The Amazing World of Gumball is a hilariously funny cartoon series that airs on the Cartoon Network. It is replete with comic, video game and now, anime references. Cowboy Bebop is one the greatest anime series and Gumball has created an homage in its honour, titled Barcode Cowboy about the ultimate worker, Larry Needlemeyer. Check it out below!
Steve Ditko was the legendary artist and creator behind many iconic comic characters including Spider Man, Dr. Strange, The Creeper, The Question, Captain Atom, Mysterio, Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Kraven, Lizard, Electro and my favourite Squirrel Girl. He past away today and will be fondly remembered by many. His artwork is embedded in my mind as I loved the reprints of the original Spiderman run which I collected in the 80's.
To remember how much he changed the comic world watch the BBC4 documentary 'In Search of Steve Ditko.'
Bitmap Books have been releasing some amazing visual compendiums of retro game consoles over the past few years. I've already spoken about the NES and SNES compendiums before but I am very excited about their latest announcement, the Sega Master System Visual Compendium. Sam Dyer, founder and graphic designer of Bitmap Books, has been working very closely with SEGA to make the 6th visual compendium something really special. The Kickstarter went live a couple of days ago and I've gone in for the softcover book. Check it out.
Welcome to Night Vale is touring the UK again. For the uninitiated Nightvale is a cult podcast, similar in style to shows like Twin Peaks, X Files and the works of H.P.Lovecraft but presented in the format of a radio show. The podcast is an online phenomenon, being one of the most downloaded podcast of all time.
I went to the show a few years ago and had an amazing time so if you fancy seeing it check out the See Tickets website for availability. The tour hits Edinburgh in August and other cities in London in January.
I am a huge David Lynch fan. Ever since I watched Twin Peaks and discovered his filmography I have been in thrall of this most singular of directors. However, Lynch is a private man and not much about his background or where he gets his ideas from has been revealed. Room to Dream is part-memoir, part-biography, which interweaves the story of Lynch alongside his personal reflections, might change all that. The book (and audiobook, which I am currently listening to) have been released today and I am very excited to get into Lynch's world. I'll provide a review once I've finished with the book but based on the first chapter it seems to be positive...
It was only going to take a while, we all knew it. With Nintendo Labo a world of creativity and craft was made available to many and we all knew there were some people who would take the potential of what could be done with the system and run... and boy did Japanese electronic artist Geniway leg it. Using the piano tool Geniway plays Calamari Inkantation from Splatoon and it is a delight. Check it out.
So there I was, perusing the Guardian TV Guide (yes, I'm a Guardianista), when I saw this:
I was excited and waves of nostalgia ran over me as Asterix was a big part of my childhood, okay, not as big as Tintin and certainly not anywhere the level of The Mysterious Cities of Gold formative, but a big part nonetheless. To be able to see the original works and sketches of one of the co-creators of the most famous cartoon Gaul is super exciting. So looking at the details the exhibition will run from 10 May 2018 - 30 September 2018 at the Jewish Museum near Camden Town. I hope to be visiting soon and will let you know what I thought!
London is abound with museums and I often go to some of them pretty regularly. Very few have ever run video game exhibitions but that is about to change. From 8th September 2018 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will be running the Video games: Design, Play and Disrupt Exhibition.
On its website it states:
This exhibition provides a unique insight into the design process behind a selection of groundbreaking contemporary video games. Design work, including concept art and prototypes, feature alongside large-scale immersive installations and interactive.
Not much to be going on for the moment sure, but the website does feature some art and graphics from games like The Last of Us, No Man's Sky and Journey. I hope to be going and will be booking tickets soon but thought I'd let all you good people know as I know for a lot of you it's your jam too!
