The Hot List: Turnstyle’s weekly look at what’s keeping us sane and smiling.
Madefire (iOS App)
Last year I think I definitely spent at least few hundred dollars on digital comic books. And while some might call this very expensive habit a problem that needs to be excised; I call it a welcome diversion. And to that end, there’s a new player on the block: Madefire.
The wave of digital comic book readers out there has been growing. The current leader in the digital comics space is Comixology. They manage the digital download stores for all of the majors: Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc. However, Madefire is an innovative new digital comic reader with stories written by some of the greats. In addition, to date, every one of the stories is free. Definitely check it out. — Kurt Collins(more…)
My name is Kurt Collins and I’m a geek. Being a geek brings along with it certain cultural expectations. In my case, those cultural expectations fall somewhere in the arenas of comics, role playing games, card games and technology. So imagine my excitement when Marvel finally released Marvel: War of Heroes.
Before all you real geeks get up in arms because of its deficiencies (the main one being that it’s a cheap Mob Wars knockoff as far as game mechanics go), let’s look at the fact that we get to put heroes and villains on the same team so can get our PvP (player vs player) action on from our iPhones. And if that doesn’t make you happy for at least one week, then there’s nothing I will be able to do to persuade you. Bonus track here. -Kurt Collins
BookShout! is the greatest thing to happen this week. So far the online publishing industry has been able to get away with the walled garden approach. When you buy a book on your Kindle, it doesn’t leave your Kindle. However, BookShout is changing that. With the capability to import your Kindle and Nook e-books, this app has the opportunity to change the landscape. Oh, and hey, it’s also a social reading application. If you want to read a book with your book club and share some notes and ideas, you can do that and it’s easy. — Kurt Collins
What can be said about Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples space opera? Everything. Starting with OMG AWESOME. If you’ve ever loved a comic book then this collection of the first six issues of Saga is a must. At just $9.99 it’s also a steal. A pair of star-crossed lovers from two armies at perpetual war race across the galaxy to protect their infant daughter from the evil Prince Robot IV. Yup. Magic vs. Science! Robot Sex! Bounty Hunters! Saga is the best comic going, hands down. -Noah Nelson
These excerpts from the work of students in the Voice of Witness Education Program. They’re a quick dive into the amazing experiences of ordinary people. Among them: a Nepali exile to Bhutan whose family was abused by police following a royal directive; a music scholar from China who was sentenced to a prison farm as a 20-year-old, and served 18 years; a man who learned that the “gay flu” he acquired in 1981 was HIV; a Fijian native now on the maintenance staff of Berkeley High School who just became an American citizen.
Voice of Witness is a book series founded by 826 Valencia’s Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen. It tells social justice stories using oral history principles, and their education initiative brings these principles into the classroom (disclosure: I’m an advisory board member for the VOW Education Committee).– Nishat Kurwa
Let me cop to a weakness up front: the first story I ever wrote, in the third grade, was about a dectective. A detective who just so happened to be a teddy bear.
So when Alexander Zalben and Josh Kenfield’s campaign to publish their Detective Honeybear comic on Kickstarter I couldn’t help but notice. Detective Honeybear and the Mystery of the Terrible Llamas is an all-ages comic about the titular teddy bear who lives in a “noir mystery world” solving crimes while speaking in an almost incomprehensible teddy bear patois.
Zalben, who writes for MTV Geek and is the host of Comic Book Club Live for the Nerdist, and I talked via email this week about how Detective Honeybear came to be and where they’re taking the campaign now that they have blown past their initial $4,873 goal. (more…)
I’m a big fan of Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fan” hypothesis. It has influenced a lot of my thinking in the past few years about what is possible and what is sustainable with creative endeavors. So it is heartening– and maybe a little scary– to see Kelly put his money where his mouth is.
He’s released the first book in his graphic novel series The Silver Cord– a sic-fi tale about androids and the afterlife– as a free read online. At a whopping 210 pages it’s a substantial piece of work. Yet if readers want to see the conclusion of the story, Kelly is asking them to contribute to a Kickstarter fund to produce the second half. The perks include physical copies of both books, digital editions and the like.
