Friday, 3 February 2012


You asked questions, now it's time for me to fake my way through in the pompous, smug, know it all manner that you people slobber for like the salivating dogs that you are.

First question!
Contra Glove asked...  What do you think can bring the American comic industry back to respectability? Much has been written about the Marvel/DC superhero rut, and manga didn't have a snowball's chance in Jamaica of turning things around, since it was a foreign import. I think Seven Seas Entertainment has the right idea, but they seem too dependent on the anime/manga crowd, and the turnaround times for their 150-pagers are way too long.
While I won't get into the operating styles of specific companies I can address some fundamental problems that the industry faces, I've discussed them before, so their bear repeating.

Comics are hard to get, because the last 30 years saw them go from every corner store in the world, to a rapidly declining number of specialty shops in the bigger population centers. Mainstream stores hate stocking monthly issues, or floppies, because they don't fit in the same racks as the regular mags, damage easily, and have a razor thin profit margin for them.  Now a lot are thinking digital comics will fix that since they can downloaded easily into various and sundry reading devices... however, there's the simple fact that comics are hard to get into.

Pick up a comic book, and the odds are pretty damn strong that you are not going to have a clue as to what the hell is going on because the issue you got is part 63 of a 127 part "event" story arc that involves not just the title you purchased, but 51 other titles, and the plot relies heavily on knowing the minutiae of events that happened decades ago.

Kids looking for a one and done action story with lots of face punching of bad guys are just going to take a look, not understand a single damn thing going on, then put it back.

Now folks are crowing that DC's reboot will solve all that, but this has happened before.  In the 1980s DC did a big event to reboot their universe, and then spent the next 25 years undoing everything that reboot tried to accomplish.

Then there's the sex angle.  I like cheesecake as much as the next guy, and have been known to yell "Hurray for boobies" when the occasion arose, but even I think they go a too far when it comes to ridiculously over sexed female characters and situations.

Kids are going to find it creepy and gross, and their parents are going to toss them, or delete them from the family iPad because it's getting close to porn.

Now you're probably wondering why I'm putting so much emphasis on kids when I'm talking about reviving the American comics industry, since the comics market is dominated by older readers.

And that's the root of the problem.

Comics went from being a mass market with tens of millions of readers every month to a niche market where sales of a few hundred thousand are considered a mega-blockbuster smash.

And guess what, that niche market audience is aging, shrinking, and not being replaced.

So if the comics industry is going to revive itself, it has to do something to get kids reading them again. If they don't, it doesn't matter how many "events" they do, or how much cleavage and camel-toe they put on every page, the industry will just fade away.

ILDC asked... Why does OWN seem to be getting more bad press than Discovery's other "underperforming" joint venture network, The Hub? You'd think a channel based around mostly toy brands would be more shameless than one based around a TV personality. Yes, the Hub has My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but that's mostly watched by adult fans pirated.
Because people expect shameless whoring from toy companies. So no one really blames them for trying, or scolds them for failing.  Plus they do have that pony show which seems to be keeping the stoners busy doing stuff like this... (NSFW- Language)

However, OWN is the Oprah Winfrey Network. That's not a toy brand, that's a person, a person who once held so much power in the media world, she actually thought that naming a network after herself would not come across as some sort of act of grotesque raging narcissism.  

Shitting on the HUB really gets you nothing, but shitting on Oprah's channel makes you feel that you're better than a world famous billionaire.
ILDC asked... Got another one: what made Asperger's syndrome the current media favorite disorder?
Because actors stopped getting awards for playing mentally handicapped people. They needed a new angle, and the extreme social awkwardness of Asperger's is just what the agent ordered.

ILDC asked... What are your thoughts on this recent trend of single-name rebranding? Do you think it's really because it pops up better on a smart phone? (Like people actually care)
I'm assuming you're talking about The Walt Disney Company recently re-branding themselves just "Disney."

It's probably all about the smart-phones, because it's the sort of thing marketing consultants jump on like a gold seam.  

I can picture them saying...

"The poor performance of your movies have nothing to do with them being remakes of movies that shouldn't have been made in the first place, it's because you're logo doesn't really 'pop' on someone's iPhone."

If you look through movie history, all the studios tried to re-brand themselves in the 1960s because they were struggling and couldn't bring themselves to admit that it was the sub-standard movies they were plopping out that was killing them.

Blast Hardcheese said... Here's one: Have you seen "The Artist" yet? Yeah, yeah, it sounds like every other pretentious POS artie film out there...but no.

It has something that I didn't realize I've been missing in today's movies - a complete lack of cynicism. It's optimistic about people, and doesn't have a mean bone in its body. I recommend seeing it in a crowd - wierdly enough, seeing a silent film with other people makes it that much better.
I was preemptively banned from seeing The Artist in the theater because they knew I was going to sit through the screening yelling: "Turn it up! I can't hear them!" (Okay, the real reason is that the nearest theater that might play The Artist is an over three hour drive away.)

But seriously, I could tell just from the trailers that movie just drips with a love of cinema that you just don't see from most filmmakers.  

The director Michel Hazanavicius said in an interview that he wasn't interested in making some sort of statement by forcing our present concerns and attitudes into a movie about the past. He was trying to make a film from the past for today, and in doing so reminded us what sincere film-making with stars that do more than just fill space on a screen, they light it up, can do.

