Friday, July 19, 2019 

Japanese anime studio arsonized by psycho accusing them of plagiarism

A horrifying tragedy took place in Japan's anime industry, at one of their notable development studios:
At least 33 people were killed and dozens more injured after an arsonist allegedly set fire to a three-story animation studio in Kyoto, Japan, on Thursday.

Local police confirmed that 70 people were inside Kyoto’s Animation studio when a 41-year-old man threw what appeared to be gasoline, before setting fire to the building at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

At least 33 people have died as a result of the blaze and dozens more taken to hospital, many of whom were in life-threatening condition. The suspect survived the fire but was also taken to hospital for his injuries, meaning police were unable to question him.

The precise motives behind the believed attack currently remain unclear, although various reports indicate that he may have had a vendetta against the studio.

“A person with singed hair was lying down and there were bloody footprints,” a 59-year-old woman told local news agency Kyodo. “He seemed to be in pain, irritated and suffering, but also angry as if he was resentful. I heard him saying something like ‘you copied it.'

Kyoto Animation Director Hideaki Hatta told local media that the company had recently been receiving threatening emails.

“They were addressed to our office and sales department and told us to die,”
he said. “It is unbearable that the people who helped carry Japan’s animation industry were hurt and lost their lives in this way.”
Absolutely, it's repulsive. Buildings and equipment may be replaceable, but lives are definitely not. The New York Post has some more on what's known about the culprit:
The suspected arsonist behind Thursday’s deadly blaze at the Kyoto Animation studio in Japan was “angry” and “discontented” with workers there — and allegedly shouting “about how he had been plagiarized” after setting the place on fire, a witness says.

“They faked it!” the 41-year-old man reportedly yelled in Japanese. [...]

Investigators believe he has no connection to the Kyoto Animation Co., despite his claims of plagiarism.

A woman who saw him being detained Thursday told reporters that he “seemed to be discontented.”

“He seemed to get angry, shouting something about how he had been plagiarized,” she said, according to Reuters.
Assuming this was a mangaka in question, his work will definitely have to be boycotted, blacklisted, anything of the sort to make clear his actions are obscenely abominable, because he's guilty of murdering nearly 3 dozen innocent people. It's terrible that even Japan's not immune to having psychopaths running around loose, and now, it's led to a real life horror story in their anime/manga industry.

Update: Reuters reports the culprit's been identified:
A man suspected of torching an animation studio and killing 33 people in Japan’s worst mass killing in two decades had been convicted of robbery and carried out the attack because he believed his novel had been plagiarized, media said on Friday.

Public broadcaster NHK, which identified the 41-year-old man as Shinji Aoba, citing police, said he served time in prison for robbing a convenience store east of Tokyo in 2012 and, after his release, lived in facilities for former convicts. He had also received care for mental illness, NHK said.
No "plagiarism" justifies the barbarism that demon carried out. He should be sent to the chair for murdering people over petty issues.

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Jonathan Hickman says comics shouldn't mimic the movies

Hickman, who's been a comics writer for at least a decade, gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly (via Newsarama) about his X-Men relaunches, and if there's anything agreeable he told them, it's the following items:
“You don’t want to do archaeology or nostalgia tropes,” Hickman tells EW ahead of his three programs at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. “My job is to do new stuff with it, and launch us into a newer age of X-Men.”
Depending how you view this, of course I can concur it does little good to go the nostalgia route and launch the X-Men into yet another cliched battle with Magneto, Juggernaut or the Hellfire Club. What they could conceive is non-costumed foes - single or army - to serve as adversaries. And of course they can be armed with formidable sci-fi weapons, even as they may not bear the same dress as the costumed crooks do. Superhero comics shouldn't rely too much on the most obvious supervillains for challenges.
“I have some general philosophies on what kind of work you should do at Marvel, that I try and adhere to. I think the stories should be big,” Hickman says. “Any time you can mine your continuity and the existing continuity of the company in a way that evokes a response from audience and not confusion, that’s powerful, and you’re crazy not to utilize it when you’re writing these books. The cardinal rule beyond that is at the end of the day, after you’ve torn up the playroom and scattered all the toys, you put everything all back on the shelf. Don’t be an a—hole and leave a mess.”

