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I’ll be at Alpha-Omega Con, the Third Annual Christian Comic & Pop Culture Convention to be held from 10AM to 6PM this Saturday (September 24th) at the Well Church in Artesia, CA. (New location! NOT the previous venue!)
We have a full schedule planed with numerous activities and guests on tap, including:
Mike Shields II – Townsend Coleman – Will Morton – Katie Leigh – Stephen Weese – Brett Burner – Mike S. Miller – Mike Kunkel – Eric Jansen – Pastor Fred Price – Dr. Thomas Parham – Clint Johnson – Kevin Yong – Scott A. Shuford – Carmi Fellwock – Buzz Dixon (Wot da — ? Sheesh, they’ll let anybody in!)
There will be three tracks of programming, and I’ll be on two panels:
Creating 3D Characters in a 2D World (moderated by Dr. Thomas Parham)
Gender Roles in Comics and related Media: Bias vs. Biblical (moderated by yrs trly)
See ya there!
Having worn out my welcome on the West Coast, I’m now invading the Far East (well, U.S. East Coast) for Granite State Comic Con to be held Sept. 17 – 18 in Manchester, N.H. at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire. Lotsa GI Joe and / or Sunbow related topics & guests, including Larry Hama, Tom Feister, and Samantha Newark among many, many more. See ya there!
I’ll be at Nerd Con in Escondido August 26 to 28, participating in panels devoted to classic 1980s animated shows and featuring such illuminaries (hey, did I work on that show?) as Flint Dille, voice actors Michael Bell (Duke, Firefly, Swoop, Sideswipe, Plastic Man, and Grouchy, Handy, and Lazy Smurf among others) and Gregg Berger (Grimlock, Skyfire, Long Haul, Outback, Spirit, plus tons more).
SEE YOU THERE!
Greg, Nerd Con organizer Joe Troutman, Michael, & yrs trly
Josh Hadley invited me to talk about adapting the classic pulps into modern media over at Radiodrome. My part kicks in at the 25 minute mark.
This is how you do a remake! Keep the core idea and story, keep the elements and tone people like, but feel free to go afield from that so long as you stay in the same ballpark.
Ghostbusters (2016; directed by Paul Feig, written by Katie Dippold & Feig, based on the 1984 film directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) does that perfectly, adapting and expanding upon the original by reinterpreting it for the 21st century and reflecting a female cast.
The new all-female Ghostbusters are not simply the original characters in drag:
They are unique and interesting on their own account, their relationship is not that of three college chums + an employee but rather a series of overlapping relationships and histories that finally jells into a single compact team. Kristin Wilg as Erin Gilbert is former BFF with Melissa McCarthy’s Abby Yates; the friendship broke up over Gilbert’s desire to pursue “serious” science instead of paranormal investigations. Yates is now friends / co-researcher with Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann, a hyperkinetic engineer whom my younger granddaughter describes as “the best because she’s funny, she builds things, and she’s flexible.” And to this mix Leslie Jones as MTA employee Patty Tolan who first comes to the Ghostbusters as a client and pretty much invites herself into the club; her encyclopedic and photographic memory of New York history and geography make her a vital addition to the team and while her character may lack to formal education the others possess she is certainly their equal in the brains department.
Oh, yeah, these ladies are all smart. Very smart. That’s what makes this film so delightful: The female characters are characters who are female, not stereotypes being forced into an old story. They come across as fresh and original while still maintaining the flavor of the 1984 film.
In fact, the only real dummy in the film is their beefcake receptionist, Kevin (played by Chris Hemsworth) who is one of the stupidest yet most endearing characters ever in movies. He, too, plays a vital part in the construction of the film, albeit not the one you might expect.
The basic plot is still the same:
Ghostbusters, after being drummed out of academia, start a business that nobody takes seriously until they finally catch a ghost; then as business booms the government tries to regulate them out of existence only to find itself hopeless outgunned by a massive supernatural invasions and forced to rely on the team to save the day.
The script construction is great, you get everything you want in a Ghostbusters movie only not in the way you expect it, including cameos galore featuring the original cast.
 Not a reboot, a remake. A reboot drastically alters something about the theme / tone/ intent of the original Reboots done well are good, but too often they are just a new creative team pissing on material to mark it as their.
 There’s been a lot of hate directed at this film by MRAs suffering terminal butthurt from the fact the four main characters are female as opposed to the four male protagonists of the first film. Congratulations, guys; now you know how women feel when they see men starring in 88%. Ghostbusters ’16 is aware of that animosity and comments on it directly more than once in the course of the film, and almost always to dismiss it as unimportant to Just Doing Their Jobs. Brava, Ghostbusters ’16!
This is gonna be a short one because despite many people lauding the new Voltron series on Netflix, I just couldn’t get into it.
Five minutes in and my interest failed to engage. Technically proficient, good character and mecha design, but man, the dialog and plotting were just gears slipping. Not a fresh idea in the bunch and all hammered home with sledgehammer intensity.
I watched the first two scenes, skipped ahead about 20 minutes, watched some more, tried the opening of the next episode, said fuggedaboutit.
Not saying it’s bad, not saying you can’t enjoy it.
Just saying for me it failed to grab my attention.
Conversely, RWBY sparked my interest immediately despite a lengthy deadly dull narrated opening and clearly derivative anime tropes.
Perhaps that’s why it attracted my attention:
When you start a faux-anime story with
rip-offs homages of Alex and his droogs raiding what looks like a candy or bubble bath shop, well, you’ve got my attention enough to want to see what happens next.
And when one of the pseudo-droogs points his sword a young female customer in a red riding hood and she looks at him innocently and asks, “Are you threatening me?” we all know what’s going to happen next, the question is how well and with how much panache?
And sunnuvagun, they pull it off. Frankly the video-game quality animation is far from perfect, but the character designs are fun and the character interactions and dialog keep the more familiar parts of the show from working against it.
RWBY is available online but Netflix has edited all of the first season into a single feature length story. It’s episodic but fast moving.
Comparing the two shows — even as briefly as I did with Voltron — sparked some critical thinking regarding media for kids then and now, and what quality of writing is to be found among them.
And to do that I’m going to need to invoke Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and John Wayne…but that will require another post.
This is only a small portion of the large number of talented people we have already lost this year — musicians, composers, songwriters, creators — but I thought 13 would be an appropriate sample.