I am fascinated by the indie game scene and the insightful Indie Game: The Movie opened the way for most people to see the behind the scenes story of the creators and programmers. With Dev Quest, indie game creator, Adriaan de Jongh (Hidden Folks) travels around the world and chats with people from various studios, including Night School Studios (Oxenfree), Anamita Design (Machinarium, Samorost) and Kitfox amongst many others, about their processes and design philosophy. The whole 4-part documentary series is bitesized at under 45 minutes but is extremely watchable due to the warmth and affable host. For those looking for a more positive look at the indie scene than was sometimes presented in the sometimes dour Indie Game: The Movie, this is the tonic.
Space Harrier was a game I was aware of but never really got around to playing, even though I owned a Megadrive and Master System. However, for those who have fond memories of the game or the soundtrack, Data Discs have released the soundtrack on vinyl. I have purchased a few soundtracks in my time from them and can say that they are always amazingly presented and the pressings are crisp and clear. Check out the Data Discs website in the link below and check out my other vinyl reviews.
I love YouTube. Sometimes, whilst searching for something you come across something strange, beautiful, weird or wonderful and this video has elements of them all. Wanna see Elton John sing with Minnie Mouse? Here ya go and you're welcome!
I am a HUGE Dizzy fan and have spoken about my love for the series many times before (including meeting the creators the Oliver Twins and getting my swag signed). So when the Kickstarter for a NES working cartridge copy of an unreleased Dizzy game came up I funded that quickly. Now nearly half a year later my cartridge has arrived and I love it. I hope to play it soon but for the moment it's sitting on my pile of shame.
Sure, we all loved Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet but have they helped you in your day to day life and taught you new skills? No! So why not remedy that with a Mavis Beacon style typing tutorial game, presided over with the face of one David Lynch. David Lynch Teaches Typing is a free to download and play game from Rhino Stew which presents an interesting concept to life, filled with crying babies, unsettling creepy bugs and a fag break in-between.
For anyone with a penchant for the strange, and if you're into Lynch you probably are are, why not check it out?
Coraline is a modern classic children's book with a story that is in the tradition of Grimm fairy tales. The novel is about an 11 year old girl, Coraline, who moves to a new and mysterious house with her busy parents. As Coraline is left to her own devices she explores her new abode and discovers a doorway to a parallel world where everything seems much the same as her mundane world but with one key difference, the people have buttons for eyes.
"Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." This quote, attributed to G. K. Chesterton, prefaced the original run of the book in 2002 and seems suitable, as the tale of a lonely but resourceful young girl recalls the morals we learnt from fairy tales of old, before the Disney-fication of darker threads and plots from the original folk tales.
The book has an interesting premise and was turned into a popular stop motion animated movie in 2009 and has now, remarkably been turned into an opera. The story by Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods, the Sandman series of graphic novels and much more, seems to be a favourite amongst adults and children alike so seems like a good fit for the stage... but an opera, that is a bold move to say the least.
Whenever you bring a book and adapt it for the stage there is a difficult balancing act to perform, you want to make sure it stays true to the source material for the fan base without alienating those who don't know the original source material, but you also want to add flourishes and touches that are afforded by changing the medium the tale is told through. Couple that with the fact that this is an opera aimed at the youth and you have an incredibly difficult task on your hand.
So with all this in mind, how does the Coraline opera fare? Well, my only experience with opera was when I watched Count Hoffman by Offenback at the Theatro De La Scala in Milan 10 years ago (my friend and I did it to be all cultural but loved it), Satyagraha, the (very) long opera about the life of Gandhi which nearly drove me to madness with its Philip Glass score and 3 1/2 hour run time and lastly the amazing opera scene in Final Fantasy 6. So, my knowledge on the subject is scant at best but I really enjoyed this production.
The staging was impressive for an obviously small scale production. The music was good but hardly hummable or memorable, but it did the job well moving from sweet strings in one moment to a dark facsimile with a more herky jerky feel, recalling Susamu Yokota's creepy colliopy sound from his track Fukuro No Yume. Even though the whole performance had no surtitles, being familiar with the book and film I understood what was going on as everything was spoken in sing-song English.
