Archive | October, 2011

Men of Strategy

31 Oct


Not often will you come across comics of this style. Even in manga, this particular type of manga is rare. I have encountered very few of its ilk, and have greedily sought out other works which I might consider similar. The reason for my vagueness shall be made clear, for this style of manga that I am talking of is not really an existing genre. The artwork is unique, in its duplication of the real world. Not a manga of handsome heroes then. Come on, take a walk down any street. How many movie star beautiful people will you see out there?

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A Big Halloween Treat: An Interview with How It Should Have Ended

30 Oct
Since most everyone who reads Comic Addicts is too old to go trick or treating we decided to give a big ol’ treat anyway. We were able to have a chat with the folks at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE). They were really cool folks who were happy to chat with us.
For those unfamiliar with HISHE it’s a couple of guys, and a gal, who decided that movies didn’t always end the way they felt they should have. So they started doing their own parody endings much to the amusement of many people. We here at Comic Addicts were curious about some of the things over at HISHE and here is what they had to say:

How do you make your movies?

Each cartoon takes at least 3 weeks. We usually spend one week on script writing and primary art (characters we know we are going to use despite the script). Then one week on all the rest of the art and depending on the scope, we would start animating this week as well. It is also during the second week that we do our voice recording, which has to happen before animating so that we have a timeline. Week 3 is final animation, sound editing, and music score. Plus all the graphics. A lot of times this 3 week schedule requires late nights and weekends, so it’s a lot of work.


Is there a storyboard involved?

Yes, we storyboard after we have finalized a script so that we know exactly what art we need to make.



What program (s) do you use?

Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut



How much planning goes into a movie?

Definitely depends on the movie. There are some cartoons where we know months in advance that we are going to tackle it, so the conversations on scripts start early. Others (like recent theater releases– Avatar, Thor, etc.) we only have a short period of time so there are a lot of late nights.



Are there any audio outtakes from you guys goofing around?

Ha-ha. Sure, there are definitely some funny voice recordings as you might imagine.



Any plans to post the outtakes?

Now that we’ve committed to releasing a new video every Thursday on Youtube, you will definitely be seeing some more behind the scenes stuff. We will probably compile some outtakes. It’s tough since we are not necessarily accustomed to being on camera. J



Now that you’re a web sensation is there more pressure than before when you were doing it just for fun?

Um, YES.



Is it difficult sometimes to be funny?

Yes. The nature of what we do makes it tough sometimes because finding a logical flaw in a film is not always hilarious too. We go through a LOT of re-writes and ultimately we do our best. Different cartoons will lean one way or another sometimes as a result (between logic and silliness).



Are there arguments over how the movie should be?

LOL. What an insightful question. Yes, we definitely disagree sometimes, but ultimately some of our best writing comes from wrestling through different opinions.



Do you sit on pins and needles after a movie gets put up to see how people will react to it?

It’s like you’ve spied on us!! Absolutely. We’re our worst critics. Comments are sometimes really harsh and it’s difficult not to be affected by them. Seeing how a new release does is a big deal around here.



We notice there are a lot of comic book parodies on there, granted there are a lot of comic book movies, but honestly, how big of comic geeks are you?

Truthfully we’re a little late to the party when it comes to comics and ultimately we’re spoofing the movies not the books. But we started going to the San Diego Comic Con 4 years ago and each year we pick up a little more. We’re definitely not experts, but we’re becoming fans for sure.



Has there ever been an issue with copyright over the movies?

No, we definitely fall into parody law. All our art and music is original and meant to be a spoof or a parody.



Has any of the movie studios gotten on your back for what you do?

Not at all. We’ve even received some fun feedback. We have a few friends at Pixar and found out our Toy Story HISHE circulated the building there and the director for Toy Story 3 even tweeted about it!



How big is your fan base?

It’s hard to be exact. As of today (Oct. 11, 11) we have 480,000 subscribers on youtube.



Were you ever inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Of course! I would say lots of forms of skit and parody comedy have influenced us. Daniel watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 in college and he and his friends definitely laughed at the way they heckled films. I’d say our style is very much influenced by that form of comedy.



What has been the craziest moment or thing to happen at HISHE?

