Truth, justice, and plenty of violence

“Starfire used to be a very girly girl, a golden girl, and you have all these girl readers who grew up with her, and now she’s totally vamped-up, sexed-out, a very different character,’’ said Rizzo, who is attending the New York Comic Con this weekend. The new Superman is more violent, he said, and Batman more aggressive. “These are all geared to college kids and above.’’

From: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/10/15/dc_comics_reboot_increases_violence_sex_and_sales/

Comic book industry hopes to rebound through digital distribution

Thousands of fans and collectors rushed into a comic book store to witness the death of an icon. They had seen it on the news, heard it on the radio, had been told by their friends; Superman was dead. The cover of Superman 75 showed Superman’s torn cape blowing in the wind like a flag at half mast, while his family and friends wept in the background.

On this day in 1992, a single store in Detroit sold nearly 200 000 copies of the monumental issue. The store began to see that they were running out of issues, so they marked the prices up higher and higher. By the end of the day, the issue that had started off at a $1.50 was going for twenty times its original price. This was a common sight in comic book stores across North America.

DC Comics, publisher of Superman, and comic book retailers made around $30 million in one day. This is the third time an American comic book publisher has hit the jackpot. It was also the only upswing for the comic market that year.

It was clear by the end of that same year that the comic market was shrinking. Sales dropped, the collectors cashed out and sent the whole system into what Grant Morrison, a writer at DC Comics, called “a death spiral.”

However, comic book creators see a way out of this tail spin through a new distribution system: the internet.

“I love digital comics. I will always have a heart for paper and a book I can hold, but I have an iPad that is stocked with comics,” says Kelly Sue Deconnick, a new writer for Marvel Comics. “Digital comics” are mainstream print comics that have been scanned and edited to be read on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Deconnick carries at least fifty comics with her at any given time, since those issues weigh no more than her tablet does.

“I have a favourite reader, and I love the ease of downloading. I read most of my comics this way,” she says.

E-comic readers like ComiXology, Graphic.ly, and iVerse are popular on Apple Inc.’s iOS market and Google’s Andriod market, which sell apps for smartphones and tablet computers. According to analysts from PCWorld, the iPad has become the de facto device for reading comics outside of print thanks to its ability to show vibrant colours, as well as a simple lack of competition.

While other publishers like Viz and Dark Horse have a regular release schedule for digital comics, DC and Marvel have been reluctant to approach the new system. For many years, they refused to offer their comics digitally for weeks if not months after they had been released in print. That is until DC Comics decided to take the initiative. Beginning in September all of their comics are available the same day in print and online.

Yet for some people, this isn’t enough. There are complaints of the price of digital comics being too high and that the way comics are edited to fit on a phone or tablet fundamentally change the way comics are read.

“If [comics publishers] want to reach a wide audience, their price has to be two digits, 99 cents. That’s the magic number where it doesn’t feel you’re spending money,” says Cameron Stewart. Stewart is an artist whose work includes a run on Batman and Robin, and his own award-winning webcomic, Sin Titulo. Comics are currently priced at $2.99 and $3.99, depending on size, in print and digital. Stewart believes that the closer you get to five dollars, the more the consumer has to think about what they’re purchasing.

“There is so much on the app store that I bought without any idea if it was good. I bought games, movies, apps, completely on impulse, because it was a dollar or less.”

Ty Templeton, a comic book creator who’s worked for the Marvel and DC Comics for popular series like Justice League International and The Batman Adventures, doesn’t mind either format. He likes web comics and has all of his comics for sale online. Templeton, however, sees a bigger issue with the digital format than the price. He believes that it fundamentally changes the way comics are read.

“A lot of apps show the comic panel by panel, and for a comic that’s like watching a movie in the 80s. You would lose a bit of the left and the right and soon, the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers becomes five brides for four brothers. It doesn’t work,” Templeton says.

Apps like ComiXology tend to show comics through individual panels, due to smartphones’ smaller screens. Without this feature, the dialogue and narration become difficult to read.

“I object to the idea that you have to change the shape of the screen to enjoy the content.”

Deconnick, though more positive, says that “digital doesn’t work with the double-page spread.” A double page spread is when an image is spread over two pages. It’s often used for dramatic impact and surprise.

“Because you have to pull out and shrink down to see the full image, and then zoom in to see the detail, it doesn’t have the same power as it does [in print].”

While discussion behind digital comics isn’t exactly unanimous, almost everyone agrees that it’s the way of the future, whether the publishers take initiative or not. Ask any creator if their work is available online and the answer is a resounding yes; though they’ll add that they didn’t have choice in the matter.

In recent years, comics have become victim to rampant piracy. Within an hour of a comic hitting store shelves, it will be on every major peer-to-peer downloading network for free.  It’s worse with the international market, as comics from Japan and Europe end up online before they’re even released in North America.

