Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Feeding Frenzy: March Madness

Just some random newsbites from all over and a few comments concerning Marvel's recent interviews.

So let's start off with the interesting non-Marvel news.

This is Nottingham has an interesting article up about their local UK comic shop that claims to have more female customers than male. Special thanks to Bleeding cool for making me aware of this article.

Okay now onto the Marvel news bites...

CBR has an interview up with Marvel's David Gabriel. In their typical soft interview style they let him slide on a few points that should have been expanded upon that come across as hype speak and lies by omission. That's fine. I've come to expect it when they deal with Marvel. Sometimes you have to "play nice" so you keep getting interviews. That's just part of dealing in corporate cirlces. It's interesting in how it talks about generating buzz for comics, and yet this is one thing X-23 herself had rarely gotten. It's as if Marvel wanted it to fail after the first issue. Which is rather weird considering she did stay above the 20k threshold while other comics that didn't were given the chance to wrap up and even double ship this month. I'll toss it into the pile of weird happenings around that comic like the page count shift on her final issue from 32 to 22, and the numbering goof on an early solicit for the premium hardcover, certain editor demeaning comments about the sales that didn't match the numbers, along with other bits I'm saving for later. Potentially X-23's numbers could have been bolstered with a bit more marketing. Even without that, it's numbers were already set to start growing as word of mouth was starting to pick up the longer the comic was still going. Word of mouth was getting more positive even though some outlets were starting to ignore giving it any exposure whatsoever outside of what they had to.

Over this past week there's been an interview with CB Cebulski with a follow up commentary from Kaare Andrews.

Here I take offense to an offhanded remark that wasn't intentional but shows what kind of judgements can happen when someone comments on a part of an industry they've never dabbled in fully.

Look, I’m sure it’s happened. But not with real artists. I’ve heard stories of hack artist complaining that he wasn’t drawing Wolverine in costume enough because those pages would be worth more money. But again, I have never had that conversation. I’m not fast because I care. I’m not fast because I want to do great work. I’m not fast because drawing comics is one of the most demanding artistic professions in the world. Ask an animation guy how much he draws in a week. Maybe one character sheet. Maybe. They get paid more, have better health insurance, and work less hours in a day. Same thing in movies. Same thing in video games. You don’t draw comics to cash in, you draw comics because you love comics. And this is from a guy who directs movies for half his days.

A character designer draws the character sheets. Animation itself is often outsourced for a reason, and those animators don't often get benefits abroad. Even locally it varies on the types of animation you're doing, but it doesn't compare to comics at all. It's much harder. Let's break this down for a second. Your typical animated episode is 24 minutes long at 30-60 frames per second. That's 86400 frames for an HD toon with a running time of 24 minutes at 60 frames per second. 43200 frames for a standard toon running at 30 frames per second. This is for handdrawn cell animation at least. Breaking it down for computer animation is even trickier as each effect has to be timed and calculated. Even if the animator is using key frames (which is the start and stop of individual motions for everything from breathing to knee bends, elbow bends fingers and more) it can become even more headache inducing. Yes CG is typically considered a cheaper and "easier" route but it's also not as easy as people often want to claim it is. So how animating within the confines of 43200-86400 frames equals to comic page rates and the amount of panels they do is up to you, but I doubt that comic artists have anywhere near that amount of volume to deal with within a 22 page or even 32 page comic. Including such digital art aids as Toon Boom Studio or Adobe products the workload on animation is much heavier than comics will ever be. That's just truth and we all tend to take that for granted with that medium.

As for working less in a day? Are you kidding? A character designer maybe unless they are still working on it while at home(which is true for any job that you keep working on while at home). As for animators? Hell no. They continue working as much as they can. CG artwork in particular can run close to 18 hour days and that's when you're grinding your nose to the ground on it to make it perfect until by the end of the project you're only running on fumes. It's the same as a page artist in that respect, they both want to make it because they love what they do so they invest more time into their work to reflect that. They have their slow days sure, but as do page artists. There are times when inbetween projects or after just wrapping a big project that stress relief is needed to keep one's sanity. It's that age old saying about the grass is always greener on the other side.

