Tag Archives: Alan Moore

Evan and Gordon Talk: Fan Fiction

GORDON: A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, it was suggested that Evan and I discuss fan fiction and its merits (or lack thereof).

Now I’m going to jump right into things by saying that not only do I not believe fan fiction is good, I do not feel it has the capacity to ever be so.

EVAN: Okay. Why? Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: New Lit. Genre

GORDON: Ladies, gentlemen, voices I hear in my head during the dark, long hours of the night, we’re going to deviate from our past record of discussing television to talk about creating a new literary genre.

EVAN: Which is a daunting task, to say the least. I mean, genres have gotten ridiculously specific as of late. There’s a “gay horror” genre now. It’s not something to spook homophobes, it’s literally horror fiction for homosexuals.

GORDON: There are so many terrible, ignorant jokes I wanna make right now, but I’m not going to. But I agree- we can’t just slap two genres together. Poe is credited with inventing the deective novel- is there a particular profession that hasn’t really been explored much?

EVAN: Hm . . . Everything dramatic and even slightly connected to death is out. That includes forensic scientists, doctors or any sort, lawyers, etc. And the thing is, a genre that revolves around a profession requires an exciting one.

GORDON: Would it count if we revived the explorer/exploration novel?

EVAN: Not if the title of this post is “Evan and Gordon Talk: New Lit. Genre.”

GORDON: Touché. Here’s an idea: a “Nietzschean” novel.

EVAN: Go on-

GORDON: Well, to brutally simplify the philosophy, the only “bad guys” are the people who aren’t doing anything. Otherwise it’s more like an epic tale of colliding forces all of whom technically could be the protagonists and antagonists.

EVAN: That’s an interesting direction, but I suppose my issue is how alternatingly broad and specific it is- So in these novels you’re proposing, the only villains are the idle?

GORDON: the idle, the apathetic, those trapped by their antiquated sense of morality, and those enslaved to their brute instincts and empty rationality.

EVAN: I suppose it works, but have difficulty seeing it as the header to a shelf in a bookstore. Which is sort of what I was envisioning we would do in creating our new genre.

GORDON: Huh. What’s your idea?

EVAN: Well, this isn’t my idea, but I recently came across this brilliant new novel put together by Ryan North, creator of the webcomic Quantz.

GORDON: Go on.

EVAN: He Kickstarted it and it made like, twenty times what they asked for, but basically it’s Hamlet, but a Choose Your Own Adventure story. And it’s for various characters, too- like, you can read as Hamlet’s father, who eventually must die to become a ghost, et cetera.

GORDON: Huh. If we’re going down that track, how about a novel written in such a way where you can rip out certain sections, rearrange ‘em, and wind up with a completely different story?

EVAN: It would work, but sounds exceedingly difficult to pull off. I’m trying to think of how exactly one would go about writing one . . .

I think, keeping in discussing literature, we could devise a new medium of sorts- it would be a marriage of the graphic novel and the traditional novel. Heavy on both text and imagery, a seamless integration that showcases both the artist and the author.

GORDON: That’s sounds like your average Alan Moore book.

EVAN: The Watchmen comes close to it, but it’s ultimately still a graphic novel which prioritizes that sort of storytelling over the bits of prose sandwiched in between the panels.

How about we look at steampunk, and see if we can branch out from it? That seems to be the newest sort of genre out there nowadays.

GORDON: Fair enough. I’m just struggling to figure out an era of technology to “punk.” After all, steam power was really the first major leap in technology.

EVAN: And “cyberpunk” is already a thing as well.

Thanks, tumblr, for once again providing the perfect gif.

GORDON: This is true. But what else is there? Modern tech? “Modpunk”?

EVAN: Well, we don’t necessarily need to “punk” something. We just need to look at what makes/made steampunk so popular and work off of that-

GORDON: It’s the art, the world, the fancy suits. But yeah, it’s the rich world that’s created; it appeals to us.