And it works both ways. Dan DiDio, co-publisher for DC Comics, has blamed piracy for weak international sales, since the time difference between countries allows comics to be scanned in the US before the stores open in the rest of the world.

“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to find that the books that don’t sell as much are going to suffer even more. All the variety of content is going to disappear,” says Francis Manapul. Manapul is a critically lauded Canadian artist. His new Flash comic will be one of DC Comics’ first to be immediately converted into digital. “Superman and Batman will always sell, but lesser known characters like Martian Manhunter or Aquaman are going to suffer.”

“Pay for the damn thing,” he quickly adds. “If you can buy a five dollar coffee, you can pay for a two-ninety-nine comic.”

Stewart, however, doesn’t think that piracy is a big deal. He knows that most of his work can be pirated easily, but feels that all media are subject to this, not just comics.

“We’re adopting a new paradigm in which everything is free first and then anyone who wants to support will buy it afterwards,” He takes this belief to heart. Stewart offers his own web comic, Sin Titulo, for free on his website, and then sells a graphic novel version once he finishes enough pages.

“Besides, the only people who are pirating comics are into comics to begin with, they’re more likely to buy a copy than anyone else.”

Despite many of the challenges ahead for comics distribution and sales, there is an overwhelming belief that digital comics and web comics are expanding the medium and the readership.

“I love that young creators who don’t have connections to Joe Quesada [Marvel Comics’ chief creative officer], or don’t have the money to self-publish can still publish online,” says Templeton.

“These days you don’t have to go through the system and talk to a publisher, by gum, an artist could just put it online every week and see if they can build an audience.”

Web comics are a popular phenomenon that has been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Well-known comics like Penny Arcade, XKCD, Questionable Content and Achewood all came from independent artists and writers.

Graham Moogk-Soulis began his comic, PostScript, in his freshman year of university. It ran the student newspaper Imprint and by his second year, he had a website and was posting them online.

“My ultimate goal was always to be in newspaper comics … I would look at my website and say, ‘there’s no career in that,” Moogk-Soulis says with a sheepish grin. “But as I started researching newspaper syndication I realized I was born ten years too late.”

The funnies and other newspaper syndicated comics have had a worse time in the last decade than the rest of the comic book industry.  The Village Voice reported in April that most cartoonists need multiple jobs to sustain themselves, as many of them are forced to work for free. As newspapers continue to decline in sales, demand for syndicated comics has as well.

“[Web comics] are still incredibly difficult, you still need a day job or if you’re like me, be a student, to support you,” says Moogk-Soulis. He’s optimistic that someday he’ll be able to make a living out of his comic, and sells prints on his website and at conventions to generate revenue.

Stewart is confident that web comics are the next stage in comic production. He’s willing to bet that Marvel and DC would generate a lot more interest if they had exclusively online series. Not to mention that he thinks focusing on the web will fix many of the glitches found in digital comics.

“Print comics are limited by the amount of ink you can fit on paper, but online you can do whatever you want. If you think about the aesthetic of digital, one panel at a time, you’ll be able to take advantage of it,” he says. There’s a concept in comic design called the “infinite canvas” which implies that on the web, you have literally infinite space to make a story. No need for turning a page at all.

“No matter where this industry goes, I’m sticking with the web. I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t like accumulating stuff,” says Stewart.

Many love saying good bye to dusty basements and garages filled with thirty-year-old periodicals. The iPad can store just as many issues of X-Men and Wonder Woman without all the clutter. Yet, Templeton is quick to remind people that there will always be a place for print comics.

“If you want a first edition copy of the Old Man in the Sea by Ernest Hemingway you’re going to pay a thousand dollars for it while the paperback is out this week for eight-ninety-five and there’s a reason for that,” he says. “Print is a moment in history that you can hold in your hand.”

From: http://ctmedia.ca/20111014/comic-book-industry-hopes-to-rebound-through-digital-distribution/

NYCC | DC’s New 52 sells 5 million comics in just six weeks

DC Comics Sells Over 5 Million Comic Books in Six Weeks
Historic Renumbering Drives Record-Breaking Sales!

NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2011 — DC Comics – the home of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman – is experiencing its best comic books sales in more than 20 years, following a historic renumbering of all DC Comics titles with 52 all-new first issues. With sales of more than 5 million copies in only six weeks, the first issues of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 are generating international headlines and bringing fans back into comic book stores across the country.

“We are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response from retailers, fans and the creative community to DC Comics — The New 52,” said DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson. “This was a bold publishing initiative that is reinvigorating and growing the industry and medium we love.”

“We did more than just change Superman’s costume and renumber the entire line. We took a huge risk and it’s paying off,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment co-publisher and artist of JUSTICE LEAGUE. “Comic book retailers are seeing returning fans as well as new readers flock to their stores.”

