My failure to see the appeal of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. had me thinking maybe swashbuckling movies weren't as good in the silent film days as they would get in the Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn era.

But no more.

See, I used to think John Barrymore was exclusively a talkies (and stage) actor, with his sing-songy delivery and sonorous voice. Not the case, as I found out.

In talkies, he's pretty entertaining. In silent films he's an absolute delight -- agile, flamboyant, sexy, and with one of the best-looking noses I've ever seen captured on film (they didn't call him The Great Profile for nothing).

Tonight I watched Don Juan from 1926 and apart from being a surprisingly sophisticated film, you cannot convince me this wasn't made primarily for a female demographic. From the moment Barrymore first appears as the Don exiting his bedroom, post-coitus and half undressed, the camera doesn't so much capture him as suggestively linger on his body. There were no women in the movie as revealingly dressed as Mr. Barrymore. What a silhouette!

vlcsnap-115755

A lot of pre-Code movies strike me as sort of lewd (and very male gaze-y), but this was an elegantly suggestive movie even though it mostly centered around sex.

(Another silent Barrymore vehicle I've seen, The Beloved Rogue, features Conrad Veidt in his first Hollywood movie, and is hands-down the most homoerotic silent movie I've ever seen. You just won't believe how much pawing, caressing and embracing those two get up to in between Barrymore's fencing sequences.)

Ah, swashbucklers. Proving that all you have to do is don some tights, swing on a chandelier and leap on a table, sword in hand, and I'll love you unconditionally (except Fairbanks).
tilly_stratford: (Deadpool day)
Character loyalty is a thing among comic book readers and it is a bad thing. It's when you'll buy anything featuring that one character you like, no matter the quality of the product. Mainstream comic publishers will milk that loyalty for all its worth, and at the end of the day you're rewarding them for their cynical business practices.

I try to be mindful of character loyalty. I don't always succeed. Like when they made a video game of Deadpool.

I knew the head writer was one of my least favourite comic book writers. I knew every single review had deemed it "disappointing" at best. I even knew, deep down, that it'd be chock full of just the kind of inane "random" 4chan-humour that's stopped me from buying current Deadpool comics for years.

All I wanted was to see if they'd toss the old-school fans a bone. Some little reference. Maybe one of old fan-favourite members of the supporting cast.

But no.

When the joke character becomes too much of a joke )

deadpool

Here's one way to sum up the game: When it tried to break the fourth wall and talk directly to me, the gamer, it kept referring to me as a horny heterosexual teenage boy.

The game makers LITERALLY did not foresee that anyone who doesn't check those particular boxes would ever play this game.

Here's another way: Sometimes when Deadpool would take damage in the game, he'd shout "I blame YOU, Daniel Way!" So do I, Deadpool. So do I.
tilly_stratford: (Kaizer: Humping Terje)
Lately I've been delving more into DC's Elseworlds and Multiverse stories. I'm just tickled pink by the entire phenomena of taking these established characters and changing one detail (Batman's a vampire! The Justice League lives in the Wild West! All the heroes are villains and all the villains are heroes!), and seeing how the story develops from there.

One thing I've noticed is that boy, does Wonder Woman shack up with Superman a lot. There's something weirdly incestual about DC wanting all its heavy hitters to hitch up. And nowhere is that more effectively pulled off than on Earth 2 -- the Antimatter universe, where alt!Wondy is married to alt!Superman while having an affair with alt!Batman (though strictly speaking he is the older brother of a deceased Bruce Wayne).

And they're all bad guys and vaguely fetish-y, of course. Good old antimatter trope.

Light bondage )

Last year I said I wanted to experiment more with my art. Experimental it is.
tilly_stratford: (HB: Steampunk Bush)
I've been watching all the old Fleischer Superman cartoons from the forties. Partly because they're pop cultural landmarks (they introduced both the "It's a bird! It's a plane!" line and the whole "Faster than a speeding bullet!" introduction) and also because my views on Superman has changed a lot over the years*.

They were pretty great actually! The animation was so well done, with lot of shading and dynamic action -- really high-quality stuff! I was kind of blown away by the first one: I wasn't sure what to expect, and then Superman punched a beam of pure energy and the music and animation and everything was so stellar I really felt the urge to jump in my seat and shout "Go Superman!"

