Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

Another year and another Express Event from Comic Con India. Our Pre-show coverage of the event in the Garden City.

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

Get to know, more about India's first ever Comic-Con, how does it rate among the rest.

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

We catch up with the Annual Chennai Book Fair, and see what it has to offer for Comic fans.

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

An inside look into a collection, touted as the biggest Comic Book released in India

Jan 17, 2009

2008 Comics/Animation Movies Round-Up – II

The recent post on Year End Movies Review Part 1 was well-received among Comicologists, where we chose to review only the movies which were based or inspired by Comics, coupled with the Animation, which is considered its sub-genre.  Thanks for all those who responded to the post, and my reply to the comments could be found at the end of the same.  If you haven’t read that post, then I strongly recommend you to read that before proceeding on with this instalment.

Let’s quickly wrap-up our second and concluding post to this 2008 Movies Round-Up.  Again, they are sequenced based on their their US release date.

HellBoy 2008HellBoy 2: The Golden Army (July 11, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>

Hellboy 2, is the sequel to 2004 film, which were both directed by Guillermo del Toro (who is known as the Three Amigos of famed Mexican line-up.  It is said that Ron Perlman, who is usually known for his negative roles, was the first-choice of the director and producer duo, right from the time the movie was originally conceptualized.  There is no doubt that their choice was a master-stroke, as the Hellboy character suits well to his huge size, which makes him more aligned to the character plot.  I didn’t like the first instalment of HellBoy film franchise (which was more an intro into Paranormal Research organization, and an overdose of Nazi desertions and mad scientists), but I should admit the 2nd version was one of the best creative work filled film.

hellboy2-elementalYou should see that to experience the thought Provoking Character Designs (Tooth Fairies, Abe Sapien, Krauss, Forest God, etc.), Costumes, Artwork, and finally the self-repairing Golden Army at the climax.  Particularly, The scene where Hellboy confronts the gigantic Forest God, and the resultant dialogues with evil Prince Nuada, while he contemplates ending the last one of its race, or be spectator to the massacre of innocent earthlings.  A touching scene to say the least.  (Thanks to fellow Comicologists ShankarV, Viswa and Josh for reminding me of this scene)

A total visual treat, and a little effort on the plot could have made wonders.  But then wasn’t this a comics fantasy movie, so that seems to be on the expected lines.  It is said that the movie plot was totally written anew, rather than relying on any comics storylines released so far.  That’s definitely a change from the 1st instalment.

I wonder what effort Perlman, would have gone through with the heavy masked layer on him, to depict the Hellboy’s demonic looks.  He seems to have been gung-ho about these characters with his past movies around on Beauty and Beast, Island of Dr.Moreu, which had similar heavy make-up for him.

The movie is intriguely set for final sequel of the Trilogy as originally planned by Del Toro, with the Hellboy’s love-mate expressing that they would be expecting twins.  I wonder how would they look like (Hell & Fire combination) in the 3rd instalment which is yet in discussions

Hellboy was a fictional comic character created by Mike Mignolio (who is also the co-writer of the movie franchise), which is one among the very few characters with a plot-work involving the dark concept of Hell. After being shunned out by the DC for the same reason, Mignolio launched it as a creator owned comics venture with Dark Horse. Wouldn’t he be considering it as a blessing in disguise, as it is now one of the very few comic based movie ventures not backed by the Big Two: DC & Marvel.  I was never a big fan of this comic series, now the movie franchise, has tempted me for the same.

I had to revisit my reviews for this movie, since my fellow Comicologists had requested this be considered in equals to one of the classic fantasy tales, and I must admit that my rating was little lesser to the quality which was in offer.  Hence the new update in the review and further ratings point, then the original.

Batman 2008The Dark Knight (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 5/5 >>

Clearly, the run-away favourite for all the masses, and the biggest hit of 2008 among all genre Movies.  This sequel to the new Batman move franchise (rebooted with 2005’s Batman Begins), directed and co-written by the incredibly talented Christopher Nolan, redefined and set high standards for all Comic based movies for the present and future.  Batman faces his biggest arch-nemesis Joker in this dark-sinister suspense thriller, which is breath-taking from the start to finish.  Character plot-work, action sequences, technical gizmos, this is a movie which will make any Batman comic fan proud.  Thanks to Nolan Brothers.

The stunning climax scene, where the Good’s and Bad’s of the society are pitted against each other, with their fate lying on the opposite camp (a switched remote detonator on either side of the ships), is wonderfully scripted.  The result is the slap in the face of the so called Gentlemen of the higher society.  The ending scene with Batman taking up the blame for all the Incidents, to save the hero face of the villain turned Harvey Dent, has nicely setup the next movie instalment, with Batman now being termed as a Fugitive.  It is best exhibited as conveyed by Commissioner Gordon, as an ending note (also adding to the movie title):

“He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."

No wonder you find much of the Quotes from the film in our “Comic-Quotes” Section in the sidebar of Comicology.  I am planning to move them to a separate archive page for ready quick reference.

You talk about the Batman Movie and it will be a sin if you forget the contribution of Heath Ledger.  It can be clearly noted that more than protagonist Christian Bale as Batman, Ledger outperforms everyone (including a scary looking Two-Face) with his portrayal of Joker, ironically in his last act.  No wonder, he is tipped for a posthumous Oscar award for the Best Supporting Role.  He deserves that for sure.