Sandy Petersen asked... On my newly-released movie, we wanted subtitles. By paying absolutely nothing and organizing fans of the film, we were able to get subtitles in 23 languages. No fooling. Now, if we'd paid for the translations, we would have had fewer, because we are penniless indies, but still. I bet we could have had decent subtitles for a few thousand bucks.So why do movies have such limited subtitle features? It's easy enough to get them, as we proved.A related question is, why doesn't hollywood hire Real Dancers when they need people to dance in a scene? Professional dancers are impoverished, so you can hire them cheap. Why is it that I see such crappy dancing in most hollywood films, even when it's supposed to be pros dancing on stage or elsewhere? Don't film producers have a telephone they can use to dial up and get all the dancers?
I could probably answer both questions with one word: Unions.

Whether it's subtitles, or dancers, or just about anything, if you're a Hollywood studio, you have to deal with the unions and their regulations.  Subtitling requires translators, and technicians, and all that, and all those people have to belong to various unions.

Same with dancers.  You want to hire dancers, then you need to get a choreographer, their staff, safety/medical personnel, and Xenu knows who else, and that's for a scene of just ordinary people trying to do the chicken dance at a wedding.  Easier to just get the extras to do it, and save the pro dancers for the music videos.

Now the reason the studios are stuck with all these union hassles come from their own bad management practices, but that's a topic for another post.

ILDC asked... Have you heard that NBC's "edgier" Munsters remake is now known as Mockingbird Lane? Is that even from the original show?
Yes, and it is from the original show, because the Munster family lived on 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

The show will still be shit.

Nate Winchester asked-- Why does Hollywood do politics so badly?

I don't mean why do they fail to get "conservatives" (or whoever) right, I mean, how come when a show, movie, etc depicts a "rising, popular" politician (who's supposed to be a bad guy), it's badly done?

Seems like whenever they've shown this last I've seen, the politician has a smile which just oozes "I'm on a sex registry" while their rhetoric is just shy of "Then I will take over the world!".  The more infamous example is probably the Star Wars prequels, but I'm sure you can think of others.  I give Futurama a pass for it's depiction of Nixon, because that's supposed to be an over-the-top comedy.  I never knew that Nixon would become the standard.  Just seems weird that these caricatures of "popular" people are painted in such a way you can't imagine how anyone likes them.  Heck, I may not like a lot of politicians, but I can usually see why people would vote for them.
It's because Hollywood thinks you in the audience is as dumb as they are.  When they do politically themed stories they can't have subtlety and nuance, or moral
ambiguity where both sides have good and bad reasons for their actions.

That's because the folks in Hollywood can't understand nuance, ambiguity, or equivalence, because they're terrified that you won't understand it either, and agree with someone that they do not agree with.

So they have to dumb it down to a level that they can understand, in the hope that you will understand it.  The politician they like must some sort of human saint, and the politician they don't like must be an inhuman monster and Xenu forbid there be any doubt about it.

Rainforest Giant asked-- What would it take to make a movie on the cheap in Canada as opposed to America? Are there different pitfalls? I think I see as many cheap independents made in the USA as I do in Canada (I live near BC and have visited many times so I usually recognize the West side anyway). Since independent movies should be fairly cheap and entertaining, what are the options for distribution (you're not going to entertain anyone if they don't see it).

Pretty much all Canadian movies are made on the cheap.  The key to Canadian filmmaking is also its first big pitfall, government funding. Everything in Canadian cinema revolves around the government funding agencies, and all the agencies care about is getting films made. So outside of the francophone cinema of Quebec, the audience is pretty much out of consideration.

Distribution is the second big pitfall.  

It's shit.

It's next to impossible to get an English Canadian film to play in a decent number of theaters. Theaters don't want to run them, because the audience just assumes they're going to be cheap, boring and pretentious, and are going to stay away, and our local distributors have little or no stake since they make more distributing American and foreign made films.

As I keep saying, it's different in Quebec, where the French language product regularly outperforms the Hollywood movies with local audiences. Quebec's audiences trust their filmmakers to actually consider them.

The American studios and networks do the most migration north of the border to save money. What's really weird is when they go to one Canadian location to pretend to be another Canadian location. I once turned on the TV and caught some of a cheap made-for-TV monster movie was on. It was supposed to be set in Nova Scotia, but I didn't recognize anything in the movie. The landscape was strangely flat, and sparsely wooded. It turned out, the movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is part of our western prairies, not eastern oceanfront.


Anyway, I hope I at least managed to bluff my way through your questions to your satisfaction.


  1. I guess I should have pointed out that other companies like Miramax (pretty much now just a library with more than just movies) and Rogue (trying to be a "lifestyle brand") are doing the single-name rebranding thing.

  2. But Disney is the biggest & most obvious participant in this fad.

  3. The bad side of nuance: Paul Verhoeven made Robocop & Starship Troopers as parodies of America. Turns out no one cared enough to "get" the joke he was supposed to be playing on the audience and they're now viewed as pair of really good action films.

  4. Thanks for answering my question. Better question which comic has the the best cleavage and camel toe? I can see I have not been concentrating on the appropriate parts of the comic books.

  5. Rainforest Giant- You're not helping you perv. :P