Earlier this year, and before DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched on August 31, the industry’s bestselling comic book title typically sold about 100,000 copies. In contrast:

  • JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 has sold more than 250,000 copies.
  • ACTION COMICS #1 and BATMAN #1 have both sold more than 200,000 copies.
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #1, THE FLASH #1, GREEN LANTERN #1 and SUPERMAN #1 have all sold more than 150,000 copies.
  • AQUAMAN #1, BATGIRL #1, BATMAN AND ROBIN #1, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1, GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1 and WONDER WOMAN #1 have all sold more than 100,000 copies.

So, just how many comic books are we talking about? With New York Comic Con kicking off this week, let’s look to some of New York’s famous landmarks for some visual context. It takes (approximately):

  • 2,090,880 comic books laid end to end to stretch from one end of New York State to the other. We’ve sold enough DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 first issues to span New York State in its entirety two times over.
  • 174,480 comic books stacked on top of each other to reach the top of the Empire State Building. That’s every copy of GREEN LANTERN #1—with issues to spare.
  • 36,600 comic books stacked in a pile to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty. That means copies of WONDER WOMAN #1 could reach the top of Lady Liberty almost three times.

Oh, and 5 million copies sold? That’s enough copies of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 to lay out and span the distance from New York to Chicago – with some left over.

“People are buying, reading and talking about a line of comic books in a way they haven’t in years,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment co-publisher. “We’re thrilled to see the passionate response fans have had, but this is just Step One for us. Now our plan is to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going.”

“When DC Entertainment was created almost two years ago, we committed to an environment of ‘no fear’ when it came to creative and business risks,” said Nelson. “I couldn’t be more proud of our Publishing team for embracing this mantra and delivering in a way that is growing the genre, our partners’ businesses and our fan base, while helping to fuel the creative engine that drives so many Warner Bros.’ content businesses.”

In addition to debuting all-new first issues in comic shops, DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched same-day digital publishing, with DC Entertainment becoming the first major comic book publisher to release their entire line of ongoing titles same-day digital.

“Our digital sales have been better than we could have imagined and we are pleased that these sales are additive to traditional publishing sales in the comic book stores,” said John Rood, executive vice president of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. “We’re not migrating readers from print to digital. We’re adding more new readers into the mix.”

From: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/10/nycc-dcs-new-52-sells-5-million-comics-in-just-six-weeks/

Muslim comic series aims to break through in US

DETROIT (AP) — Comic book fans might call it a great origin story: In the aftermath of 9/11, a Muslim man creates a comic book series, “The 99,” inspired by the principles of his faith. It builds a global audience and investors contribute millions for it to continue and expand.

In two vastly different cultures, Naif Al-Mutawa’s tale hits a few roadblocks — “villains” if you will: Censorship from Saudi Arabia, home to the main Muslim holy sites; in the United States, a struggle to build an audience where free expression has been hampered by a post-9/11 rise in suspicion and scrutiny of all things Islamic.

For Al-Mutawa, it’s evidence that tales like his are needed to counter hardline, intolerant ideologies of all stripes.

“That’s one of the things that was most disappointing to me in the beginning,” Al-Mutawa said on a recent visit to Detroit. “You have two birthplaces: You have the birthplace of Islam, which initially rejected it (and) the birthplace of democracy and tolerance, this country, that I’m now facing resistance in — the two natural places for this product.”

Al-Mutawa’s reputation in the Middle East and elsewhere has grown since the 2006 debut of “The 99,” as well as its rollout into animation. The series is named for the 99 qualities the Quran attributes to God: strength, courage, wisdom and mercy among them.

The comic book spawned a TV series and 26 half-hour episodes of the 3-D animated version of the “The 99” have been sold to broadcasters. They are expected to be released early next year in more than 50 countries, and a second season is in production.

Al-Mutawa, a U.S.-educated psychologist from Kuwait, has been promoting “Wham! Bam! Islam!” a PBS documentary that tells the story of “The 99” from an idea hatched during a cab ride to its raising of $40 million in three calls for investors. The promotional push is supporting the animated series, the vehicle by which his company hopes to turn a profit.

“The 99” grew out of his childhood love of Batman, Superman and their superhero brethren, along with a desire to provide role models for his five young sons.

“Basically, ‘The 99’ is based on Quranic archetypes, the same way that Batman and Superman are based on Judeo-Christian and Biblical archetypes. And just like Batman and Superman are secular story lines, so too are ‘The 99,'” he said.

“It seemed to me that the only people using mass media when it came to things to do with religion — at least my religion — were people who were doing very destructive things. So the question was how do I challenge that in a way that’s secular yet cannot be dismissed as Western?”

Critics on both sides of the religious and cultural divide see subversion in Al-Mutawa’s superheroes. Some hardline Muslims say the series subverts their faith by embodying the attributes in human characters, while a few non-Muslim American critics have labeled it sneaky Islamic indoctrination.

