Ms. Geek Speaks: Nothing cute about self-involvement

Ms. Geek recently attended a small informal book signing for the beautiful new “Designing ‘The Secret of Kells.'” She stood in the line which was modest compared to the standards of the recent San Diego Comic-Con, however, the line didn’t move along smoothly.

Suddenly, a woman of East Asian origin, made it clear why some signings ask you only bring two items. This woman had two books and while standing in line bought a third (although the line for purchasing books was separate, she stood in line and waited for the transaction to be done). She also did that choppy cute walk behind the book signing desk so she could have a photo taken of her and the gracious Tomm Moore. That wasn’t quite enough. She then pulled out some glossy prints–not one, not two, but several, and asked for autographs.

More than once, she asked for autographs for a friend (someone suggested the name of that friend was eBay).

When she finally left the line, she then sat by herself despite this being a friendly group. There she wrapped up her gifts along with a plate stacked with guava pastries. Yes. The line was still about 20 long and the crowd had yet to disperse and some of the plates on the reception table were empty and people were still crowded around it, but this woman was taking more than she wanted before she was even sure there were leftover. She was neatly dressed. Her clothes didn’t suggest student or poverty in any way except manners.

Yes, this woman was suffering from a poverty of manners. She took three books when most people were holding only one. For each signing, the wonderful Moore was drawing an illustration in pencil. If you were quick you might have thought of whom. The person behind me requested Brendan.

The line for the bookstore wasn’t so long that she couldn’t have gotten out of the line and stood there and then gotten back in line. Moore had begun drawing illustrations before the signing but by the time I got my signature, he had run out. He sighed, “Now things will take a bit longer.”

Still, the woman sat in her corner alone. With the pleased smile of a cat, preening over her accomplishments without a thought of how her demands had made others wait longer and how she had demanded more time for free than anyone else.

Dear friends. Do not be so thoughtless. Part of the joy of celebrating the arts is finding others to share your joy with. If you go to a Comic-Con or book gathering and have not spoken with your fellow line waiting enthusiasts, then you have missed something very precious, more previous than an “I was there” photo or a plate full of pastries.

Meeting Bodock at SDCC

One of the most impressive things I saw at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con was a giant robot that trudged past me much faster than I could catch on camera, catching me totally by surprise. The crowd parted and he was there and suddenly he was gone. That’s the one that got away. This year, I was able to meet this year’s giant, Bodock.

For such a large fellow, Bodock is a subtle soft-sell advertisement for Legacy Effects, Stratasys, and the Stan Winston School. You might not kow who Stan Winston was but he won four Academy Awards for FX. You’ve probably seen his work in “Aliens,” or “Predator” (1 or 2), “Jurassic Park (1-3), the Terminator series, the Iron Man series and “Avatar”).  Winston died in 2008 from multiple myeloma, but his legacy lives on with the Stan Winston School which offers online training in the art of monster making and Legacy Effects.

Legacy Effects is a character creation studio owned by John Rosengrant, Shane P. Mahan, J. Alan Scott and Lindsay Macgowan, all of whome worked under Winston. Bodock required about 7,500 hours over six weeks at the Legacy Effects facility. The 14-foot tall creature is 9feet 9-inches wide, 13-feet six-inches deep and weighs a hefty 2,000 pounds. He’s partially created using 3D printing solutions from  Stratasys, a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solution international company.

Bodock seems like a gentle giant. I first saw him Thursday night from the trolley as I traveled to a video game party. He looked eery in the dark, but in the light of day, he seemed friendly enough that children eagerly posed with him. According to his handling team, where and when he would appear was often learned only an hour in advance. So it may come down to scheduling and good luck to catch a glimpse of him. That’s contrary to the meticulously planned and high profile product placement that now characterizes SDCC. But if you’re almost 14-feet all, you don’t need to have a lot of PR to impress.

For those who miss him or aren’t at San Diego Comic-Con, you can check out the WIRED and Condé Nast Enterprise’s new digital season of “How to Build a Giant Creature” on The Scene. In its second season, “How to Build a Giant Creature” takes the viewer from concept to completion.

 

http://thescene.com/wired

Panic on the SDCC Exhibition floor

When it started, San Diego Comic-Con was about the fans, but now it may be about the merchandise and just how people can circumvent the system.  Dealers, disabled attendees and dishonest volunteers all seem to be taking the fun out of cruising the exhibition floor for collectibles. The difficulty in acquiring exclusives has created a kind of frenzy has taken the fun out of fandom.