The DC owned Batman character, originally created by Bob Kane, is considered one of its two flagship comic characters along with Superman.  It’s popularity is only rivalled by the Marvel’s Spiderman, who have traditionally held the upper hand in the comics based movie franchises, ever since DC stepped back with their Superman movie franchise (heavily due to the Christopher Reeve’s accident), and their repeated box-office failures with the badly made Batman movie franchise.  But with Batman: The Dark Knight, they have recaptured their past dominance, just in time when Marvel were pitching for their Avenger Movie launch.  So we are in for a great battle between DC & Marvel, this time to be witnessed in the Movie Industry.

Space Chimps 2008Space Chimps (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

A movie from the little know production house, called Vanguard Animation.  It talks about a set of Space Chimpanzees who are lead on a space mission, by the reluctant grandson of the first Chimpanzee on space, where they put an end to an tyrant in a distant world.  Not much could be said on the movie plot, as it has few glimpses to have been based on the Planet of Apes movie franchise, but fails on the execution of it.  For the sheer reason, of being their first international release, it makes up the list barely.  The production house seems to have got rewarded with a sizeable profit, mainly due to the low production cost associated with the venture.

X-Files 2008 X-Files: I Want to Believe (Jul 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

It’s another comeback movie franchise in the house, in form of X-Files (inspired by the 90’s hit TV series X-Files.  The last film was released in 1998, even though the 9th and last TV series aired until 2002.  The stars from the TV series, David Duchovny (looks rather old for the lead role) and Gillian Anderson (surprisingly still good-looking) make their appearance again to boost up the movie star cast.  But, unlike the earlier movie this doesn’t follow the extra-terrestrial theme for which the Original X-Files series is known for.  Instead it follows the age-old theme of horror/thriller, and it even dwindles at the level of basing the plot on the self-proclaimed messenger of god, to unravel the mystery.

I didn’t follow the TV series, but I should point out that the first movie was actually good.  The second instalment is surely a let-down, and I wonder why they took 6 years to devise a plot for this failed attempt. 

Reason for this movie in our list: Little known Topps Comics released few comic sets during TV series prime, which unsurprisingly remains their only significant comic releases ever.

Mummy 2008Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (Aug 1, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

The failed attempt for rebooting forgotten movie franchise continues, with the latest addition being the ever-famous Mummy movie series.  Eventhough they were greatly put down by the critics, I had liked the the first 3 movie instalments, which as per me where a visual treat.  They brought the Golden genre of the mysterious Egyptian civilization through breathtaking virtual reality.  But the latest movie comes out of its original theme, by moving over to Chinese Terracotta Warriors and lost prince.  It seems the creators wanted to hit jackpot, by casting Jet Lee, but like his numerous Hollywood attempts, this is another failed attempt for him.

Another failure in this movie franchise, is the non-appearance of incredibly beautiful Rachel Weisz to reprise her character.  Instead another unknown face Maria Bello makes up the number with, a certainly old looking, Brendan Fraser. It is said that Weisz opted out due to the storyline featuring her in as middle-aged women, and setting up for a motherly role in future movie series.  A Wise decision, as I like many others wouldn’t want to see her in that state :).  Maria does show her credentials in few fighting sequences, but she can never match up to Weisz’s popularity.

It should have got only 1.5 in our rating, but scores a extra fraction due to its stunning visual effects (even though they are a touch lesser than the standards set in the 3 prequels).  Talks are ripe that the movie is actually being rebooted with Jr. Connel taking the lead role in the future instalments.  Hopefully they will be better and newer than the 2008 instalment.

Reason for our listing: IDW Publishing has released some comic sets based on Rick O’ Connel’s character in 2008.

Igor 2008Igor (Sep 19, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

A different plot with the lead character portrayed as the strangely looking Igor (ones with hunchbacks), who were long portrayed in many movie genres as an understudy to some evil maniac.  In a village dominated by the Evil Scientists, who rule supreme with their frightening machines, Igor's are considered and treated as their under-study and lower cast.  One Igor, who is incredibly talented aspires to be the Greatest Evil Scientist, and the plot takes us through the oppressions and his struggle in his quest.  Eventhough it’s wonderfully animated (from the new film group Exodus) it fails largely on the plot-work.  The fact that it is an attempt from a lesser known animated group, also made it a prime candidate for lesser acceptance and publicity.

Roadside Romeo 2008 Roadside Romeo (Oct 23, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

The first Bollywood based international animation movie to have ever released, co-produced by Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Studios.  The movie even though boasting of a superior animation (mainly because of WD involvement, and hard work of 2 years) failed to reach the same stardom of its partner.  The plot is nothing better from a Bollywood love story, which the first-time director Jugal Hansraj, tried to imitate in animation industry.  The result when you try to combine a theory from one genre to another without significantly tweaking it to fit the target market, is here to see with the box-office failure of the film.

Bollywood’s Real-life Love Couple  Saif Ali Khan, and Kareena Kapoor have lent their voice to the movie, but it seems their combination taboo made their effect on this movie too, like their other Bollywood films.  It enjoys a rating of 2, for the simple reason that it is the first ever Indian International venture in animation industry. 

Fellow Comicologist Siv, had recently blogged about a comic adaptation for this movie in his blog here.  I am planning to do a further post on Indian Comics based on Movies, so we will have more details on to that sooner at Comicology.  Stay Tuned.

Madagascar 2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Nov 7, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3/5 >>

It’s a sequel to the hit and much critically acclaimed 2005 animated film.  It continues the story of the Zoo escaped Lion, Hippo, Zebra, and Giraffe, all known by their human names than their race.  The fact that it comes out of the DreamWorks studio, says more about the stunning animation as witnessed in every frame of the Movie.  It picks up from the 1st instalment, where the animals actually decide to move back to their captured life, but crash-land in central Africa, finding their own species.  Now, it’s decision time again for our favourite folks.  The Forest life is incredibly brought before our eyes, with wonderful combination of colours, and our title heroes comical activities makes it for an interesting watch.  Certainly a must see for all animation movie lovers.

