Archive for August, 2009

Disney to Buy Marvel

Posted in Comics, Film with tags , on August 31, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Let’s just jump right in.  From Variety:

The Walt Disney Co. has agreed to acquire Marvel Ent. in a stock and cash transaction worth $4 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, Marvel shareholders would receive $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

Disney will acquire ownership of more than 5,000 Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.

The boards of both companies have approved the pact, which is subject to antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.

Robert A. Iger, Mouse House prexy and CEO, said in a statement: “This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories.”

The classic cover to The Spectacular Girth of Spiderman

The classic cover to "The Spectacular Girth of Spiderman"

Lot’s of words about the news this morning that Disney has announced it’s intentions to buy Marvel Comics and all that that entails.  I keep seeing cries and gnashing of teeth, like somehow the house of mouse is going to sink it’s talons into the Marvel soft spots and just start tearing, but I hardly think that’s the case, and really, if ANY company out there needed an entity like Disney to take the reigns, it’s Marvel.  Want some proof?  Let’s pull up the handy wikipedia entry and lay out some timeline details to show you just how poorly the house that Spidey built has handled itself.  This time line is by no means complete or able to really define all of the dumb mistakes, near bankruptcies, and  just plain bad business choices and complete lack of foresight that Marvel has portrayed as long as I have been alive.

We’re just going to start in the 70’s, where Marvel tries desperately to bring their properties to the screen (because ultimately, this is about translating properties to the big/little screen, and not selling comics, which I guarantee Disney cares two shits about, except as ways of keeping the intellectual properties in circulation), but fails mostly.  Bad versions of Spidey, Captain America, Doctor Strange, and many more (as much as you might like Bill Bixby’s rendition, the Hulk was pretty weak too), try and fail to do anything but make people snicker at the bad costumes.  They give up this hope for awhile, focusing on comics and cartoons, something they knew how to do.

After decades of growth, helping to create the direct market system (which, you can make your own decisions about how good a thing this was)  and creating a stable of very popular characters, Marvel’s silliness really starts in the 1980’s when the giant named Jim Shooter was made EIC.  Shooter was a man who liked to have his hands in all the cookie jars, rampant tales of creators being treated badly surface, which isn’t to say Shooter didn’t do some good.  The Epic line was a great chance at producing creator owned material, and a lot of great books come from this attempt.  This really isn’t part of the story, but I like to add this, because people should remember these things.  Shooter was responsible for a lot of good happening at Marvel, but he was also responsible for helping put in place the current system, which works against smaller creators.

Anyways.  Marvel is sold to New World Entertainment in ’86.  The man in charge was a snake oil salesman named Ron Perelman (No, not that one).    After starting the decade strong, Marvel’s participation in the industry generated speculation boom pays them back in spades when the roof caves in industry-wide, crushing everyone beneath the bootheel they created with floods of trashy comics, the alternate covers, and general bad business practices, especially those by the head of the company, Perelman.

In ’94 Marvel decides it wants in the distribution game, it acquires Heroes World, a comic distributor,  and they throw everything into this hat.  When Heroes World can’t deliver, it destroys the direct market system Marvel helped put in place, and sets up Diamond as the lone monopolizing lord of all comic shop distribution, the effects of which are getting worse every year, hurting the smaller guys and spoon feeding folks like Marvel while slowly strangling and collapsing in on itself.

Deciding that speculation on comics wasn’t enough harm, Marvel decides it wants in the trading card game and buys Fleer.   This will lead no where.  Strange stock practices and shading dealings by Pereleman and Co. force Marvel to file bankruptcy in ’96, and when the dust settled they were owned by Toy Biz.  Thus begins the era of Bill Jemas and Avi Arad.   And while these two guys were mainly responsible for the explosion of Marvel properties to the silver screen, being the guys behind Spiderman’s jump, they hand most of the other properties to guys who have no concept of the characters or what made them great (partly because it became very apparent early on that Arad and Jemas had no idea what made the characters work).

Marvel continues to fluctuate, it’s fate a roller coaster of will they or won’t they go out of business periods, through out the 00’s years.   Questions about bad leadership and bad business practices continue to plague the company. As they have since the 7o’s.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been good people in charge, Joe Quesada, once an artist and writer for Marvel ascended to the EIC position and ushered in a new wave of creators and takes on classic characters, bringing Hollywood and the Bookstore creators to the comic creation table, instead of the other way around for once.

Heres to hoping theres plenty of magic left at the Mouse to handle the task.

Here's to hoping there's plenty of magic left at the Mouse to handle the task.

But this isn’t about the comic arm, this about the licensing of properties to TV and Film, Disney’s territory.  Disney knows how to handle properties.  Obviously, they have the money to back things up, and no one can say they don’t know how to market and release films and TV shows.  And they’ve done wonders with companies like Miramax (you try wrangling the Weinstein’s for a decade), so keeping Marvel in check should be a breeze.  So long as they do their homework.

Wow, this got rambly, I didn’t really intend for it to do so.  And of course, halfway through I got bored of my own words, and that can’t be good for you readers, so I’ll just stop here.

Campfire Revelations

Posted in Comics with tags on August 28, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Click on it, it won't bite AND you can see the full version.

We’ve been through this, sometimes I just get in the mood and I end up with pages of comics that don’t even exist yet (or ever).  For you viewing pleasure, here’s a new one entitled “Campfire Revelations”, from a graphic novel that exists only in my head currently.

It’s Friday. Suck it.

Posted in Funny Stuff with tags on August 28, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Welcome to it, bastards.