Not only did Ian and I attend preview night, we also were there when the door opened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, yet that doesn’t mean we got our hands on exclusives.

Ian wanted to sign up for artwork. By Wednesday night, one of his preferred artists was full. The other was taking a list every morning. I only had two items I wanted: the Nether Faerie Dragon Plush (2,000 pieces) and the free soft kitty Monopoly game piece for the soon-to-be released Big Bang Theory Monopoly set.

First, let’s describe the method of crowd control. You can light up early, but you are let into the second floor of the Convention Center where you line up again to go down the escalators. We could see people who were dressed in costumes below us–people who didn’t look like they were disabled or presenters, easily strolling into the exhibition hall. What gives? We began to ask around.

When we got in, we made a beeline to the one vendor of our choice only to be given different kinds of treatment. Some vendors didn’t have their lines under control. One made two lines which meant you had a choice. Many capped the line, but the line monitors varied from helpful to objective to surly.

Warner Bros. (booth #4545) was one we visited more than once. First, we were after the soft kitty pewter Monopoly limited edition game piece for the soon-to-be released Big Bang Theory version of Monopoly. We heard they were only giving out 100 per day. Wednesday night the pieces were already gone, but you didn’t know that until you had waited in line. In other words, Warner Bros. didn’t post a sign telling convention attendees if the piece was still available on a certain day. You might wait in line only to be disappointed.

Wednesday night, Ian waited in line only to get to the front to learn that the daily supply of soft kitty was gone.

At least on Sunday, the line monitor was surly. The line got capped off with just three people ahead of me. I was told to leave. I did, but came back only to see that an unofficial line had been forming. Still people were told to leave. On my second time back, the line monitor told a person at the front of the unofficial line that the line wouldn’t open again until she left. The line monitor waited until that person was gone and then gladly allowed a family of Pikachu (mother, father and three kids) into the official line and then the unofficial line pressed forward.  The line moved quickly.  Still, we didn’t get the soft kitty piece that was free at the WB but already on eBay. I didn’t know what I received in the WB swag bag until I opened it. Another person told us that the swag bag was the same one that they were giving out at Hall H the day before.

Again at the WB, some favored people were allowed by the line monitor for the front of the line, to get the swag, just by asking. After taking two or three people in this no-wait line, a line began to form and these people were told to get back in the real line. I also saw this happen at another large studio vending site.

Check on eBay and see how much people are selling soft kitty for. They obviously didn’t really want the item and probably aren’t fans of either ‘The Big Bang Theory” or Monopoly. Sure winners can do what they want with their swag, but one wonders are they playing fair? The answer is definitely, “No.”

Ian knows of a certain dealer who is willing to pay half the price of admission for his employees who get into SDCC as long as they will take orders for the exclusives. Vendors who get in are allowed to walk the floor about an hour before it opens to regular attendees and they can buy things and quickly turn around and sell their new merchandise.  This was confirmed by other people we met during SDCC.

Waiting in line, we met one woman who told us she was offered a temporary set up crew pass as long as she was willing to pick up exclusives. She turned it down, but we began to wonder.

Then there was the journalist who had a disability, but it wasn’t a walking disability. She didn’t need a cane or a walker or a wheelchair to get around, but because she had that kind of health clearance, she was able to get on the floor in advance. While we waited in line on Saturday morning, she told us how she took orders from the members of her group for Friday morning and went in to pick up all the items on her list.

Oh, I may never get a soft kitty for my Monopoly game, but some of the fun and competitive goodwill of SDCC has been stolen by the people who are taking orders for stores or for themselves on eBay.

 

 

Press release: Secret ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ headquarters opens at SDCC

WHAT:                 Samsung has teamed up with Marvel to bring fans Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron footage and an interactive experience with the Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Headquarters Powered by Samsung Galaxy in San Diego during Comic-Con.