Al-Mutawa said it took investment by an Islamic investment bank to make his series “halal,” or acceptable to Saudi officials. The nation’s government-run broadcaster has since bought the rights to the animated series. So has The Hub cable network in the U.S. — though the latter has indefinitely postponed airing it after some critical columns and blog posts.

“One of the comments on the blogs that ended up delaying us was someone who warned that we can’t let the Muslims brainwash our children like the Mexicans did with ‘Dora the Explorer,'” Al-Mutawa said.

Still, he’s measuring broader acceptance in other ways. Al-Mutawa worked with DC Comics last year on a six-issue crossover that teamed “The 99” with The Justice League of America.

“They start out with distrust between the two teams of superheroes — Superman punches one of my guys early on,” Al-Mutawa said. “And then they figure out during the arc that it’s the bad guys causing the distrust.”

Robin Wright, author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” said Al-Mutawa has “been way ahead of the curve in figuring out how you challenge extremism and how you create alternative role models to Osama bin Laden or Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah’s leader) for kids and adults.”

Muslim characters are rare in U.S. comic books but there have been some inroads.

Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books.

“I don’t view a Muslim superhero as avant garde,” Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said. “Muslims comprise approximately 23 percent of the world’s population, and we like our comics to reflect the world in its diversity.”

Dust wears a robe and veil to observe Muslim hijab, or modest dress. Another character, M, is a woman of Algerian descent who only recently revealed her faith in the pages of “X-Factor.” Like millions of other Muslim women in the real world, she “does not observe hijab, and often dresses quite provocatively,” Alonso said.

Other characters have not been so accepted. In late 2010, DC Comics introduced Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian descent raised in Paris. He’s part of the global network of crime fighters set up by Batman alter-ego Bruce Wayne. Conservative bloggers decried the move, noting that instead of tapping a native French person, they opted for a minority.

Frank Miller, whose dark and moody take on Batman in “The Dark Knight Returns” in 1986 energized the character, has taken a different tack in his latest work, “Holy Terror,” which tells the story of The Fixer and his efforts to stamp out Islamic terrorists.

The graphic novel initially took root as a look at Batman’s efforts to fight terrorism, something that grew out of Miller’s experiences of being in New York during 9/11. As he worked on it, it became apparent that it wasn’t suitable for the DC character.

“As I developed it and worked on it, the subject was too serious and the character’s actions were not Batman,” he said.

The book has been criticized as anti-Islamic propaganda, but Miller says that’s not his notion.

“I lived through a time when 3,000 of my neighbors were incinerated for no apparent reason. I lived through the chalky, smoky weeks that followed and through the warplanes flying overhead and realized that, much like my character, The Fixer, I found a mission,” he said.

As for “The 99,” he said has not seen it but welcomes Al-Mutawa’s efforts.

“I come in with my own very pro-Western-they-attacked-my-city-point of view,” Miller said. “If other people have other points of view to bring in, I just welcome it.”

Al-Mutawa called “Holy Terror” par for the historical course for Islam.

“There’s no denying that terrible things have happened in the name of my religion — as they have in the names of most religions, if not all religions,” he said. “As human beings, we’re a little bit lazy. We don’t like to change the schemas in our minds. We like to fit new information into existing schemas. That’s why to some people anything to do with Islam is going to be bad.”

Matt Moore contributed to this report from Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

From: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jjpwbNYH2t5Jm4wJRdBp9L_qIWTA?docId=d7090aa248874a16a20191b18fd3e8d4

More Photos Of Amy Adams As Lois Lane On The Man Of Steel Set

                         

Have the latest batch of Amy Adams set photos improved your opinion about the look of Lois Lane?


Man of Steel is an upcoming American superhero film under the development of Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Superman, the film will be a reboot of the Superman film series. Using Chicago as a backdrop, and with production to be based in west suburban Plano, the film entered principal photography in August 2011, for a planned theatrical release on June 14, 2013 by Warner Bros., which also includes IMAX venues.

“Clark Kent/Kal-El is a young twentysomething journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question – ‘Why am I here?’ Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha and Jonathan Kent, Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as ‘Superman’, not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.”


@All_Thats_Bueno
Graphic City

From: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/GraphicCity/news/?a=47916

Andy Kubert To "Action Comics" In January

Previous Kubert Superman art from “Trinity.”

New York Comic Con is still four days away, but the news blitz expected to accompany the last big convention of the year has already started in earnest.

DC Comics announced today via a story in the New York Post that artist Andy Kubert, fresh off the universe-changing “Flashpoint” event, will join writer Grant Morrison for a two-issue stint on “Action Comics” starting with January’s #5. Regular series artist Rags Morales will be back for issue #7.