The opera was just over 2 hours long and this seems like the perfect amount of time. I liked the opera but it did seem to take a long time to move along and there were periods where I was nodding off, but that's me listening to any type of music nowadays whilst being seated rather than a knock on the production. The show was a sellout and there was a huge mix in the audience with lots of young children as well as adults.
Coraline the opera is worth seeing but not being an opera lover I won't be rushing to see any more operas for a few years.
Okay, so the Easter holidays have started and it looks like it may be a washout (at least initially if the weather reports are to be believed)
Well, if you're looking for something to do you could do a lot worse than visit the Science Museum in London, which from the 30 March – 15 April 2018 is holding Power Up, a retro gaming exhibition. The whole thing is hands on and children get a chance to play the best of video gaming from the past 40 years including Space Invaders, Pacman, Sonic, Mario and even VR.
Tickets can be purchased at the link below but why not do yourself a favour and head over. I went to this same event a couple of years ago and loved it.
Life Is Strange feels like a teen drama video game envisioning of Twin Peaks. The game is set in the Pacific Northwest and has the mystery of a missing-but-probably-murdered popular girl at the center of it all, Rachel Amber.
Rachel Amber is the prequel games (Life Is Strange: Before the Storm) Laura Palmer, but without the dark drug addled abuse victim background. Rather she has a family revelation that rocks her quite privileged world to the core. The game adds depth to her, just as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me movie did for Laura Palmer.
Rachel Amber is no longer just the missing and misunderstood girl with a complex family history but a well-portrayed character with agency... she is, for her best friend and protagonist in the games, the girl who lived down the lane.
Fans of Twin Peaks should definitely check out both Life Is Strange games as they are games with heart, that examine the human condition and look at friendships forged in times of adversity. I think this is part of reason why these video games resonate so strongly with me.
Bitmap Books have been releasing some amazing visual compendiums of retro game consoles over the past few years. I've already spoken about the NES and SNES compendiums before but I am very excited about their latest announcement. Sam Dyer, founder and graphic designer of Bitmap Books, is working very closely with SEGA to make the 6th visual compendium a reality and this one will be about the Sega Master System.
The new book will be official and so Dyer will have access to a lot of files and assets. I am looking forward to the Kickstarter going live on 7th May.
Google and Nintendo have come together to celebrate March 10, Mar 10, as it spells out the name of video game legend, Mario. The simple collaborated brings Mario in his kart to Google Maps.
The fun navigation arrow enables users to see the Mario Kart icon as they drive to their destination.
Getting Mario is easy in Google Maps if you follow the simple step-by-step guide below.
Coraline is an atmospheric, spooky book by Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman graphic novel series, American Gods and many other books and comics. Coraline was turned into a brilliant stop motion animation movie nearly a decade ago but more recently it has been turned into an opera! The adaptation for the stage is by Mark-Anthony Turnage and runs at the Barbican from 29th March to the 7th April 2018. I've got two tickets and will be going but if you're interested click on the link below for the Barbican website.
DC Exhibition: Dawn of the Superheroes, is a celebration of DC's comic works, which has given the world icons such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Joker.
From 23 February at The O2 the exhibition will feature over 200 original comic pages, around 300 preparatory sketches and concept art from the films and over 40 original costumes, models and props used in the iconic films.
The exhibition will run in chronological order and each room will provide people with a behind the scenes look at the creation of the legendary DC Universe.
‘DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super Heroes’ features:
- Exclusive artworks from the recent Wonder Woman film.
- Costumes and props from more recent films such as; 1989 to 1999’s Batman franchise directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the acclaimed The Dark Knight trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as The Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and the recent Justice League by Joss Whedon.
-Original drawings of DC's Super Heroes and Super Villains.
-Original costumes from blockbuster DC films including the famous cape worn by Christopher Reeve in the Superman movies and Lynda Carter’s iconic Wonder Woman costume from the 1970s show.
If they have the Batman costume from the Schumacher films which have the Bat nipples I'm sold! But in all seriousness this does sound pretty good and I'm hoping to go soon. As usual I'll report and review if it's worth going to.