He adds, “You want to tell stories that matter, but the way you write things that matter in Marvel is that you’re not destructive, you’re additive. Yes, I may do things where I destroy the entire Marvel Universe, but I always put it back together, and in putting it together you add to it in a way that puts the characters in an interesting place and you haven’t ruined anybody else’s job.”
Yeah, I can get behind this. It also goes for the DCU, and if he ever does assignments for them, he'd better make sure he doesn't make the same mistakes Dan DiDio and Tom King made most recently with Heroes in Crisis. On which note, if Scott Lobdell compounds those mistakes in his upcoming Flash Forward (which should be boycotted regardless), then he certainly can't be regarded as a good writer, and he'll establish himself as the opposite of Hickman, who said at the end of the interview:
“I think one of the big mistakes that some people make at Marvel Comics is that we are reactive to what they’re doing in the Marvel films,” Hickman says. “We should not be taking our creative cues from the direction they’re taking things in the movies. That kind of defeats the point. They have a billion dollars to play with, and we don’t. You can’t compete in that matter, and you shouldn’t. My argument has been [that] I should always be way out in front of that stuff. All of that stuff is being drawn from source material. It goes back to, are you being destructive or are you being additive? If you’re being additive and you’re on the big books, it’s inevitable that some of that stuff is going to get used. When Marvel films gets around to the X-Men and we’ve done interesting stuff and they want to use it, that’s awesome. If they don’t, then they don’t. One makes your job expendable, the other one makes you priceless. I like having value to my work.”
This is correct too. Shortly after the first X-Men movie, they mandated the costumes must resemble the black leather jackets worn there, which didn't even look like the blue-yellow outfits the first 5 X-Men wore in 1963, and the New Mutants sometimes wore when they premiered in the early 80s. This remained for about 2 and a half years, until Grant Morrison left the series he wrote. Even before that, when Chris Claremont briefly returned, they may have made some changes that were just totally sloppy. Since then, quite a few more stories came down the pike where certain elements were twisted to resemble the films more than the original comics, and even worse elements taking the characters away from their roots, like Kieron Gillen's retcon of Iron Man's origins.

Still, wasn't Hickman one of the architects of recent crossovers like the newer Secret Wars? If so, then he's going to have to also admit that's not a healthy route to take if you want to conceive storylines with long lasting impact. The way to do that is to write a book self-contained that doesn't have to rely heavily on what goes on in another, and definitely not a company wide crossover event. And, you shouldn't rely on relaunching from new Numero Unos for a million new volumes, another mistake they're making. If Hickman hasn't learned that lesson, his argument here won't hold up.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019 

IDW's Ninja Turtles series introduces masculine-looking "woman" to become a 5th turtle

Now here's another disgusting form of abuse IDW's inflicted upon a famous franchise that's already 35 years old, and whose creators should never have sold to a corporation:
Obviously you can’t make out the character too well in that dynamic shot, but IGN published an article going more in depth about Jennika, revealing that she was Casey Jones’ love interest and a former human Foot Clan member who was betrayed by one of her compatriots after getting stabbed and left for dead.

In an attempt to save Jennika’s life, the Turtles attempted to use the Ooze on her, but it was destroyed, and so they opted to have Leonardo give her a blood transfusion, which had the results of turning her into a turtle… like the others.

The problem, however, is that there’s literally no remnants of her femininity left as a turtle.
But if the following panel from the end of the issue says something:
There wasn't any femininity to begin with. That looks awfully more like a man undergoing the transformation, not a woman. And even if the figure we see there had longer hair earlier that was cut short, it makes little difference; it's insulting enough already.
The real travesty here is that instead of bringing in a female turtle into the fold that was memorable, they essentially made a female into a male to further the whole agenda to keep pushing this whole non-binary nonsense that has become a sick fascination with those on the Left. Gone is the more obvious distinctions between males and females, like what was presented in the old show.
That does seem to be the problem now, doesn't it? Encouraging ladies and gents to "cut off their noses to spite their faces" by pretending to be something they're not, or deny it altogether. It's a very repugnant thing to indoctrinate people on, especially if it's parents doing it. I think the artist who came up with this is the former Ross Campbell, who now calls himself Sophie, and appears to be the primary architect behind this ludicrousness.