Saturday night and Sunday, fans will be treated to a sneak peek of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron footage on the new Galaxy Tab S, Samsung’s thinnest and lightest tablet that offers an unrivaled viewing experience with its best-in-class, Super AMOLED display. Fans will also be able to participate in a number of Avengers-themed interactive activities including:

  • Super Hero Skills: Attendees will be able to identify what their Super Hero skill is using the Tap S Avengers Challenge
  • Notecracker: Attendees will use the Tab S to play a fun trivia game and compete against friends to win prizes
  • Super Hero Snacks: Attendees will be able to order Super Hero themed foods and candy concessions using the Tab S
  • Digital Gallery: The walls of the lounge will showcase featured Avenger’s visuals including concept art, movie stills, and featured logos

WHO:                   Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Headquarters Powered by Samsung will be open to the first 200 attendees on Saturday and 400 on Sunday.

WHEN:

  • Saturday, July 26, 8:00p.m. – 12a.m.: Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron sneak peek footage viewing for consumers at Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Headquarters Powered by Samsung (restricted to the first 200 attendees)
  • Sunday, July 27, 10a.m. – 6:00p.m.: Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron sneak peek footage viewing for consumers at Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Headquarters Powered by Samsung (restricted to the first 400 attendees)

 

WHERE:               Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Headquarters Powered by Samsung

Revolution

Corner of K Street and 6th Ave

San Diego, CA 92101

 

Book review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Are they still Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after all these years? Never mind. Andrew Farago’s visual history, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” is a fun look at a cultural phenomena which made the names of four great artists more famous than thousands of art history books.

Do you think Michelangelo, Leonardo (da Vinci and not DiCaprio), Donatello and Raphael are spinning in their respective graves or laughing? It probably doesn’t matter since the copyrights on their names expired long before Kevin Eastman and his friend Peter Laird self-published the first edition of this comic book in 1984.

Eastman and Laird’s story is the dream that every comic book artist sitting long hours at various comic conventions are built on. With a heavy dose humor, these turtles became mainstream “heroes on the half-shell” promoting “Turtle Power” and the surfer dude phrase Cowabunga.By 1987, the TMNT were a TV series. In 1990, a live-action feature film was released. Two other films were released: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the ooze” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.”

As with so many things, the TMNT are set to re-boot. The new feature film was supposed to be released on 25 December 2013, but was postponed and will be released on 8 August 2014.

The book focuses on the appreciation of green as a comic book over the movies. You do get to see models and scenes from the first movie as well as the upcoming feature. Yet more time is devoted to the rise of this humble concept.Author Andrew Farago interviewed Eastman and Laird and other key players.

The book features 19 chapters plus an forward, a preface and a conclusion. This isn’t the kind of book you want to leave out on your coffee table, not with the cover which has raised silver letting and raised images of the titular turtles. There is no cover jacket to protect them. You also won’t want to lose some of the attachments–pieces of paper that reproduce the original announcements for sales of the first comic books, character sketches and club membership letters.

All those photos on heavy glossy papers should never be touched by the grimy hands of some careless kid or clutzy friend. This book is something to be treasured.

According to the press notes, some of these photos of behind-the-scenes action, merchandise and art work have never been published before. That makes this a special history that TMNT will want to have, no matter how the Michael Bay production turns out.

 

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Editions; Har/Pap/Ps edition (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608871851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608871858
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.5 x 1.2 inches
  • List price: $50
  • Amazon price: $36.41

 

 

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 book review: Augmented Reality book ‘Shifter’

The graphic novel ‘Shifter’ was released in October 2013 and is being actively promoted at comic book conventions as the next big thing for graphic novels because with a smartphone (iPhone or iPad being your best options), you get augmented reality extras once you download a book specific app.

Heavily dependent on the software Poser, the illustrations are stiff, but richly detailed. As an artist you won’t see a stylization of characters except perhaps in the depiction of animals and creatures from the past.

There are several books with similar names which can make things confusing. This “Shifter” is a science fiction murder mystery and not the 2008 paranormal romance by the same name. Note to self: Check out possible titles before settling on one.

This is the second title by Brian Haberlin and Skip Brittenham. The first was “Anomaly.” The illustrations are by Brian Haberlin, Geirrod VanDyke, Kunrong Yap and Chan Hyuk Lee.  David Pentz is in charge of the technology. Is this list looking less like a book and more like a movie? That’s the problem and the beauty of technology, in this case augmented reality. It takes a team to make a book publication ready.

Plot: We’re first plunged into the cold and damp somewhere in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean far from land. We’re on a whaler and the harpoon misses its mark and instead, a creature that should have been long dead surfaces and prevents the whalers from hitting their mark. It’s “Nemo of the Sea Monster World.” Just like one of the whalers, you’re wondering, “What the hell?” when the scene shifts suddenly to a bird’s eye view. We’re in what seems to be an airplane. Soon enough the scene shifts and we realize we’re in an office and watching a computer video fed by a drone to an ordinary office.