My absolute favourite thing was that for the most part (due to this being such an early, low-powered version of the character) Superman leaps rather than flies -- he pushes off, and then rises and falls in an arch before he lands. I loved it. I guess it's something about familiarity -- I don't know what it's like to fly effortlessly, but anybody who's been on a trampoline can can recognize that rising and falling tingling in your stomach.

I really liked Bud Collyer as the voice of Supes too (I think I might have to check out the radio show). He just generally sounds mild-mannered and jovial, and his Supes voice is just a tiny bit deeper than his Kent voice, which I thought was neat.

And while the cartoons are a product of their time (occasional racism, mostly), I just gotta say that this version of Lois Lane? Has friggin' balls of steel. Placed in front of a firing squad? Trapped on an erupting volcano? Tortured by nazis? Lois Lane does not fear death, okay. She will climb a burning rope over the crevasse if she's free or coolly accept her fate if she's not. Sure Superman has to rescue her in every episode but even he has to respect Lois Lane's nonchalance when it comes to her own mortality.


*My thinking used to be, like, you've got this immortal, invincible god who is 100% good and kind and wonderful: Where's the drama, right? But now I'm more like, "yeah, that's a nice change of pace actually". I still think he works best from other characters' points of view, and as a part of the larger DC universe, but the guy's not as boring as I used to think.
tilly_stratford: (Cat: Miyazaki handle with care)
It's not often I get blown away by a music video (I've even heard convincing arguments that the Age of Music Videos are long gone), but I need to share this four-minute masterpiece:



The song itself is in French, but the choreography and filming perfectly expresses the story on its own. (After a while I even realized that the title -- the despaired cry in the refrain -- 'Papaoutai' is a phonetically written Papa, où t'es?, "Daddy, where are you?")

I'm in love with this music video.
tilly_stratford: (Vikings: Oseberg)
Now for the bit about the hierarchy of man! Apart from the whole "heralding the end of the world" thing this is the main mythological contribution from Heimdallr.

This bit is from a poem known as Rígsþula ("lay of Rígr"), which is found in a 14th Century Icelandic manuscript known as the Codex Wormianus.

Divine threesomes )

Sure it's a deterministic, prejudiced tale, but you gotta admire that even the (ugly, stupid, swarthy) thralls have a little bit of a god in them.
tilly_stratford: (Holmes: Curious collection)
So what did I do this year? I moved. I spent the summer all alone painting the family cabin. Got hooked on gardening. Got hooked on knitting (again). I was best man in a friend's wedding.

To be honest just about everything else about 2013 was pretty dismal. Depression, unemployment, insomnia, more visits to the emergency room than ever. At least 2014 can only get better.

Here are some more good things about this past year:

I watched 175 films through the year (not counting rewatches, documentaries and short films). I think my favourite movie experiences this year was watching Le Petite Monde de Don Camillo, and Cleopatra on the big screen -- which is why there's been a lot of Taylor/Burton films this year. There's also been a lot of George Sanders, and DC animated films.

175 films is admittedly pretty weak. My excuse is that I started knitting, and when I knit I've found I prefer to watch TV shows, because chances are I won't miss as much information if I glance away from the screen for a moment. I went from hardly watching TV at all to bingewatching all of Breaking Bad, Community, and Downton Abbey.

I also stuck to my last New Year's resolution: Finish at least one drawing every month! So here's one of those "my art year in summary" things:

Superheroes mostly )

So that's 2013 for me. Happy new year!
tilly_stratford: (Deadpool day)
Been dealing with insomnia all month long, which makes for a collection of very blurry December memories. On those nights I've started thinking "fuck it" and replayed Ghost Trick on the DS. For a game I love so hard, it's amazing I've hardly made any fanart of it -- though I guess it's probably because the characters are so VERY stylized it's kinda hard to do your own thing with them and still make them look recognizable.

But hey, how many Ghost Trick characters wears a long white coat with a bright red scarf, not to mention a half-open shirt and a medallion like something out of the last days of disco? Inspector Cabanela's not very interchangeable.

Mr. long legs )

Glad I managed to squeeze in one last drawing this year!
tilly_stratford: (Deadpool day)
Finally got around to watching Thor: The Dark World and oooooh that was fun! Definitely one of the stronger Marvel films to date, and superior to the IMHO kinda boring first Thor film (which, granted, had a wonderful final act). I'm so glad I got to watch it at the movie theatre, there's something magic about the audience reacting with spontaneous applause to Stellan Skarsgård not wearing trousers. I generally laughed harder at this film than I've done in a while. That quick little cameo by a certain member of the Avengers had the whole audience rolling in the aisles.