Winning the Streamy Award in 2010 was pretty crazy for us. We were shocked and honored to be among the other nominees.



Any plans for the future for HISHE? Hints maybe?

Hmmm… a hint. Well, we’ll definitely finish off the original Star Wars trilogy. And I imagine we’ll also tackle at least one of the major comic book films coming out next summer.

Thanks a lot for the chat! It’s been fun talking with you folks and keep up the good work!

Visit How It Should Have Ended’s website and suscribe to them on YouTube for the latest videos as well as favorites.

Rajat Reviews: Muhmmad Ali: The King of the Ring by Campfire

26 Oct

Who on earth has been aliveanytime in the last 50 odd years and hasn’t heard of the King of the Ring?Muhammad Ali, the one true champion of the masses.
Campfire brings to us thelegend of Ali in the form of a captivating graphic novel written by Lewis Helfandand beautifully illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma and it was launched in theComic Con Express along with Jungle Book.
Ali is considered to be a truechampion and one of the greatest sportsmen ever by many critics.
He was not only a Boxer butalso a philanthropist and a social activist. Ali, as most of us would know, wasborn Cassius Clay, but converted to Islam after joining the Nation of Islam outof protest against racial discrimination, which was predominant and popular inthe 60s in America, despite several laws and social protests against any formof racial prejudice.
Ali has been a legend and aninspiration to people of all ages and era, and not without reason.

Lewis Helfand has done afantastic job of compacting the immensely colorful like of Ali in a slightlyless than 100 page comic, which was then brought to life by none other than ourvery own resident genius, Lalit Kumar Sharma.

Click on the image to view full size

The first page of the graphicnovel seemed to me, immensely popular and not without reason. Campfire had organizeda competition where the aspiring artists were given a copy of the script forpage 1 and they had to draw their own interpretation based on that script.
We, at Comic Addicts, hadhosted an event in conjunction with Campfire and Mocha Trip where Lalit hadorganized a workshop to talk about composition, the making of a comic book andthe likes and we were also witness to some amazing art work from the MuhammadAli Art Attack Contest participants!
Click to view full size. Copyright Campfire
The story of Ali’s life is asinteresting as it is complex and Lewis has done a commendable job to bring itto us in a form which is easily understandable without losing its realsignificance and the finely hidden meaning behind Ali’s struggle and the thingshe did, the way he did it, and why he did it.
The book starts with the lifeof the young Cassius Clay, who although not as poor as many other blacks in thesame period, but had to endure the racial treatment which was displayed towardsall blacks in the 60s America. They were not allowed in Hotels, were seatedonly at the back of the Buses, and not allowed to work at several places, apartfrom the general preference of picking up white folks for pretty much anythingthat was considered worth doing.
Clay was initially puzzled andlater angry by this sort of treatment and even at that young age, you could seethe determination of the young boy to fight back against any kind ofdiscrimination.
No larger size available
He finds his mentor in the formof a kind hearted policeman Joe Martin who took Clay under his wing and gavehim the path and the direction he so desperately required to fulfil the destinyhe had selected for himself.
Martin not only taught him thebasics of boxing but also gave him important lessons about the right thing andthe wrong thing to do. He was a major influence on Clay, early on in his life.
Clay starts from the verybottom and rises up in the world of amateur boxing and then semi-professionalfollowed by an unknown entry in the Rome Olympicsin 1960, with Martin as his Coach.
Clay not only rose steadily, hewent ahead and WON the Olympic Gold Medal for Light Heavy-weight Boxing. Lateron he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after beingrefused service at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, and fighting with a white gang.
Clay realized that his winningthe Olympic Gold did not grant him an automatic entry to the world of the“superior” white people and to find an understanding, if not an immediate solution;he joined the Nation of Islam under Malcolm X. Clay then changed his name toCassius X and then to Muhammad Ali.
This raised a lot ofcontroversies and many fans and critics admonished this change, but Ali, likethe true champion he was, just went on and on with his Wins and silenced hiscritics.
The story takes us through thelife and professional career of Ali as he makes up his way to the Championshipand is crowned the undefeated champion of the Boxing World.
We are walked through some ofthe most interesting matches in his career, like the bout with Joe Frazier,George Foreman and Ken Norton. Lalit has done a wonderful job with thefantastic artwork depicting the fight scenes with finesse and awesome detail.
We get to hear all the famousphrases of Ali, like “I’m the greatest, I’m the prettiest, I’m the best”, “I’mthe king”, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and many others (Yes. I’mnot giving everything away!!)
We also come to know about thelater part of Ali’s life and the work he did for society and sports in generaland is still doing his part, despite being riddled by Parkinson’s and sufferingvarious injuries in the course of his career.
This graphic novel is a keepand worth every penny. A great, sorry the Greatest Subject, coupled with agripping script and very well done artwork makes The King of the Ring a bookworth buying and keeping.
So go and get it for yourselfTODAY! I say Yay!

