8 Things Today's Comic-Book Movies Can Learn From Annie

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 5:00 am


This past weekend, I went to see a live, touring production of Annie for the first time since I was a very young child. It probably goes without saying that this was not my idea, though it may require uttering that I had myself a fine time. And that wasn't just because all the cocktails were doubles, and the concession stand, thinking that anything colored red could be considered Annie-themed, had liquid nitrogen on hand to make a sub-zero raspberry sorbet from what looked like a witch's cauldron. Nor was it just because my wife was taking me out and paying for everything.

No - the truth is Annie is a good show, and has endured for many years because of it. It is also a show based on a comic strip that launched in 1924, making its central character, Little Orphan Annie, a longer-running media franchise character than Superman, Batman, or anyone from Marvel.

It occurs to me that we could learn some lessons from that fact...

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20 of the Most Bizarre RPG Character Creation Rules

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 5:00 am

White Wolf Publishing
Not every RPG idea is a good one.

RPGs are marvelous things, with many strange twists and permutations, yet as different as they can be, nearly all of them have certain core concepts in common, and one of the most core concepts is character generation. Building a character is a rite of passage, and when done right it can be one of the best parts of playing a game. However, there's always some weird stuff that sneaks in on the periphery, and this list includes some of the strangest. It couldn't possibly be complete, so feel free to add your own favorite bits in the comments.

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6 Reasons We're Glad George Miller's Justice League Never Happened (and Its 2 Best Scenes)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 5:00 am


In 2007 Michele and Kieran Mulroney wrote a script for a Justice League film, and Mad Max creator George Miller signed on as director. If you saw Fury Road this weekend, you should praise Valhalla that Miller did that project and wasn't working on this one instead. Despite all the parts in place - Armie Hammer as Batman, DJ Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Common as Green Lantern, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Teresa Palmer as Talia Al Ghul, Zoe Kasan as Iris Allen, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter, Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord and Matrix storyboard artist Steve Skroce in the art department - this project had some serious issues.

You may imagine that Justice League: Mortal had its fair share of the grit that WB loves to put in their films. However other scenes were uncharacteristically lighthearted. Some turned out fun, some turned out stupid. Some even felt exactly like a Marvel movie, but not in the way you might be expecting. But there are several moments that induced a raised eyebrow/blood pressure. If you ever wanted a Justice League movie where cheeseburgers are the bad guy, today is your lucky day. Read on!

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8 Ways RuPaul's DragCon Is Like Any Other Big Fan Convention (With a Twist)

Monday, May 18, 2015 at 5:00 am

Liz Ohanesian
Latrice Royal poses with a fan at RuPaul's DragCon.
Last weekend, RuPaul led an army of drag queens and drag fans to Los Angeles Convention Center for the first DragCon. The two-day event was, in many ways, similar to what we see many other pop culture conventions. Folks paid and stood in line for photo ops with the star of RuPaul's Drag Race as well as contestants from numerous seasons of the long-running competition show. They attended panels to learn drag history, gain insight into their favorite Drag Race competitors and get some how-to tips. They hit up booths for everything from merch to fan art and paused to snap photos of the queens who walked the aisles.

Even if DragCon was designed to be like so many other conventions, the end result was unique. It was a convention not just for fans of the show, but for anyone who has ever nerded out over John Waters movies, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or Earth Girls Are Easy. If there's such a thing as alternative pop culture, DragCon was a celebration of it. Here's why.

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4 Things From the Comics I Hope to See on CBS' Supergirl, and 4 I Hope We Never Do

Friday, May 15, 2015 at 5:00 am


This week, CBS gave fans a six-minute trailer for their upcoming Supergirl show this fall from Arrow and Flash producer Greg Berlanti, which was more an edited version of the pilot than a trailer. While the trailer didn't leave every fan happy, it at least bore enough of a resemblance to the comics character to be instantly recognizable as Supergirl (yeah, I'm looking at you, Jem.)

Still, as a longtime fan of Kara Zor-El in her many incarnations, there are still several things from the pages of DC Comics that I want to see come to life in this new show, and several things I hope stay in the pages of the comics.

