5 arguments against overt, negative criticism of super heroes and comics

How respectable are comics, really? Comic book movies attract millions of people to cinemas. But what level of respect do these characters in costume receive?
Some might answer:
Yes, they are a respectable character archetype.
It’s not about the money the films garner.
The characters have meaning for the audience. We can look up to their example, if we want.
But others might argue that a man or woman lifting a car overhead, wearing bright colours, is disrespectful. Childish, and meaningless: a shallow stories punctuated with special-effects.
For situations where the criticism is negative in the extreme, there are several valid replies.
Here are five arguments against overtly negative criticism of super heroes and comics

1. Comics cross generations. Comics are stories that have the Same impact to an 80 year old as an 8 year old.

You might here someone say, or imply, that comics are for children. Comics connect with people of any age, or at least have the potential to reach people of any age. And media that unites generations is valuable.

2. Comics show ideas Of justice. Abstract concepts like justice become concrete and meaningful in comics.

Justice can be abstract. Abstract concepts are difficult to understand. A well researched and pitched comic story can act out and demonstrate abstract justice. They make justice concrete. And concrete concepts are easier to grasp.

3. Comics speak out against oppression.

Many different productions – novels, TV, and theatre- speak out against oppression. But comic books have gained a large platform. With that platform, they can speak out against oppression. Comics have supported the disenfranchised for decades, going back to the stories of Marvel’s X-men in the 1980’s.
Of course, no media is free of problematic issues. Some comics arguably maintain oppression. This point falls beyond this article’s scope, but is a fair point worth discussion.

4. They show us that caring about values and communities is fun.

Comics such as Ms.Marvel tell stories about thriving communities. Super Heroes in comics can care about their community. Comics tell stories that represent core values (humility, compassion, empathy) in a fun and engaging, playful way.

5. Superheroes in comics embody Communities. We follow their journeys, and gain a modicum of empathy.

By representing diverse communities more and more, audiences gain an insights. They get to know other people, and other communities we are not familiar with. Like argument number 3 above, other media can achieve this. Comics combine words and pictures, however. They can give insight in a unique and engaging way not found in other media.
These arguments were gathered from a talk held at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) on super heroes and the real world, which I wrote about in a previous post.
For more comics content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer.

Wedding flowers, comics, marriage, and mental load.

I attended a wedding just seven days ago, and it was an incredible afternoon and evening.

The design choices, speeches, and spirit of the event could not have been more bright and joyful.

I want to share one photo of the wedding flowers. They embodied this sense of joy; new beginnings; pure celebration, and shared love between the couple.

Babies breath, white chrysanthemum, and a light-pink rose  represented these sensations. I was definitely grateful to be there.

But where is marriage going in the future? What stresses are there on couples, and how can these be understood and solved?

To start answering these questions, I wanted to share  a short comic on marriage and relationships that was recently translated into English.

On their website, cartoonist and blogger Emma calls her comics “ugly sketches”. Regardless, the content presents a vital discussion about mental load and long-term marriage.

But you might ask, what is mental load?

It’s the finite capacity humans have for information processing.

Mental Load could also be called Cognitive Load.

John Sweller talks about cognitive load from a teaching perspective:

Humans have limited ability to actively plan, and acquire new information.

There is a finite amount of Working Memory available when processing information.

Exceeding mental load too often results in stress.

Ideally , problem solving, learning, and sharing of new information will not exceed cognitive working load (Solomon, 2015, Instructional Design).

In a long-term marriage, under the pressure of a society placing household management demands mainly on women – as Emma delineates in the comic – reducing long term marriage stress between partners flows from making a few societal changes:

  • Manage toys and gender stereotypes given to children growing up.
  • Encourage closer ties between fathers and their families by introducing more paternity leave options for parents.

Emma delineates more of these problems and solutions, on mental load and marriage, in their comic:

Source: You Should’ve Asked, by Emma

The biggest mistake I made sculpting with Gedeo Crystal Resin, and what I learned from it.

Here’s what I learned experimenting with Crystal Resins. The following post summarises my experiences.

Even though it did not turn out what I wanted (mistakes were made) it’s a learning experience.

I set out to design and create an emerald coloured, gold accented jewellery piece as a gift for mothers day. Inspired by things my mum enjoys (French province motifs, and cats) the design was going to be detailed and layered. The finished product would be stylish.