Blame!Blame!Blame!

24 Oct

BLAME!

As in, the sound effect accompanied with the thought of a gun being fired off. Not blame. Today we go for an acknowledged classic. Tsutomu Nihei’s masterwork, Blame!. Although it ties into a whole lot of side stories and even a One shot or Two, I still like to consider the series itself as stand alone. Allows the story a lot of legroom, space to breathe. Leaves a whole lot of questions unanswered. And you know what? I kinda like it that way. Blame!, or Adventure seeker Killy in the Cyber Dungeon Quest if you prefer is a story told in stark monochromes. Not just in the color scheme. Which yes, indeed is monochrome.

The protagonist wakes up somewhere in an endless dungeon known only as ‘The City’. Endless or at least so massive, so as to seem endless. A focus is granted to the story by means of a search, a quest if you may. Killy as our hero is known, is searching for someone. He has been searching for so long that perhaps he has even forgotten what it is he searches for. Yet he continues. His search is for Net Terminal Genes, a possibly extinct genetic marker that will allow humans access to the Netsphere again. In a world where most humanity has regressed to neo tribal structure his search is almost hopeless.

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Comicon Express Mumbai : A Comic Addict’s journey from Delhi to Mumbai

22 Oct

It was a Friday night (yesterday, apparently) and the world was partying, while I was in the office, trying to wrap up my work as soon as possible so that I could go back home and finish my packing. After all, I was leaving Delhi early morning for Mumbai to attend the Comic Con Express – Mumbai representing Comic Addicts
Try hard as I might, it was 11.30pm before I could leave my office and reached home at 12.15am, past midnight, and was dead tired. Took an hour to pack up, another hour to grab a bite and rest my feet for a while and do my part of the preparation for the Comic Con. It was almost 3.30am by the time I was done, and the reporting time for our flight was 5.30am, so I decided not to close my eyes, coz if I did, I was pretty certain that I would miss the flight.
 At 5am I called Mayank and from his greeting it was certain that he had just got up!!! I told him to hurry up and left for the Airport. I reached at 5.30am and strolled around a bit and try to get some fresh air, for a change. I was expecting these guys to arrive any second. At 5.45am I called Mayank and he told me that he was just leaving his house!

Are you kidding me??? The boarding time was 6.30am! I took the PNR number and got the tickets, had 2 coffees while I waited for them. I was almost ready to just go and check in so that at least one of us would be there at the Con! Thankfully just as I was ready to walk in, a car stopped and out stepped the 2 addicts! Phew!

