I'm a huge comic nerd and over the last few years I've loved seeing a younger and more varied readership entering the fold. There are many reasons for this but I think the new line of comics aimed at a younger audience and the popular films have revived some interest in long gestating characters. Squirrel Girl is one of these characters and having read all of the graphic novels on the Marvel Now line I can say that she is an awesome character. When I try to explain the powers she has it gets a little strange so why not let this short 2 minute video by Marvel explain the basics. Enjoy!
There are some amazing animations out there and finding the truly outstanding ones can bebit of a task but I have one to share with you. Ouro is a revenge story about a girl who is murdered but then brought back to life through a mystical snake. So far so 80's tropey but in essence this is very 80's, apart from the animation which reminds me of the angular styling of Samurai Jack, Batman: The Animated Series or, for the connoisseur anime fan, The Big O. The music is synth pop infused electronica and suits the visuals well.
The short animation, directed by Pierre-Jean Le Moël and Eva Jiahui Gao, is wordless yet so much is conveyed in its short 3 minute run time. Give it a watch!
I recently wrote about how excited I was that the new Doctor for Dr Who would be a woman. Well, not everyone in the world was happy with the Beebs decision. However animator Leigh Lahav (OnlyLeigh) has made a great short film showing what life might be like for the first female Doctor.
Dontnod games are releasing part one of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm today. I played Life is Strange and loved the experience, so when I heard that they were making a side story of the game explaining the events in Chloe's life I was intrigued but a little worried. Often when creators go back to the well and try to do an interesting 'take' on their original work it lacks something that drew you in with the original work but I'm willing to give it a try.
The open letter from the writing team of the game is a novel way to promote the game and whilst I found some bits heartfelt others felt a bit cringey but hey, that's what happens when you see people put their emotions out there. Anyways, I'm going to download the game and give it a play. Later!
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated began in 2010 and had a hard hurdle to climb. After years of sub-par Scooby Doo shows hopes weren't high for this new series but dear gosh does this incarnation of the series blows all expectations out of the water.
Mystery Incorporated follows the traditional Scooby-Doo trope of the monster-of-the-week but adds further depth by adding an over-arcing story. The gang live in Crystal Cove, “The Most Hauntedest Place on Earth” and share a love of mystery solving. The series takes the basic premise of the original couple of series but grounds the protagonists further by introducing their families and giving them a home. By adding the parents continuity, depth and dynamics are introduced to the characters, and it's the interplay between the protagonists that really shines. Daphne loves Fred, but Fred loves creating traps and spending time solving mysteries with the gang. Velma and Shaggy are an item but keeping it hidden from Scooby so as not to upset him. The dynamics created by this simple slight alteration in the mythos ensures that the script and dialogue between the characters zips along at a cracking pace, pop culture references are dropped left, right and centre and you have to listen out for zingy one liners, one of my personal faves being Velma berating Scooby, "Before you go code brown..."
Marvellous stuff with a Whedon-esque lilt, and not a shwarma in sight.
For a kids show there are a lot of pop culture references but then this isn't a kids show aimed at kids, it's more like Disney's Gravity Falls, a 'kids' show more suited for adults. For a series that is over 40 years old that started off with janky Hannah-Barbara animated chase scenes, choreographed to cheesy pop music to one which cites Twin Peaks, The X Files and H.P. Lovecraft amongst some of its influences the series really adds layers to the traditional Scooby Doo formula. When a Vincent Price nod appears in the form of recurring character Vincent Van Ghoul and a Cabinet of Doctor Caligari reference is dropped, you know that this is something special with writers who have a deep knowledge and love of cinema yet a fondness for the original Scooby Doo shows.
As a 36 year old man with a 2 1/2 year old daughter it really is difficult to explain how good Mystery Incorporated! is but I will say that it is one of the best animated shows that I've ever seen, and I am an animation aficionado so that is high praise indeed.
With Mystery Incorporated, Scooby Doo has come back bigger, brighter and better than ever before. As a huge fan of animation I can say unreservedly that this is a great return for an iconic series. I am currently ordering series 2 of the show as the series ends on a cliffhanger that I need closure on.
Series 1 is currently airing on Amazon Prime and I would recommend everyone watch it!
Virtual Reality is here and unlike on previous occasions, is gaining traction. I've already spoken at length about how the technology can be used in lessons as a stimulus for writing. As the technology matures people are beginning to use VR in exciting innovative ways, stretching media in new and innovative ways.
Artist Nick Ladd has produced an exciting short film, called Escape, using Quill and ANIMVR. The result is a short but sweet animation.
I live in a small village in the Kent countryside but enjoy going into London once a month to get my comics as well as visit exhibitions and galleries. Having a young daughter and another baby on the way sometimes makes this difficult, so I was ecstatic to hear that Tonbridge is getting its own very own comic-con. The comic-con will be held at the Angel Centre on Sunday, September 24th 2017.
For those not in the know comic conventions see film, comic and tv show fans come together to meet and take photographs with special celebrity guests, take part in cosplay competitions and engage with their fandom through discussions and panels.
