Tag Archives: disney

So You’re Just Getting Into Comics?

It’s a fair question in this day and age; comics are becoming more popular with the deluge of comic book movies hitting the silver screen. With almost one a month vying for your attention, it’s understandable that some people are being drawn (back?) into the four-color page. The thing is, despite the innocuous nature of the question when it’s asked in the most innocent of ways, sometimes it can also be somewhat off-putting – especially when it comes with a perceived sneer from one who can easily be said to be one of The Old Guard: those who have been into comics since the first known instance of sequential art was first splattered on a cave wall.

cave painting.jpg

I’m pretty sure that the sequel to this is coming soon…Source

I’m exaggerating, obviously.

Donald12_cvrSUB_BBut the thing is, I know how intimidating it can be to walk into a comic shop to start looking for comics. Ten years ago I did just that when walking into a new shop in Eastern Canada. While I was in no way subject to the awkward treatment that some are when entering a new comic shop, it was still a little uncomfortable for me at the time; I came from a place where comics and superheroes weren’t exactly as accepted as they are now, and so walking into a new shop as a relative newbie felt a bit… intimidating. It shouldn’t have been. It may be worth noting that my experience of growing up in the South West of England had been a relatively unfriendly environment to a comics fan; now in fairness that may have been simply nothing more than me being the only comics fan I knew, rather than a derision of the medium itself. Regardless, nobody ever asked how new I was to comics, and that’s something that I didn’t know how much I appreciated – especially when going to a new shop.

Instead, they asked whether I was into comics. A subtle difference but a distinct one, and it was upon reading a blog piece (and do you think I was smart enough to save the link so you could read it as well?) that got me thinking; if it could be intimidating for me going into a new shop and being asked that question, and I had been into comics for more than half a decade at that point, somebody who is just now starting to explore the medium could be turned off by some idiot who’s too condescending for their own good – whether in a shop or on the street – asking the same question.

Comics readership isn’t what it once was. We all know that; it’s not a secret. But what can we do to attract new readers? Despite asking such a loaded question, I’m going to focus on one simple thing in particular: us.

While we can’t control what publishers are doing to attract new readers, what we can do is not be pretentious dicks to those new to the medium as they begin to drift into the Circle of Comics Readership (CCR – because this will come up again, and I don’t want to keep typing it all out). If they want to start reading comics by picking stuff up that they recognize from other mediums, whether it be videogames, movies, television, or any other source, then as fellow members of the CCR it falls to us to encourage them to pick up the floppy books they’re interested in.

MickeyMouse_TimelessTales_v1-cvrIt shouldn’t matter to us if they want to read one of IDW Publishing’s Disney comics, because as long as they’re buying and reading comics, then there’s a future that includes new readers. After all, is it more important to bring readers into the medium or is it more important to make sure that they only read the Best Stuff?

Comics should be for everybody, and while not everybody will like every comic, people should have the luxury of finding comics they like and don’t like without others looking down their nose at me as I pick up Donald Duck #14.  

There is enough negativity in the world without bringing needlessly elitist judgments into the comic book world. Okay, so you can pinpoint with exact geographic accuracy where Atlantis is, and that guy has a Batman tattoo on his stomach, and you over there by the cooler can tell my where the tree that provided the paper for the sheet that Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel created the first version of Superman on. While that’s  all well and good (and if you can let me know which tree, I am curious), if somebody is going to a comic shop to pick up Sonic the Hedgehog, My Little Pony, or Mickey Mouse comics, don’t make them feel stupid for not being into grim/dark superheroes.

And I say that knowing full well that I am the pot calling the kettle black.

MLP45-coverSUB“Comics should be inclusive.” That statement should extend beyond the call for diverse representation of gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality within the comics themselves; we, the comic book reading fan base should be open to all comics, whether we read them or not. Saying that comics should be inclusive shouldn’t come with a caveat. There should be no small print saying that “comics are inclusive (but only if you like the predetermined cool stuff, otherwise we’ll laugh at you).” If a person wants to read comics, no matter what comics, then as fellow comic book fans we should be supportive of that. Otherwise, this fantastic method of storytelling may not be around as long as we want it to be. We may not get another seventy-five years out of comics if we keep belittling people for their choice of which comics to read.