QOS Bond 2008 Quantum of Solace (Nov 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

Incidentally, the most anticipated movie of 2008, which ironically was also the most disappointing comics movie franchise of the year.  Daniel Craig reprises his Secret agent role in 22nd James Bond Movie franchise.  Unlike the earlier movies which always are stand-alone versions, this movie is actually a follow-up/sequel to the 2005 Casino Royale, where Craig made his stunning debut as James Bond.  Bond sets up about on the task of avenging those who were behind the killing of her lady-love in 21st Bond Movie.  What we get to witness are Betrayals, and Pure adrenaline action, where James Bond even forgets to deliver his punch-line: “My name is Bond, James Bond”.  

The one bright spot of the movie was Olga Kurylenko, who seems to be the first-choice for all animation/comics based movie as witnessed in recent times (2007’s Hitman, & 2008’s Max Payne).  Surprisingly we don’t get to see a romantic interlude between her and Bond in this movie, as common among the so called “bond girls”.  Another new style being adopted Craig’s Bond Movies (but, nevertheless, we have another Bond-Girl in the movie ;) ).  One more unique feature is that, this is the first ever Bond Movie (or maybe any other movie) to have made its release in India, even before it was released in North America.  Doesn’t it make we Indians proud enough, and it seems India is considered a bigger movie market then how it was treated with 2nd, 3d rate Hollywood movies hitting the theatres years back :).

Despite the storyline, Daniel Craig impresses in his stylish act, and he is obviously the most ably fit actor ever to have praised the James Bond character. I can only laugh at the initial critics who were so crazy over his selection for Bond, just for the simple reason that he was a Blonde.  I hope they would have got their answers.

With that said, I would love to give it even worst rating, but the action sequences, and the intention of the newly formed Bond team to set this movie different from the earlier instalments, managed to eek out this rating at Comicology.  Let’s see what they make up with their next movie planned for 2011.

You don’t need any introduction to James Bond  when it comes to comics.  Classical comics enthusiasts (or Comicologists as we term them over here at Comicology) would remember the legendary comic-strips from UK’s Newspaper media.  We are going to have a long line-up of these Comics review as we go down dissecting the James Bond Comics released by erstwhile Rani Comics, shortly.

Bolt 2008 Bolt (Nov 21, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>

Walt Disney animation Company launched its 48th theatrical animated feature (the Roadside Romeo doesn’t count because it’s billed from the Indian based Yash Raj Films), to the industry they revolutionized, in the form of Bolt.  The film is strengthened by media heavyweights like John Travolta, and Miley Cyrus lending their voice to the lead characters.

The plot revolves around a white dog named Bolt, which is grown from a pub with the image of a super powered dog. But it was a myth as the production crew were hosting a live program of events featuring Bolt. A supposedly accident, drives Bolt out of its comfort zone to the reality of outside world. The rest of the movie features Bolt going on a cross-country tour to see its companion, who is supposedly has deserted him for another dog, replacing him in his live serial.  The film has so far received 85% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, for all the credit the movie deserves.

Punisher 2008Punisher: War Zone (Dec 5, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

The movie reboot doesn’t seem to be stopping, with 2004’s Punisher movie in the frame this time.  Marvel comes back to re-launch another of there never-ending comic heroes into movie.  This reboot is unique in the sense that it is the only franchise, which has been re-booted for the second time in row.  Comicologists would remember that the 2004 film, was actually a reboot to the 1989’s original movie.  Isn’t this a new trend.

But, it must be said that they are yet to achieve the popularity and acclaim they received for their Spiderman series.  The initial reviews about this movie also seems to be pretty disappointing.

Punisher is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel Comics, as he is the one who is human (and not those super freaks), and is only driven by his rage towards putting an end to the growing crime in the neighbourhood.  A hero everyone of us aspire to become, deep in our self.  The new creative team, cast makes for an interesting watch, but failed miserably in terms of plot and execution. The character of Punisher deserved more.

Spirit 2008 The Spirit (Dec 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

Will Eisner’s famous comics character The Spirit, which was originally created in 1940s, finally made it’s way to the mainstream media; with the ‘300’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Dark Knight Returns’ series fame Frank Miller donning the Directorial duties for a change.  Obviously inspired by his earliest directorial debut, with the critically acclaimed Sin City Movie adaptation.  But it should be noted that he was then assisted by a two more able directors.  Overall, I didn’t like the movie a bit, which was often slipping in screenplay and direction at various scenes.

Movie-critics and followers, it’s a failed attempt, and one which shows the great character of Eisner in poor light (a fact strengthened by the personal account of Love of Dreams ShankarV).  It looks Frank Miller should have stayed on with the job which he does best, which is comic book writing, and artist.

That completes our 2008 Movies Round-Up. Overall, 2008 was an eventual year, with so many comic based movies hitting the theatres, and many garnering critical acclaim. 

There were even some other movies which had comical relationships, but weren’t based on any Comics for actual say, hence weren’t covered in our year end movie review posts;

Like SuperHero Movie (a shoot comedy on Comic based Movies) Hancock (billed as Redefining the Summer of Super Heroes), and Max Payne (from the famous video game; Original inventor of Bullet time effect, but was actually revolutionized through Matrix Trilogy).  But, we aren’t missing anything, as they are sloppy ones to say the least.

