No Effort Week: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

January 27th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

In contrast to the wackness from the other day, here are some people who understand the internet:

-Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Gingerbread Girl is going to be serialized online for free before being collected into a trade. You can preorder Gingerbread Girl or check it out on Top Shelf 2.0. Why is this cool? No particular order: 1) It’s free, which is always a nice price. 2) These are two extremely talented creators doing creator-owned work 3) Top Shelf 2.0 is nice and easy to use.

Young Justice is DC’s latest stab at a cartoon and it seems pretty okay. I watched the first two and thought it would be something good to binge on when they get like ten episodes down. I don’t have cable, though, which puts me at a disadvantage for watching it. BUT. Episodes go up on Amazon either the same night or the next morning after they air. Here’s a link to “Independence Day, Part 1”, the first episode of the season. It’s three bucks per HD episode or slightly less if you buy a season pass, which will also download episodes for you automatically. I like this, and I like that they’re not fooling around with idiotic delays or exclusivity. If you want to watch it, you can kick Amazon three dollars and watch it. Three bucks adds up over time, but taken in short doses? Easy as pie. All TV shows should do this.

-I wanted to check out that new Sherlock show, but paying seven bucks an episode for a show I’ve never seen, movie-length or not, seems like a bit much to do all at once. I looked up Luther, though, because Idris Elba is that dude and I’d heard that it was great. News flash: Luther is $0.99 per episode in HD, which makes it six whole dollars for the entire first season. Yes: this is good. Probably not sustainable, but if you want to talk about impulse purchases, this is how you do it. Price it lower to sell more.

Cat Shit One is coming to Youtube for free for two full weeks on Feb 5th, for at least one episode. This story of animals fighting in the MIddle East has had my attention for months now, and this release is great. Skip the first 1:15 of that video (it’s some dumb toy) and flick it over to display in 720p. It looks great, and I can’t wait to see it. If it ends up getting a digital release via Amazon or iTunes, I’m kicking money their way.

Skottie Young released The Adventures of Bernard the World Destroyer digitally for only two dollars. Bought it sight unseen. Young’s art is dope, and I’m curious to see how he swings when he does creator-owned.

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No Effort Week: “For selling the tales… of young black males”

January 26th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I spend a lot of time thinking about race. It happens both on the “being black in America consists in large part of being constantly reminded you are black in America” level and on the “how does the portrayal of race alter the quality of this bit of pop culture” level. If you live in America, it’s inescapable, isn’t it? You have to have some thoughts on the subject.

The vogue thing for a while was “Race is a social construct,” which really just translates to “I took a class in college once and learned to parrot pointless statements.” Another good one is “I don’t see race,” which is another way of saying, “I don’t think I’m racist, but I also don’t want to spend any time investigating this uncomfortable subject, so let me just dodge this and leave me alone, okay?”

Words are powerful. They help us define our selves and our limits, and can be used for good or evil. How you talk about what you’re talking about matters a great deal. In high school, I made the decision to wipe the phrase “African-American” from my vocabulary. It’s clunky and ugly, and growing up, I was taught to be black and proud. You can roll with it or get rolled over.

I struggled with “nigger” for a fair few years. Is it offensive, am I okay with that, is it disrespectful to my elders, what about rap music, how would C Delores Tucker feel about it, is it a political choice… in the end, I decided that saying “the n-word” is something I’m not even remotely interested in doing. Euphemisms, beating around the bush, all of that isn’t for me. If I’m gonna say nigger, I’m just gonna man up and say it. And so I did. And do. Death to euphemisms. Keep it honest.

There are a couple phrases I do not, and have rarely ever, used when writing about race, black people, and comical books. “Minority” and “People of color.” I think the last time I used “of color” was 2006. My problem with both of those phrases is how they set up white as the default, and then any other race as the other. I get how that can be valuable in politics or whatever, but for me personally? I’m not down. Why? Because I don’t like black being defined as being in opposition to someone else. I stand on my own, and my people do, too. I’m not not-white. I’m black. That’s something else entirely.

So, I made the conscious decision to scrub them from my vocabulary. That’s not how I want to think about these things. And I am better for it, both personally and academically, for lack of a better way to say “bloggily.”

Black History Month 2011 kicks off Tuesday. I’m learning a lot about the connection of blacks to comics and also about where I, as a reader, stand with regards to blacks and comics.

Stay tuned.

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No Effort Week: “Grow Up” or “Globalize or Die”

January 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

DVD and Blu-ray region coding are a form of protecting rights for each territory. Digital content (Internet streaming and digital download or EST (Electronic Sell-Through) is the new format. With every new format, standards and territory restrictions need to be set so every country licensing content (live action series, anime or movies) can have their rights protected and be able to sell for their specific territories.

(via Anime Simulcasts, Territory Rights and the Future | The Official FUNimation Blog.)

That’s Lance Heiskell, Marketing Director for FUNimation Entertainment, explaining the purpose DVD region coding serves. In case you missed it, here’s a brief summary of what led to his post:

1. Funimation licenses an anime for simulcasting in America and Japan
2. Anime is simulcast
3. Anime fans pirate it
4. Japanese rights holder tells Funimation that they can’t simulcast the anime until they shut down every pirate site

Can you spot the huge, glaring errors in that sequence? Let’s go down the list again:
1. Anime company does the smart thing and decides to try to get the anime to the fans simultaneous with the Japanese release
2. Anime company airs the anime for free
3. Anime fans prove themselves to be selfish, stupid clowns
4. Japanese rights holder decides to one-up them in stupidity with a good old “I’m taking my ball and going home!”

If you want people to buy your stuff, you have to 1) be more convenient than piracy and 2) deal with the fact that somebody is going to bootleg it. If you want to continue consuming stuff, especially stuff that costs you nothing, you should suck it up and do it the right way. Both sides here look like idiots, but the Japanese reaction is absurd. The fans got what they wanted and pirated it anyway, and the reaction from the rights holders was to remove the only legal way of watching their show. You know what that means?

That just means that everyone is going to pirate it, rather than some of the audience. That’s biting off your nose to spite your face. They’d have been better off taking the L, going after the pirate sites, and leaving the stream up.

But hey, when your business is based around old ideas like region coding. News flash: regions have been made obsolete. I run a crappy little comics blog that has readers in 155 of the 195 countries on planet Earth. I regularly speak with people in Europe, North America, South America, and Japan. I’m nobody and people from places I’ve never been to are checking for me. If I have readers all over, and I am the dictionary definition of “doesn’t matter,” what do you think your anime is going to have? People today are savvy enough to know what they want and where to get it. Region coding is just an obstacle, and no more difficult to leap over than, say, a small pebble in the street. Everything is just a link away.

It’s nice that you still have territory rights. It’s adorable. But it’s time to wake up and realize that your consumers hate it at best, and will actively bootleg your stuff because of it at worst. And, horror among horrors, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Sorry, Charlie.

Companies: Globalize or die.
Fans: Get over yourself and learn when somebody is trying to be on your side.

(of course, between writing this and getting it up, Fractale is back streaming, but my point stands.)

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No Effort Week: Death to the Uncool

January 24th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely at what was, at this point, the top of their game. From Flex Mentallo to We3 on through to All-Star Superman, this duo has proven to be one of the best in comics.
New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s remains one of the best, if not the best, X-Men stories.

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