I have been guilty in the past of judging the comics I just listed as “Shelf Wasters,” because I couldn’t understand why people would want to read them. Kids, sure, but adults? I couldn’t understand it – why would anybody read stuff like My Little Pony, Mickey Mouse, or Sonic The Hedgehog. It made no sense to me. Then it hit me: people read those comics because they enjoy them. And who am I, who are you, to take that away from them? What right do we have to tell somebody the comic they love is just taking away shelf space from another comic that we probably won’t read because it’s so damn similar to everything else.

Anyway, have you ever tried one of those previously mentioned Shelf Wasters? Because when it comes down to it, I’d much rather have a blast with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck then spend $6 an issue on regurgitated toilet paper like Dark Knight III: The Master Race any day of the week.

My Little Pony may never be my cup of tea, but I’ll be damned if I ever judge somebody for wanting to read it ever again.

Mystery Minis: Disney Villains in September

Our latest Mystery Minis series highlights the most evil characters from Disney’s rich history and their companions!

This set features classics like Maleficent and her pet raven Diablo, Ursula and her moray eel minions Flotsam and Jetsam, the Red Queen with White Rabbit, and Cruella de Vil with Patch!

Prince John and his confidant Sir Hiss, Shan Yu with Hayabusa the Falcon, and Dr. Facilier accompanied by his Voodoo doll round out the set!

Which one will you get?!

Mystery Minis: Disney Villains are out in September from Funko.

Mystery Minis Disney Villains 1 Mystery Minis Disney Villains 2

Around the Tubes

From Now On by Malachi WardIt’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below!

While you await the shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – What’s It’s Like To Be Batman In VR – Can’t wait for this!

The Hollywood Reporter – Donald Glover Joins ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ – Joins, as in discussion to join. So not really joined.

Comics Alliance – J. Michael Straczynski’s ‘Rising Stars’ Optioned for the Big Screen By MGM – Surprised this took so long to get snatched up.

Newsarama – Disney Pledges $1 Million To Orlando Victims Support Fund – Very nice of them to do.

London Graphic Novel Network – Crown on the Ground / Life During Wartime – A great read.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

ICv2 – Danganronpa: The Animation Vol. 1 TP

The Beat – From Now On

Nothing But Comics – Weird Detective #1

Pickle and Peanut Vinyl Figures in August

Disney‘s Pickle and Peanut make their Funko debut as stylized vinyl figures!

When these two aren’t off causing mischief, they’re rapping, scheming, and generally trying to do it all!

Collect them both this summer! Pickle and Peanut Vinyl Figures are out in August from Funko.

Pickle and Peanut Vinyl Figures

Pop! Disney: Pete’s Dragon in July

Elliott from Pete’s Dragon is coming just in-time for the live action take on the classic story!

Even though he has the power to become invisible and breathe fire, he’ll be content if you just rub his stomach!

Pop! Disney: Pete’s Dragon is out in July from Funko.

Pop! Disney Pete's Dragon

Mystery Minis: Disney•Pixar Finding Dory in June

There are plenty of fish in the sea and, during Dory’s travels, she encounters quite a few!

Dory and Hank come across a variety of new aquatic friends!

Which one will you get?!

Mystery Minis: Disney•Pixar Finding Dory are out in June from Funko.

Mystery Minis Disney•Pixar Finding Dory 1 Mystery Minis Disney•Pixar Finding Dory 2

Find a (Pop!) Dory in June

She just kept swimming!

Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory, the sequel to the universally acclaimed Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo, follows the friendly-but-forgetful Dory in her quest to reunite with her loved ones!

She’s joined by Hank the octopus!