So with the ratings it might clearly show what could probably be my Top 3 Best Movies of 2008.  But just to reiterate the same, here they are:

        1. Batman: The Dark Knight
        2. Wall-E
        3. Iron Man

2009 promises to be even better, with the announcement of Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Whiteout slated in for the year.  We will have a complete review of these movies at Comicology when they hit the theatres.  So, stay tuned for more.

I hope you liked Comicology’s complete account of Comic and Animation based Movies round-up of 2008, spread over 2 lengthy posts.  If yes, why not share your views on the same, for which you could use the Comment Section below.  I would be eager to read them.

And before I close, Wish every Comicologists a Happy Pongal, which is now also considered as Tamil New Year.  While many fellow Comicologists decided to have a special post for the event, I believe every post at Comicology is special enough to be among the list :).  Happy Reading and Watching, and I will be back with another post very shortly.

Jan 9, 2009

CineBook - Green Manor #1 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 56 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

After a small gap, we are back with one more CineBook issue review, which was part of the batch release in India, last year.  CineBook are the only UK publishing company which has proved their stature competing against the overall odds of DC & Marvel influx, by banking on the famed Franco-Belgian era.  So there is no wonder their fleet of issues finds it presence more often on our website.

The title to be reviewed in this post is Green Manor, which is part of the “Double Expresso” series from CineBook.  Double Expresso, essentially means that it may be a volume of one or two editions, which are originally published in French or other language.  The plot revolves around a little known fictional English club called Green Manor, where the story unfolds revealing the secrets behind the thick walls, in the process enlightening the readers of the the greatest con artists Queen Victoria’s England has ever seen.

Green Manor 1: Assassins and Gentlemen
ISBN: 978-1-905460-53-3
Green Manor 01 c1
Green Manor 1: BackCover 
Published: May 2008
Green Manor 01 c2

Fabien VehlmannGreen Manor is a brainchild of French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (b.1972, France).  Vehlmann like typical kids, is said to have been fascinated with toys and comics from his childhood.  But at the age of 23, he suddenly realized that the childhood love is still not lost in him.  He jokingly quotes

“My parents were subscribers of Spirou for years.  Leafing an issue, I discovered a contest for writers.  Like all budding writers, I first wanted to draw, before realizing that it is one of those which I ridicule better.”

Even though, he ultimately didn’t take part in that contest, it paved the way for shaping his interest.  He eventually joined the Spirou Magazine in 1997, and started contributing with various short stories, including writing one adventure for Spirou and Fantasio, a series which was reviewed here at Comicology earlier.  Fascinated by his works, Yvan Delporte, who was the Editor-in-Chief of Spirou magazine during the golden age of Franco-Belgian comics, once credited Vehlmann as the "The René Goscinny of the third millennium".  Comicologists would recollect Goscinny from his legendary works on Asterix, and Lucky Luke.

Denis BodartWhile at Spirou, he got his first official break in a full series, when he joined hands with artist Denis Bodart (b.1962, Belgium), to create the Green Manor series.  While Vehlmann is known for his intriguing plots, and mystery woven writing style, Denis Bodart is known for his toon-style artwork, while not compromising the seriousness related to the base plot.  Refer the Sample Artwork below, to see for yourself.  With this distinction, we could safely term Green Manor as a “Comics” Graphic Novel, for the fact that the Toon-styled comic artwork is used to depict a plot-work aimed for mature audience.

n an interview with Character Design, Bodart quotes about the difficulty associated with the artwork of Green Manor, which is typically a series of stories all spanning 7 pages each, as follows:

Green Manor Sample Artwork“I am most proud of the character designs I did for all the characters in the three volumes of Green Manor. The main difficulty resided in the very form of the série ( 16 short stories of 7 pages). In this framework, giving enough consistency to the characters so they get credible since the very first boxes was a real challenge… especially when you known that none would live more than 7 pages. A constraint that generates much frustration as you can easily guess. In the other hand, it also allowed me to explore several graphic possibilities.”

If you are interested to read the complete interview click here.

The 1st volume of Green Manor: Assassins and Gentleman contains 7 short stories, which are narrated as if they were told by a psychotic prisoner, who was an inmate at Green Manor, to a visiting doctor.  This gives us a first-hand accounting of the events as they occur, which reveals the blackness lurking in the minds of people rated as the top cream of Victoria’s England. 

Green Manor Original French Album 1Despite the subject matter, Green Manor is murder-lite; all the killings are offstage, and there is little gore as witnessed in the stories. But that's not all, the ending strongly suggests that Green Manor is all inside the patient’s head, which puts a different spin on all the stories you have read so far.

This English translation for this French album has been done by Elaine Kemp for CineBook.  The translator has taken enough care in maintaining the core storyline to retain its context. The Original French album was released back in 2001 by publishers Dupius titled “Assassins et gentlemen”.  Look at the cover art of the original edition, which shows how much rework it has gone through before finding its place as part of the CineBook stable. 

CineBook’s professionalism on display.

The duo of Vehlmann & Bodart have totally worked on 3 albums of Green Manor, which all have been released  by CineBook in US/UK.  With the reception it has garnered with Volume 1, they would be a collectors item, when Volume 2 and 3 finally makes their way to India.

Jan 5, 2009

2008 Comics/Animation Movies Round-Up – I

We have reached a New year in 2009, but there are still a lot of blog posts which were originally planned at Comicology for the year 2008. So, let's quickly wrap them up one by one.

First-up would be a Movies Roundup for the year 2008. Don't panic, we aren't going away from the main Comics theme of our Blog. In fact, all the movies which are being covered here will be those which has some sort of relationship with Comics, or its sub-genre Animation. There were a total of 20+ movies released in 2008 related to these genre, which is an enormous list to be covered in a single post.  Hence this is a 1st of the two part series in this write-up. 