And this 95th issue, fascinatingly enough, seems to be getting exploited for get-rich-quick schemes on the net:
The introduction of a new, female team member has caused a surge in demand for the issue. Copies of the issue featuring Jennika’s first mutated appearance have been fetching high prices on the secondhand market. They’re selling on eBay for prices ranging from $32 to $135 depending on the cover. For the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, IDW announced a convention-exclusive printing of the issue featuring an exclusive variant cover. However, pre-orders for the cover quickly sold out. IDW took note of fan demand for the issue and announced that they would not be selling any variant copies of the issue due to safety concerns:
This vaguely reminds me of the 36th issue of Spider-Man volume 2, back in 2001, which was taken advantage of by people who wanted to cash in on the 9-11 theme, in a story containing subtle blame-America messaging. For now, what's clear is that IDW's trying to make sales through controversy, though whether or not it actually sells - even in short-term - isn't clear, and regardless, the way some freaks are taking advantage of it for extra money online is offensive.

I feel very sorry for Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who sold their Ninja Turtles creations to a corporation years ago, and now, look what's happened; it's being exploited by ideologues for forcing agendas down everyone's throats. The Ninja Turtles fandom deserves much better than this contrived type of storytelling. This also confirms that, even after the previous EIC, Chris Ryall, left his post at IDW, they're still in poor shape under the current one, John Barber. This is certainly not going to save their flagging fortunes for long.

The vital lesson here for folks who've conceived privately owned creations: don't sell them to corporations and conglomerates, because they're so poisoned with ideologues, the chances they'll turn said creations inside-out are very high. The same can go for owners of companies who took pride in their work and don't want it abused by corporations and conglomerates. IMO, corporatism is exactly what's gone wrong with industry today.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019 

The time when Marvel mandated lowercase lettering

Back in the early 2000s, around the time Marvel's quality was really collapsing, they mandated at one point that all their books must use lowercase lettering, which may have begun with Ultimate Spider-Man. The letterer Jim Campbell once spoke about this dismaying edict, and said:
I’ve always had an instinctive dislike of this alternative lettering style, pre-dating my own professional involvement with comic lettering by a number of years. In fact, I think the first time I saw it was in Ultimate Spider-Man, and my eyes just kind of bounced off it -- I found it near-impossible to read.

To me, it looked then and still looks now like everyone in the book is whispering. As such, it seems, to me, to suck all the drama out of the book. [...]
I too thought it was very weak, and made for a perfect jumping-off point back in the day from many titles that fell victim to it. During 2003, almost every title they published had lowercase lettering in the balloons, with very few exceptions. They moved away from it after a year and a half, but the damage was done, and they may still use the lowercase format in at least a few books today, like the Muslim Ms. Marvel series.

And who was mainly accountable for the mandate? I'm sure Joe Quesada played a part, but here it was Bill Jemas, as the following writer at Multiversity Comics noted:
...At the tail end of 2002, Bill Jemas mandated all Marvel books would be in sentence case because he thought all capital lettering looked “childish.” The mandate was mostly lifted two years later, though the Ultimate imprint is still using lower case.
This post was written about 5 years ago as the original Ultimate line was soon to be cancelled, though I'm sure if Marvel's reviving it, they could use lowercase again, and it'll still look unimpressive. It's pretty telling a man as irresponsible as Jemas was back in the day would think all capital lettering was juvenile and little else. By that logic, he was only insulting all the past pros who made use of it, and were far more talented than a lot of the pretentious writers they brought in, like J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Bendis and even Kevin Smith, who took 2 years to fully complete the Black Cat miniseries he was writing, and which turned out to be an embarrassment. In addition, the mandates they used were no improvement.

Lowercase lettering may not be the worst thing Marvel under Quesada/Jemas ever turned out, but it sure didn't help them from an artistic perspective.

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Monday, July 15, 2019 

A football player's comics fandom

Rodney Anderson, running back for the Cincinatti Bengals, was interviewed at their website about his reading hobby when he's not on the sports field, along with his fandom for Star Wars. It's an interesting and impressive look back at his pop culture fandom, but I think his view of how the films influence people's perceptions of the comics is flawed:
A recent generation of NFL players have embraced the characters and storytelling that captured fans' imaginations over the years in comics, anime and video games. Bengals defensive lineman Carl Lawson has said that Dragon Ball Z was actually part of his inspiration to play football in the first place.