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10 Knock-Off Superheroes That Took on Amazing Lives of Their Own (Besides Watchmen)

Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 6:30 am


From time to time, articles come up about fictional characters who are clearly derived from other characters. In the realm of super heroic comics, that "time to time" is increased exponentially. One of the currently best known "bet you didn't know that" bits floating around is that Alan Moore's landmark miniseries Watchmen is based off of a set of characters that DC Comics bought from Charlton Comics two years before they went out of business. Alan Moore was going to do a dark story that would have ended things in a place with nowhere left to go for the characters, but DC still wanted to use them later so they asked Moore to come up with a new set of characters and he based them pretty close to what he'd started with. Then Watchmen became one of the biggest comics of the '80s and changed everything, etc.

While it's easy to throw hate at the feet of writers and artists who create characters so similar to what's already around, a closer look can yield some examples that bear interesting results. When creators play around with the building blocks of what makes a character cool and interesting and add in some pieces of their own, a story can emerge that is both an intriguing exploration of the original character and a compelling tale in and of itself. Let's take a look at the very best of the best.

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7 Things We Learned About Teenage Lois Lane From the New YA Novel Fallout

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 5:00 am


Go figure - this past weekend, I actually read a book. It was free, and it was for work, but it counts. See, ever since I first heard about this "Lois Lane as Young Adult fiction heroine" pitch, I was intrigued. Would it be terrible? Would it shoehorn in younger versions of other characters just to be hip?

Well, I won't say it's any masterpiece, but Gwenda Bond's book is an easy, breezy read even if the pacing's off. The climax happens super-fast relative to the buildup, and some of the character quirks - one girl makes her own fake band T-shirts, a different one every day, which would be pretty costly to do right - feel a bit strange, and more like adult perceptions than actual young-person stuff. But mostly it's an okay read, if you're willing to accept that the canon gets rewritten for a modern teen.

How so? Glad you asked, imaginary questioner...

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10 Things Cosplayers Can Learn from RuPaul's Drag Race

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 5:00 am


No, this isn't about how to dance in ten-inch heels under boiling stage lights, or how to contour your face sharply enough to cut glass. Drag and cosplay can learn a lot from each other: both are bombastic, skill- and performance-based art forms, and involve twirling across a stage lip-synching to pop hits while trying to pretend you're comfortable in a metal corset that may or may not have just punctured a vital organ.

There's no bigger name in drag than Mother Ru herself, and by her grace, we were presented with a smash hit reality show chronicling the trials and tribulations of queens battling it out for America's crown. Just as she shares her wisdom with the show's superstar hopefuls, cosplayers can take a note or three from the show's example.

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10 Ways To Fix Gotham For Season 2

Monday, May 11, 2015 at 5:00 am


On Monday, the inaugural season of Gotham finally came to a close. Everybody who sat and snarked through it can raise a glass to this accomplishment. Everybody who tapped out early ... well I can't really blame you. Gotham was the least necessary comic book TV show in a crowded field because it's the epitome of prequelitis. It has a solid cast (Robin Lord Taylor, Donal Logue, and Camren Bicondova are its MVPs) but the quality of its episodes yo-yos from scene to scene. It's definitely not the complete trainwreck that many suspected it would end up, although that's still damning with faint praise. Whether it's the TV program we need or deserve, Gotham has already been renewed for season 2 because anything Batman-related is a license to print money (except Beware The Batman).

The upside to this is that the showrunners can look back at the entire first season and fix what didn't work. SPOILER ALERT! There was a Batcave full of stuff that didn't really work in Gotham. Nevertheless, Gotham still had enough charm that it's worth salvaging. While I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next misanthrope, here are ten constructive suggestions for how to knock season two of Gotham out of the park (because balls get knocked out of parks with bats. Do you get it? DO YOU GET IT?).

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10 Things Old People Nerd Out About That You Should Get Into

Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7:00 am


When it comes to nerdy stuff, the list of acceptable passion objects is short and easily summarized under at least one of the following banners: genre fiction, fantasy, video games, new technology, comic books, role-playing games, and nostalgia. Anything beyond those specific genres and forms, and you're pretty much out of nerd culture altogether.

There is a great irony to nerd culture that we, its denizens and practitioners, rarely bother to acknowledge. While nerdy stuff is usually about imagination and openness and accepting outsiders into private cult-like clubs, the volume of nerd stuff - despite how massive it has become - is actually only a small portion of culture at large. Nerdery is an ethos that trumpets equality and inclusion, but is actually incredibly exclusive, and arguably age-specific, when it comes to what should be considered "nerd."

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