The Amazing sea link bridge
Cut. Check In. Cut Deposit Luggage. Cut Security Check. Cut. The idiots made me take my boots off. Cut. Final Call. Cut. Run. Cut. RUN HARDER. Cut. Running with my boots in one hand and the bag in the other. Cut. Just entered the feeder. Cut. Tied the boots while people stared at me as if I was a terrorist.  Cut. Finally got our seats. Cut. Stupid Security Drill. Cut. Take Off. Cut. Last minute Discussions. Cut. Final checks. Cut. Deepika Dozed off. Cut. Mayank too. Cut. I didn’t. Cut. Watched an episode of True Blood to keep myself awake. Cut. Landed in Mumbai. Cut. Got a taxi. Cut. Long way to the other side of the town. Cut. Hot Mumbai. Cut. Humid Mumbai. Cut. Crossed the magnificent Sea Link Bridge thingy. Cut. Thought it was a little narrow for a densely populated city like Mumbai (what were they afraid of? Stretching in the Sea, for God’s sake!!). Cut. Checked with a shop keeper. Cut. Reached the World Trade Centre. Cut. Wrong Gate. Cut. U Turn. Cut. Right Gate. Cut. Or so we thought. Cut. Got out of the taxi. Cut. Forgot my shirt. Cut. Went to the gate. Cut. Wrong gate. Cut. Right Gate. Cut. Enter: Comic Con Express –Mumbai!
The inauguration ceremony 
Oh man. What a sight it was! I was tired like a dog who had been pulling an ice sledge for the last 48 hours on my way here, just trying so hard not to sleep and as soon as I entered (which was from the Service Entrance, by the way), the first sight the hit me was a HUGE Avengers poster!!!
Zap. Sleep? What sleep!?! Tired? Who’s tired? Hurting? You can’t hurt me. I am Batman!
Headbangers Merchandise
Avengers blew my sleep and body ache! Next sigh, Headbangers Merc! Metallica, Slayer, Ozzy, Judas Priest Tee Shirts. Metallica Action Figures. Badges. Wallets. Everything Heavy and everything METAL.
That’s it. Who could even think of sleep after that??? Mayank and Deepika set up our stall while I went to wash my face and change in the Comic Addicts costume. It was such a rush meeting some old friends, some new ones, several ones for the first time after the Delhi Comic Con in Feb this year.
Akshay Dhar and Vivek Goel 
Saw Vijayendra Mohanty (Ravanayan), Vivek Goel (Holy Cow!), Akshay Dhar (Fellow Addict – Core Member no less, Retrograde, Werehouse), Shamik Dasgupta (another fellow Addict, Ramayana 3392 AD), one and only Kshiraj Telang (do I really need to introduce???), Abhijit Kini (UdBiMa!!!) and MANY other familiar faces.

Bombay Merch 

The good folks from Pop Culture were running all over the place trying to make sure that the cogs were running smoothly and that there were no gaps, nothing missing and basically plugging any last minute gaps. I was very pleased to meet some of our Bombay Correspondents, who had been introduced virtually – online but had never met in person. The cool Addicts who were holding the fort in Mumbai, and all of them have been doing a brilliant job, I must say, are: Aalok, Anubhav, Ashutosh and later joined by the funnyman Vinay and another really helpful volunteer and an honorary Addict, Aakash. Finally we set up the stall and your truly went for a prowl, both to click pictures for the viewing pleasure of all you good folk back home, who couldn’t attend this awesome event and of course, to scout goodies for myself 😀
I saw some really cool cosplayers and was pleasantly surprised! I was a little apprehensive after realizing the location of the venue that probably people might be reluctant to come all the way here just to attend a comic con, but I am SO glad to find out that I was utterly and completely wrong and I had severely underestimated the Comic fans in Mumbai!
Please consider this as a public apology for ever having doubted your dedication and love for the Comic books and all things comic!
Cosplayers!!

There were girls and guys dressed as Fred Flintstones, Naruto, Snow White, Hit Girl, She Hulk (YES, You better believe it and see the pics if you don’t believe me), an awesome Darth Vader, Asterix and MANY MANY more coming in by the minute!

Indian comic industry together with Comic Addicts team
The event kick started with small introduction and lightening of the lamp by the Mr Prem Kamath, Head of Channel V, India. Coincidentally one of the first events of the day was a presentation by Comic Addicts! So ALL the Addicts present took the stage, growled the calling call to gather all geeks and Mayank delivered a power packed and fun filled presentation, taking the audience through the whole idea of Comic Addicts, what, why, when who and where, discussing all aspects we aim to cover and the expectations our fans have with us and what all do we aim to deliver in the coming months! Believe it or not, but our presentation ended with representatives from Vimanika, Level 10, Holy Cow, Pop Culture and Campfire on the stage, together for the FIRST TIME EVER!!! Yes, You’ll probably want to see the pictures before taking my word for it, won’t you??
Our presentation was pretty well received and people started flocking towards our little stall to find out more about us, which felt nice, if I may say so.
I started the whole clicking pictures and explaining people about Comic Addicts. I tried to cover as many cosplayers as possible. Some of them were just brilliant and these addicts need all the encouragement they can get!

