Double Dipped Geekdom

How many copies of Star Wars do you own? I own them all on DVD, and VHS. But… How much is too much? How many times should the geek community continue to purchase the same film over and over again in order to get an extra 20 seconds worth of cut film?

I’ve fallen victim to this double dipping scheme many a times, and I don’t regret purchasing the same film or book over again. For example, the Absolute editions of comic books that come out are absolutely worth the cost if you were a fan of a certain comic book. You get a over sized hard back with all kinds of extra goodies to boot. But films are a little different creature. When you go from such a large change from VHS to DVD, I can see it being worth the money. But when the Blurays come out for Star Wars, they don’t add all that much. Yes, they will look absolutely beautiful on a nice HD TV, but how much more can Lucas put into them that he cut out from the original cuts? No one really wants re-done graphics, or merging Hayden Christenson into the film, or better yet Jar Jar.

The Star Wars blu rays come out this September with the set whopping class of $139.99. That price seems a little steep, but everyone knows the average Star Wars nerd will buy it.

Another series similar to Star Wars that’s been infamous for double dipping is Lord of the Rings. With the original dvds, they released the standard dvds, the director’s cuts, and then the ultimate editions. THREE different sets of the same film that came out within three or four years of each other. They’ve already released a blu ray edition of the trilogy, but it’s missing all of the extra features that the last edition on dvd came out with. So, most people bought that I’m sure, and once the ultimate edition comes out, I’m sure they’ll spend close to $139.99 to get them again.

Fans will be fans I suppose. But how many times can you release a film with extra stuff on them that the previous edition lacked? I can understand new formats… but come on guys. Help us geeks save a little money.

But you know… How can this get old… and Imagine this in blu ray.

 

 

Turn the page, wash your hands.

“I’ll never get one of those. I like having the BOOK on my SHELF.” I once said this when talking to someone about the Amazon Kindle. Well, I must say that I have taken back that comment and fully apologize to Amazon for doubting their magnificent little reading device. I love my Kindle.

One would think that reading a book on an electronic device wouldn’t work. I hate it when I have to read material for class on the internet. It just doesn’t keep my attention as well, and it’s sometime just hard to read. Well, when I first started reading on my Kindle, that was the mindset I was in when I began reading. It is the exact opposite of what I thought it would be. After reading a couple of books on my Kindle, it’s hard for me to read print books now. There’s something about the e-ink technology that the Kindle has that actually makes reading easier on my eyes, and easier to follow.

But the Kindle is just one small example of something big that’s been taking over the media industry. Digital Distribution.

Instead of purchasing physical books, I’m finding myself buying e-books instead. They go onto one device, and I can delete them and get them back however many times I want due to the Cloud based system Amazon uses to distribute. I’ve already gone to just downloaded music via i-tunes instead of purchasing their physical counter-parts. And I’m even buying video games digitally now through Steam and not second guessing myself.

If someone asked me a year ago how I felt about digital distribution, I would have told them that I see it going no where. Now I’m eating my own words because it’s actually all I use when purchasing media (with the exception of comic books, which I still hold strong to not purchasing digitally.)

But, I believe that it is the way of the future. Granted, I’m sure physical media will never disappear, but I believe that most will be spending their money via digital transactions. It’s more convenient and for the most part cheaper. On Steam for example, each week they have sales for video games that sometime mark down games that will sell retail for $49.99 for $15.00. Steam also does large bundles of video games for a discount price. Also, if you need to make more space on your computer for something else, just go ahead and uninstall the game. If you want to get the game again, just go to your games library and re-install it. No more sitting at the computer waiting for the prompt to insert “disc #2”. It can also keep your save files on your system JUST IN CASE you want to re-install the game later to play. The Kindle is the same way with books.

One thing about the Kindle that might seem a little odd upon hearing is that I don’t like turning pages anymore. Sounds funny right? Such a small task turns into a hindrance? Yeah, I know. But I find the one button click of page turning to be very nice. It also helps me stay into the book without taking me out of the story by turning the page. It sounds weird, I know. But once I started doing it, it’s hard to go back. For example, I’m reading Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson currently. It’s a 1000 page door stopper and it’s a pretty good book so far. But like I said, it’s a door stopper, so it’s a HUGE hard back book. The pages are big with a small font, and it’s hard to read comfortably while in bed. And I find it almost laborious to read now that I’ve read books on my Kindle. The Kindle is a small portable size, so no matter what book you may buy, the Kindle’s size will never change. You never have to worry about lugging around a large hardback book again.