Let’s start with our first post, where the movies are ordered according to their US release date.

Rambo 2008 Rambo (Jan 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

Sylvester Stallone tried to imitate his past success by re-booting the long forgotten movie franchise Rambo after a decade (since Rambo III).  This instalment takes him to Burma in a bid to save the missionaries from evil clutches of savage Military Officer.  The film was said to be the most gory of the franchise, with as many killings, but I was somehow not impressed seeing a legendary character being portrayed as in his last breath. 

The storyline didn’t give much justice either to the franchise, but the producers are poised to make a 5th instalment of series in 2009, unlike Rocky Balboa two years earlier, which was confirmed as the last instalment of the Rocky series.  

You might wonder why this movie is part of our list. But, I just came to know that Blackthorne Publishing, had produced some comics based on Rambo character in 1988.  While the Comic based Movie adaptations have mostly been successful, the vice-versa does not show a rosy picture.  No wonder the company folded shops the very next year.

Jumper 2008 Jumper (Feb 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

A partly successful movie based on the original novel by the same name in 1992.  It follows the adventure of two secret mutant genres, which are destined to fight and hunt each other.  Oni Press had actually released a prequel graphic novel before the movie, hence it finds mention in our list.  Mostly it is a disappointing movie, which failed to live up to the expectations set by the famous novel.  The unknown cast and crew didn’t help the matter much. 

But, the film actually did a decent turn out in box office prompting the producers to think on a sequel.  One of the attraction of the movie is that its said to have been filmed in 14 different countries. So we get to see a world-tour, when the lead character jumps from one location to another (which was a cute concept).

Horton 2008 Horton Hears A Who (Mar 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3/5 >>

The first Animation movie released internationally in 2008.  Many in India may not be aware of Dr.Seuss, who is known for his literary work targeted for children.  Two of his earlier books have also been made as films, with the first one featuring Jim Carrey.  But, this is the first movie which was made fully in CGI.  It’s a touching storyline which talks about the importance of living things irrespective of their size.  Horton the Elephant is comically drawn and wonderfully voiced by the talented Jim Carrey (who seems to love Dr.Seuss work).

The movie could have been made better, if it had avoided lengthy scenes and screenplay.  But the climax scene made up for it all, where I was one among those who wished that the voice from the tiny world makes it to what we call as our world.

Iron Man 2008Iron Man (May 2, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>

The long awaited movie featuring one of the famous Marvel characters, Iron Man, finally hit the theatres in 2008 (It was in pre-production for almost 2 decades, changing number of hands in the process).  Marvel seem to have an upper hand over the arch-rivals DC when it comes to Movie franchise.  Somehow their comic characters were tailor made for a movies, and the number of characters in their disposal is fascinating, to say at least. 

Tony Stark is wonderfully portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., whose dialog delivery, and style, overshadows his ageing face. It’s said that the production house initially preferred a younger actor, but then decided to give it to Downey, since the chracter resembled lot in him, and also because he is a great fan of the Iron Man comics.

The evolution of the Iron Man Costume in 3 stages; Introduction of Iron Monger, Iron Man’s arch enemy, and the plot revolving around him;  Saviour of the people in war-torn states;   are wonderfully portrayed in the movie, which would make any Iron Man Comics fan proud.  There is also a romantic interlude with the personal secretary, Pepper Pots (isn’t that a cute name), which seems to have been set in motion for the sequels to come.

The last scene press conference, where everybody expects Tony Stark to make announcement disassociating the rumours of him being Iron Man, is closed perfectly with the punch line sentence.  Credits to the Director, Jon Favreau, for making a movie which was in “Development Hell” for near 2 decades, with incredible plot-work.  It should also be noted that the director allowed actors to create their own dialogues.  The humor part in-lined with the entire script, with flashy comic dialogues, is said to be due to the involvement of Downey Jr., contributions in the movie’s screenwriting.  He claims to have made it stand out from the rest of the hard-hitting super-hero movies.  It turned out as a master stroke for the movie.

The Director didn’t let any stones unturned by silently introducing the Avengers Initiative at the end of the movie, setting up the show for 2009.  And, Iron Man-2 with the same cast is in for a 2011 sequel.

Speed Racer 2008Speed Racer (May 9, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1/5 >>

A prime candidate for the worst movie franchise, this time made out of Japanese Anime series.  I should honestly admit that I was never a great fan for the Japanese Manga style of art and anime, and it could have helped me to write-off this movie completely.  But, the overall rating of the movie, does justify my premonition.  The plot talks about a young racer, trying to win a prestigious racing championship, in which his older brother was killed.  In the process he uncovers the corporate games of cheating, and backstabbing.  Lesser said about the plot the better.

Indiana Jones 2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull (May 22, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2.5/5 >>

The successful duo of George Lucas (Star Wars fame) and Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park fame), join hands once again to bring back the famous movie character Indian Jones back onto silver screen after nearly 2 decades.  To go by the strong theme of, “If Indiana Jones, then it is Harrison Ford”, 56 year old surprisingly made his return to play the lead character again.  Harrison Ford simply has charisma wooing all over him, and it helps bring back the glory days.  The Nuclear Bomb Blast, Car chasing scenes and a climax with pre-historic monuments, and encounter with aliens its makes (which was kind of too comical) for an interesting watch.  The next instalment may be better.

Even though I wasn’t from the genre when Indian Jones was making headlines, I have heard it from seniors in the biz that it was one of the interesting movie franchise they every witnessed.  Since the movie franchise is actually said to have been rebooted, Shia LaBeouf (Transformer fame) is introduced as Jr. Jones, to centre future movies around his character.  Even though Indian Jones is typically a movie franchise, Marvel Comics and Dark Horse have long printed graphic novels based on the character, hence he makes into our list.