EVAN: It’s also a union of history junkies and the sci-fi/fantasy crowd, I think that’s a pretty large aspect of it.

Are there two sort of interest groups that we can intertwine? I mean, it’s already been done with horror and romance, long before Stephenie Meyers ever came along.

GORDON: Huh. I’ll admit, I’m having trouble trying to think of one that hasn’t already been covered. As of yet, I think my Nietzschean idea was the strongest lead we yet have.

What if went down that route? Trying to twist philosophies into narratives- the allegory of the cave would make a good story.

EVAN: I think the main issue is how broad it could get- though I suppose it could just be “Philosophical Fiction.” That I could see in a bookstore.

GORDON: That’d be cool. I mean, it all appeals to the questions and struggles we already have. Yet barring Rand (may raccoons urinate on her grave) and LeGuin, I can’t think of any explicitly “philosophical” novels.

EVAN: That may speak for their effectiveness/popularity.

I was thinking about taking a genre that’s immensely popular to this day, and smashing it together with another one. Self-help books.

GORDON: Heh.

EVAN: People eat ‘em up.

GORDON: I’m just imagining a really sarcastic self-help book.

EVAN: Comedy and self-help has probably been done . . . hm . . . I would love to see a whole line of books that masqueraded as self-help books that you could gift to the naive.

GORDON: Heh, that’d be cool.

EVAN: They’d be excessively over the top, but just believable enough for people to [literally] buy them.

GORDON: That’d be funny, but it’s really not a genre.

EVAN: I think if self-help books are a genre then fake self-help books would be as well.

GORDON: It’s really more of a gag.

EVAN: Yeah, I suppose you really couldn’t have that many of them.

How about an exaggeration of the choose your own adventure book?

GORDON: Like forcing you to branch out into multiple novels?

EVAN: Ooh, that’s an idea! So your choices would determine what novels you get next; that’s brilliant.

GORDON: Ain’t it? You’re welcome, America.

EVAN: And Canada. And the world. Let’s open up our borders here.

GORDON: Except Luxembourg. **** you guys.

EVAN: You don’t even know anyone from Luxembourg.

GORDON: Exactly- what makes ‘em think they’re so good they don’t talk to me?

EVAN: We are going to lose the viewership of an entire country because of you.

GORDON: Boo hoo.

EVAN: All . . . possibly one of them.

GORDON: Hey, Luxembourg! Andorra called, they want their quaint charm and history back!

EVAN: And with the slamming of an entire nation done, and with a few very decent ideas about exciting places literature could go, we should look forward to what we talk about next-

GORDON: New film style?

EVAN: Seems like we’d be following very closely the same sort of conversation. Not to mention really most of what can be done has been done.

GORDON: This is true.

EVAN: Hm . . . How about . . . nerd culture, just in general- The Big Bang Theory, the current conversation about “nerd girls,” the whole shebang.

GORDON: Sure thing.

EVAN: Okay, that fully wraps up our time. Say good-bye to the nice people, Gordon.

GORDON: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

I’m lousy at saying good-bye.

EVAN: I don’t know what I expected.

You can vote below as usual, if you’d like.

Batman: The Dark Knight Re-Cast

Before we begin, I want to make something clear: I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises. I can’t speak to the actors or the story or Nolan’s heretical-yet-genius take on either. I am further not saying that the actors in the trilogy didn’t do a good job- they were great, however this is Culture War Reporters, and with Batman (and the whole DC Universe) being so popular right now, and with Nolan leaving for other projects, we really can’t help but speculate if Batman were to be re-done, who would be the best fit for the characters?

Bruce Wayne/Batman:

Actor: Michael Fassbender

Why We Want Him: We here at CWR aren’t the first (by a long shot) to speculate on Fassbender for the caped crusader. Simple fact of the matter is, the Irish-German actor has both proven to have the suave poise needed for Bruce Wayne (see his roles in Inglorious Basterds or X-Men: First Class) and the brutish physicality needed for Batman (see his roles in Hunger or 300). Beyond all that, the man has got the strong, square-jaw typically more associated with Batman, which while not required for a good Batman (just look at Bale) is still a plus.

