Sunday, March 27, 2011

The MCG in the NYT

I find the current crop of Marvel Comics series to be tragically unreadable. I do purchase Namor because the Ariel Olivetti artwork is so entrancing, but there are many other books drawn by artists I admire that I will not lay down the dime (and by that I mean FORTY dimes) for because the writing and/or the status of the characters is in such a quagmire. I certainly out of principal refuse to buy Ultimate Spider-Man and its ilk because I don't want to reward the creative bankruptcy of recycling safe names rather than going to the trouble of creating new characters. The last time I was proud to buy a Marvel Comic was throughout the spectacular run on Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo (and that run that ended way back in 2005). I am always hopeful for the future, though, and look forward to trying out Daredevil when Mr. Waid puts his mark on that character.

Last week's Sunday New York Times featured a leviathan of an article about the current state of Marvel Comics (from a business-oriented perspective). The online version of the article has a rollicking fun photo of four of the Marvel bosses (and is different from the more subdued version of the photo of the same four that appeared in the print edition of the newspaper). You can read the article here.

I was interested to read in there that Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has a son named Tito. That intrigued me because I have never met anyone named Tito and the only time I've ever even heard the name was the fun Tito and His Burrito series that backed up The Fox and the Crow in Real Screen Comics. (But I've never met anyone named Axel either. If I had been the interviewer, the unavoidable follow-up would have been to ask Axel what his wife's name is.)

Please don't think that I'm making fun of anybody's name. I would never! It's just that by now I've had (quite literally) thousands of students in my classes and any time I come across a name that is new to me I take notice. So it is with a tip of my hat that I send greetings to my current and former students with the names Boruch and Princess and Rogelio and ...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Technical Reveal

The Hayfamzone Blog is pleased to present its first (and last?) guest column. Mark Plastrik sent me this message over on ebay and I was amazed to learn that he was involved with working on the beautiful opening titles of the 1978 Superman movie. He reveals something so technical about the work that went into producing those titles that I'm not even sure what he's talking about (but maybe you will be). I invite you to remind yourself how great that Superman opening was by looking here, and then off you'll go into Mark's Wonderland:

pokin' 'round yer blog-zone - noted yer 'preciation of Fleischer 'toons - well, my Grandpa Max did some Popeye and Felix artwork back in the '30s - got both my father (Mark Sr., optical camera) and his identical twin bro (Mort, sound editor) into film biz in the 50's/60's - dad's been gone over quarter century, but still comes up in the IMBd data-base (believe it or not, so do I . . . see
- my late Uncle Mort had a whole buncha Popeye "pencil-test" animation artwork . . . until they were stolen in the late 80's!

Yes, I worked 5 years at me ol' man's optical film lab (Computer Opticals . . . the computer did not produce the art/effects, just ran, with ultimate precision, the camera and projection heads of a classic Oxberry step-printer) We became hot in the early 80s, especially after the Superman, The Motion Picture main titles (also did titles fer Alien, Flash Gordon, a whole slew of Woody Allens and, yes, XANADU - where I got my one-and-only screen credit (Animation Camera), ergo the listing at IMBd (we didn't design, just hacked the elements t'gether following someone else's "vision").

Dad was a "tech-genius" - those ground-breaking Superman main titles required multiple runs over the same frames to marry those "streaks" to the titles themselves, PLUS, as each one faded away a new one waz zoomin' in at the edges - this "overlap" meant ALL had to be produced in one flawless string (NO pick-ups!) - How did he do it? . . . with a carton of Kents and a gallon of cheap scotch whiskey as fuel, Dad unplugged the phones and churned the furshlugginer stinker out solo in a marathon fifteen hour shoot!!

My main role was to "layout" the shoot on paper as a schematic for the camera-man to follow, unfortunately, I was, to coin a phrase, less-than-diligent - my frequent errors meant hours of wasted effort and redos - unlike today's digital/video world, we had to wait for the next morning's "dailies" to see those gaffes - like a certain barbaric buffoon, I "erred" a bit TOO much . . . in fact, Dad eventually FIRED ME!!!! (I believe his exact quote was "you're a poet, not a hack like me . . . so go find your true calling" . . . still lookin'!)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I Hate Comiclink

Comiclink is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of comic books and original comic book artwork. It sounds benign enough, doesn't it? What's not to like about that?

Well, I'm about to tell you. I hate Comiclink. For two reasons.

First of all, they more or less require that the comics listed on their site be CGC-graded. Maybe those are colloquially known as "slabbed" comics because they are dead and will never be read again and they may as well be lying on a slab in a morgue. Does anybody ever break the CGC seal to read the comic? Accumulating slabbed comics for the express purpose of investment is what I will dub anti-collecting. I have never owned and will never own a slabbed comic.

My second beef with Comiclink I feel even more strongly about than my first. Buyers and sellers there are anonymous to each other with Comiclink serving as the enabling intermediary. I despise that because those buyers and sellers are missing out on something wonderful. Many of you know that I sell a few comics over on ebay. Transactors on ebay are not anonymous to each other. It has been my utter pleasure to meet many fine collectors through my ebay selling, and I wouldn't enjoy the experience as much any other way. Phooey and ptooey to Comiclink.

In next week's Hayfamzone Blog post, one of my ebay acquaintances will share a story with you that I found very interesting when he told it to me. Hooray for ebay being non-anonymous or you and I would never have heard his fun story!

P.S. You might also like to read "Everybody Hates Comiclink?" right over here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

One Wolverine or Two Batmen?

Look at the above drawing one way and you see one thing, but change your viewpoint and you see two other things. Isn't that fun?

This is in the same vein as another two-view drawing that made the rounds a few years ago. In that image, you would see either an old, hunched-over hag wearing a cape and hood or you would see a young society girl in a froofy get-up. If you never saw that drawing, we've spared no expense to dig it up for you.

So let's debrief. Did your visit to this blog today bowl you over with a raft of hard-hitting investigative reporting? Well, no. But did you get an eyeful of a candy-coated trifle puffed up with warm, salubrious pockets of air? Ah, yes. There truly is something different to see every time you visit The Hayfamzone Blog!