Launch of Retrograde
After a while Akshay’s magnum opus Retrograde was launched by VJ Manish and Juhi from Channel V. That was followed by none other than Karan Vir taking over the stage and introducing people to Vimanika, and launching his new publication titled Shiva: The Legend of the Immortal. This was accompanied by a very cool soundtrack for Shiva, joined by a live performance by Shahbaz Mansoory on percussions. And guess who decided to join us in the middle of the presentation? None other than the Lord Shiva himself!!! Yes, I know. We have pics to prove it, so have some faith, won’t you?

Sufi Comics

There was also a nice session by Sufi Comics, Green Gold Animation, which I am sorry to say, couldn’t cover in their entirety because of a sudden influx of dozens of Cos Players who demanded all my attention. Especially someone familiar, who was dressed as none other than Captain Jack Sparrow! Last Con’s winner Daanish, who was dressed as Jafar, was dressed as Jack Sparrow and looked absolutely AWESOME! Initially I thought it was one of those official Disney Costumes, one can order for a fortune from their website, but Capt’n Sparrow took me through each part of his costume and explained how he used different things to look like something else! The sceptic in me scrutinized EVERY part of his costume in the minutest details and believe me, if I am nothing if not a critic and cynic and if I was finally convinced about the authenticity of the costume being handmade, it HAS to be genuine! It was just mind blowing! No wonder he was one of the most popular Cos players this time around too!

Wonder Bai
Oh, how could I forget something so cool!?! Duh! We also had a sizzling hot Wonder Bai between us too!!! She is the Mascot of this Comic Con Express and was a fantastic looking cos player who totally loved her part!
The crowd kept trickling in and there were around 2000 odd people by around 3.00pm. We then had a nice session by the good folks at Level 10 who introduced us with Batu Gaiden and we also saw a kickass trailer of a Batu Gaiden ANIME!! YES!! That’s in the pipeline folks and from the previews it looks totally awesome!!!

Session with Aabid Surti
This was then followed by a very very interesting session with none other than legendary Aabid Surdi, who needs no introduction! He is one of the pioneers and a living legend of the Indian Comic Industry. He has created characters like Dabbu Ji and Bahadur and he shared his amazing experiences with us, including some very interesting facts about Osho and Raj Kapoor being fans of Dabbu Ji and Inspector Azad!
After the captivating interview / session, we were visited by some surprising guests. Bade, Chotte and Bhigi Billi from the music channel 9xM who declared the winner of the Cosplay!
The 3rd place was by Tarzan, 2nd by Jack Sparrow and the 1st by Nighcrawler!
Yes, you heard me. There was a Night Crawler, a Tarzan, A Rogue and MANY other awesome cos players!
By the time today’s proceedings ended, I am pretty sure we were visited by more than 4500 people!!! Which was an astounding and surprisingly pleasant number of people!

AGNI

The day closed with a performance of the band AGNI!!

Your humble correspondent (ok, NOT so humble after all) is dead tired but still not sleepy somehow! I just can’t for tomorrow!!! We have so many cool events lined up for Day 2 (sadly the final one too) and those who are in Mumbai and were unfortunate enough to not turn up today, this is an excellent opportunity for you to come and have the time of your life.
Trust me. Golden Kela Awards by Cyrus Broacha, Session with InkFruit.com, launch of Jungle Book, Preview of Amar Chitra Katha’s Sons of Ram, session with Holy Cow Entertainment and MANY more cool events are lined up for Day 2 and if you miss this, despite being in the city, I indeed pity thee!

Signing off… Dead Man Ridge!

Anime Review Presents – SAMURAI CHAMPLOO

20 Oct

 
Konnichiwa minna!

Has everyone been indulging liberally in anime while I was gone? Your oujo sama spends a lot of time watching anime and reading manga, and tends to get lost in those worlds – all for you! All so that I have recommendations that people will enjoy. Ready for what I have this week?
Samurai Champloo is an old anime, originally aired in 2004, and ever since it’s debut continues to remain one of the classics in the field. Set in the ‘Edo’ period, the story is centered around Fuu, a 15-year-old girl who works in her uncle’s teahouse. A random series of encounters bring her together with two ronin – Jin and Mugen – whose lives she saves, only to insist they help her find ‘the samurai who smells of sunflowers’. Though vague initially, the antics of the characters keep you sufficiently entertained, until just enough of the central plot is revealed to make you wonder what’s going on.