“When Editor Matt Idelson asked if I would be interested and/or able to fit into my schedule two upcoming issues of Action Comics with Grant, I couldn’t say no,â€? Kubert told DC’s The Source blog in a follow up post. “I don’t know of any other artist that would have. Drawing the latest incarnation of Superman and working with one of the best writers on the planet made it a very easy decision for me. And in this story, I get to do some VERY iconic stuff! I gotta admit, I’m a little nervous… Fun Fact for those keeping score: I had never drawn Superman in a comics interior for an entire issue. I had done inking over Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway for an issue each over their beautiful pencils way (and I mean WAY) back when but this is my first opportunity to pencil the Man of Steel interior pages for my very own!â€?

The Post also mentioned that DC will also “reveal the surprising origin of a longtime member of the Justice League” at the show and spoke with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso about that company’s plans for their Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man franchises.

For more, see the NY Post, and stay tuned to CBR for more on Kubert’s move and all the news coming from New York Comic Con 2011.

Discuss this story in CBR’s DC Universe forum.
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Tags:  dc comics, action comics, superman, andy kubert, grant morrison, nycc11

From: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=34820

Do Rick Perry and Superman Have the Same Swagger?

DC Comics writer Grant Morrison says Superman has a “swagger,” the same word often used to describe Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.

According to various news sources, Rick Perry has a “swagger.”

“The first time you see Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, it hits you immediately: The Texas governor has the swagger of a movie star,” read a CBS News report last Auguest. “It’s there in his alpha-male confidence, his Marlboro Man drawl, his propensity for cowboy boots.”

And when Perry said it would be “almost treasonous” for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke to print more money, Fox News defended his controversial remarks as just part of his “Texas swagger.” The Associated Press also used the “s-word” in its headline, “Rick Perry exudes confidence, swagger on campaign trail.”

Traced back to Shakespeare’s 1590 play Midsummer Night’s Dream, “swagger,” derived from a word meaning “to swing,” once meant “to move heavily or unsteadily.” Now the term’s more closely aligned with a masculine cockiness, an arrogance almost distinctly American, which is precisely why comic book writer Grant Morrison used “swagger” to describe DC Comics’ latest incarnation of Perry’s favorite hero, Superman.

“That swagger is part of what the rest of the world believes about America,” says Morrison in an interview in the latest issue of the recently relaunched ‘Action Comics.’ “I wanted to put that back into Superman, that attitude of ‘I know what I’m doing, I’m the biggest guy on the block…” That’s precisely the same approach Perry embraces.

The real question, though, is whether Perry will use that swagger to fight for truth, justice and the American way, like Superman, or whether he’ll use it to exert undue American force around the world.

We’ll soon find out, because the Republican presidential candidates are now unrolling their foreign policy stances, and Perry will have an opportunity to expand on his worldview, which thus far seems bafflingly muddled, and potentially dangerous. The Texas governor, for example, suggested we send U.S. troops into Mexico to crack down on drug cartels. That is not the type of swagger of which Superman would approve.

More Stories:

From: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/149177/do-rick-perry-and-superman-have-the-same-swagger/

Superheroes Rise From Camp to Art: Virginia Postrel

October 07, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT

By Virginia Postrel

(Final paragraph changes Warhol’s birth to “late 1920s” as exact year is unknown.)

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — The newest banner in the window of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh features a strikingly realistic portrait of Superman. Unfazed as bullets bounce from his chest, neck and forehead, the Man of Steel wears a calm, resolute expression, made all the more convincing by the creases and fine lines of early middle age.

To comic book fans, it’s an instantly recognizable image: Superman as imagined by Alex Ross, one of the contemporary comic world’s star artists. And the Warhol Museum exhibit “Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross,” which opened Oct. 1, marks a significant cultural moment.

Displaying more than 130 of Ross’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, from his early childhood to recent works, it’s the first museum show devoted to a single artist’s renderings of superheroes, treating the works not as cultural history but as art.

It’s a very Warholian gesture, honoring commercial art whose subject matter is beloved by the public but traditionally scorned by critics. “Warhol was a big comic book fan, and we’re the pop culture museum,” says Jesse Kowalski, the museum’s director of exhibitions, explaining why he conceived and organized the Ross show. “What art is more pop culture than comic book art?”

Unlike some of the museum’s more esoteric shows, such as a current exhibit of Warhol’s films (“This is boring!” a disgusted visitor declared), this one is a crowd-pleaser.

Attitudes Shifting

More important, it also captures a significant shift in public attitudes, one with big economic consequences. Contemporary adult audiences simultaneously recognize the artifice and fantasy of the superhero world and appreciate its imaginative pleasures. Straightforward escapism has replaced scorn, embarrassment and defensive irony.

As a result, superheroes have become cultural staples –the subjects of billions of dollars in merchandise, video games, television shows and, of course, blockbuster movies, including four of this year’s top 20 box office hits so far.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in 1966, a Newsweek feature on the then-cutting-edge Pop movement declared that “not only is it permissible for adults to read pulp comics, it is a sociological necessity.” Far from making superhero comics legitimate adult fare, however, the Pop moment left them stigmatized as camp — the Zap! Pow! Holy Ridicule! of the short-lived “Batman” TV series. Comic fans generally loathe that show.

