Category Archives: Various and Sundry

Say, what about the Marvel movie music anyway?

So, I talked about comics and Captain Marvel specifically so far this week… and that got me thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and then I thought of “Every Frame a Painting’s” critique of Marvel’s movie music.

You may recall me raving about the YouTube series on the occasion of its end, but in any case, this approximately 14-minute video gives you a bit to ponder.

Which Captain Marvel is Which?

Both of these comics are quite real. It’s okay if the one on the right is completely unfamiliar.

So, I was pontificating about the future of the comics industry yesterday, but I realize many of you are more concerned about a more pressing issue:

What’s with all these Captains Marvel, anyway?

Perpetual pop culture historian and comics writer Mark Evanier gives an illuminating and succinct account.

Arguing for the Golden Goose, Comics Edition

One trend I continue to follow is the decline of “mid-tier” creative works, whether they be “mid-budget” movies or “middle tier” novels.

I touched on this just over two years ago when I was looking at the film Warcraft in particular and film budgets in general. At the time, I also noted how the erosion of the mid-budget movie and how a similar trend seemed to occur with “mid-list” authors.

Now, superhero movies in general are not likely to be modestly budgeted these days: they’re too tempting to be used as tentpoles by the studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought in over $7 billion. Disney’s not about to abandon using them as tentpoles.

But what about the the medium where these superhero stories first appeared: comics?

Now, going into the whole state of the comics industry, what the direct market is, and so on, is more than I can cover briefly or authoritatively. Suffice to say, fears regarding a dire fate of the comic industry have been around for a couple years, the direct market business model seems to be poised to change, and, well, stats back up the thought that the market is struggling (even with bright spots).

So all that made the article I read about Marvel comics editors advocating for different tactics recently at SXSW all the more interesting.

Parts of their argument is that comics –even if they aren’t as all-fired profitable as their big screen offspring– serve an important function as idea incubators. In a sense, they’re narrative R&D projects. Certainly, good periodic comic books and graphic novels aren’t the cheapest things to produce — many an indie creator colleague has made me aware of that. But they are a darn sight cheaper than bankrolling a $120 million tentpole movie. And in fact, just about all the tentpole movies owe some of their “genetic material” from the comic form.

Another way they could be thought of is as the “narrative farm teams” for some of the bigger budgeted stories. And, of course, I’m thinking of that mainly for the business folks to better reconcile the numbers. The creativity and storytelling on display in so many comics is not “minor league,” but bean counters usually don’t care if a comic book was emotionally impactful, just how many units it sold. So whatever keeps the presses rolling.

Meanwhile, in a Galaxy soon to Not be so Far, Far Away…

Unless you’ve been living under a tauntaun, you know that Disney is adding Star Wars sections to its theme parks. And since it’s Disney, they are going all out.

The sci fi news site, io9, was part of a group of journalists that got the tour the attractions, still feverishly being prepared for later this year (summer for Disneyland (California) and Fall for Disney World (Florida). If you’re the slightest bit a Star Wars fan, you’ll read the article with mounting excitement.

Adding to what already sounds like two very exciting rides, is the fact that they’re making the whole 14-acre section of the park immersive. Visitors will technically still be in a Disney park of course, but like Williamsburg turned up to 11, all the Disney staff will behave as if guests are visiting Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu. All the swag and food and drink will be “in-universe” swag and food and drink. Nerdist.com has an appropriately exhaustive article on the food and drink to expect.

And, as you might expect, the Walt Disney imagineers are trying to top themselves with Star Wars, as seen with their efforts to make the previously entirely animated space pirate Hondo Ohnaka an animatronic reality.

So, I have to admit, though I’ve never been to any of the Disney parks, the temptation force is strong with this one. Now if only I could figure out how to wait in what will doubtless be one of the longest lines in the galaxy without turning to the Dark Side…

“Our desks were never meant to be our altars.” Work as faith in the 21st Century

Coming off my post on Monday about having hobbies as hobbies and nothing more, I stumbled across an article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic about the reverence that work and “busyness” has in modern American culture.

America has long had a paradoxical status as a Calvinistic Babylon, to reference historian Michael Kammen. To follow along that allegorical thought, if all hobbies ought to be hustles, leisure time itself is suspect. Being unproductive is almost sinful (and I’ll bet a bunch of you just had “the devil makes work for idle hands” pop into your head just now).

Definitely read the article above if that’s the case (or even if not). Do you work to live or live to work… and what do you get out of it? There’s a bunch of great lines in the piece, but one stands out for me:

“Our jobs were never meant to shoulder the burdens of a faith, and they are buckling under the weight.”

Get Creative… Off the Clock

I had the opportunity over Presidents’ Day weekend (aka Washington’s Birthday weekend for OPM sticklers) to do something I can’t remember doing in a long time, if ever: painting miniatures.

The minis are from a game called Stuffed Fables, in case you’re wondering.