Noah Freeman is a low-ranking civil servant who finds an possible error and brings it to the attention of his female boss. The dam’s brimming with water and he’s wondering why water isn’t being released and why and how the dam filled up so quickly. His advisor says she’ll take care of it and Freeman is off of work. He walks a bit with his co-workers who are teasing him about his upcoming nuptials. At home, he talks with his fiancee via a computer live feed. Then on Saturday morning, on a beautiful day in autumn, he goes for a hike and has an accident. Noah should have died, but instead he encounters an advanced technology, an operator sphere that Noah nicknames Jeeves,  hidden in a subterranean cave that heals and updates him and gives him the power to operate the body of a creature from a vast menagerie from Earth’s distant past to the present. He can even become a primitive woman who dresses Hollywood cave woman sexy. What do you expect? This is an adventure written by men mostly for men. Since she is one of Noah’s creature surrogate, she doesn’t eventually get clothed in normal looking clothes, more Clark Kent non-descript than colorful superhero wardrobe changing.

The catch with inhabiting a creature is that you have sort of a mind meld that can lead into a meltdown and if one should be killed while operating that lifeform, one is dead for real. Not even the technology of the operator sphere can undo death so this isn’t a zombie world.

Noah’s accident was more like a murder attempt, so Noah hijacks various surrogate creatures through this technology to find out why a hit was put out on him only to learn he’s been framed for a murder. He must find a way back to his fiancee who is in danger.

There’s some jumps in logic such as why the primitive woman Casya doesn’t require the same upgrades and time as Noah did. The ending  might seem rather flat emotionally. Love isn’t one of those things the advanced technology operator sphere understands and in this case, a superior being doesn’t want a common earth-type like Lois Lane, but another superhero. That’s love in this century.

Art: This graphic novel uses the software Poser. The colors are saturated and made to look 3D, but frontal views are the most natural looking. There’s some problems in the perspective from high and low angles. Most of the pages are five panels that go from top to bottom. The illustrations have the look of oil paintings and some pages you can see something like the pattern of a canvas texture.

Technology: The pages are thick and glossy. Reading under a strong light might give you some problems with the augmented reality. Compared to 3D movies, the animation is crude, but it’s the concept that fun. This is like an update of the extra-illustrated books of a bygone era. Augmented reality might be the future of books and “Shifter” would be worth having as a collector just as an example of early attempts at putting movies into books.

Both Ian and I liked the concept of the book and found the story entertaining enough. Anomaly Productions and Digital Art Tutorials will be a San Diego Comic-Con 2014 at booth #5556.

Features:

  • Series: Shifter
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Anomaly Publishing; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985334215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985334215
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 7.3 x 0.9 inches
  • List price: $19.99
  • Amazon price: $15.13

 

San Diego Comic-Con book review: ‘Anomaly’

“Anomaly” is a ground-breaking book that combines technology with the graphic novel in order to tell a story. Just reading this oversized book isn’t enough; you have to update your technology to a tablet, iPhone, iPad or smartphone that can handle Augmented Reality to truly appreciate this science fiction graphic novel.

Originally published 15 November 2012, Originally published 15 November 2012, the book is published by Anomaly Production and available on Amazon. Ian and I first saw this at San Diego Comic-con 2013 and then looked them up at other Cons. The book awkward to read but special enough that you won’t want to read it near grubby adults or kids and you’ll want to keep it well out of the reach of any slobbering creature. The pages are thick and slick and they need to stay that way so that you can appreciate the Augmented Reality which includes animation as well as sound and informational tidbits.

You have to download an app and there’s a potential to continuously add on. This could become addictive, but it could also become movies in a book in the near future. That doesn’t mean future kids won’t learn how to read. Some background info is included in the apps.

The book was written by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin and illustrated by Brian Haberlin and Geirrod Van Dyke with lettering done by Francis Takenaga and coding directed by David Pentz.

Plot: We’re in a dystopian future in the third Golden Age. The Earth year is 2717. No sign of the Federation, but we do have a governmental structure that is referred to as The Conglomerate. Not a particularly catchy or imaginative name. All corporations and nations have been merged and technology has been made to serve The Conglomerate.