“They made people laugh at Batman. And that just killed me,” writes Michael E. Uslan, the executive producer of the contemporary Batman movies, in his memoir “The Boy Who Loved Batman.” As a child, Uslan writes, he vowed “to restore Batman to his true and rightful identity as the Dark Knight … a creature of the night stalking criminals from the shadows.”

As a producer, he fulfilled that vow with Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” demonstrating that superhero stories, if done with conviction, could be enormously lucrative. That first Batman film grossed $411 million worldwide. Uslan’s most successful production, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” released in 2008, has taken in more than $1 billion worldwide.

These triumphs depended on taking a more direct, less ironic approach to superheroes — one that could acknowledge the fantasy while nonetheless creating a world in which superheroes seemed real. The Warhol Museum exhibit suggests why this approach has such an enduring appeal.

There is, first of all, the pure aesthetic pleasure. Like Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn and Jackie (or, indeed, of Superman), the Ross paintings offer new and beautiful ways of seeing familiar, emotionally resonant icons. The exhibit may be Pop, but it definitely isn’t camp.

“I want to convince the viewer that this is legitimate, that this is something inspiring, not something comical,” Ross tells me. “I’m on the side of the material. I’m trying to win you over.”

Fantastic Made Realistic

Like Norman Rockwell, some of whose works also appear in the exhibit, Ross works from live models and he paints (in gouache, as opposed to Rockwell’s oils) rather than, in the traditional comic-book style, drawing and coloring his figures. The result is a seemingly realistic rendering of the fantastic.

“It almost looks like history,” says Larry Levine, a graphic designer who was touring the opening with a friend. Another visitor, Stephen A. Glassman, the president and chief executive officer of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, marveled at the paintings’ vibrant colors and vivid forms. “I’m just knocked over by how absolutely gorgeous these images are,” he says.

Beyond the pleasures of color and form is, of course, the inspirational allure of the heroes themselves. “They’re everyone’s dream of how to solve problems and resolve all the conflicts in the world,” Glassman says. “It’s not realistic, but it makes you feel good.”

Such unapologetic, frank escapism accounts not just for the broad appeal but also for the versatility of superhero stories. Embracing the artifice of superheroes means accepting that there is no single correct approach to the genre. If you don’t treat superheroes as a joke but nonetheless admit (to yourself and your audience) that they’re obvious fiction, you can experiment — fool around with different styles of art, different assumptions about the setting, different sorts of plots.

Stories can be grim or joyful, philosophical or silly, revisionist or traditional, family-friendly or adults-only. It is this approach, with its ample space for reinvention and reinterpretation, that has allowed superheroes not only to satisfy generations of hard-core fans but also to become such profitable mass-market properties.

With their plenitude of possible incarnations, superheroes can be deployed in nostalgic war pictures (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), mythic family dramas (“Thor”), action comedies (“The Green Hornet”), New Frontier science fiction (“X-Men: First Class”) or alien-filled space opera (“Green Lantern”) — to stick only to this year’s Hollywood movies. (Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, meanwhile, has his own superhero movie, “Ra.One,” premiering on Oct. 26.)

Room for Camp

Nolan’s Batman trilogy, whose final installment, “The Dark Knight Rises,” will come out next year, is as dark as “The Incredibles” was sunny. In an agapic moment, the utterly unironic Ross even allows a place for that hated Batman show. “There’s perfectly well a need for camp in comics as well as realism,” he says. “There’s no reason not to have both.”

Outside the museum, the Superman banner flanks the front door on the right, while to the left is another banner, headlined “It’s All About Andy.” Warhol would have enjoyed the juxtaposition. He really was a fan.

Along with prints from Warhol’s 1981 Myths series, including a Superman glimmering with diamond dust, the exhibit has examples from his personal stash of comic books, including not only Batman and Lois Lane (“Superman’s Girlfriend”) comics but also the classic Fantastic Four issue “The Coming of Galactus.” Warhol gave his nephew Jules Feiffer’s lively 1965 defense of the genre, “The Great Comic Book Heroes,” and he owned superhero memorabilia (the display features a Wonder Woman pop-up book and Wonder Woman shoelaces, still in their original package!).

Seated once next to Warhol, Michael Uslan brought up his favorite subject. “Oh,” responded the artist in his affectless way. “I love the comic books.”

Born the late 1920s, Warhol knew comics in their heyday (comic book sales peaked in the 1940s). These days, the books themselves are like runway couture: niche creations that support a host of more-profitable mass merchandise. But America loves their super-powered progeny, all the way to the bank — and now the museum.

(Virginia Postrel is a Bloomberg View columnist. She is the author of “The Future and Its Enemies” and “The Substance of Style,” and is writing a book on glamour. The opinions expressed are her own.)