Digital media is here to stay. And I’m not afraid of it being around. The collectors may not like it, but they are not the majority of consumers. If you’re skeptical of digital media, borrow someones Kindle and give it a try. Download Steam (http://www.steampowered.com) and see what it has to offer. I KNOW you have i-tunes, so go browse the music store and see if you like it.

I can call myself a supporter of the future of digital distribution. How about you?

And let me reiterate one more time of how much I LOVE MY KINDLE.

SOLAR FLAAAAARE!

This past Valentine’s Day, this happened.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=64012721

The largest solar flare since December 6th, 2006.

Pretty amazing stuff. It was an X 2.2 (X being the strongest flare strengh, and 2.2 meaning 2.2 times a normal X)

The strength scale goes A, B, C, M or X. So to say the least, this one was a monster. And we’re still seeing the effects of it today.

But, I can’t help but think of this whenever I hear about solar flares…

The Geek Years

2011 and 2012 are the years of the geek.

Every fanboy’s comic book adaptations are becoming a reality.

Television is going the way of the comic book, as well as film.

But is that a good thing? Well, most would say “Oh my GAH YES!” but, in reality do we want these stories to be put into the big and small screens?

Walking Dead was a hit. There is no question there. The show did so well that the original date for season 2 (which was Halloween once again) got upped to sometime this summer. I want to say August. So, the success of the Walking Dead has brought on some other comic book titles that might become television shows. The comic book Chew by John Laymon has been in talks for awhile to become a television show. Chew is about a cybopath. A cybopath is someone who can eat something and see everything about that one particular thing (where it grew up, how was it’s life, how it died and what not.) He’s a detective for the FDA and works to solve cases regarding chicken (which has been outlawed.)

Chew has been optioned for a television show on AMC (right along with Walking Dead.) But as of recently, I’ve noticed many television shows coming out that are basically blatant rip offs of comic book material. Theres several paranomal investigation shows dealing with fairy tales (like Fables.) Cop shows that deal with super heroes (like Powers.) A guy who discovers he is someone like Harry Potter and that the books are real (like The Unwritten.)

In movies we’re getting Captain America, Thor, Amazing Spiderman, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, Iron-Man 3, and the Avengers. Lots of comic book films. The geeks dream. But here lies the problem. A cult favorite series which became a movie and recently came out on DVD and Bluray (Scott Pilgrim, and Kickass) were fanboys dreams. But the geek community made a fatal error. They did not go out and see the movie. Scott Pilgrim is due to the production company showing the movie for free at Comic Con MULTIPLE time during the week. So, all of the people that would have went to go see it in the first place and pay money for it did not go see it. Why? Because they saw it for free at Comic Con. Everyone wanted a Kickass movie also. I remember walking into my comic shop and seeing that Kickass (the comic book) would be constantly sold out. When the movie came out, no one went and saw it. Geeks MUST see these movies if these movies are to survive. The bigger titles will do just fine, but for the smaller cult titles that come out; if geeks do not go and support these films, they will just stop making independent comic books into films. And no one wants that.

People have to support these movies if this genre of film is to stay afloat. Big title or not, if these movies are finished and reviews negatively by critics and the fan base does not support the film, these movies will die. And the geeks dream of seeing Thor fight the Hulk will never come to fruition.

So, if you want your television shows to stay on the air longer, and if you want your movies to keep coming on. Go see them. Watch them. Support them.

If you don’t, be prepared for them to disappear.

Amazing Spiderman just can't come any faster, can it?

Getting Into Comics: Part 3

So, you’ve followed the first two parts and perhaps you have found some creative team that you like and you want to see more of their past work, or perhaps just catch up on the story thus far in whatever book you’re reading. Well, you’ve got several options.

The two prominent options are back issues and trade paper backs (aka trades.)

Back issues are more for the comic collector. Say you have issues 1-15, then stopped for awhile, and picked back up reading at issue 50. A lot of collectors, if they really like a series and have the majority of the issues will want to continue picking up the issues that they passed up. Now keep in mind, depending on what comic shop you go to, or how popular the series is, this can be a costly chore. On average, many back issues range anywhere from $4.00 to $6.00 or more. So, you’ll be spending quite¬† a lot to complete your collection.