Unfortunately, I fell far short of my set standards.

It was a bit embarrassing, having to scrap the plans and find an alternative Mother’s day present. But the bright side was I learned quite a bit.

I thought that using the resin would be a gimme, considering success I had in the past making shapes out of resin for a cosplay, and then painting the shape with acrylic resin. I was wrong. It was, in no uncertain words, a mess.

Mistakes, though, are a sign of moving forward, on the right track. By making mistakes, we are just learning. They are one and the same, and are nothing to beat ourselves up about.

So for intrepid resin casting students or interested artist, here’s were I went wrong, so you don’t have to.

Philosophy aside, This was the one key mistake:

How long the product takes to set, and using proper mixing technique – this can vary, and it is worth doing a test batch.

Test batches are vital. Resins require two compounds mixed together in specific distributions to set into a solid, clear artwork (or lump). If the resin and the catalyst or hardener are not mixed together effectively, starting in one container, stirring in a second container, and then poured, the resin will not set.

Test batches are important because you can discover exactly how long the resin will take to set:

  1. Combine the resin and hardener.
  2. Start a timer, and gently mix the two products, taking care to use firm, but softer wrist movement to stop air bubbles.
  3. Transfer the mix to another container. Continue to stir.
  4. Stir until the colour of the resin starts to change. Most resins will turn slightly opaque. This is a sign the resin will set hard.
  5. Stop the clock. This gives you an idea of how long the resin will take to set (the pot life of the resin).

Smaller batches take longer to set. This is counter intuitive. You might think that a large amount of resin would take longer to set once the artist adds the catalyst. In reality, heat generated by the resin sets the product faster. The more product, the more heat. (Bruckner, Oat, and Procopio, 2010. Pop Sculpture, Watson-Guptill Publications).

Since I did not create a test batch of a the product I was working with, I had no clue how long it would take to set (spoiler: it was more than the suggested 24 hours in the Gedeo Product instruction manual).

The final sculpt was soft, like toffee, and even five days afterwards, did not set properly. This is a sign of under-mixing the resin and the catalyst element.

What I expected

Ambiance-jade_carousel_large-gedeo-copyright-Pebeo

What I ended up with

crystal-resin-testing-gedeo-product-wallflyer-CC-BY

Other observations:

    1. Suspending glitter and gold inside resin is possible. I did successfully combine crystal resin with Fimo Gold Dust, as a suspension inside the resin.
    2. It is important to keep the resin out of dust, with a cover over it.
    3. Adding a release agent, like a sculpting vaseline, is important to be able to separate the product from the mould

While it’s not an ideal outcome, it’s a learning experience. One that can hopefully be useful, eventually.

You can find more art content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer .

Supanova Gold Coast Cosplay 2017

Supanova Gold Coast 2017 took place last weekend, featuring guests from film and comic worlds, skilled writers and artists, and cosplayers.

Characters from all across different media gathered together, and this post is a list of the standout characters that I was excited to see cosplayed.

For example, haven written about Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4, it was a fun surprise to actually see a Naoto cosplayer. And more on that point, having started to play Persona 5, a Futaba Sakura cosplayer appeared on Saturday. Another shock, and a great surprise.

All photos from the weekend are available on The Wallflyer Facebook page.

This The Last Guardian art has high detail

Ko_Dinae is an illustrator and artist who published a highly detailed piece this week (March 6, 2017) featuring the main characters from The Last Guardian – the protagonist, and the griffin-like, chimera Trico.

The piece captures the powerful fantasy of the game, and the connection the player builds with Trico, expressed here as Trico stares out at the viewer.

The sense of adventure is there, as Trico raises one scaled limb: ready to leap forward. The high detail shows the expanse of the game’s environment.

You can follow Ko_Dinae on Twitter and Instragram to see more of their detailed and expressive art.

Editing, scene transitions, and making comics

I saw a great video on film editing language late last week. I noticed a link between the content, and what goes into making comics. This post is a walk through what I learned. The link between film and comics is obvious, since comic creators have drawn parallels between film and comic making since the early 1990’s. I noticed one specific connection.

Dan Olson produces high quality videos for his channel Folding Ideas.

