28 March 2011

Why television frustrates me: The Cape deserves an ending.

Long time no see, making my way through midterms and not finding many events to go to lately. Anime Boston is coming up in a few weeks though, so I have some costumes to work on for that. Lately, I have been watching a lot of live-action shows, such as Kamen Rider. Its a wild mix of camp, drama, comedy, crazy fights with costumed monsters, and generally awesome Japanese super hero fun. It seems like a cousin to western comics, just a different culture's take on the same concept. I'd really love to see a Batman/Kamen Rider team up comic, my life would so be made. So why can't America has successful live-action television adaptions of comics?

"The Cape" is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons ("ER") as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, "Life on Mars") and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, "Flash Forward"). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Vince Faraday becomes "The Cape" - his son's favorite comic book superhero - and takes the law into his own hands.

I started watching The Cape shortly after it aired, through On-Demand. From the early ads I saw for it, I was convinced it was supposed to be some gritty realistic take on vigilante costumed heroes, riding on the last bits of popularity of The Dark Knight, as a bad TV show written by people who don't get comics. The commercials really portrayed it that way and that was Problem #1. I was ready to hate it. How can you reach your target audience if your ads miss them completely? (Also of note. I was at San Diego Comic Con and didn't hear anything about it there.)
I started episode 1 with complete reluctance. I laughed, a lot. I tweeted, "Is this a joke?" but I kept watching. It was probably around episode 3 or 4 when I finally got it.
It wasn't supposed to be anything. It just was a comic book without being based on one. Look at the cinematography, the harsh contrast of light and shadow, the intense camera angles, the editing.. you could take screen caps of every scene and it would look exactly like a comic book come to life. I really love that!
The formula was good, an equal balance of an ongoing story and a story within the episode, with the mini titles for each chapter. Again, "reading" like a comic. Then we have the homages, where everyone on the internet cried "rip off!" and missed the point: the difference between an homage and a rip off is love.
Maybe you haven't watched mecha anime, its a niche where the writers of newer robot shows grew up on beloved classic robot shows and inject their writing with homages to those classics. Gurren Lagann is the best example of that, an enjoyable stand-alone show made better by tons of homages to Getter Robo and many Gainax anime. While younger fans enjoyed it for the show itself, older fans found a deeper enjoyment in all the references. Before calling out a rip off, consider the context. (ex: Scales' back story flashback to his origin is an homage to Killer Croc's original origin (before he got re-written a bunch), brought to life in a fun way. "No cake for you!")
The Cape's overall plot is super over the top, expecting you to suspend your disbelief farther than you might be comfortable with. The concept of keeping a secret identity in a digital age is a tough one. Don't know how Superman continues to do it.. but maybe you just have to let go in order to have fun sometimes (ex: those who picked apart the plot of Tron: Legacy and couldn't just enjoy the ride). Once you can have a sense of humor and let go, you open yourself up to more fun experiences. This goes for life in general. (Or you can just pretend everyone knows Vince is the Cape and they are just playing along to make him happy, it's also very funny that way.)
After letting go, I grew to really love the cast, especially all the magnificent circus folk and their wonderful wardrobes and tricks. New characters were brought in for each episode and they were great! The acting and writing was delightful. A big world unfolded and threads were left hanging to bring back characters after they left..  more and more threads came together, the show got even crazier and more ridiculous... and then CUT! The end.
That's it, everyone go home. What was Tarot? Will we ever see Hicks again? What the hell is up with Orwell? No really, what is up with Orwell? Does Vince ever get to be just Vince again? Would he continue fighting crime if he brought down Fleming and proved himself innocent? What about that guy who originally had the cape, Kosmo? So much was set up - such a colorful rogues gallery - and then.. NOTHING.
Episode 10, "Endgame", felt like the first half of a two parter.
The show was supposed to run for a 13 episode season, but was soon cut down to 10. It seems the script was not adjusted for that and just abruptly stopped. The 10th episode did not even air on TV, but was a web-only, streaming episode available on the NBC website.
Here we are, the tiny bunch of loyal fans who eagerly enjoyed every episode... betrayed like this by NBC.