The Craigslist Mire

Posted in Tech with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a whiney young man, +plus 2 droids.  Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination.  Theres not much pay, but its a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a young farmer, +plus 2 droids. Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination. There's not much pay, but it's a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wired has a great article about Craiglist, it’s creator Craig Newmark, and why it’s such a fucking primitively designed and operated website, yet garners more hits and listings than all of it’s competitors combined.  As someone who is forced to use Craigslist day in and day out, for everything from trying to find new jobs to trying to find a new home, I have a first-hand permanent headache from trying to use it for anything actually useful.  Poorly laid out, filled with housing scams, wierdos, con artists, village idiots, and people looking for handouts from starving industry workers already hurting to eat and live, Craigslist resembles a daily text adventure version of the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Using the site is like a daily handshake with Satan, hoping against hope that the master of evil throws some crumbs your way after assaulting (and insulting) you the entire way.

From the article:

Odd perhaps, but no odder than what you see at the most popular job-search site: another wasteland of hypertext links, one line after another, without recommendations or networking features or even protection against duplicate postings. Subject to a highly unpredictable filtering system that produces daily outrage among people whose help-wanted ads have been removed without explanation, this site not only beats its competitors—Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo’s HotJobs—but garners more traffic than all of them combined. Are our standards really so low?

But if you really want to see a mess, go visit the nation’s greatest apartment-hunting site, the first likely choice of anybody searching for a rental or a roommate. On this site, contrary to every principle of usability and common sense, you can’t easily browse pictures of the apartments for rent. Customer support? Visit the help desk if you enjoy being insulted. How much market share does this housing site have? In many cities, a huge percentage. It isn’t worth trying to compare its traffic to competitors’, because at this scale there are no competitors.

Each of these sites, of course, is merely one of the many sections of craigslist, which dominates the market in facilitating face-to-face transactions, whether people are connecting to buy and sell, give something away, rent an apartment, or have some sex. With more than 47 million unique users every month in the US alone—nearly a fifth of the nation’s adult population—it is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped. Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years: Chances are craigslist has considered it and rejected it. If you try to build a third-party application designed to make craigslist work better, the management will almost certainly throw up technical roadblocks to shut you down.

Much, much more interesting information in the link above.

Get Up For The Downstroke

Posted in Film, Personal/Creative with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by joeylabartunek

In the immortal words of George Clinton, let’s look at what we got.

House hunting is on the forefront of my brain lately, the crunch to find a new home has been dominating my time not spent working various web and art work.  But that aint all that’s been going on.

Had a chance to see District 9 a couple times, and I was impressed.  A smart, fun, and original sci-fi flick.  The movie was written and directed by South African Neill Blomkamp and produced by the man, Peter Jackson.   And while the main character, Wilkus  (Sharlto Copley) was a complete shithead, so much so that I spent half the movie cheering for some kind of disasterously wicked and messy death to be inflicted upon his head.  But once things get going, and Wilkus and the alien scientist Christopher start their mission (I’m trying to remain spoiler free here, kids), things really kicked in.  It’s not like this movie was genre redefining, or that the special effects were things we have never seen before, but in an age filled with derivative Sci-Fi movies, District 9’s simple and effective approach worked wonders.  See it.

Also had a chance to check out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince the other night.  As someone who’s never read any of the books, but avidly watched all the movies,  I loved it.  In fact, ‘Prince” easily grabbed the  spot as my second favorite of the entire series (after the really great “Prisoner of Azkaban”).  Great writing on the characters, minimal amounts of teen whining, and a well built story move this flick along like a family cruise missile.  All of the usual principals turn in great performances and newcomer to the series Jim Broadbent is perfect as the charming and bumbling Horace Slughorn, teacher of potions and alchemy.  Oh and the special effects.  Fuck, there are a couple giant SFX sequences that just took my breath away (that underground lake scene was especially spectacular).  So definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of the series (and probably haven’t read the books, as that seems to be a deciding factor in how much others like this one).

Oh and screw all you Potter readers who felt the need to spoil the ending for me years ago, when you read the book and couldn’t keep your traps shut about the surprise ending.

On the writing tip, writers block and some serious confidence issues halted my work on the previous screenplay, I just wasn’t feeling up to the task and things weren’t gelling properly. So I decided to take a break, but instead of just not writing (that’s not really an option at this point), I decided to take my roomate up on a challenge he threw my way and have started work on a slasher flick.  Designed to give me something to flex the writing muscles with and work out some of the cobwebs and structure issues I’ve been working through on the ‘Caravan’ script, this thing is moving along and taking on a life of it’s own.  About a week ago I started with just some vague ideas of where I was going to go with it, but after waking up one bright Saturday morning last week, I was pleasantly suprised to find that in my sleep my brain decided to fill in all the loose gaps that had been bothering me.  Hell, we were out house hunting and every moment not spent looking glassy-eyed at properties were spent feverishly scribbling in my notebook trying to get the data out of the core brain fast enough, before it gets lost in the information cloud that normally exists between my CPU and my hands and mouth.

So now my slasher script is moving along nicely, practically writing itself.  I’ve probably pieced a good 3/4 of the story together, started my cards, worked the paradigm, written my bios,  and have comfortably settled on what could be a very fun and easy (well relatively) piece to write.  Woof.

As the title of this post would lead you to believe, today’s song is most definitely:

Parliment – Get Up For The Downstroke

Trailer Park pt 2. The Fantastic Mr Fox

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Wes Anderson’s retelling of Dahl’s story. If that weren’t enough, it’s stop motion animation, which is nice to see in this age of all-CGI films. Enjoy.

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Scenes from the Trailer Park pt. 1

Posted in Film, Uncategorized with tags , on August 20, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Because there hasn’t been much to talk about, what with me holed up in my apartment working and writing like a beast, today will continue yesterdays trend of just being a trailer park. First up, a movie I am seriously excited for, ‘The Wolfman’. Great cast, beautiful look, and it’s the fucking Wolfman, my absolute favorite old Universal monster. Enjoy!

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