“I think with the success of the movies it changed people’s perceptions,” said Rodney Anderson. “Before people wouldn’t read the comics unless you had true interest in it. For me, I feel like the movies do the comic books justice, as long as they are done right.”
Well I'm sorry to say, but as even store managers have confirmed, Hollywood's not changing perceptions. Certainly not enough to buy a lot of the modern output they're trying to sell. Why, the anti-Comicsgate advocates and SJWs are practically ruining everything, turning fans back into outcasts again, and it goes without saying that kind of negativity can rub off on moviegoers to boot, which is bad even for their image.

I think it's great football players are proud of being comics fans and glad to have a collection, but looking at everything through a rose-colored lens won't save the medium. In the end, when the industry collapses, everything's going to look like a joke.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019 

Standpoint's take on the state of the industry

The British Standpoint magazine addressed the dire situation of comicdom that's bound to bring it down sooner or later:
Identity politics has sowed seeds of a bitter civil war in an iconic American art form, driving it towards cultural irrelevance and financial collapse. Against the odds, devoted fans and a few creators are struggling to establish an alternative network. How did things get so volatile?

Welcome to the inverted world of American superhero comics. In an age of blockbuster superhero movies making billions, comic sales are low and dropping. Rather than embodying aspirational qualities of bravery, self-sacrifice and fairness, today’s comic-book superheroes are weak men wrestling with toxic masculinity. Ineffectual, hapless and emotionally incontinent, they are wretched role models. Some fans deride these emasculated heroes as “beta males and cucks” (cuckolds); the descriptions are dismissive, but accurate. King’s other book Heroes in Crisis is set in a counselling centre attended by superheroes seeking treatment for stress.
And in the end, Heroes in Crisis wasn't even about that much; just a shoddy excuse to force a superhero favorite into the role of a villain, and the allegation he only killed accidentally is no excuse. What they did to Wally West is abominable, and for that, it's high time to boycott DC - and Marvel - on a serious basis until those responsible are shown the door.
On the other hand, the women are bad-ass warriors and super scientists who don’t need men—quite literally, as many of them have been converted to lesbianism. The Unstoppable Wasp featured an all-female team of self-validating young genius scientists (in a rainbow coalition of ethnicities) who also happened to be lesbian or bisexual. The characters were examples of transparent virtue signalling and demographic targeting. Shallow interchangeable characters and feeble stories failed to appeal to young girls—The Unstoppable Wasp was ignominiously pulled because of low sales.

A cohort of female young-adult authors was hired to tap fresh audiences but has instead driven away the established audience without bringing in youngsters, women and ethnic minorities. These writers do not take American superhero comics seriously. They undercut everything with humour, hence endless quips about pop culture and banter about food. Exciting adventures are replaced by slice-of-life dramas. New writers push leftist politics and fringe social attitudes: escapist adventures are problematic because they allow readers to ignore social issues; muscular men and shapely women reinforce body stereotypes, marginalising the overweight and transgender people. In an age of “positive representation”, characters are unblemished representatives of identity groups, hence the glut of perfect (and perfectly dull) characters. Characters are gender- or race-swapped to undermine supposed stereotypes. There’s a Korean-American Hulk (Amadeus Cho, in The Totally Awesome Hulk) and a teenage black girl Iron Man (Ironheart).

When fans complained about bizarre story choices, lazy art and drastic alteration to established characters, they were called bigots and smeared as Nazis not just by other fans but also by creators. The comics industry, which has always had diverse creators and characters, was castigated as a white patriarchy by newcomers ignorant of its history. Experienced popular artists who are Republican voters (Mitch Breitweiser, Jon Malin) and traditional Christians (Doug TenNapel) have been unofficially blacklisted by social influencers and industry insiders. Artist Ethan van Sciver experienced harassment, stalking and intrusion into his private life. There is a climate of fear as a handful of professionals and a few hundred political activists use social media to intimidate creators, fans and staff into support or silence. The specialist press runs a sombre roll-call of comic-book shops, which are practically the sole sales outlets, closing because they are unable to sell politically-correct comics to readers in search of escapist entertainment. My book Culture War details how the American superhero industry has been damaged by entryists, who enter cultural production with the sole aim of using it for political goals.
This is mostly because TPTB don't vet the newcomers to ensure they're not in this just for political posturing, to say nothing of identity politics, rather than entertainment foremost.