I have booked two tickets, one for me and one for a friend and will report how the first Tonbridge comic-con goes but hopefully it is a success and takes off.
Fatal Frame, known here in England as Project Zero, is a scary game in which the player controls the protagonist Mio Amakura as she searches the Lost Village for (and sometimes, with) her twin sister, Mayu. Exploring the seemingly deserted village the player finds various objects with which to solves puzzles in order to advance. Ghosts pop up and attack or assist Mio, who hasthe 'Camera Obscura', an antique camera that has the ability to harm the spirits and reveals hidden things.
The game is a very popular series in Japan and I love the series, having played and completed the first one on the original Xbox. Since then there have been 4 more games released in the series and I have played and completed most of them, except for game 4 as it never saw a release in the West on the Wii.
Well Markiplier with the help of GrittySugar! have made a hilarious animation based on the tropes of the series.
It's San Diego Comic Con weekend and geeks around the world are super hyped to hear about their favourite bit of media. As a HUGE Twin Peaks fan the cast panel was a must watch for me and luckily enough We Live Entertainment has uploaded footage of the entire cast panel and the Q and A session.
Anyone who has ever watched the Goonies has undoubtedly dreamt of finding a secret map that leads to treasure. Since watching the classic film in the 80's I've dreamt of going into the loft and finding awesome cool pieces of bric a brac. Well, over the past couple of weekends I've been cleaning the loft, organising it and preparing the large amount of material goods contained within, to prepare for the arrival of our daughter. Whilst organising it I did find something intriguing... no, it wasn't the map to One Eyed Willy's treasure (How did I miss that great name!) but it was something pretty impressive.
A double box set of vinyls by Linguaphone to learn French. The sets were in beautiful sturdy cases and have stood the test of time well considering they are from the 1950's.
I have a record player but haven't played these yet. We teach French at school and this might be quite a cool way to introduce the children to older way of learning a new language. Now I'm no hipster as I think it is probably a lot easier and convenient to learn a new language through the more modern means at our disposal but this does offer the children a great opportunity to learn about the evolution of media.
SEGA and Data Discs have just announced the official Sonic Mania vinyl album. For those who don't know Sonic Mania is the soon-to-be released Sonic game. Wait come back... don't run away. THIS Sonic game is a proper old skool Sonic game with faux 16-bit 2D style graphics.
The Sonic Mania vinyl will feature 16 new tracks by composer Tee Lopes, who has released several of the tracks on YouTube to build up interest in the project. As well as re-imaginings of classic tracks the vinyl promises to offer brand new tracks. I've listened to a few and as a whole they feel full of energy and very jazzy, mostly like the tracks in the Sonic Rush collection of games.
Pre-orders for the Sonic Mania Vinyl go live on the Data-Disc site at 8am (BST) and I for one will be trying to order the limited edition version of the vinyl for my collection. The vinyl will come with a digital download code so you can listen to it on your digital device. I can't comment upon the quality of the vinyl as it will ship in September but based on the many vinyls I have bought already from them it should be exceptional.
The internet is melting down with the news that the 13th Doctor will be Jodie Whittaker. The reveal of the first female Doctor is attracting lots of attention, with many saying it's about time whilst others are saying that it isn't staying true to the character.
Now I'm no SJW but I am actually looking forward to the new Doctor, female or not. The last series was one of the best for quite some time in my opinion and this was in large part due to the companion, Bill Potts (played by the superb Pearl Mackie). In the last few series many felt that the companions were playing too big a role and detracting from the Doctor. Whilst it is true that the Doctor has always had companions I agree with the sentiment that the companions seemed to have a had more prominent role in later series, often with a will they/ won't they romantic dynamic with the Doctor. With Bill being gay this dynamic was done away straight away and instead we had a fresh and vibrant series with a companion just wanting to have fun and see the universe. With a new female Doctor I wonder what relationship she will have with her companions and will it be another female or will the series writers shake things up and make it a male companion? Whatever they decide that must be a good thing for a beloved series that is on the up.
Clues have been abound for a while that the Doctor had previously been a girl and that in Gallifrey gender was/ is more fluid. In fact, the General in the episode the Day of the Doctor had been female for the first 10 incarnation but turned into a male in the 11th incarnation.
In the penultimate episode of the last series the Doctor talks to Bill:
DOCTOR: She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day at the Academy. So fast, so funny. She was my man crush.
BILL: I'm sorry?
DOCTOR: Yeah, I think she was a man back then. I'm fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.
BILL: So, the Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, then, yeah?
DOCTOR: We're the most civilised civilisation in the universe. We're billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.
So the clues were there and speaking as a bit of a sci-fi nerd, it would seem likely that if there were beings greater than us they may have done away with corporeal bodies and exist as pure energy, neither male nor female but both yet neither; lots of prominent sci-fi authors have considered this scenrio so why not Doctor Who? Also, speaking as the father of a young daughter, I look forward to seeing a female take the lead of such an iconic character. What do you think?