Cons: I’ve never actually heard him do an American accent, so I am gambling a bit here.

Alfred Pennyworth:

Actor: John Cleese

Why We Want Him: Because he is John ****ing Cleese, one of the funniest men to have ever ministry-of-silly-walked the earth. While Michael Cane did a great job as Alfred, like Fassbender, Cleese simply looks more like the classic depiction of the Wayne’s stalwart servant.

Cons: Standing at 6’5″, Cleese is bound to dwarf everyone else on scene with him.

Dick Grayson/Robin/Night Wing:

Actor: Jensen Ackles

Why We Want Him: Obviously, this isn’t the same Robin that wears a bright yellow cape and red outfit, because, you know, who needs stealth? Ackles, simply put, has the height and build to serve as a believable counterpart to Fassbender, as well as the acting chops to match the devil-may-care personality Nightwing is usually portrayed as having.

Cons: When I was drafting this list, I told myself that I wouldn’t use anyone who had already been in a Batman movie, and as Ackles did the voice for Jason Todd/Robin in Batman: Under the Red Hood (which is a surprisingly good movie), I am sorta cheating here.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman:

Actress: Olivia Wilde

Why We Want Her: Let there be no mistake- Catwoman is no easy character to play, and many a fine actress has attempted to take on the role, only to get scratched. I won’t say that I think Wilde is at long last the one who will nail it, but rather, if I was a gambling man (which I am), my money would be on her.

Cons: Like I said, it’s a gamble with any actress- runners up would be Noomi Rapace, Zoe Saldana, or the reanimated body of Eartha Kitt. Another major point would be that Wilde, to the best of my knowledge hasn’t (to my knowledge) been in any major action roles.

The Joker:

Actor: David Tennant

Why We Want Him: Not only does Tennant look the part, but on nerd-credit alone makes for a valuable addition to the movie. We’re talking about the zaniest Doctor Who and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In short, we have an actor good enough to do Shakespeare, who already has a history of playing semi-psyhcotic characters, who has a rabidly loyal fan following, and who has the perfect facial features for a classic Joker.

Cons: Tennant is just slightly taller than Fassbender, which while certainly making for a scary Joker, might be a bit much. Vincent Cassel might make for a decent alternative, only I’m not sure he can do an American accent.

Commissioner Jim Gordon:

Actor: Byran Cranston

Why We Want Him:
It was Evan, actually, who suggested Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad) for the role of Commissioner Gordon, and while I would’ve initially cited Stacey Keach as the logical choice, Cranston, while not quite as heavyset as your classic Jim Gordon, is one powerhouse of an actor (seriously, go watch Breaking Bad).

Cons: Let’s face it, Cranston, as good as he is, does look a little like Gary Oldman’s Commissioner, and there’s a decent chance that you’d have that constantly gnawing at the back of your mind while you watched the movie.

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle:

Actress: Emma Stone

Why We Want Her:
Emma Stone is already established as a good actress (see The Help or Superbad), and unlike Wilde, has had a bit of action experience in Zombieland, and if rumors are correct, is going to be doing some action in an upcoming film called “Gangster Squad“.

Cons:
Barring her role in Zombieland action roles, I don’t know of any other action roles Stone has had, which for playing Batgirl is obviously an issue, though that could be avoided by simply skipping ahead to Oracle. Plus she just played Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. Felicia Day would make a decent runner-up.

Edward Nigma/The Riddler:

Actor: Neil Patrick Harris

Why We Want Him: Look at him. Look at him! That is Neil Patrick Harris, and he is amazing. Look up the word “Awesome” in the dictionary. Do you see a picture of him? No, because that’s how awesome NPH is- if they put a picture of him in the dictionary nobody would ever read anything but the “Awesome” definition all the time. This guy would make a- no, the- perfect Riddler.