Also, God, so many delish men! Which is a thing Marvel movies tend to be so refreshingly upfront about (slow pan over Hemsworth's abs, the lighting and angles highlighting Hiddleston's cheekbones just so), so I'm going to be too. Just yum. When Idris Elba finally got to remove that clunky helmet I was all "Yessss".

And man, how great was Christopher Eccleston? I loved his character design too; To be honest the Dark Elf design was my favourite thing about the entire movie. Like this dude:

Algrim_DarkW

If I'm gonna criticize anything it's that it's like the movies have taken another step further into scifi cliché land. Laser guns that go pew pew. The space ships. I thought that was trite in The Avengers, it disappoints me even more in Thor's world which had this fun half fantasy, half scifi setting going on. And the movie didn't really waste any time explaining what all the science meant; It wasn't a dealbreaker, but I still like to have some concept of what I'm looking at (even if it's just explained by Skarsgård knocking two shoes together).

But all in all, a pretty good Marvel movie! (And don't worry, I'm definitely going pick it apart and look at the Norse mythology references in another entry -- it actually had some pretty obscure details in it).
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
I was researching how to get hold of more of the Fantômas books when I came across an odd little tidbit of pop culture: A monotonous yet creepy song from 1933 called 'La Complainte de Fantômas', or The Ballad of Fantômas. It's even available on Spotify.

Had it been five or six verses long it'd be a fairly listenable song, but no, it has TWENTY-SIX verses each cryptically referring plot points from the forty-something novels, with little coherency between them. I guess that's why they chose to call it a ballad.

I particularly like how the first verse goes (translated):
Listen up - hey quiet down -
To this sad and mournful list
Of crimes too dreadful to name
Of tortures and violence
Unpunished each time, alas
By the criminal Fantômas
And then the remaining twenty-five verses are detailed descriptions of all the grisly things Fantômas does, like making gloves out of cadaver hands to disguise his finger prints (they're pretty morbid books in that early 1900s pulp fiction kind of way). Too dreadful to name, indeed.

But hey, at least my favourite character Inspector Juve and his loyal journalist companion Fandor get a few shoutouts. Though not mentioning all the crossdressing is a clear shortcoming of the song.
tilly_stratford: (Holmes: Curious collection)
Just as sure as summer will follow spring, I'm pretty sure I will always return to Sherlock Holmes stories. Even if I forget how much I love them years at a time. Usually my infatuation with specific fiction abates after a while, either because I've run out of material or because I've gluttoned myself and had too much at one time -- but Holmes? That's an inexhaustible love of mine, even though I sometimes plain forget just how happy those stories make me.

A few months ago I was in a thrift shop where I spotted a particularly hideous Norwegian edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- the exact edition I first picked up at the library when I was ten, and which introduced me to the Canon! (It doesn't have a print year listed, oddly enough, but I'm guessing eighties/early nineties from the cover design). So I bought it out of sentiment and put it on my shelf and forgot about it.

And then I was out walking today because I wanted to give Welcome to Night Vale a listen (mostly to fill the temporary Zombies, Run!-shaped hole in my life, my knee is still a wreck), but the file was corrupted and I had to find something else to listen to. I always have one of the BBC Holmes audios stashed away somewhere on my phone, so I thought "Ah, for old time's sake" (the episode happened to Scandal in Bohemia, the first story I ever read). I spent the rest of the walk grinning from ear to ear.

Not just because BBC radio Holmes is by far the best Holmes adaption I've ever come across (I have nothing new to say about Merrison's Holmes, other than that he's wonderful in the role and has the most infectious laugh), but because, goshdarnit, I just love these old stories and characters. Even though I've read them, watched them, and listened to them countless of times, and I always know exactly who did it, and what challenges will be thrown Holmes and Watson's way, I just can't stop loving them.

So now I'm sitting here leafing through that book I bought at the thrift store, feeling like I've slipped on an old comfy sweater. I think this Christmas I'll bring back my tradition of reading that great pastiche story where Holmes is hired to stalk Santa Clause.

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