People now life in terrarium cities and in off world colonies or orbiting space stations because all of earth’s resources have been depleted. Al Gore has failed miserably.

Our protagonist is a warrior of the era, an Enforcer, named Jon. Jon is a white, thirty-something guy who’s fallen on hard times having been disgraced out of the bully leagues. He’s single, but has a sick mother and a younger brother, who is too young to work. Jon gets a chance to rejoin the force of Enforcers when his black, bald bud Robert offers him a mission: Babysitting, Samantha,  the daughter of a high-ranking Conglomerate executive.

Samantha is blonde and attractive. She’s illustrated to be busty and seems to wear too much mascara and/or false eyelashes. She’s your classic babe from uptown who needs bringing down, who has more ideals and ideas than a practical knowledge of how the world works. That makes her being bossy insufferable which is totally different from Jon’s problem with authority. You know that Samantha and Jon will rub each other the wrong way until Jon shows how physically able he is and for no other reason that he’s the hero, Samantha will succumb to his charms.

They are traveling to a planet that might be inhabitable or, even better, might have resources to plunder. While that’s the real purpose, that’s not why Samantha thinks they are there. On this planet, we’ll find all the likely suspects.

For those who have a crush on Xena, Warrior Princess, we have Aodh, a warrior of the Red Clan who wears bustier and a cape. There’s a lot of attention paid to her cleavage. Then there’s the pudgy, neutered alien that whines and the alien who will challenge Jon but become his friend in that sort of noble savage Tonto tradition.

Jon isn’t a Lone Ranger, fighting for right episodically. He’s more of the Laurence of Arabia I’m a white guy who can unite the savages who’ve been fighting for centuries. Oh, wait. They are still fighting over there in the Middle East.

The enemy is a snarly looking beast as well as a few bad men. You might be offended when you realize that the humanoid characters are all white except for the token blacks–one being evil and the other being expendable. To say more would spoil this story which you know will end happily ever after with Jon being told he’s the chosen one.

The dialogue–even human to human–won’t win any awards. The character development is shallow as an ant’s belly button.

If we still believed that things could be unAmerican we’d form a committee in our house and consider that things like a chosen warrior or one that should rule sort of story is totally counter to democracy and meritocracy. Aristocracy is all about the right to rule by birth. Do we really want to go there still? And what happened to the rule of the geeks in the future? We’re no longer chic?

As Ian noted:

Anomaly is one of those stories where the storytelling is more important than the story.  The story is basically a rehash of the chosen one, who unites everyone against a common enemy, and is wrapped in a nice sci-fi background with a few fantasy elements thrown in.  It is nothing that you haven’t seen before.  What is interesting is the graphics and the augmented reality that you can download for free to you smart phone or tablet.  The art work is stunning and the attention to detail is amazing. Even more amazing is the app.  This immerses the reader into the world, give an experience that unmatched before.  At certain points in the book, using the app, allows graphics that jump out of the page and give more information that gives a fuller understanding.  The possibilities of this technology has only begun to be tapped.

And do we still want to go into a future where that 60 percent of the Earth population that is Asian (of which 20 percent in Han Chinese) suddenly disappears so that we can have a white hero although we still get the token black? It’s as if in the future, the problem of race has been resolved by having almost none and showing the generous acceptance of other races/species as comrades even though that is heavily mitigated by the concept of the superior white male homo sapiens coming to the rescue of the aliens.

Ian commented:

Why is white the human standard?  In this universe most people are white.  The two minority characters in the story; one ends up dead the other is a surprise villain, both essentially footnotes to the story.   The human-ish aliens are white (with celtic names).

If race is one issue, then there’s the sexism. Nothing new to comic books or graphic novels, but it does get tiresome. Two attractive women and both need our hero because one has no common sense and the other is primitive. Both are followers and not real leaders which is only acceptable in dancing from Jana’s perspective.

Art: The book itself is large and cumbersome, but two pretty to put on where grubby hands or slobbering mouth might get to it. It comes in a box sturdy enough to ship electronics in. The paper is heavy and glossy.The illustrations are like oil paintings and best when looking straight on for a frontal angle. Other angles are a bit awkward and we can blame the software Poser for that.

The texture of the skin is okay, but hard textures such as the detailing of the swords (yes, old school battle tools) and controls are more convincing than the clothing or skin. The women look like they’ve made a serious investment in mascara and a gym membership.