Kung Fu Panda 2008 Kung Fu Panda (Jun 6, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

A movie from the famed DreamWorks studio, which made its way after a huge marketing campaign.  But, even then I wasn’t particularly impressed to a great extent with jumping Panda.  It shows how a movie from a bigger brand can get mass attention through the strength of campaigns.  My rating is sure to create uproars among the comic/movie fraternity, some of whom have rated it even on the top 3 movies of the year.  But, with that said, this is my honest rating.

There is also a controversy fuming, that the Americans utilized the Panda as the lead character so as to make profit out of the beloved and national figure in China.  I believe that actually worked up pretty well for the success of the movie.  Didn’t they say Controversy creates Cash. :)

Incredible Hulk 2008Incredible Hulk (Jun 13, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

The Green angry giant makes a comeback to silver screen after 5 years, but as it turned out it was a complete reboot of the Incredible Hulk series from the failed attempt earlier.  A lead character and cast change didn’t help matters, as the movie didn’t impress any better than the 2003 instalment.  We get to witness the introduction of Hulk’s deadly enemy Abomination, who also fails to hype up the tempo.  It looks the producers were never interested to take this hulk movie franchise further, and only attempted to reboot the character to appear as part of the The Avengers Movie planned in the coming years.  A fact justified by Tony Star (aka Iron Man) making his presence again at the end credits.

Wall E 2008 Wall-E (Jun 27, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 4/5 >>

Finally a strong contender for the years best Animation movie award, from the famed Pixar Studios (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille).  Wall-E simply shakes us out of our irregular life style of dumping and littering our neighbourhood, ultimately destroying the planet.  The scene opens up with a deserted Earth, which has now been reduced to piles and piles of garbage, effectively prompting the Humans to leave it for a search among the stars for a better place to live.  But, they forgot to switch off one last robot meant to clear up the Waste, which goes about its task everyday as instructed.  In the process it meets its love of life in form of a new generation Robot, aptly named EVE.

What we get to witness is then a romantic interlude among these unrelated machines, and a race against time to bring the humans back to earth.  The fact that the half of the movie from the opening scene didn’t feature any dialogues, but still managed to sweep us off our feet, is a testament to the legacy set by Pixar’s animations. Some of the scenes depicted as future humans turning to a lazy chunk of pile, seems to represent partly on our current life style.  Pixar’s animations have a richness associated with its work, and it is no lesser witnessed in Wall-E, which is said to the be the costliest movie ever produced by the Studios till date.  No wonder, Wall-E finds itself being nominated in various award categories in different film festivals.

Wanted 2008 Wanted (Jun 27, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2.5/5 >>

The first comic series based movie franchise of the year, which is not from the famed Marvel.  Wanted was originally a Comic Series written by Mark Millar (Ultimate series fame), and published in Top Cow (a comic publishing company started by creators to own their work and related licensing).  It follows a young executive who suddenly finds that he is a successor to the secret cult of 1000 year old Super-able assassins cult, and he should either be part of them, or see they turn against him.  Even though the plot had all the ingredients for a successful movie franchise, the resultant movie is a great failure to the original concept.

The movie even though featuring a strong cast with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, failed to live up to its hype.  Often losing its way in the screenplay, and a struggling actor in its lead character.  The only bright spot in the movie is Slow-Motion Fast paced action sequences, and an ever beaming Jolie, with some bare-dare acts ;).

[Concluded on Round-Up II]

That completes our first part in this 2008 Comic/Animation based movies review.  The second part to this mini-series is also online now.  If you liked the post, why don’t you leave your comments and reviews about this topic and the movies discussed in this post in the section below?  I would be eager to read them.

Jan 4, 2009

Siruvar Malar – FlashBack | 1986

I bet all the Comicologists are really spending some quality time with the near and dear ones, in this holiday season.  In keeping with the same spirit, this is a New Year Surprise Post for all Comicologists.

So far the pattern adopted at Comicology has been to brief and review the new titles or issues released in India, with a detailed link-up to the previous titles related to the reviewed issue.  That has been the case so far with Lion Comics, Muthu Comics, CineBook, Euro Books, Gotham Comics, etc. reviewed so far, and will continue to find their presence in Comicology.  Just to make things interesting, and to break-away from any trend-set, this post will start my long planned “Flash Back Events”, where we will cover some famous Comics initiatives and series released in the past.

870109 Siruvar  Malar 00 Siruvar Malar (09-Jan-87)

First-up the order will be one of my most cherished collection from childhood, Siruvar Malar (சிறுவர் மலர்), a Children's magazine in Tamil (தமிழ்), which started it run in 1986 as a Free Weekly Supplement to the Tamil Newspaper (தமிழ் நாளிதழ்), Dina-Malar (தின மலர்) on Fridays

(My estimates say that the first edition was launched in Oct’86. Unfortunately, I don’t possess this 1st edition.  Any Comicologists, having the same could contact me through email to update this post with 1st edition cover.)

Dinamalar that time was considered as the 2nd most widely read Newspaper in the Southern Indian State, Tamil Nadu.  They earlier had huge success with an another Weekly, titled Vaaramalar (வார மலர்) released every Sunday, which was also provided for free.  Eventhough there were countless newspapers which tried to imitate this Free Weekly Supplements on different days, no one was able to emulate the success owned by Dinamalar.

So there was no surprises when they launched their second successful Weekly supplement in form on Siruvar Malar, this time to addressed to the younger audience, and children's.