Many of my gamer friends have various Warhammer and related armies and I know my efforts are not remotely in their league. They paint minis regularly. In fact, for several, it’s a bona fide hobby. One preditor friend (that’s producer-editor for the uninitiated) has taken to painting miniatures quite expertly since directing a feature where D&D plays a central role. All but a handful of the denizens in her miniature army are used in D&D games: it’s mainly about the painting. In other words, the journey, the act of painting, is the joy. And that’s what I found here. I mean, I’m really hopeful we have plenty of fun with the game, but just the painting was a lot of fun and relaxing — even as I obsessed about details (though as you can see from the picture, not too much).

In part, it’s nice to be practicing what I’ve blog-preached in terms of being creative while not being expert at such things. It was very liberating to be working on something that doesn’t have to be yet another side hustle destined for some marketplace or part of “my brand” (as I mused about last January — I guess I get reflective about such things this time of year).

It’s good to have the opportunity to obsess about something that isn’t going to be a payday. Hey, this whole blog post comes after reading an article in the Harvard Business Review that mentions hobbies are good for jobs. Time off is good. Time off doesn’t mean you’re comatose or asleep. The brain gets to do things. As Richard Jeffries talks about regarding “care and feeding of a writer,” hobbies allows your brain time off from the monetarily-linked activities.

I’ve also long suspected that a significant percentage of many people’s urges to turn hobbies into hustles is to feed the “must-keep-busy” monster. Speaking as someone whose thoughts have turned to that frequently, that monster is forever insatiable. As Molly Conway writes in an article last month, it’s a trap. Go on hikes without being a guide. Learn to be a better baker without selling your wares at a local farmer’s market. Better yet, don’t feel the need to have any wares if you don’t need to. The enjoyment you get from things that don’t bring money can filter into the the things that do.

Or you might just have to enjoy the leisure time without quantifying it. That works too.

We’re All Mad Marketers Here

Alice in Wonderland Giveaway
Mondays make perfect unbirthdays!

While this is really more of a Team Jabberwocky thing, specifically Jabberwocky Audio Theater, it’s time to put on my marketing hat which is, by its very nature, mad!

Regular readers may recall that we did a Doctor Who giveaway last year and we’ll do a few more this year: all to help build an audience for Jabberwocky Audio Theater. You may also remember that I’ve occasionally mentioned the work of Russell Nohelty on behalf of indie authors and creators.

Well, one of the best way that I keep finding recommended by Russell and others is for indie creators is to build up one’s own mailing list. It’s an essential part of one’s marketing ecosystem.

Prize Package

What’s a good way to build up one’s mailing list? A giveaway! So to that end, I, thereby Jabberwocky Audio Theater, have teamed up with a bunch of other indie creators to give one lucky person an Alice in Wonderland prize package.

I have to say that picking out the goodies that went with this was tremendous fun… and I’m kind of eyeing that chess set now (see below). So just like Alice trying a few potions, I hope a bunch of you will try for your chance at a few of these impossible things before breakfast. Worse case scenario: you’ll learn about a whole bunch of wacky fantastical creative works. Just don’t be late! The giveaway ends February 8th.

More Alice in Wonderland goodies.

Real Princesses Roll for Initiative

If your 2019 has been bereft of geeky, geeky mashups thus far, have we got the video for you! Behold: nearly all the Disney princesses playing D&D (with Belle as DM, which just makes sense).

In case you not only like it, but love it, they apparently have a crowdfunding campaign going through February.

This Year, Resolve to Make Art

I thought I had already posted this article by Sean Kane from 2016, but evidently I hadn’t. So go ahead and read up on seven darn good scientifically-backed reasons why you should make art even if you’re not “any good” at it.

A perfect example of simply making art is Inktober, an annual event to do an ink drawing every day during October. I did this with my son –and moms and dads reading this, that’s reason enough to give it a go. Because while I tried things with shading and perspective that were hit or miss, he developed recurring story elements in the scenes he drew throughout the month that was a delight to witness (and on a parental note, it was a good transition to bedtime).

So go ahead, get your art on, whatever way you want to. You don’t need to share it with anyone. Science has your back.

I, for one, don’t welcome our net ‘bot overlords…

Though from reading Max Read’s piece in New York magazine, it’s kind of moot whether I welcome them or not: a huge portion of the Internet is fake.

I mean, it’s not that it’s a huge surprise that the Internet is full of automation to simulate traffic for ad revenue purposes, engage people for some Machiavellian monetization motives, or otherwise amplify some ill-conceived echo chambers…

But it’s depressing to have it validated to such a hefty degree.

Perhaps you, like me, remember those days pre-Netscape Navigator, exploring the Internet universe via Gopher and the like. The possibilities seemed as vast as Pangea, which is an accurate extrapolation of how long ago it was in Internet terms.

Will we survive an inversion when ‘bots outnumber us all? I don’t know. I just know that, Even now, spam bots are getting ready to comment on this post.