Pop! Disney – Disney•Pixar Finding Dory is out in June from Funko.

Pop! Disney – Disney•Pixar Finding Dory Dory Pop! Disney – Disney•Pixar Finding Dory Hank

Marvel and Disney Threaten to Boycott Georgia, Plus Dragon Con’s Statement

walt disney marval headerCurrently Georgia is debating HB 757, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” the latest piece of legislation that “defends religion” while really just legalizing discrimination against gay people or others protected by civil rights laws. The legislation gives individuals a pass to deny service based on their religious beliefs. This is beyond business owners, but a pharmacist can deny medicine, a police officer can refuse to intervene, doctors could refuse medical care if you don’t adhere to their religious beliefs.

The legislation original was a measure to protect pastors who refused to perform same-sex weddings. “Extra protections” were added allowing for the discrimination by businesses and employees. It passed the Georgia House 104-65 when the “extra protections” were added.

It is currently headed to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk to be signed. The Governor has hinted he would not sign the bill.

Disney and Marvel have confirmed they would no longer film in Georgia if the legislation is passed. In a statement to Polygon a Disney spokesperson said:

Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.

Currently the companies are filming Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 in the state, and have previously filmed Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War there. The Human Rights Campaign has called for Hollywood to pull all production out of the state if it’s passed and the Motion Picture Association of America has called the legislation “discriminatory.”

AMC‘s The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia, and we have reached out for a statement from the production company. We’ll update this story if we receive a statement.

Similar legislation was passed in Indiana and Gen Con has threatened to leave the state over it. The legislation has since been modified. Dragon Con, a major convention in Georgia, has released a statement concerning the legislation.

Dragon Con is proud of its long history of accepting all fans, no matter who they are today or who they want to be during the convention. Which is why we are closely monitoring the “religious rights” bill just passed by the Georgia Legislature.  As we did in 2015, when a similar bill was considered, Dragon Con’s leadership is working closely with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, which are actively lobbying against these discriminatory bills, to make our opinion known to Georgia legislators and the governor.

Our position has not changed: Legislation that hurts one of us, hurts all of us.

Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had. Our founders and our convention leaders all have deep family roots in the metropolitan area.  Over the last 30 years, we have seen the city change considerably, almost always for the better. We have great faith that our state’s leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians.

Should this bill become law, we will seek written assurances from all of our business partners that they will not participate in any discriminatory behavior on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other point of identification.  We have no intention now or in the future of supporting a business partner that discriminates.

The Haunted Mansion #1: A Conversational Review

haunted_mansion_1_coverMarvel released the first issue of The Haunted Mansion a couple of weeks ago, through their Disney Kingdoms imprint which focuses on telling new stories based upon the characters, rides, or attractions from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The Haunted Mansion is a comic based upon the ride of the same name, a ride that my wife thoroughly enjoyed when we visited the park in Florida last year. So when the first issue hit the racks I made sure to pick a copy up for her.

Now, while my wife is incredibly supportive of my comic book addiction reading, she’s not a huge comic book reader herself. But because she is a big fan of the ride I was curious to find out what she thought about the first issue.

So once we’d both read the comic, we had a bit of a chat about it.

You enjoyed the comic, eh?

Yep.

How did it compare to the ride itself?

It felt a little like the ride; I liked the commitment to the little details like the wallpaper, the paintings, characters, room features and the entrance to the ride itself with the stretching paintings, which is one of my favourite parts.

Yeah, I noticed that too. I thought there were a lot of neat nods to the ride, like the order the kid encounters the different ghosts.

Yeah, that was cool.

What about the story, did that work for you at all?

Well I wasn’t sure where it was going at the beginning, but perhaps the next time I ride the ride I’ll feel I’m one of the mortals helping the ghosts to get out. I am interested to see what happens to the main character next.

Do you want me to grab the second one when it comes out on April 20th?

Yeah, I’ll read the second one. I’d like to see some of the other covers, too.

Would you be interested in reading more from Marvel’s Disney Kingdoms imprint?

