Friday, March 30, 2012

Drawing the line at, whatever we feel like?

DC Comics had a slogan called"Drawing the Line at $2.99", which is a clever way of saying that all of their comics would cost no more than $2.99. This slogan was ushered in January 2011 and phased out right before the revamping of their comics with the New 52 in September of 2011. According to sales figures, the campaign had no affect on DC sales. While the slogan may have disappeared as had the prospect of increased profits, the actual pricing of many DC comics remained 2.99.

DC's flagship title, Justice League (JL) costs $3.99. This is the same as some of their more popular titles such as Batman. JL is drawn by DC's visionary leader Jim Lee and was the first comic released for the New 52 line. Less popular titles of the New 52 line are still priced at the $2.99 mark. This difference in pricing had me wonder why some of the DC comics are priced at 3.99 while others at 2.99. 

iFanboy website laid out some solid reasoning as to why the $2.99 price tag was done away with, such as someone who doesn't normally read a comic would see 2.99 be just as expensive as 3.99 in light of how much time per $ they would receive in entertainment. I would add that the retention of the $2.99 price tag is in effect for less popular titles as a way to encourage new readers on board. These are the readers that already buy comics on a weekly basis and acts as a low price point to entice them to try a new title. If the title becomes more popular (as a result of the low price acting as a lure), then I would wager the price tag would jump to the $3.99 mark. Another reason for the price differences is that there is likely a difference in the artist's page fees. Every artist employed by the big companies such as DC and Marvel are paid per page they draw. Better and hence more popular artists can command higher page rates than less skilled and hence less well known artists. These lesser known artists often draw fledgling comics and hence the production costs for these comics is also less. The idea of different page rates would explain why Jim Lee's JL costs more than say Supergirl who is illustrated by Mike Johnson (who by-the-by does produce some great art but isn't as well known as Jim Lee).

The topic of the New 52 also reminds me that the majority of the initial story arcs have now ended. Out of the 52 new comics released back in September of 2011, I have continued reading roughly 6 on a regular basis and occasionally grabbed a few issues of about 3 or 4 others, but find myself always a few issues behind on them. 

Lee's cover for JL

Mack cover for DD
Justice League is the first of the New DC comics to complete its initial story arc while it seems that most of the others are about 1 or 2 issues away from doing the same. I have been pretty pleased with the comics that I have continued reading except for Green Lantern, which has a sluggish story and I am still mystified (to put it kindly) as to why nothing in the character's life had changed following the Flashpoint series. As to the Justice League story, I was immediately enamored by the highly skilled line work of Jim Lee. His art is still one of the finest in the realm of comics, although at times it is more flashy than substance unlike other artists such as David Mack. 

2 pages from JL featuring smashy-smash panels & no dialogue
The initial story arc of Justice League was interesting because it rapidly brought the team together as the evil Darkseid made a play at taking over the world. This brought us some spectacular fight scenes that utilized Lee's art to the fullest. However, the context of the story was rushed leaving myself wondering why Darkseid was doing any of this; I'm sorry, but a reason of 'he's just evil' does not always cut it. In the end, there really wasn't much of a story that Geoff Johns brought to the starting plate of Justice League. We were really only handed a beautifully drawn six issues of fight scenes where the characters clumsily found themselves brought together as a means to stay alive during Darkseid's devastating attack in America, which by-the-way is where apparently every extraterrestrial /demon likes to invade the world. I can only hope that from issue 7 on we see an actual story somewhere in the pages of Justice League. Otherwise, I may only regularly be collecting 5 comics from DC.

Well, I think I rambled along enough here. Suffice to say that I understand (for the most part) why companies like DC charge different prices for their comics but that doesn't mean I like it. And speaking of not liking something, I really hope that an actual story with a plot emerges in JL. While I love Jim Lee's explosive fight sequenced paneling, I would also love to know who these characters are!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vote for What Could Become the Next Lego Set!

1 Idea Lego has already made a reality!
So a friend off of facebook posted about a website where people post their ideas for new Lego sets, called LEGO CUUSOO. These ideas are then voted upon by anonymous internet peeps and voila! the most voted for idea might be picked up by Lego! If Lego does decide on making your creation into a reality, then you will receive a 1% royalty from the total net sales. Pretty damn cool if you ask me!

What makes this site even more interesting is that upon voting you are asked a series of short marketing questions, such as your gender and how much you'd pay for a set like the one you are voting on. This information is then used to influence Lego's decision. The questions are also not invasive so as to encourage people to answer truthfully. Overall the site gives me the feeling that the ideas that you are voting on could truly become a reality in the land of shiny bricks and cylindrical heads!

The downside to this site is that it appears to be swamped with ideas inspired by previous properties. Almost every idea is related to either this movie or that, or this comic book character or that. While I have nothing bad to say against a Lego product designed around Back to the Future or Shaun of the Dead (both of which I voted for), I did nonetheless wish for something a bit more creative. I greatly enjoyed seeing the ideas for various architectural feats but again I think the ideas could be bolder and more original. To be fair, an untested idea is a much more risky venture for a company as known properties like Harry Potter and Star Wars already have a well cultivated fan base to draw from. Nonetheless, I hope to see more creative and original ideas pop up on this site.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Where's my Star War's Styled 3D Glasses

I went to see Star Wars: A Phantom Menace in 3D on it's opening weekend because I love Star Wars and wanted to relive the experience of seeing the movie on a big screen with a bunch of strangers. Kinda creepy right? Well, I did bring a friend and I was after some of the free Star Wars swag they were to give out during the opening weekend. That makes it better right? Right.

I had seen numerous adds on TV and the internet proclaiming that Darth Maul styled 3D glasses and Star Wars themed toys would be given out to those going to see the movie on its opening weekend. I thought this was great and am a sucker for anything Star Wars related, not to mention 'free'. Apparently I was taken as a sucker as none of this was offered when I went! 