Of course, depending how one looks at all this, I'm disappointed that decent business agents who can afford it aren't trying to buy out corporate-owned franchises and make an effort to repair them, both outside and in. Sure, creator-owned products look like they'll be the future of the art form, but even so, I should think anybody who cared would find ways to get a publisher in bad shape bought out by sources who actually care. For the meantime, artists with their own wares should take the time to polish them, but anybody who really believes in Marvel and DC's power as entertainment vehicles should be doing what's possible to find a caring business buyer.

Anyway, it's good that somebody in the press actually cares about the subject, and was willing to take an objective approach to the subject. Kudos to Standpoint for being one to speak up for the right side.

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Saturday, July 13, 2019 

Harper-Collins launching a graphic novel line

The Hollywood Reporter tells that book publisher Harper-Collins is setting up their own line and imprint for graphic novels:
Ahead of next week’s San Diego Comic-Con, Harper Collins has announced the creation of a new graphic novel imprint as part of its Harper Collins Children’s Books division, to be called HarperAlley.

The imprint is intended to publish in the region of 30 books annually, and has already started to acquire both original titles and foreign-language publications to bring to an American audience, according to Andrew Arnold, its editorial director.

Although part of the Children’s Books division, Arnold told Publishers Weekly that HarperAlley will be aimed at “readers of all ages,” explaining that the imprint is “looking to publish books that readers of all ages can enjoy, from the youngest readers to teens and adults. We believe that a good story is a story that any reader can relate to. That’s what we mean when we say ‘readers of all ages.’
There could be some interesting advantages in this. For example, if HC relies on distributors other than Diamond, they could market their upcoming GNs through those other outlets, and it could prove a better way to give their products exposure and recognition than Diamond does. It could also turn out to be a better place for independent creators to arrange for publication of their books.

So we'll see this coming year if any admirable writers/artists whose names we know will be able to get their products published through HC's imprint for GNs. This could be the start of a perfect alternative we all need to the bad monopoly in comicdom today.

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Friday, July 12, 2019 

The filmmaker behind the new Joker movie doesn't want a real audience

The leftist IO9/Gizmodo quoted an interview the director of the upcoming Joker movie gave to Empire (which may not offer online content), and it doesn't sound like he wants to produce a crowd-pleaser:
We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about. We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.

While there might be some parallels comics diehards can find in the film’s backstory—the idea of the Joker as a failed comedian is something that draws from the aforementioned Killing Joke, for example—it’s almost refreshing that this is being pitched as something beyond taking the source material and putting it on the big screen intact. Given the myriad attempts to dive into the psyche and origins of the Joker in the comics, such an attempt in a single movie would be futile, but it’s also—to varying degrees of success—something DC has been doing with its cinematic wing anyway.
It honestly sounds like it'll be even worse than the failed 2004 Catwoman movie, and IO9 isn't making things any better by suggesting this new direction they're taking is a good one. To say the audience will be angry is not how you advertise and promote a film. The filmmakers should say they hope audiences can appreciate the liberties taken with the source materials, and ultimately let the finished product speak for itself. Not that I find a movie centered foremost on a villain - especially one as lethal as the Clown Prince of Crime - appealing, though. As I've noted a few times before, there's been too much emphasis on villains in some films and TV programs, and not enough true focus on the heroes. Or, if they do, they turn the heroes into unlikable Mary Sues like the Captain Marvel movie did.

In the end, a movie spotlighting a villain is hardly what I'd be looking forward to, but then, it's gotten to the point where I'm not looking forward to many of the comic-based movies, mostly because I concluded the higher echelons cared more about the film adaptations than they ever did about the comics. Buying tickets to see what doesn't seem to have much re-watch value won't convince the echelons we disapprove of their misuse of the source materials.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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