This was the same time I grew up reading and dissecting anything with pictures in a magazine, (obviously inspired by the erstwhile Rani Comics introduced by my brother), and it was a not a surprise that I immediately fell in love with Siruvar Malar from the very first time.

There was a lot of carefully planned USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in Siruvar Malar to attract young minds, even though it was a free edition.  It had everything which a kid could dream of:

  • Comic Strips
  • Stories
  • Riddles
  • Competitions
Dinamalar claiming #2 Position
900202 Advt
Advt in Siruvar Malar (02-Feb-90)

The covers of Siruvar Malar initially carried foreign pictures, which was quickly changed to feature pictures from kids in Tamil Nadu, to make them touch-base with local crowd.  I still remember those days when every family wanted to send their kids picture for a possible cover feature in the future issues.  

They had tied up with the famous Northern Indian publisher, Uncle Pai inspired, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) from Mumbai (formerly Bombay), to bring and introduce Tamil translated version of their wonderfully drawn and scripted storylines from Mythology, History, and Humour genre.  In fact, my first experiment with ACK was through this medium.

870403 Siruvar  Malar 00
Siruvar Malar (03-Apr-87)
870501 Siruvar  Malar 00
Siruvar Malar (01-May-87)
890310 Siruvar Malar 00
Siruvar Malar (10-Mar-89)

But there was also an another star attraction to Siruvar Malar in terms of Comic Strip, with their International licensing to bring Tamil translated version of some famous comic series.  Siruvar Malar was originally launched as a 16 page supplement.  But as per the readers demand it was quickly increased to double size, and that marked a new beginning, which let them to feature some international comic strips in their weekly.  Look at the announcement from the Editor on the same, and a preview of a list of Comic Series which were started with the double-sized issue debut.

Since, the erstwhile Indrajal Comics released by Times of India stable, was more famous and larger in size with their American Daily-Strips based issues featuring Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake, etc., the team of Siruvar Malar kept their reliance on them to a little extent by featuring a single page occasionally for Mandrake and Flash Gordon in their Weekly. 

Instead they set their eyes on the some of the untouched Comic Series from the Golden Generation of British Comics.  Comicologists would take a note that famous Tamil language based Muthu Comics from Prakash Publishers thrived on this market for a long-time introducing to us some famous characters like Steel Claw, The Spider, and Archie etc.  But, their concentration was on a “Super Hero” devoted storyline, by means of which they could engage their publication by printing their series of adventures for a long time.

870403 Editor Note
Editor’s Note on the Double Size launch Siruvar Malar (01-May-87)

But, Golden Era of British Comics, was not only made up of Super Heroes.

There were some more one-off series, which were rich of script, artwork, with fair mix of creepy plots.  Comicologists would again remember that Thigil Comics, an sister publication of Lion/Muthu Comics publishers, tried publishing these series, but couldn’t do that successfully, as the brand was withdrawn with a short run.

891027 Siruvar  Malar 00
Siruvar Malar (02-Feb-90)
Siruvar Malar (27-Jun-08)
Siruvar Malar (26-Dec-08)

Siruvar Malar, was the first to touch-base on this one-off British Comic series by bringing them over to the Tamil Comics fans.  And these series will form the base for our initial reviews to be featured as part of the “Flash-Back Post Series” about Siruvar Malar at Comicology.

As a kid, I remember those days when I was eagerly anticipating every Friday, in order to read the Siruvar Malar, first-up.  There was a basic understanding among family members, that being the youngest, I would be the first to read the Siruvar Malar on Friday, while the eldest will have the rights for that honour with Vaara Malar on Sundays.  Those were days of utmost fun and lasting memories, and here is a chance for me to re-experience them.

First-up the order, in our series of Siruvar Malar review, is one of the most famous creepy and a lengthy series ever featured in Siruvar Malar, or in fact, any other Tamil comics magazines; Uyirai Thedi (உயிரை தேடி).  Ever since I read about a new BBC series starting in UK, called Survivor, at the BackfromDepth website, the original of which was an inspiration to this comic series, I had been thinking long and hard to collect the old Siruvar Malar archives to blog about the same.  Now, with the arrangements ready, we could talk about the series in detail with our coming FlashBack posts.  Till then here is a preview of what’s in store for you.  I am confident this is going to take you back in your memory lane, if you had actually read this series in Siruvar Malar back in those days.

Uyirai Thedi Preview

As an end note, Dinamalar still continues to hold onto his position among the growing competition in the Newspaper media, greatly strengthened by their subscription base.  They also have been continuously releasing their Siruvar Malar (a scene evident with the 2009 edition featured above), supplement along with Vaara Malar.  But the qualities which made the Original Siruvar Malar stand out from the rest, is now nowhere to be seen, as it is mostly occupied with local stories and artworks.  No wonder, they remain underground. 

But, it’s still a good gift for the children's.  Especially for those who miss out on these editions for whatever reasons, can browse through, for downloading e-Books of past Siruvar Malar issues.  Dinamalar team has to be commended for making it available for free.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If so, why not share your views, reviews about this post using the Comment section below?  I would be eager to read them.  Until the next post, enjoy your holiday season.

UPDATE (03/09): The first part of Survival aka Uyirai Thedi is current available at Comicology, on this page.

Jan 1, 2009

Best of Year 2008 – Comicology Awards

We have finally reached the end of the most controversial year in the decade.  The Year 2008 had its fair share of surprises; Booming Indian Economy, Global Economic Slowdown, Indian Crickets Turn-around, Gore of Terrorism; it was overall a mixed bag of events.  Hopefully, we will get to see a better year, in 2009.