Cons: There are no cons- how dare you even read this! Though if NPH was too busy being awesome to play the Riddler, Steve Buscemi would be a nice backup.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin:

Actor: Patton Oswalt

Why We Want Him: Besides his short stature and general pudginess, comedian Patton Oswalt is a huge comic book fan, and offering him the role of the Penguin seems only right and natural.

Cons: Other than his voice acting, I don’t believe I’ve actually seen Oswalt in any films, and in off-chance his live action work isn’t up to par, there’s always Tobie Jones.

Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy:

Actress: Bryce Dallas Howard

Why We Want Her: Howard can already do some decently evil characters (see her role in The Help), and on top her general acting abilities already looks the part of the deranged eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy.

Cons: Yet again, we’re faced with the issue of a lack of any action roles to serve as evidence that Howard would do well here. Plus she was apparently in one of the Twilight movies, which is the general moral equivalent of clubbing a baby seal to death using another baby seal.

Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow:

Actor: Kevin Bacon

Why We Want Him: If you’ve ever seen the film The Hollow Man, you really wouldn’t need to ask.

Cons: The man is getting on in years, and his incarnation of the Scarecrow would probably more of an intellectual and physical antagonist.

Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze:

Actor: Hugh Laurie
Why We Want Him:
I had some difficulty trying to figure out who would make a really good Mr. Freeze (Jim Rash was my first reaction). Evan suggested Hugh Laurie, and after some consideration, I guess I can see it- it’d be neat to see Laurie in the role of the villain, at the very least.

Cons: None. The back story of Victor Fries is so touching that not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could butcher the moment they revealed it back in Batman & Robin.

Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel/Harley Quinn:

Actress: Kristen Bell

Why We Want Her: I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there’s this push among Bell’s fans (you might remember her from Heroes, just before the series started to tank) for her to play Harley Quinn. Hey- give the people what they want.

Cons: Seeing as how Bell has already had some experience playing a super-villain, there’s really not a whole lot negative to say here.

Bane:

Actor: Jason Momoa

Why We Want Him: Look, I haven’t seen Nolan’s Bane, so I can’t make any comparison there, and with regards to the character in general, despite the whole “Count of Monte Cristo on Steroids” backstory, I’ve only ever seen Bane portrayed as a thug juiced-up on venom. Regardless of which way you’d want to take the character in a reboot, the man for the job is Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, HBO’s Game of Thrones). The man is a freaking beast.

Cons: I’ve seen Momoa in Conan and Thrones, where he’s got a clear physical presence, but I really can’t say if he could hit the intellectual side, and really be Moriarty to Bruce Wayne’s Holmes.

Homeless Guys 1 and 2:

Cameos: Frank Miller and Alan Moore

We We Want Need Them:

As much as Miller is a raving, qausi-fascist lunatic and Moore a man who thinks he’s a wizard, it can’t be denied that both of these men have had a major impact not only on Batman, but on the world of comics- having them pass by in a seen would be, in my own opinion, a neat little salute (not the kind Miller likes, though).

Cons: There’s a strong possibility that Miller will go on a rampage when the moon wanes into a crescent, frothing at the mouth (Miller, not the moon) and swearing it’s part of an Islamic global conspiracy to destroy America. Moore will huff set paint until the voices in his head start singing in key.

Is Batman a Fascist?

Earlier today, I came across this article over at Kasama and I felt that the subject material was topical enough for me to put the difficult issue of violence in media (which I had promised to write on earlier this week) on the back burner.

Is Batman a Fascist?

It’s not the first time the question has come up regarding superheros- in fact, it’s the idea has been around for a while, but with the popularity of Nolan’s trilogy, the debate has again found itself in the mainstream- or at least, as mainstream as comics get.