In other non-news and this is purely anecdotal, it's starting to come to my attention there are far more female artists out there than many companies would make you think there are. In my personal hobbyist ventures I've run into more and more extremely capable female artists and writers than seems reflected from most companies. A trend it looks like Bleeding Cool has picked up on as well with their current trend of trying to find female contributors. Speaking of which, we might be looking for some new blood for here in that respect too. Certain complications have arisen due to my action of censoring some remarks that had to do with a rather constant statement of "Occupy Marvel" in regards to X-23's ongoing being canceled. This has caused me to feel more and more like I'm banging my head on a wall somedays. Which I may end up caving on eventually or the wall breaking. I tend to paint a target on my back. Won't even deny that, but I'd rather not have friends get stuck in such issues when it can be avoided.

Also in other anecdotal news bites, there's been a growing demand from X-23 fans in wanting a feature film made of her. My personal thoughts on this is that I want it focused on her two origin minis, but it's growing more and more to the point that teenage girls are starting to go trick or treating as her for halloween more and getting stares of who are you supposed to be more often. The common consensus is a feature film would open the door more for recognizability, create more fans, and all around allow a wider recognition of the character. More on this soon. I'm still gathering quotes for that.

There's been other news lately about how to break into the industry, how much looks matter in the industry, and all around other more BS statements that seem to try and hide the fact that it's all centered on one aspect of the industry. Marketing. Let's look at one simple fact about fame. The fact recognizing a name generates buzz and any kind of press is good press. Some editors treat their fans disdainfully, create fake scandals, and all around act like jerks, but their name is getting out there. It's remembered. It's recognized. The reasons for why can be forgotten, but the recognition stays. These kinds of attitudes are rewarded. This is why the more colorful insulting employees of various companies stay employed. They are recognizable, while the quiet more respectful employees of theirs become harder and harder to remember the names of. It's also why I've become less likely to mention anyone that acts as such. If even by giving them bad press, I'm still giving them press and that bothers me. I'd rather they be left as footnotes in history and not plastered across screens inflating their ego even more. They thrive on the attention and ego stroking so why should I or anyone give it?

I'll gladly commend writers, artists and editors that go about their jobs borderline devoid of egotrips, have honor, and are thankful for what they are able to do. People like Brevoort, Dan Slott, Marjorie Liu, Chris Yost, Craig Kyle, Rick Remender, and many others the names escape me at the moment are the kinds of people you want to hear of doing well and getting more work. Not just because of their personalities and karma, but because they do great work. While the jerks of the industry outshine them more in name recognition because of their self-created scandals and borderline flagrant homophobia or frat boy attitudes from having their emotional growth stunted by their egos.

Then we've also got people trying to tell you that talent doesn't shine on its own. This isn't true either. It can, but it does take work. You need to get your work out there to let it shine. If this means finding your own path to do it then great. There have been many talented people out in the world who found a way to make their talents shine without having to compromise their creative intregrity like most would want you to do. Monty Oum found his path, the late great composer Reuben Kee had found his path, the late great Ed Gould had found his path. Sure, all 3 of these people would call the exceptions to the rule, but the list doesn't end with them. The people at Roosterteeth, MC Chris, and the list goes on and on and on. Talent does shine when you stick to creative integrity and pursue your goals how you want to do them. You just have to keep trying and find what your path is. It boils down to the media world not understanding the fact times are rapidly changing. The computer industry has known this forever, that any kid in garage could put them out of business at any time. It's time the media industry finally learned this too and got rid of old fashioned ways of handling affairs that are only holding them back.

Now all this isn't to say I hate the various media industries. I just feel many of them are broken. Maintaining the old status quo is causing fear of change. I've long since grown deaf to Marvel's complaints about the lack of Disney health insurance for this reason. I don't feel that's right, but on the same token there are many people in the various industries who do far more work and get much less for what they do. Some of them deal in other's creations like Marvel or DC does, and some of them deal in original creations. Satisfaction in life is about doing what you love though. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to reach those goals, but sometimes the sacrifices just aren't worth it.

As for breaking into various industries. It's all about reaching out. You might be surprised at the connections you can make or burn within a month. I don't like to comment on this for myself, but I've personally learned it's much easier to make connections than many think. It's just about reaching out no matter the odds and being hopeful. Outside of that, just try and find your own path for exposure to the general public. It's a slow process but when the work is great, it will move more and more.

More updates to follow soon, I promise. Things are just a bit hectic right now. I mostly just wanted to take the time to make my thoughts on the above animation comment known and all around give 'certain people' another rant to tear apart or use to complain about maintaining individuality and personal privacy in light of how the media industries currently work based on who has the biggest ego and who can manufacture a public persona for consumption.

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