Scott McCloud is an expert of what makes comics work. His most well known book is Understanding Comics. What makes McCloud’s work so well know is his ability to accurately critique and describe the complexities of comic book panels and word combinations using comics. Some might say it is very meta. Olson similarly uses film to occasionally educate about film, while providing critique and commentary on key films. Since comics and film create stories with mechanical and structural aspects in common, I immediately thought of Scott McCloud’s books when watching Olson’s latest video on editing.

Olson mentions Aspect-to-Aspect (cross cutting) scene transitions. He then mentions the anime film Akira as an example. This was exciting because McCloud talks about examples of aspect-to-aspect panel transitions in comics using the Akira manga. I was happily surprised at the convergence of ideas here.

In a comics scene, imagination from the reader fills in the gaps between these single panels and images. We make the story as we read it. This is called “Closure”. It is one aspect of how comics spark imagination. Film similarly invites imagination.

Using aspect to aspect editing, filmmakers tie together multiple scenes, transitioning to different characters and places. Cross cuts invite the viewer to imaging that the events are happening at the same time. They fill in the gaps with imagination.

Closure seems to have a small place in film making, as well as aspect-to-aspect transitions in comics. In Comics, focusing on Aspect-to-Aspect transitions builds atmosphere in a scene. They create a sense of size and place. McCloud describes how comics from Japan – Akira for example – use Aspect-to-Aspect panel transitions to build atmosphere, a sense of place. To use the editing languagethey cross cut to events happening at the same time, warranting a sense of simultaneous action.

You can watch the Basic Cuts video at Folding Ideas, and see more of their content at the Folding Ideas Youtube Channel. Scott McCloud has a website with a list of published works.

Marvel elements and minerals other than Adamantium

The Marvel Universe is a home to several different types of fictional elements and minerals. However, since Marvel Studios does not own the copyright to the X-Men, and their associated elements and minerals, Adamantium has only appeared in the X-Men films, and the Wolverine films. This post is a short list of some of the fictional elements, minerals, and substances that appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe other than Adamantium.

Vibranium – Mined in Wakanda, used by Black Panther, Captain America, and Ultron.

Black Panther’s claws and armour are woven and developed from this raw material. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ultron created a powerful shell for its memory and software to reside on. Despite the strength and durability of this element and it’s derivative alloys – Captain America’s shield is the most well known example – the shell broke. Three other elements working together were able to destroy Vibranium. These are “Badassium”, Uru, and an Infinity Stone.

“Badassium” – A New Element from Tony Stark.

This is the new element Iron Man created after following an encoded schematic left to him by his father Howard Stark. He hacked together a particle accelerator in his basement, and used the stream of particles to forge this new substance. Although there is no reliable source for this, Stark wanted to patent his new element as “Badassium”.

Energy from this element, housed in his armour’s arc reactor, was able to damage Ultron’s Vibranium shell.

Uru – Mythical and magical, the alloy or element Thor’s hammer is made out of.

Thor’s hammer Mjolnir (“Mye-Mye”) is made out of this mythological metal. Uru requires the kind of heat found in the heart of star to become malleable and manipulated. The elements or mineral refined into Uru can only be found in Nidavellir, one of the nine realms. The magical side of the element means that objects are created with enchantments that allow a spiritual bond to form between the carrier, and the Uru object. Thor’s bond with Mjolnir is an example.

Lightning channelled through the hammer, along with Stark’s  New Element, was also able to damage Ultron’s Vibranium shell.

Infinity Stones – A complete mystery, possibly a mineral like other gemstones, but could be anything.

It’s not clearly stated what mineral these stones are made from. They are referred to  as “singularities” by the collector. The term singularities has a wide range of meanings. For example, the state of the universe before the creation of stars and planets is sometimes called a singularity. Based on this information, the Infinity stones could be made of anything. The Vision carriers  the Mind Stone embedded in his forehead. He can fire a powerful beam of gold energy using the stone.

Gravitonium – A new element discovered in a mine on Earth.

in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, scientist Dr. Franklin Hall studied gravity, and developed a theory that an exotic material could control gravity. Eventually, he discovered Gravitonium in a mine. After a series of event in Agents of SHIELD season one, Hall was trapped inside the Gravitonium, and the element was stored away. It is likely the Doctor will return at some point in the future.

Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there remains an extensive list of imagined and fictional substances. One article on Wikipedia attempts to round up and catalogue these elements and minerals. I have just one follow up question – are there any other elements, minerals, alloys, or other substances that stand out, or should be catalogued?