To run the math: if Kelly can get 1000 fans to kick down $40 a piece he’ll reach the projects goal of $40K. That works out to $20 a book for the two 210 page tomes. Not a bad margin even by current digital comic standards.
So far he’s only got 152 backers in play for this passion project, running in at just shy of $10K. Which means a lot of drama: can the godfather of arts crowdfunding drum up a community on the strength of free goods?
Opinions expressed in Game of Buzz are the sole responsibility of the author.
At one time or another Mark Waid has written just about every super hero comic book character there is. He’s handled big series for both Marvel and DC, and is arguably best known as the writer of the acclaimed Kingdom Come miniseries.
This week Waid began a process blog at his own website, detailing the efforts he’s been making to launch a slate of creator-owned, digitally distributed comics. The quest to go digital has angered some in the comics community, who think that one of their own is selling them out. Which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to this reporter, as the future of the comic book industry as a whole so clearly rests on a healthy partnership between print and digital markets; a point that Waid himself is trying to make.
Waid’s blog this month will offer a behind-the-scenes look, with the goal being not just to promote his own products, but to create a resource for those who want to make a living off of digital comics. From the blog:
I’ll explain why I originally got the bug to go digital several years ago and what about it appeals to me. I’ll introduce you to some of the webcomics creators I learned (and am still learning) from. You’ll read interviews with and guest columns by other artists and writers as we talk about what works, what doesn’t, and what ought to if we could just figure out how to implement it. Most of all, with glass-house transparency, I’ll show you my first baby steps in this new medium, and I’ll happily disclose what I’ve learned (and am still learning) about how to get the best out of it.
As someone who has been reading comics for decades, and who has pessimistic expectations of what the major publishers are capable of pulling off, I’m quite excited to see one of the most solid writers in the business risk everything he’s got on the chance to broaden the market for comics.
Thanks to the DC Comics relaunch, and the introduction of a new half-black, half-Latino Spiderman by Marvel Comics, there’s been a lot of media attention on the comic book industry lately. Which means some people have been seeking out comic book stores for the first time. What they’re finding is the simply spectacular, amazing, wondrous world of comics.
In this first episode of our special series, The Funnybook Business, we begin our tour of Greater Los Angeles’ comic book shops with Silver Lake’s Secret Headquarters.
So you’ve heard about the controversy over the whitewashed casting of the live-action Hollywood adaptation of Akira. You’ve heard the arguments from fans on all sides. But has anyone bothered asking the children? What do the kids think? In this sobering, totally serious video from 5 Forces of G, the children speak out and address this controversial casting. And it is not pretty:
White Americans, bless their generous little hearts, are quite unable to imagine that there can be anyone, anywhere, who does not wish to be White.
– James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Remember the comic-book-turned-animated-film Akira? It’s about young people in post-apocalyptic Japan who have enormous telekenetic abilities. Any geek will tell you that it’s a classic. African American directing duo the Hughes brothers will be bringing it to the big screen as a live-action, big-budget, special-effects feature film. But there’s just one caveat.
The main characters will be cast as white people instead of Asian people.
This dull and unimaginative practice isn’t, I’m sad to say, an anathema to Hollywood. In fact, the conventional (read: economic) Hollywood wisdom says that the only way white people can be engaged in any medium is by reflecting their own images back at them. According to Hollywood, white people, especially white boys, are so tribal, narcissistic, egotistical, and racist; they are so severely lacking in the ability to empathize with anyone outside of their race, that it’s impossible for them to patronize films that contain casts of primarily non-white actors. Or not so primarily.
Case in point: In the upcoming Thor film, Idris Elba was cast in the relatively minor role of Heimdall. Heimdall is fictional Marvel Comics character based on the god Heimdallr from Norse mythology. Traditionally, Heimdall has been depicted as white. When some white fans of the character got wind of the casting decision, they nearly lost their minds. This despite the fact that Heimdall is a relatively small character in the mythology, the comic book and, apparently, the film. This despite the fact that aside from Elba and Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano (who plays a tiny role as Hogun, who has been depicted as Asian), each and every other actor in the film, especially the leads, is white.
But what about when traditionally non-white characters are played by white actors? Read more at Son of Baldwin, and see a video parody below.