Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cowboy City

When I first started editing videos, I was using Windows Movie Maker. This was a sad time indeed. You will never see these videos (I made 15 of them) because I am ashamed of them. However, it did not turn me off from editing. In fact, it made me more hungry for editing, wanting a better program. When I finally got my hands on Adobe Premier, I was a very happy boy.
The first thing I ever made with Adobe was a remake of one of my videos "Living in the Fridge" (this video will be up later). I wanted to get used to the controls and see how everything worked. I enjoyed Premier very much and found it to be a great program, but I didn't have a good idea of what I wanted to edit.
Then I saw the "Sin City" trailer for the first time.
I thought this trailer was amazing, I want to see the movie that second and couldn't stop watching the trailer. Maybe it was the actors involved, maybe it was the music (probably), but whatever it was, it worked. And then I had this idea.
I tried explaining to my uncle, that the crew of Cowboy Bebop was made for this trailer, but he couldn't really see it. But, it's all I could see. This was back when I spent all my time watching videos from Anime Music Videos and I loved watching the trailer videos. I was a little worried about how it would look, but I did it anyways.
I think this video came out great, wish it had more views, and had a blast watching it for the first time. However, there are somethings I wish I had fixed.
I wish I had used the color replacement tool, but back then I was happy just to be able to use black and white. I also wish I had made the end bumper better, but these are the things I used to deal with. Story-wise, I wish I had chosen some better scenes for Jet, just because I don't think he's as well represented. I am extremely happy with my character choices overall, though. I think they all fit perfect, and I've toyed with the idea of making a sequel with the longer trailer, just to see these guys do their thing again. But, it most likely will never happen.
I was very happy with this video. I used a program I was unfamiliar with, made a type of video I had never made before, felt good about my first dialog/lipsyncing process, enjoyed doing the music montage to no end, and felt like I had a first rate video to show for one.
Now, go watch Cowboy Bebop.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why Girls Don't and Won't Read Comics

This essay was written as a response paper for my Intro to Mass Media class at Houghton College. In it, we are to read an article (see the link below) and respond to it with what we have been learning about how we communicate in mass forms.

I feel bad reading this article.

On one hand, I want to cheer for comics trying to obtain more female readers; I have two sisters and would love them to read the things I have read. On the other hand, this article was written more than two years ago and the results of the comic industries efforts are laughable. I wish I didn’t have to laugh.
The issue with girls not reading comics have been going on for years. Some girls like them, most girls don’t. Outside of the article, I’ll be using my own knowledge of the comic industry and the girls I have known related to this subject.

With girls and comics, there is the issue of content being offered and content being sold. Comic companies were talking about selling these girl-friendly comics; at least, they were going to create the content. But, walk into a comic store (as I have for years) and you will find these products are not there, not in an amount that would matter. With comics, it’s easy for issues to get lost in the shuffle. The comic industry is a limping industry with declining sales, and retailers have only so much space on their shelves for profit. So, they don’t buy as much girl-friendly material because they have more guy customers. It’s a sad system. Comics are written, drawn, sold, read, and bought by guys. Bring in a female writer and have her write for girls, but retailers won’t order them for sale, because they have no female customers. Well, let’s sell them at bookstores, since more girls go to bookstores than comic shops. But girls don’t go to the comics section because all they sell are superhero comics; they wouldn’t have anything girls would be interested in. A girl won’t go to the guy section of the bookstore more than she would in a clothing store. So, the girls make their way over to the manga section, where there interest is assured.

It’s about presumptions, for sure. Girls think there is nothing for them in comics, so they stay away. When they do investigate, they find little to reward them. The comic industry is a strange one in that, unlike other mediums, it seems to only be able to do one thing successfully, superheroes. There are exceptions; Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” for one, which has a large female following, but the comics on the shelves of comic shops are superheroes. Why would girls want to read a power fantasy for guys, drawn with a sexually fantastic view of women?

That’s the real issue. Comics are written for guys, manga are written for both guys and girls. Comics create female superheroes, but most girls think Wonder Woman is dumb, with too little clothing. I have yet to meet a girl who respect for her. Wonder Woman has rarely been a success story for comic books. She was created by a psychologist of the name Dr. William Moulton Marston, who used it as an expression of sexual fetishes. In the 1960’s, few women were relating to Wonder Woman, so writer Danny O’Neil removed her powers to show how much like a real woman the character was. Unfortunately, O’Neil received many letters after informing him that he had just removed the best female role model in comics; from female readers. Wonder Woman is a lose/lose character, who’s biggest fanbase is men, due to her fiery attitude and great (and unrealistic) looks.

Another is issue with comics attracting new readership (let alone female readership) is that comics rarely end. The X-Men comics have been going on for more than 40 years with the same history. The only time I got my sister to read X-Men was when they started a new series that redid the whole history because there was no back-continuity for her to read. This much history is hard to get into and understand; and without the knowledge newer stories are hard to follow. Comics are also filled with continuity errors after years of editing. After I asked a girl why she enjoys the “Harry Potter” books, one of answers was that the whole series was consistent with itself. Manga, on the other hand, ends. Most have a plan, a definitive end, and keep their own continuity straight. Readers can easily follow the beginning to the end. I try to tell my sisters about the past continuity of Batman and they can only roll their eyes. Give them a manga that last for 12 books and it’s a different story.

There is another issue; different cultures are represented. With comics, they are an American cultural product. They deal with a lot of American issues, but are also written by Americans with American views. Manga is a different culture with different ways of doing things; which attracts female readers interested in the differences.

The comic industry doesn’t seem to get that girls communicate differently than boys, but they also miss another key factor. Comics are a guy-centric culture. Where with manga, girls can talk to girls easily, comics don’t have that advantage. A girl who is interested in the adventures of the Green Lantern Corps will be talking to guys about it, and that will wear thin. Guys have made comics for themselves, they have turn the comic culture into a guy culture, thus keeping girls from having a way in. But manga isn’t a guy culture; girls can get in and not fear being an outsider. Males have created this comic culture as an escapist entertainment, to keep other things out, and unfortunately, it worked.