–Editors: Tobin Harshaw, Stacey Shick

Click on “Send Comment” in sidebar display to send a letter to the editor.

To contact the writer of this article: Virginia Postrel at vp@dynamist.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.

From: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-07/superheroes-rise-from-camp-to-art-virginia-postrel.html

Superheroes, Already Commerce, Grow Up as Art: Virginia Postrel

October 06, 2011, 8:24 PM EDT

More From Businessweek

By Virginia Postrel

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — The newest banner in the window of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh features a strikingly realistic portrait of Superman. Unfazed as bullets bounce from his chest, neck and forehead, the Man of Steel wears a calm, resolute expression, made all the more convincing by the creases and fine lines of early middle age.

To comic book fans, it’s an instantly recognizable image: Superman as imagined by Alex Ross, one of the contemporary comic world’s star artists. And the Warhol Museum exhibit “Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross,” which opened Oct. 1, marks a significant cultural moment.

Displaying more than 130 of Ross’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, from his early childhood to recent works, it’s the first museum show devoted to a single artist’s renderings of superheroes, treating the works not as cultural history but as art.

It’s a very Warholian gesture, honoring commercial art whose subject matter is beloved by the public but traditionally scorned by critics. “Warhol was a big comic book fan, and we’re the pop culture museum,” says Jesse Kowalski, the museum’s director of exhibitions, explaining why he conceived and organized the Ross show. “What art is more pop culture than comic book art?”

Unlike some of the museum’s more esoteric shows, such as a current exhibit of Warhol’s films (“This is boring!” a disgusted visitor declared), this one is a crowd-pleaser.

Attitudes Shifting

More important, it also captures a significant shift in public attitudes, one with big economic consequences. Contemporary adult audiences simultaneously recognize the artifice and fantasy of the superhero world and appreciate its imaginative pleasures. Straightforward escapism has replaced scorn, embarrassment and defensive irony.

As a result, superheroes have become cultural staples — the subjects of billions of dollars in merchandise, video games, television shows and, of course, blockbuster movies, including four of this year’s top 20 box office hits so far.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in 1966, a Newsweek feature on the then-cutting-edge Pop movement declared that “not only is it permissible for adults to read pulp comics, it is a sociological necessity.” Far from making superhero comics legitimate adult fare, however, the Pop moment left them stigmatized as camp — the Zap! Pow! Holy Ridicule! of the short-lived “Batman” TV series. Comic fans generally loathe that show.

“They made people laugh at Batman. And that just killed me,” writes Michael E. Uslan, the executive producer of the contemporary Batman movies, in his memoir “The Boy Who Loved Batman.” As a child, Uslan writes, he vowed “to restore Batman to his true and rightful identity as the Dark Knight … a creature of the night stalking criminals from the shadows.”

As a producer, he fulfilled that vow with Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” demonstrating that superhero stories, if done with conviction, could be enormously lucrative. That first Batman film grossed $411 million worldwide. Uslan’s most successful production, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” released in 2008, has taken in more than $1 billion worldwide.

These triumphs depended on taking a more direct, less ironic approach to superheroes — one that could acknowledge the fantasy while nonetheless creating a world in which superheroes seemed real. The Warhol Museum exhibit suggests why this approach has such an enduring appeal.

There is, first of all, the pure aesthetic pleasure. Like Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn and Jackie (or, indeed, of Superman), the Ross paintings offer new and beautiful ways of seeing familiar, emotionally resonant icons. The exhibit may be Pop, but it definitely isn’t camp.

“I want to convince the viewer that this is legitimate, that this is something inspiring, not something comical,” Ross tells me. “I’m on the side of the material. I’m trying to win you over.”

Fantastic Made Realistic

Like Norman Rockwell, some of whose works also appear in the exhibit, Ross works from live models and he paints (in gouache, as opposed to Rockwell’s oils) rather than, in the traditional comic-book style, drawing and coloring his figures. The result is a seemingly realistic rendering of the fantastic.

“It almost looks like history,” says Larry Levine, a graphic designer who was touring the opening with a friend. Another visitor, Stephen A. Glassman, the president and chief executive officer of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, marveled at the paintings’ vibrant colors and vivid forms. “I’m just knocked over by how absolutely gorgeous these images are,” he says.

Beyond the pleasures of color and form is, of course, the inspirational allure of the heroes themselves. “They’re everyone’s dream of how to solve problems and resolve all the conflicts in the world,” Glassman says. “It’s not realistic, but it makes you feel good.”

Such unapologetic, frank escapism accounts not just for the broad appeal but also for the versatility of superhero stories. Embracing the artifice of superheroes means accepting that there is no single correct approach to the genre. If you don’t treat superheroes as a joke but nonetheless admit (to yourself and your audience) that they’re obvious fiction, you can experiment — fool around with different styles of art, different assumptions about the setting, different sorts of plots.