Of course you could approach this whole debate with some skepticism- with every major event, there’s always some stylishly iconoclastic deviation, like the argument that the Civil War wasn’t actually about slavery, or the like. The critique of superheroes as being responsible for supervillains (see the “escalation” conversation at the end of Batman Begins) could be argued to be the latest soapbox for contrarians. That said, it can’t be denied that the arguments against Batman have some really solid points (just look at anything on him over at Cracked.com)

Let me break the argument down to it’s basic points:

  • Batman is just an out-of-touch, or straight up disturbed, rich kid who uses his wealth to nurse pathological guilt over his parent’s death. Had he been poor, he probably would’ve wound up being the kind of petty criminal Batman typically takes out.
  • Batman’s very existence creates a cycle of escalation- in response to his extreme vigilantism, extreme criminality is created.
  • Batman acts outside the law, respecting no privacy, due process, or legal rights of any kind. He uses force to try to create a world compliant with his own personal morality.

That’s all pretty hard to argue with, but I’m going to try it anyways.

What we have to first understand about Batman is that one of the most popular and iconic versions of him was created by Frank Miller, who while an innovative and talented guy, is completely and utterly insane.

Like this, but with more Islamophobia…

The man is pretty much Alan Moore’s evil counterpart from an alternate universe where Hitler won WWII and cats chase dogs.  The guy has been accused (not without cause) of touting extreme right-wing dogma in his works, and was officially declared (off the deep end) after he penned a rant against the Occupy Movement in which he condemned the protestors of being anti-American rapists. As much as I do enjoy the man’s work, I can’t argue here- the guy is a putsch away from being a full-fledged Fascist, and it does bleed through in his comics- especially Batman.

It helps explain a lot, but ultimately the basic criticisms of the dark knight still hold strong- even if you discount Miller’s influence on the Batman canon, you can’t deny that (1) Batman is only Batman because of his wealth, (2) extreme-crime is created in response to him, and (3) he punishes others for breaking the law while ignoring it himself.

Or can we?

Despite the strong points against Batman, I’m going to try to present a more powerful counter-argument.

First, I’ll admit, the wealth thing has always bugged me. As a rabid leftist (Anarcho-Trotskyist, if you want to get specific), the issue of Bruce Wayne’s immense wealth has always irked me- I’m a Batman fan, but the sprawling manor and nearly limitless funds have been difficult to get around. Even the whole “Hey, Bruce Wayne started two charitable foundations to combat poverty!” argument hasn’t really done it for me- I’m more of a “Burn the plantations!” kinda guy.

The key point to make here is that anyone could be Batman- that it’s not contingent on being insanely wealthy. And there actually are some half-decent examples of this in the Batman saga. In Batman: Cataclysm and Batman: No Man’s Land, Gotham is hit by an earthquake of 70s-disaster-movie proportions, and the US government decides that the best solution is to simply declare the city lost and cut off all access to it. Batman, refusing to give up on the town, drops into post-apocalyptic Gotham a-la Escape from New York and help take back the city one block at a time, without his extreme wealth and gadgets to back him up. Granted, you can point out that he’s still had the training his wealth got him, but the fact that he’s more or less isolated from his endless resources does make a pretty decent case for crime-fighting being anyone’s calling. I’m aware that there’s another storyline in which Bruce Wayne loses everything (including his memories, though I might be wrong on that one) and has to become Batman from scratch. I haven’t read it though, so I can’t say for certain.

Addressing the whole “escalation” criticism is much easier than the whole wealth issue. When people argue that superheroism causes supervillainy, my only response is “so what’s the problem?”. If I were to walk up and punch you, you would probably punch me back harder, and I would try punching you even harder. Does that mean if you punched me only as hard as I punched you, the situation could be contained? Does that mean that by trying to knock me out, you’re only creating more aggression?

Of course not.

I have the right to use the means available to defend myself- the idea that my attempts to safeguard my security are responsible for me getting robbed is just as twisted and wrong as the idea that my not having bolted my doors makes me responsible for being robbed. Murder is the fault of no-one but the murderer- this isn’t a difficult concept, people.