I just saw a preview picture of Booster Gold's appearance on Smallville. That show's success baffles me, I watched the whole first season and disliked it so strongly, I couldn't stomach the idea of ever watching more. What started as a re-imagining of young Superman for a broader mass market started bringing in more characters from the DCU in later seasons and it just didn't make sense to me. Shows based on existing, long-running comics have a canon, and breaking the canon is asking much more of me than suspending my disbelief. Booster Gold's TV costume design bothers me and he's paired up with the wrong Blue Beetle, I just can't watch that. Ten seasons, seriously? DC fans watched 10 seasons of this and The Cape can't even get 1 more episode to tie up just the main plot line? Really?
Oh, I am butt hurt.
Finally, a shiny new TV show that isn't a remake of British TV, rehash of a movie, rewrite of a comic, re-re-re-re whatever, and it doesn't get a chance to really come into its own. And now I have to read about the new Wonder Woman show... which sounds more like Power Girl wearing a latex Wonder Woman porno costume & wig. I'm not even going to give that steaming pile of failure a chance because it's a lose/lose for everyone.

Please please please, for me, give The Cape a chance. Catch up on the measly 10 episodes, let go and have fun, and spread the word: give it an ending!
I would be perfectly happy if the writers took it to paper and finished the story in a comic, if they can't afford to do more web-only episodes. That beats nothing! Nothing is just unfair, don't the loyal fans deserve better than that? Small bunch as we may be?
I know I'm not alone.


13 March 2011

Escapism, or comics I love to run away to.

The world is falling apart and I sincerely hope you guys have all done your part in some way. That said, let's get on to what this post is about: new comics. Comics are a classic escape from the real world, and a bit more of a cozy niche than television and video games. Plus I don't have tv and I'm honestly terrible at most games, so I love coming home from a stressful day at school to a comfy bed to read comics in when I get the chance.
I used to read most major DC titles but got really thrown off during all the giant tie-in events lately. I'm probably not the target audience for that tactic and have yet to catch up. So I am left reading stand-alone titles, which are all pretty excellent.
Here's my most recent haul:

 I already posted about how much I adore this comic but it can't be said enough, it only gets better. The story tastes like Pop Rocks and Blow Pops and Nerds Rope. Just when I wanted to scream at the oversaturation of zombies, vampires, etc, in media lately, iZombie flips that all on its head and makes it fun and fresh. Mike & Laura Allred's art.. oh I could fawn over it all day, what a sweet and supertalented pair. Gwen is a pretty adorable dead girl and strangely relatable as well, though the whole cast rocks. I can't wait to see where the story goes and I hope it goes on for a long time, as I will keep eating it up like the delicious candy it is.

Joe the Barbarian
 Its been such a long break between issue 7 and the final issue, I have to go back and re-read before finishing this title. It's Grant Morrison so I oughta do it in one sitting now that it is available. I have recommended this story to friends who aren't really into comics because it is very different. The art is incredible, Sean Murphy does such a flawless job of creating a strong mood and detailed world that conveys the story without relying all on words. It just sweeps you up into it. Looking forward to a trade!

Weird Worlds
.. or Tanga because I haven't been reading Lobo or Garbageman, sorry.
Adventuring through space with a rather sassy purple alien babe as your guide sure is an appealing escape. A lot of classic comics rely on an established hero defending their turf, where there is little to no exploration. Here we have an all new character in new worlds and that sure is a welcome change of pace. It is fresh and fun and I really can't get enough of a good space adventure. Kevin Maguire does both the art and writing, so his passion really shines on every page. Rosemary Cheetham is new to the scene but does an impressive job on coloring, really complimenting the lineart. They make a super team! Though such a short amount of pages a month really leaves me wanting more.
Dear DC, I pay full price for this title only to read 1/3 of it. Please take a hint from other similar reviews and let Tanga shine on her own soon!! Lots of love ~x

...And since purple is such an excellent color, I give you my personal favorite purple beauty items:

+ LimeCrime lipstick in Airborne Unicorn
+ NYX Studio Liquid Liner in Extreme Purple
+ Jerome Russell Punky Color hair dye in Violet
+ Sephora by OPI nail polish in Just a Little Dangerous
+ Larenim loose mineral eyeshadow in Purple Reign

04 March 2011

Easy Glove Tutorial

This is a tutorial for anyone afraid of sewing costume gloves for the first time or just looking for a fast, easy way to make gloves that don't need to be so seam-intensive. This tutorial is not the best way to make gloves, just the fastest. I use this method in a lot of costumes and think the simplicity lends itself just fine to comic characters. Best fabrics to use are 4-way stretch knits (spandex, vinyl), definately not wovens.