We are all waiting with bated-breath for the new DuckTales to land but until then the new intro credits have made their way onto the internet. I like the new animation style just fine but I found that the new vocals left me a bit meh... they lack the power and verve of the original but I'm sure it'll grow on me. Why not check out the credits below!
The Mysterious Cities of Gold was a French- Japanese co-produced animation series by the company with the hilarious name, well at least when you were a kid, DIC Entertainment and Studio Pierrot, a less funny name which is strange considering it is named after a clown! Anyway, the series premiered in Japan on NHK on 29 June 1982 and ran weekly for 39 episodes.
I first caught the series on BBC 1 in the early 80s and was beguiled by the mythical adventure story of a young Spanish boy named Esteban who joins a voyage to the New World in search of the lost Cities of Gold and his father.
The impressive looking background art, sharply drawn characters, and the beautiful soundtrack kept me entranced throughout the whole series, becoming my favourite programme of all time. Against the poorly animated dross on most of 80s children's animation this series really stood out and as a result It informed my formative years and introduced me to the wonders of the ancient world including the Incas, Aztecs, Atlantis and El Dorado. Even at the age of 35 I still regularly revisit the programme every year and I can attest to the fact that it still holds up as an impressive piece of work, even with those rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia taken off.
Whilst browsing through the internet I came across an advertisement promoting the sale of the Golden Condor from the MCOG. Now for those who know the series the Goldon Condor was a magical machine created by the people of Hiva which the children find in episode 18 that uses solar power to fly. It is this magical machine that most people remember the series for mostly, it was features prominently in the opening credits and looked beautiful in the show when animated. The condor flying with the track St. Elmo’s Fire by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy is ingrained in my mind and still gives me goosebumps whenever I watch the series. A chance to own a metal 1:25 scale model of the golden condor was too good an opportunity to pass up as memorabilia to do with the show is extremely rare and expensive. I already own a replica MCOG medallion and an original animation cel and douga but the condor was what I desired so I bought it for just under £100 pound, a high price for someone on a lowly teachers wage but was it worth it? Well, I'll be doing an unboxing soon so watch out.
At the moment I am currently playing a wonderful game called Little Nightmares, a dark and whimsical puzzle-platformer in which you play a young girl called Six trying to escape a terror-filed ship called The Maw. Along the way you meet some nightmarish creatures including the Janitor, the Twin Chefs and the Lady.
I am only about 2 hours into the game yet it has stuck its creepy icy claws into my heart. The imagery and soundtrack are haunting and stay in the memory. So when I heard that Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of great films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the phenomenal paintball episode of Community, were going to create a TV series I was super excited.
Then it was announced that Henry Selick, director of A Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, was going to be a producer and my hopes were high that it would be a stop-motion series. Nothing has been confirmed yet as to what format the TV series will be but my hopes are high for a creepy Jan Svankmajer style animation.
I love Kiki's Delivery Service, it is one of my favourite Studio Ghibli films that deals with growing up and learning responsibility. Well, as part of the ‘Hungry Days’ campaign, aimed at youth, characters from the classic film are presented in modern day Japan. The advertising campaign gives us a chance to see what they are up to. Check out the short 30 second video as I love it and I'm sure you will too!
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and it seems that Sega finally realise that too. With the Sega Forever service people are able to download and play classic Sega games for FREE on their Apple and Android devices. The games are free to play (including offline) but will feature adverts, so to turn off the adverts you have to pay a small fee. However the possibilities of playing these games on the go and with modern features like cloud saves, Bluetooth controller support, and online leaderboards putting up with a few adverts doesn't seem so bad. Currently there are five games including: Sonic the Hedgehog (the original, not the god-awful 360 game, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II.
Sega have promised that this list will grow and that the service will not just feature games from the Genesis or Master System era but also may include Saturn and Dreamcast games. The possibility of playing Panzer Dragoon, Wonderboy IV or Streets of Rage II on the move sounds great.
A new Dizzy game by the Oliver Twins for the Spectrum Next has been announced. With the title Wonderful Dizzy the game is to be set in the world of Oz. These are early days but with the Spectrum Next sailing past its Kickstarter goal the wave of nostalgia might be just what the Dizzy franchise needs. I look forward to seeing how the new game works out!
This year marks two important pop-culture milestones: The 40th anniversary of Star Wars and the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. To celebrate these momentous occasions cool geeks Jude and Dan, aka Palette-Swap Ninja, have created a musical mashup entitled Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans. Over five years in the making the album is a celebration of both entities that melds them together to create something familiar but wonderfully original. Check it out for free at the Palette-Swap Ninja website
Fans of composer Nobuo Uematsu will be delighted to hear that there will be a concert of his works at the Barbican. The famed composer, creator of legendary soundtracks for games such as The Last Story, Chrono Trigger and of course, Final Fantasy, will have his works played by Symphonic Odysseys London and the London Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday 20th June. A special highlight is that Uematsu will be giving a talk before the concert for a reasonable price of £10.
Fans of Uematsu should get the tickets soon as they are selling out very quickly. I'd love to go but unfortunately can't as I have other engagements on the date but thought I'd spread the love!