What makes this book worth having is the technology behind or on the surface. This is the first graphic novel with Augmented Reality and it signals the future of books with movies embedded in the pages. Get your tablet, smartphone or iPad out. After you download an app you can have some fun and there’s always a possibility of updating the app and adding more Augmented Reality content.

You won’t get this book for the plot. You get it for the innovation and the promises it makes about the future of books.

  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Anomaly Publishing; Box edition (November 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985334207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985334208
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 16.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • List price: $75
  • Amazon price: $51.39

Book review: ‘Godzilla: The Art of Destruction’

This book is richly detailed and a must-have for Godzilla fans. Published on 13 May 2014, , it is a visual showcase and history of the Warner Bros. and Legendary’s 2014 “Godzilla” movie.

To begin with while the jacket is strikingly visual, the book cover is more elegant and subdued–glossy black on satin finish black. The inside is also subtle–silverish gray, giving you a hint of how the creature looks. This publication is all about shibui versus iki, it means to present both the subdued simplicity of Zen style and the more lively audacity of the Japanese merchant class meeting up with Hollywood style.

Japanese characters are used throughout as background, highlighting the titles by repeating them in Japanese.

Director Gareth Edwards has written the introduction and it becomes clear that Edwards is the auteur of this Godzilla. Author Mark Cotta Vaz previously wrote the LA Times best seller “Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong.”  His style is journalistic.  The book is full of quotes and isn’t that what you want, to hear the voices of the people involved in the production of this movie>

The book is split into three sections: Part One: Dreaming, Part Two: Conjuring and Part Three: Creation.

Part One looks at the various considerations behind the scripting and how the creative team decided to bring and adapt the history and themes of the original 1954 movie. You don’t get a visual history of Godzilla’s development, but a brief history of the events that led to the original Godzilla’s creation are touched upon.

Godzilla had to have an adversary in this movie which is not just a monster movie, but also a disaster movie. So the development of the MUTOs is discussed. For both Godzilla and the MUTOs, you see photos of the maquettes used alongside sketches and illustrations alongside stills from the actual movie.

Part Two introduces the actors, beginning with Aaron Taylor-Johnson who plays Ford Brody, the son of Joe Brody who is played by Bryan Cranston. Ford is the movie’s emotional center. He is a soldier whose father’s obsession leads him to Godzilla. After his father’s death, which proves his father wasn’t really as crazy as Ford had thought, Joe’s concern is getting back to his wife and son. In the back of our minds, we remember that Joe lost his wife due to these gigantic monsters.

Photos of the costume designs are juxtaposed next to movie stills. Pragmatic concerns such as lighting and space for the control room are discussed so you get some idea about both the technical aspects and the creative aspects of movie making.

As an artist, I especially enjoyed the fold-out which shows the evolution of Godzilla as a concept for this movie. Rejected illustrations and the reasons why the moviemakers decided to take a different angle gives you a window into their decision making processes.

This section includes the “Godzilla Encounter at Comic-Con” which I have fond memories of.

Part Three is the shortest section and seems like a epilogue. Not much is said here, but still the illustrations and stills are cool and take nothing away from the total design of the book.

I appreciate seeing the storyboards. You can contrast the amount of detail between that and some of the illustrations. You also see some of the green screen scenes beside the CGI movie stills so you can see the end product.

“Godzilla: The Art of Destruction”

Hardcover: 156 pages.

Publisher: Insight Editions (13 May 2014)

 

  • ISBN-10: 1608873447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608873449
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 10.6 x 0.8 inches
  • List price: $45
  • Amazon price: $28.46.

 

‘We Will Rock You’ is a tribute with tribulations

The songs in the jukebox musical “We Will Rock You” now playing at the Ahmanson certainly rock, but unless you’re really rolling in cash, you might want to pass. This is a tribute musical to Queen and features songs written by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon and the vocals are good, but the book is not. For Queen fans or Queen curious, the songs might be enough. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Ben Elton’s script attempts to fit the Queen songs into a futuristic world where rock and roll has been eliminated. Earth is now called iPlanet and controlled by Globalsoft Corporation (“Innuendo). Music is computer generated–one step further away from human creativity on a path pioneered by AutoTune. The Ga Ga Kids on iPlanet dress the same and the spirit of youthful rebellion has obliterated (“Radio Ga Ga”).