Don’t let the simple “samurai” tag fool you. Every episode has a surprise, coupled with the traditional badass sword fights. What makes Champloo different from your average Shogunate period, katana-wielding samurai anime is the characters. Jin partly plays up to the stereotype of the undefeated sword-master with a dark past. But Mugen is a different kettle of fish altogether. The definition of Samurai only barely applies to this rogue who – in addition to using his sword – bites, kicks and slaps his way through his enemies. And his enemies aren’t always the bad guys. He itches to take on anything he comes across that may be remotely stronger than him. Mental? Absolutely.
The most startling factor is probably the inclusion of hip-hop in the series. The very first episode opens with an odd style of rapping which makes the viewer sit up and take notice. After that one comes across myriad references to rap, retro, graffiti and even Van Gogh! Perhaps in any other anime, or as part of another storyline these symbols might not have made sense, but they fit right into the madness that is Samurai Champloo.
My favourite part about the anime is undoubtedly it’s soundtrack. With every track beautifully executed, there are some fantastic hip-hop numbers on the album,in addition to the usual and typical anime style themes. Within a few episodes, you’ll be left scrambling to find the whole soundtrack and listen to it in one go.

Still not convinced? It’s been directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Animatrix fame. Do I see you nodding there? Now you see what I’m getting at. Give it a shot. You won’t need more than the first episode to get hooked. And you’ll find another jewel to add to your collection.
I shall be back next week, with yet another anime to recommend – meanwhile, have a look at our Mumbai Comic Con Express Updates! You don’t wanna miss it!

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEWS: Zombie Talkies!

19 Oct

Welcome my friends to yet another round of awesome previews and news for you as we inch closer and closer to this weekends sure-to-be-awesome Comic Con Express in Mumbai!

Today we bring you another crazy comic that will be launching at the Convention, ZOMBIE TALKIES! Starting off as a script for a film project that was originally titled “Shaadi of the Dead” in keeping with the legacy of zombie flicks like those of the legendary George Romero, the comcis creator had a moment of truth/ saw the light/ saw through the matrix (or whatever analogy you prefer) at the San Diego Comic Con which led him to see that the adventures of the un-dead can be just as big a genre here in India as they are in the west.
So with the blessings of film icon Shekhar Kapur and a zeal to share their vision far and wide, the creative team not only kept working on the movie (which is now on its way to theatres near you someday soon!) but also decided to do a comic book – a couple of young up-and-comers in the form of Harshvardhan Kadam and Anish Patel came on board and along with Vaspar Dandiwala formed the team that started bringing this graphic gore-anza to life.
With a working title of “Bollywood of the Dead” they threw themselves into their tasks like a sacrificial lamb to the zombie hordes below and now we finally get to see where all this has brought us.

At first glance, I must admit that it made me think of a small story from ages back by (then lesser-known) writer Rick Remender (FrankenCastle, ) called XXXombies that was about a film crew (adult films if you must know) caught unawares in a zombie apocalypse.
But then I had a chance to see that this was meant to be more then just a short story and was part of a bigger plan by the creators which makes me curious as to what they’re planning and what makes this unique beyond it being “Indian”.
With a desi cast of characters and what appear to be some unique characters and potential situations I admit I am most intrigued by all that this could become – will it be a Resident Evil style saga? More tradition Romero style fare? Perhaps it might even go the crazed 28 Days route. At this point the creators and the publishers – Pop Culture Publishing (the organisers/brains behind Comic Con India) – are playing their cards very close to the chest.
With only these few images and even less story to go by it is hard to accurately predict what will come. But the potential is great and as Level10’s attempt at the genre has shown, the market is there for it – and the art that we’ve seen looks fun and seemingly holding back little in terms of the blood and gore, keeping to a simpler comic style art-work that I think comes out quite nicely and is often under-rated in this new comic age of more real and more gritty visuals even for stories that don’t necessarily need it. And personally I like my zombie stories to have some fun with it (is that wrong) and all indications are that this book is trying to do just that.