Now, trades on the other hand are just collected comic book volumes. So, one trade might have four or five issues into one book. The prices vary depending on how many comics are in each trade, but they can run anywhere from $12.99 to $39.99 (the latter being the big collections.)

Therefore, if you’re not a hardcore collector, or a huge fan of the series, getting trades is probably the best way to go. It’s cheaper in the long run. Plus, you can also go to Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million and just pick up a trade, take a seat, and read it there if you’ve got some spare time.

Another thing, Trades do tend to look better on display. Why? Because they can sit on a shelf. Take a look at some of this stuff.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/02/saturday-shelf-porn-4/

 

There’s an entire series of Robot 6 on shelf porn. So, if you want to see some amazing collections, definitely check them out.

Now, the last option there is (especially if you’re low on cash and you just want to learn more about the series) is to Wikipedia the book or series. This should give you a decent run down on what’s happened in the book and possibly where the series is heading.

I hope this little guide has helped. Getting into comic books is not an easy feat. Without help, it’s really almost impossible to really find some of the amazing gems that do exist in the comic book form of media. So, go out there and buy some comics at your local comic shop and support them! And most importantly, read!

Getting Into Comics: Part 2

Here comes the more time consuming aspect on comic books.

Getting to know which creative teams you like. I will admit, when I was first getting into comic books I spent a lot of time reading stuff that… just was not that good. A lot of this has to do with the creative team involved. Now, the creative team is referring to the writer and artist usually (as well as the inker, letterer, etc.)

To say the least, this takes some time. But, I will list a few of the writers and artists that I love and maybe this will give you a push in the right direction.

Writers

MARVEL

Brian Michael Bendis

Ed Brubaker

Matt Fraction

Mark Millar

Jason Aaron

Jeph Loeb (pre death of his son)

Greg Pak

Jeff Parker

Jonathan Hickman

Greg Rucka (was at DC… but I’m pretty sure he made his way over to Marvel now)

DC

Geoff Johns

Grand Morrison

Paul Dini

Peter Tomasi

Fabian Nicieza

Gail Simone

J. Michael Stracysnki

Independent (These writers also write for DC and Marvel from time to time. But typically are independent (i.e. Vertigo, Icon, Avatar)

Garth Ennis

Joe Kelly

John Laymon

David Lapham

Mike Carey

Scott Snyder

Pretty much everything these guys have written, I will read. There are a few exceptions here and there. Jeph Loeb for example, his work before his Ultimates run was pretty spot on. I love all of his “color” series, ie. Spiderman Blue, Daredevil Yellow etc. His work at DC was pretty great as well. One of my favorite Batman stories was written by him (Long Halloween and Dark Victory.) But for the most part, if you stick to these writers you will usually get a good, entertaining story. If you’re more into the snappy dialog without a lot of action, you may want to look into Bendis. He writes my favorite series, Ultimate Spiderman, which is phenomenal. Grant Morrison tends to be the smart man’s writer. Some of his stuff is pretty deep, and damn confusing at times. Mark Millar is the action packed in your face kind of writer that everyone loves from time to time. Ed Brubaker is a noir master. Matt Fraction is a fantastic with dialog. Geoff Johns is Mr. DC, so anything with his name on it is a must have. So, like I said. Any of these guys are fantastic when trying to get into comic books.

Artists

Tim Sale

Frank Quitely

Dustin Nguyen

Stuart Immonen

Ethan Van Sciver

Mark Bagley

Alex Ross

Jim Lee

Arthur Adams

These are just naming a few that I personally love. Sometimes its sad to say that the art DOES make the comic. I’ve read some comics by my favorite writers that are filled with artwork that I just can’t stand. It really does hurt the book. For example, some people LOVE John Romita Jr. I do not like him at all. His artwork just seems quick and sloppy to me.

Use these lists as a start point to get into some of the modern books. As you get into it, maybe try some other writers during a break in story arcs. They tend to put a one shot (one book story) in before a story arc switches over, or if another creative team is making there way onto the book. But, it the end it just boils down to who you like. The names I listed are just some of the biggest guys in the industry.

Next week, we’ll be getting into whether or not it’s better (or smarter) to pick up back issues or trade graphic novels.