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Posts Tagged ‘Neil Gaiman’

Here’s a fun little trailer for League of Legends Season One:

I don’t play WoW. Apparently, this is a spin-off from it, and the Trailer is marketing for the game. Which is cool.

If one peruses the LoL website, you can check out the multiple characters, and it’s pretty staggering: artistically, it’s like you took comic books, Mortal Combat, pro “wrestling”, steam punk elements, Harry Potter, Frank Frazetta, Pokemon, D&D, pin-up models, cute anime characters, and Capcom into an blender, and this is what you’d get. It’s like a unified theory of role-playing, power-wish-fulfillment, and avatar-powered escapism. And it’s pretty grand.

These MMORPG games are an artistic borg- “What? Superheros? Sure. We’ll take ’em. A He-Man-type comic Orko sprite-thing? Yep. Magic chick in an improbable bustier? Yes, please. Sauron-huge guy with proportionally ridiculous armor? Uh-huh. Werewolves? Well, WHY the f*@k NOT?!?” And I’m not even capping on the sensibility; there’s something amazingly, geeksomely democratic about the whole thing.

Watching the two teams of super-hero archetypes in fantasy-sheep’s clothing Avengers Assemble! into two fighting forces for “the Final Battle” would make Jack Kirby proud. You’ve got your huge bruiser-type, your hot-chick-who-can-best-any-man, your thief/mage, your magician, your small-yet-mighty lil’ guys- it’s the Superfriends vs. the Legion of Doom, WoW-style. When I saw it, I was like, “Of course it was heading in this direction: take the proven super-hero soap-opera, skin it with fantasy elements, add some FIGHTING…” and there you go.

When I saw BioShock a couple of years ago, I was really taken by how it combined Myst-like storytelling, remarkable cinematic design (both character and sets), with Doom and Silent Hill-like scary atmospherics and action. Intense. I think at this point, it’s beyond safe to say that the true visionaries are working in games, not movies.

Taking chances in the box, not worrying whether someone’s nephew (who got the studio job because of staggering nepotism) will greenlight a project if he can get his client/good friend on board. Game production is punk rock, in the box (the computer, rather “artistic box”), with an unlimited budget for effects, costumes, and sets.

What of story? (more…)

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Here’s a great little trailer for Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s new book, Instructions, made all the better by Neil’s voice over.

I’m re-reading The Sandman Companion by Hy Bender, which, for me, now ranks up there in my ‘invaluable insight into creator’s minds” library as The Onion’s Tenacity of the Cockroach, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Pressfield’s The War of Art. If you’re a Sandman or Neil Gaiman fan, I cannot suggest it enough. Bender’s summation of each story arc, his critical insights, and concise conversations with Gaiman himself give great insight into both creator and creation itself, especially if you believe (as I do) that Sandman was one of the great works of the 20th Century.

Been meaning to mention Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for quite some time as well. Absolutely worth checking out. Between that and Coraline, bloke had quite a year. The man’s a force of literature.

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Death_and__The_Sandman_by_UMINGA

Wired has a nice little article about what’s unfilmable in Hollywood- which books or comics cannot be done correctly? The Neil Gaiman quote slaps you right on the face:

“It’s not film-shaped,” Gaiman said. “I went out to Hollywood with beautiful artwork and toys and did a presentation…. I got to the end, very proud of myself for encapsulating 2,000 pages of comics into a giant visual pitch, and what I got was, ‘Does The Sandman have a clearly defined bad guy?’ I said, ‘No it doesn’t,’ and they said, ‘Thanks for coming!’”

Trust me, I’m going through this slog in meetings right now. There’s a reason all films feel vaguely the same: they’re designed that way. It’s actually a miracle that both Stardust and Coraline got even past the pitch stage.

[Fan-art illustration of Death and the Sandman by UMINGA. Art here]

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Finally Netflixed Steamboy, Katsuhiro Otomo‘s stunning anime picture.  I’m of two minds about it: It’s visually staggering. The London Exhibition, the sheer imagining of the visuals, the alternate reality, all overwhelming.  But I couldn’t help feel as if there was something missing. According to Wikipedia, it’s the the most expensive full length Japanese animated movie ever made. After watching it, I felt a lot like I feel after watching a Tim Burton movie: artistically shellshocked, in awe of the vision and craft, but absolutely uninvested in the story and emotional center of the film.

What’s the deal with animation? Why can’t they figure it out? Gaiman, Sim, Miller and Moore(and many others) elevated comics, why can’t anyone but Pixar and early Disney make me give a shit? When the credits rolled after Wall-E, and that great Peter Gabriel song came on, I was moved. (Of course, I’m a HUGE PG mark, so that may’ve infected me.) Watch Lady and the Tramp; it’s unbelievably atmospheric and beautiful.

The point I’m trying to make is this: How come there can’t be animated adult narratives that don’t try and be all things to all people? An animated Sopranos? Something that pushes the envelope. This was even my complaint with Lord of the Rings: They just had to shoehorn that goddamned Arwen narrative in there, didn’t they? Had to add that trite romantic sublot. It didn’t work.

If I can agree that Tom Bombadil wouldn’t have worked in the film (and doesn’t really work in the novels), can’t we agree that no one gives a shit about Liv Tyler? And I like Liv Tyler as an actress. She did about as good as anyone could’ve done with an extraneous subplot. But Tolkein didn’t write it, and it sticks out like a gangrene thumb.

Like Carl, I’m watching The Wire. I’m on Season Three. Like the Sopranos, like Deadwood (still my favorite), it’s sublime, uncompromising, and a work of art. People love it. They rent it, they buy it. Although it didn’t get the audience it deserved on HBO, it will eventually get the audience through word-of-mouth rentals, downloads and DVD purchases. It will live on. It’s too good not to. What TV and Film execs always fail to realize is that when you swing from the heart, you always connect with someone. (How many people do you think actually are passionate owning Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD? On second thought, don’t answer that- I may not want to know.)  All I’m asking is that someone make an animated film or series that doesn’t talk down to me, and challenges me the way the aforementioned series do.

Too much to ask? Probably. At least I’ll have South Park, which keeps going from strength to strength.

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