The original London production actually premiered over a decade ago in 2002 so this is no reference to Lady Gaga, of course.

A young man named Galileo (Brian Justin Crum) hears voices and his dreams spew out famous rock titles and hooks. He does not understand their significance. Perhaps 300 years in the future, the audience won’t give an appreciative chuckle either. He meets a goth girl who is also an outcast for her black clothes which is so unlike the Ga Ga Kids look. Galileo names her Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis). At this point, you’ll probably be scanning the list of musical numbers and ponder why “Bohemian Rhapsody” isn’t listed.

Galileo and Scaramouche are captured by the fascist military forces under the rule of the Killer Queen (Jacqueline B. Arnold) who gets the best costumes and a architecturally high hairdo–mohawk meets extreme pompadour. Galileo and Scaramouche escape and meet up with the Bohemians (how far the meaning of that word has been distorted), who have taken refuge at the Hard Rock Cafe. It just so happens that this one has a statue of Freddie Mercury.

Galileo’s search eventually takes him to Graceland and they do find a guitar and that leads to a rousing rendition of “We Will Rock You.” which is followed by “We Are the Champions.” What I liked best were the costumes (by Tim Goodchild) which mixes everything from lollipop cutie pop culture to gentle grunge gone upscale. My favorite was the dominatrix costumes of the Killer Queen. Blame “Dancing with the Stars,” but you half expect to see the Killer Queen launch into a paso doble. Yet dance fans will be disappointed because the dancing on stage won’t particularly inspired you. Although the book mentions Prince and the King of Pop, nothing on stage (choreography and musical staging by Arlene Phillips) is up to that level. In all, the group dance numbers are rather pedestrian.

As director, Elton doesn’t work the movement into the music well enough to keep our eyes on stage. The high-tech stage which includes a moving screen and allow videos to be projected on either the top or bottom half (or both). Unfortunately, the first videos are old-style low quality 3D animation figures that won’t impress this generation of twenty-somethings. The only scene when the videos effectively help add some pizazz is the first scene from Act II. Yes, as late as the second act. That’s when the Bohemians are in laser cages and are being tastefully tortured. With the 1991 death of Freddie Mercury (from complications related to AIDS), it’s unlikely that fans of Queen–new and old, will ever get the chance to attend a reunion performance of the group. Brian May (vocals and guitar), John Deacon (bass guitar) and Roger Taylor (drums and vocals) are still alive, but who has the thrilling four-octave vocal range and flamboyant on-stage personality of Mercury.

This may be the closest anyone gets to a Queen concert in our times and that could be why despite rating low amongst critics, this show has remained popular. In the upscale atmosphere of the Ahmanson, hearing these tunes (“Radio Ga Ga,” “”I Want to Break Free,” “Somebody to Love,” “Killer Queen,” “Now I’m Here,” “Under Pressure,” “King of Magic,” “I Want it All,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Headlong,” “No One But You,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Flash,” “Seven Seas of Rhye,” “Who Wants to Live Forever,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Hammer to Fall,” “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” “Will Will Rock You,” and “We are the Champions.”) might make you want to dance, but you’ll have to keep in your seat and save dancing for when you get home.

Love Queen and want to hear those songs sung live? Queen’s songs were all about the music and the incredible male vocals. If hearing Queen songs sung by first-rate vocalists live to a live band are enough (with the addition of that “Under Pressure” which was written by Queen and David Bowie), then see what all the fuss is about. Critics may be saying no, but the masses have been saying go. You have until August 24, 2014 to decide because that’s when “We Will Rock You” will be leaving Los Angeles.

Fusion Friday at the Pac Asia Museum tonight!

 

Friday, July 18, 7:30 – 10:30 pm 

Only two more Fusion Fridays in the series! On July 18 listen to Korean drums and gongs, then stand back for a samurai reenactment–plenty of photo ops!

Have some hands-on fun, using traditional hanji paper and folk designs to create beautiful artworks, courtesy of the Korean Cultural Center.

Pasadena’s legendary Pie ‘n Burger and India Jones food trucks will be on site. Cocktail attire is encouraged for this indoor and outdoor event designed for adults.

Thanks to our Scavenger Hunt Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo, participants in the hunt can enter a drawing to win a $100 gift card, and prizes from the Museum Store. You must be present to win.

Each evening is free for museum members and $15 for nonmembers.

Tickets can be purchased at fusionfridays2014.eventbrite.com

 

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