Yeah, if they stayed along the same lines as this one, and offered me elements of the parks themselves, then I would be interested.

Could you see yourself reading other comics eventually as well, if you enjoy this series?

Perhaps. I mean, you have bought me a few other comics that I have yet to read. It’s a new medium for me, but I may give it another go. Why not, eh?


Why not indeed. If this comic proves to be a gateway into the comic book world for my wife, and others who pick the issue up just because of the title, then that’s a good thing for our hobby. The first issue of The Haunted Mansion  has been on sale for a couple weeks now, and it’s actually a pretty strong issue that’s worth a read if you’re even a little bit of a fan of the ride, or even Disney. As for myself, I enjoyed the comic and while The Haunted Mansion wouldn’t have ordinarily been something that I’d have picked up at the comic shop if not for my wife wanting to read the first issue. When the one comes out, though, whether she’d be interested in reading the next issue or not I’d likely be picking it up for myself anyway.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Jorge Coelho and E.M. Gist

Zootopia Deconstructs Beast Fables, Ancient and Modern

Zootopia

*Spoiler alert for the entire Zootopia film*

The latest Disney animated film Zootopia wowed both audiences and critics grossing $75.1 million domestically, which is the biggest opening weekend for a non-Pixar Disney animated film, and getting 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film features anthropomorphic animals (Mostly mammals.) living in a society, not unlike contemporary American society with complex gender, class, and race divisions. It follows the first bunny police officer Judy Hopps (voiced by Once Upon A Time‘s Ginnifer Goodwin) as she moves from the rural Bunny Burrows to Zootopia and investigates a missing animal case with the help of fox con man and self-proclaimed hustler Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman). Along the way, she becomes aware of the problems, corruption, and overall complicated nature of living in a diverse society. The plot of the film is a crime thriller meets mystery with a dash of comedy and satire, and there are nods and homages to great crime stories, like Breaking Bad and The Godfather along with the slapstick and pitfalls of animated films. However, throughout the film, Zootopia is a deconstruction of the classic beast fable genre, which uses animals and their often stereotypical personalities to teach a moral lesson.

Royal 10 E.IV, f.49v

Reynard the Fox seducing the other animals.

Beast fables are simple and usually straightforward tales that use animals to model ethics. For example, in the The Nun’s Priest Tale found in Geoffrey Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales, the fox Reynard symbolizes deception and evil while the doomed rooster protagonist Chanticleer symbolizes pride and its downfall. It’s a pithy, memorable tale with the lesson of not listening to flattery. But beneath the moral instruction and broad animal personalities, there is usually something nefarious dealing with the ideological conflicts or fears of the time period. In the 14th century, the Roman Catholic Church used the popular Reynard character to attack the English Lollard preachers, who believed that the common people should read and hear the Bible in their own language and not Latin. Later, in 1937, there was an anti-Semitic Dutch children’s story called Of Reynaert the Fox that was used as Nazi propaganda on the eve of World War II to show the lawlessness of Jewish people and socialists.

This story (and later animated film) is one of many that shows the power of children’s stories featuring talking and dressed animals to create social and racial divisions. Disney itself isn’t exempt from this with Dumbo (1940) featuring an actual character named Jim Crow, the singing Siamese cats in Lady in the Tramp (1955), and all of the Song of the South (1946), which has never been released on video or DVD, but is still featured as part of the Disney theme parks’ Splash Mountain ride. Basically, people attribute different personality qualities to animals that may have nothing to do with their actual nature, biological or otherwise, and apply them to people to demonize them and make them less than human. This happens in Zootopia, a world where predators and prey supposedly live in harmony, but Judy’s parents give her repellent and a taser specifically made for foxes before she goes off to the big city. The opening of the film shows a young Judy along with a tiger cub talking about how they have moved on from this primal state, but deeply engrained racist attitudes still persist even in a highly developed society, like Zootopia.