Stories can be grim or joyful, philosophical or silly, revisionist or traditional, family-friendly or adults-only. It is this approach, with its ample space for reinvention and reinterpretation, that has allowed superheroes not only to satisfy generations of hard-core fans but also to become such profitable mass-market properties.

With their plenitude of possible incarnations, superheroes can be deployed in nostalgic war pictures (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), mythic family dramas (“Thor”), action comedies (“The Green Hornet”), New Frontier science fiction (“X-Men: First Class”) or alien-filled space opera (“Green Lantern”) — to stick only to this year’s Hollywood movies. (Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, meanwhile, has his own superhero movie, “Ra.One,” premiering on Oct. 26.)

Room for Camp

Nolan’s Batman trilogy, whose final installment, “The Dark Knight Rises,” will come out next year, is as dark as “The Incredibles” was sunny. In an agapic moment, the utterly unironic Ross even allows a place for that hated Batman show. “There’s perfectly well a need for camp in comics as well as realism,” he says. “There’s no reason not to have both.”

Outside the museum, the Superman banner flanks the front door on the right, while to the left is another banner, headlined “It’s All About Andy.” Warhol would have enjoyed the juxtaposition. He really was a fan.

Along with prints from Warhol’s 1981 Myths series, including a Superman glimmering with diamond dust, the exhibit has examples from his personal stash of comic books, including not only Batman and Lois Lane (“Superman’s Girlfriend”) comics but also the classic Fantastic Four issue “The Coming of Galactus.” Warhol gave his nephew Jules Feiffer’s lively 1965 defense of the genre, “The Great Comic Book Heroes,” and he owned superhero memorabilia (the display features a Wonder Woman pop-up book and Wonder Woman shoelaces, still in their original package!).

Seated once next to Warhol, Michael Uslan brought up his favorite subject. “Oh,” responded the artist in his affectless way. “I love the comic books.”

Born in 1926, Warhol knew comics in their heyday (comic book sales peaked in the 1940s). These days, the books themselves are like runway couture: niche creations that support a host of more-profitable mass merchandise. But America loves their super-powered progeny, all the way to the bank — and now the museum.

(Virginia Postrel is a Bloomberg View columnist. She is the author of “The Future and Its Enemies” and “The Substance of Style,” and is writing a book on glamour. The opinions expressed are her own.)

–Editors: Tobin Harshaw, Stacey Shick

Click on “Send Comment” in sidebar display to send a letter to the editor.

To contact the writer of this article: Virginia Postrel at vp@dynamist.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.

From: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-06/superheroes-already-commerce-grow-up-as-art-virginia-postrel.html

Superman Fan Undergoes Cosmetic Surgery To Resemble The Man Of Steel


Herbert Chavez is a 35-year-old Filipino man who has since 1995 endured numerous plastic surgeries in an effort to more closely resemble Superman, the legendary DC Comics superhero. Chin augmentation, rhinoplasty and thigh implants are just some of the procedures Chavez, a hardcore Superman fan, has elected to undergo in an unsettling quest that one psychiatrist has identified as symptomatic of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

According to UCLA’s Semel Institute for Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Body Dysmorphic Disorder is:

…a body image disorder in which individuals are preoccupied with a perceived flaw in physical appearance, which can result in severe functional impairment and suffering. Individuals with BDD usually focus on one or more aspects of their appearance, such as skin, nose, hair, eyes (or any other part of their appearance), which they believe to be defective or ugly. Individuals with BDD often feel depressed, anxious and ashamed. Their degree of anguish and distress is such that it interferes with their day-to-day activities such as work, school, or social situations.

A psychiatrist interviewed by the Philippines’ ABS-CBN News (video at link) suggested that Chavez, who works as a “pageant trainer,” suffers from BDD. While she did not examine him personally, the doctor’s diagnosis would seem to fit the apparent facts. According to RealSelf.com, a website dedicated to the discussion of cosmetic treatments, Chavez’s surgeries to more closely resemble Superman and specific Superman actors include:

  • Chin augmentation for the cleft
  • Rhinoplasty to simulate the nose of famous Superman actor Christopher Reeve
  • Silicone lip injections
  • Thigh implants

Judging by Chavez’s “before” photograph, RealSelf speculates that the man has also undergone procedures to alter his eyes, cheeks and jaw, and perhaps more.



It’s generally known that many people who elect to have cosmetic surgery wish to resemble famous actors or musicians, but Chavez’s case is unusual in that he’s gone through what must be a lot of physical pain and financial expense to look like Superman, a fictional character. In the Filipino news report, you can see that his home is covered in wall-to-wall Superman memorabilia, including several life-size replicas of the character, one of which is modeled after Superman Returns star Brandon Routh.

It is of course within this man’s rights to alter his body in any way he sees fit, but it’s not hard to imagine the Man of Steel disapproving of Chavez’s actions.

[Via Robot 6]

From: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/10/05/superman-plastic-surgeries/

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