I bought my tickets online to assure myself and my friend the best seats in the house and came extra early to take it all in! I usually hate opening weekends because of the crowds but figured I'd be surrounded by fellow Star Wars fans and that this would make it OK. I was correct on this account but was wrong about there being free Star Wars swag. There were no Star Wars 3D glasses or toys! The people working at the theater -Chinook Cineplex in Calgary Alberta- were unaware of such things and I felt like someone who just bought a Darth Vader mask thinking it would have sound effects; sure the helmet may still look cool but it would've been cooler with the sound effects! All I can figure is that these offers were only valid in the States (in particular at AMC movie chains), which pisses me off to no end because I am sick of specials such as this being offered only in the States. Canadians spend more per person than the average American! We deserve to be provided the same incentives as Americans! Now I'm left without these useless trinkets that likely would've found their way to the depths of a cardboard box in a matter of weeks! Gah!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Star Wars Burgers Make a Disturbance in my Belly!

Would I buy it, sure! Would I regret, you bet!

So in celebration /capitalization on the upcoming release of Star Wars in 3D, the fast food chain Quick has released a Star Wars themed burger. I'm just afraid of what they did to make the burger bun black.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D!

I think that many Star Wars fans are not too interested in the re-release of episode I despite it's graphics update into the realm of 3D magic. As we are all painfully aware, there is little that can be done to erase the painful performance by Jake Lloyd, who portrayed a young Anakin Skywalker, or the searing comedic talent of Ahmed best, who voiced the zany Jar Jar. On the bright side, episode one has some amazing chase scenes and action sequences thanks to the uber talented Ray Park, who of course played Darth Maul.  I will still fork over the cash to see this movie because I am a sucker for special affects and am too obsessed with Star Wars to pass this opportunity by. 

Recently, Mike Ryan of Moviefone website published a story that unearthed rumors that swirled the interweb before episode I came out. Some of the rumors are pretty weak but there are a few that would have made the movie much more interesting, particular where Darth Maul would have been Kenobi's clone. Pretty neat idea right? Well, follow the link here to read the rest of these unearthed rumors. Also, the one rumor I remember is the one that came from a trailer for episode III. Footage of the Millennium Falcon, Bubba Fett, and Chewbacca (not from the final Kashyk scene) were shown. I've met a few other people that remember this trailer and recalled that it played for only a short time; really it was more of a teaser trailer. However, no one seems to know why the footage was not used in the final film. Anyone out there with any ideas about it? I've also never seen this trailer again and would love to know if it exists somewhere out there in the web!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Not All Girls Bring You Lasagna...

My wife and I never signed prenuptials before marrying. We've been happily married for almost 7 years. Thankfully she tolerates my geeky obsessions and has even joined me in the dark side for a few of them. Some marriages, however, can be strained by geeky obsessions, like any other obsession such as sports or video games. The result of a strained marriage can mean a messy divorce where the geeky life-long collection of toys or comics comes to an end. In these cases prenups would have been ideal.

From SF website.
An article from the website Science Fiction recently posted  a story about Tony Alleyne, of England, who lost his customized flat to his ex-wife. This was no ordinary flat but one that was personally customized into a replica of the star ship Voyager! Tony had, with incredible patience and skill, transformed his flat into a real-life Trekie dream, minus the warp drive! The verdict from his long divorce showed that it was his wife that actually owned the flat he had transformed into a piece of Star Trek heaven. So with this decision, Tony was forced into destroying all his customized Trekie embellishments. In all, Tony had spent over $150,000 US and 16 years to create this 'man cave' fit for Captain Janeway herself, only to see it disappear the same way his marriage had!

From SF website.
Not to be outdone was an earlier story  (also posted on Science Fiction) where a man was kicked out of the house by his ex-girlfriend. She piled and bagged up his life's collection of Star Wars collectibles and threw them out into the neighbouring alleyway. Blessed with clear skies and two working arms, the man hurried to save his collection. While I feel for this guy in the way of having a life's collection being put in jeopardy, I feel more strongly that if he had put as much gusto into his relationship that he now (presumably) would not be back to living in his parent's basement. I would say the same argument goes for Mr. Alleyne but to be fair the story of these two men's actual relationships is left unsaid, except (and it is telling) that the stories never mentioned if these men were in new relationships.

The moral of these two stories is that if you are entering a serious relationship and have a geeky passion, you must then make a decision! Before entering a serious relationship, decide what is more important: your geeky obsession or your relationship with your significant other. If it is your obsession that wins out, then make sure you have prenups in hand because chances are your serious, real-life relationship will falter. A good relationship is built on love, respect and to devoting time to being with one another. In this case, the second option is to continue your geeky obsessions with a modest amount of restraint and understanding that it is not the most important component to your life. 

Personally, I love my geeky obsessions such as Lego, comic books, and science-fiction movies. However, it is the relationship with my wife that means more. It is for this reason that my wife has shown interest in my hobbies, as I have shown interest in her's. A solid relationship is built on understanding what is truly important, which I suppose is something that neither of the men in the  two stories above understood before they entered serious relationships. 

So to all the geeks in relationships out there, remember that it's easier to replace a collectible than it is a relationship! Don't take it fore-granted!

The wise Silent Bob (Clerks) sums it up best.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lego is for Everyone: Awseom Time-Lapse Vid of Building Millennium Falcon

Lego is for everyone! On BuzzFeed I came across a cool time-lapse video of someone building the 9-14, 1254 piece Lego Millennium Falcon set! The host says it took her 4 hours to complete and I am beset with envy! Thinking of my own Lego sets, I don't think I own anything in the 1,000 piece mark. Cool video to watch.