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But, back to the fox. In many cultures, the fox symbolizes treachery. “Outfox” means to deceive someone, the German WWII general Erwin Rommel was nicknamed the “Desert Fox” because he confused Allied forces with his maneuvers in North Africa, and in Japanese folklore, the kitsune is a symbol of mischief. However, in the 1973 Disney animated classic Robin Hood, the title hero was a fox because of Robin Hood’s guerilla tactics to evade the forces of usurper Prince John while stealing the government’s money and giving it to the poor. Robin Hood may not obey the law, but he has the good of ordinary people in mind in his actions. The multiple writers of Zootopia apply this more nuanced characterization to Nick Wilde, the film’s deuteragonist while showing the pitfalls of profiling and stereotyping people through the animal metaphor. Sure, Nick’s a skilled con man, but he only does this job because as a child, some non-predator children beat and muzzled him when he wanted to become a Zootopia Scout. He felt trapped by the stereotype, and one of the most emotional parts of the film is young Nick crying with his muzzle beside him.

The writers of Zootopia present audiences with the stereotypes of foxes being crafty and deceitful with Nick Wilde pulling a con with his partner Finnick (a fennec fox), who pretends to be his little baby as he gets ice cream from a species-ist elephant and then mass produces them as popsicles to sell to lemming bankers in one of the film’s funniest jokes. It’s a clever sequence and sets up Nick’s character as a trickster in the beast fable tradition. Then, the writers subvert it by making him Judy’s partner as they look for a missing otter and end up being drawn into a vast conspiracy featuring gangsters, the mayor, and drugs that make Zootopia’s predators feral. Judy goes from forcing Nick to help her, or she’ll turn him in for tax evasion to actually becoming friends with him. But this “color blind” utopia idea is short lived once Judy tells the press that predators have a “biological” reason to attack prey, and Nick is hurt by her discrimination. This leads to a citywide crackdown on predators from the corrupt vice mayor Bellwether (voiced by former SNL cast member Jenny Slate), who wants to rule Zootopia by uniting the 90% of non-predators in fear against the 10% predators. It’s similar to the racially charged rhetoric that is marking Donald Trump’s Republican presidential campaign, but Bellwether has a meeker exterior.

The biggest turning point in Zootopia‘s deconstruction of the beast fables comes in a sequence where a savage Nick is chasing Judy around in a natural history diorama featuring deer that is an homage to the Disney classic Bambi. Bellwether (and some of the audience by extension) thinks that Nick is actually savage, and that she can spin a story of a predator killing a hero cop and stir up even more discrimination. But it is all a clever ruse as Nick has replaced the drug in Bellwether’s gun with harmless blueberries from Judy’s parents’ farm. This scene shows the foolishness of judging someone based on their species and by extension, their skin color, sexuality, religion, or gender as Zootopia‘s writers put the stereotypes of the classic beast fables out to pasture in a beautiful musical number by Gazelle (voiced by Shakira), who is a pop star activist, and has tiger backup dancers symbolizing equality. But even though the ending is happy, there is still discrimination going on in Zootopia, and even organized crime from multiple gangs featuring wolves and polar bears that still control whole territories of the city. (Judy and Nick get a lot of help from the polar bear gang led by a shrew named Mr. Big, who is like the animal reincarnation of Vito Corleone.) Just like in our world, there is plenty of work to be done to end racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.

Zootopia subverts the familiar stereotypes of beast fables and their successors, like the Redwall books where mice are good and animals like ferrets, rats, and weasels are evil simply because they are a certain species, and uses its animal characters to show a more nuanced view of the world. People aren’t bad or have a certain personality because they are a certain ethnicity or religion. Judy might be a bunny, but she’s not dumb. Nick is a fox, but he’s not evil. Instead of being like Dumbo or previous Disney cartoons and using animals to propagate racial stereotypes, Zootopia tears them down and even uses storytelling devices like the bait and switch with the berries and drug to get viewers to examine their own prejudices. It is also an entertaining buddy mystery comedy along the way.

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