As for the third point, this is really where you’re going to run into contention, regardless of what angle you’re coming at this from. Some people might argue that in a corrupt society, Batman is the only effective and therefore legitimate law-enforcement there is- in essence, he is the police (the whole “Might makes right” approach). This isn’t my view, but it is an position some take. Others might point out, “Hey- secuirity is all that really matters and if loosing some privacy and rights to an all-seeing, all-powerful executive force is what it takes, so be it!”. These people are called “politicians”.

In all seriousness though, **** the NDAA and Patriot Act…

You might argue (as I do) that in this world, we all have a moral obligation to behave according to do what we truly believe to be right, regardless of law or public opinion- if people are living in fear of organized crime, and the police cannot or will not do anything to fight this, is it not your duty, as a human being, to stand up to these thugs and bullies? If you know that the guy across the street has beaten his wife and kids, is beating his wife and kids, and will continue to beat his wife and kids, and no one is going to do a thing about it, isn’t it your moral obligation to go all Dirty Harry on him? That’s what Gotham is- a social contract that’s been voided. A place where the safeguards of the public exist only in name. Surely you can’t call Batman a fascist for using the resources available to him to make what change he can- if that’s the criteria, there’s human alive who isn’t guilty of the same crime.

I’m not saying Batman’s perfect- he isn’t. I’m not saying the case for him is clear-cut- it isn’t. But is he just some aristocrat with too much time on his hands and not enough access to antipsychotic medication? That he is not.

[Very] Brief Thoughts On Entertainment

A bitter, angry old man once said:

There’s been a growing dissatisfaction and distrust with the conventional publishing industry, in that you tend to have a lot of formerly reputable imprints now owned by big conglomerates. As a result, there’s a growing number of professional writers now going to small presses, self-publishing, or trying other kinds of [distribution] strategies. The same is true of music and cinema. It seems that every movie is a remake of something that was better when it was first released in a foreign language, as a 1960s TV show, or even as a comic book. Now you’ve got theme park rides as the source material of movies. The only things left are breakfast cereal mascots. In our lifetime, we will see Johnny Depp playing Captain Crunch.

That same man wrote The League of Extraordinary GentlemenV for Vendetta, and one of Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels, Watchmen. Alan Moore certainly has the writing credentials, but is he accurate in his assessment of the future of entertainment?

The truth is, as you’re probably well-aware, that the publishing industry is an ever-changing thing. ComicsAlliance writer Chris Sims has called for the “big two” [Marvel and DC Comics] to get serious about webcomics. In other words, for the two publishers to release content for free to compete in an age where people just aren’t buying print anymore. It would work as a way to increase and maintain interest in their product, and would even help sales; people who like reading something online will typically buy it if they like it enough.

As for creativity, I wrote in a post earlier this month [Mashin’ It Up] about people who are seemingly just reaching into a bucket of tropes and smashing them together at high speeds. Cowboys and Aliens was a movie that came out last year, and it wasn’t even original; it was an adaptation of a [honestly, not very good] webcomic. Not only that, but by next year Gore Verbinski will have directed Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as Tonto. That could be considered one step closer to Captain Crunch, I suppose.

At the same time adaptations are being made of novels. They may not be original screenplays, but the original work is nothing like a TV show from the 80s, it’s not built on nostalgia. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife was adapted for the big screen, and although it didn’t do great with the critics it still stands as evidence that books will do well; and they’ll do well enough to warrant films. This could lead into the conversation about how some books receive film opportunities before they’re even published, but that’s for another time.

The “conventional publishing industry” will continue to change; it has and it will continue to. Alan Moore is a cynical miser of a man [subjective], but he has a point that shouldn’t be ignored. We’re not doing great in regards to creativity, and it’s an area we should expect more from. Cynicism may appear to be the logical place to turn to, but looking for media worthy of attention is the more worthy activity.