The Comics or Graphic Novel Biz also had a fair bit of happenings around in 2008, with the introduction of new players in form of CineBook, Tara Press, Euro Books, Vimanika, etc.  In the South, we had a rejuvenated Prakash Publishers, unveiling their line up of classical Tamil comics. Overall, it was year to remember and cherish for a Comics fan.

vote With the experience of running a blog for the last 3 years, I believe it’s time we talk about good things which have passed over in 2008, on the field of Comicology.  But, don’t we need a fair trial ?  In keeping up with the Election fever in the country, Comicology gives you an option to elect the best of 2008, in a democratic way.  Yes, I am not going to be the sole judge in selecting the best in various categories.  In fact I will only be a facilitator allowing all the comics fans to choose, by providing them options among the nominees elected by Comicology in the various categories.

UPDATE (26-Jan-08): And thus it turned out, the Inaugural Comicology's Readers Poll to choose the Best of 2008, has surely turned on as the biggest attraction to the blog. There were a total of 333 Votes which were cast across multiple comics categories, which makes me proud to have initiated this, and will go a long way in organising this poll on a yearly basis.  Thanks to all those Comicologists, who spent their time and effort in making this a big success. Without further due, here are the Winners in respective categories.

#1: Best English Comics

The Nominations for this category, would be from the English Comics Series, which were reviewed at Comicology in 2008, as that gives a chance for everyone to arrive at their decision with what they have read about them at Comicology. If you choose to read the reviews before you vote, click on each of those series for reaching the respective review page at Comicology.

Best English Comics 2008 PollThe Nominations are:

And the Winner is: Surprise, Surprise.  The unanimous choice seems to be The 99 Series from Teshkeel Comics, out of those English comics series reviewed at Comicology in 2008.

The Strong favourite, as many thought was the Lucky Luke Series from CineBook, which was leading the pack when the polls were started.  But the predominant visitors from out of the country, seem to have voted in favour the 99 series, as that is the new kid on the block. 

Total Number of Votes: 49.

#2: Best Tamil Comics

Year 2007 had a new star in the Tamil Comics horizon in form of Star Comics. But its starting issues, coupled with a no-show of Iceberg Comics, ensured that Prakash Publishers, were the only player available in this competition in 2008. So, there are no surprises that all the nominees are from the Lion Comics & Muthu Comics (Comics Classics is left out for obvious reasons, as they are olden classics which can't be placed in the same scale of Modern day Comics).  As with the previous section, if you would like to read a review about them before voting, click on the respective titles.

Best Tamil Comics 2008 PollThe Nominations are (in the order of their release):

And the Winner is: There are no surprises in this category, as the pack of Tamil comics released by Prakash Publishers, is lead in the front by the Lucky Luke extravaganza, showing to prove the fan-following this legendary character enjoys among Tamil comic fans.  The much acclaimed and well received Martin Mystery extravaganza takes the second place, marginally missing out on 3 votes.

Total Number of Votes: 22.

#3: Best Blog

We saw an abundant amount of interest in the Comics Blog World, with a lot of new bloggers staking their claim, and giving much needed competition to the two long running blogs: MuthufanBlog & Comicology.  So this award category will highlight the Best Blog of 2008.  The Criteria for the Blog Nominations are:

  • Minimum of 5 Posts (relevant to Comics) over the Year
  • Blogs about English Comics and Tamil Comics (Hindi Comics is too early to be reviewed at Comicology)
  • Blogs which doesn’t infringe any Copyrights held by the authorised publishers

The Nominations are (in the order of their Post Count):

Best Blog 2008 Poll1. Tamil Comics Ulagam: Obviously, the most happening blog on the Tamil Comics blogosphere, inspired by Viswa.  The fact that it boasts 25 Posts in a time span of 4 months from its launch, speaks volume about his dedication. A strong contender for the top honours.

2. Comicology: I shouldn’t be talking much about my own blog initiative, nevertheless for the sheer count of 25 Posts over the year, I believe Comicology is qualified to be in the nominations list.  But as always, the final judgment is with the readers.

3. Aa.Ko.Thee.Kaa. (அ.கொ.தீ.க.): The First full exclusive Tamil Comics Blog, started by veteran Tamil Comics Researcher, Dr.Sathish.  His unique knack of providing a complete account of every series, made it one of the most sought after blog of 2008, with a total of 7 Posts (Including 1 Intro post).

4. Comics Pookal (காமிக்ஸ் பூக்கள்): A new entrant in the Tamil Comics Blog, but quickly staked his claim on the equals, by breaking away from traditional comics review and concentrating on the different topics through the history of Comics and its evolution.  The posts are strengthened by the strong Tamil root evident in the writing of Ayyampalayam Venkateshwaran, and rightly deserves its nomination with 6 Posts (Including 1 Intro post).

And the Winner is: Comicology narrowly beat AKTK, by 1 vote. Thanks to all those who made that possible. Surprisingly the 3rd place is shared both by TCU and Comics Pookal with equal number of votes.

Total Number of Votes: 65.

Apart from the above blogs which were nominated, there were a few others, which just missed out from the nomination, but deserves a special mention (in the order of their importance and content relevance):

1. Muthu Fan’s Comics Blog: The Old War Horse missed the bus for the Nomination with only 3 posts in the year 2008, but doesn’t it deserve a legendary category award, for having pioneered the whole comics blogging passion?  So, its deservedly should not be among the nominations, as the blog has a cult following unmatched by any other blogs.  Muthufan has promised a series of posts in 2009, so it augers well for the legacy set by the forerunner of Tamil Comics Blog.

2. Kanavukalin Kaathalan (கனவுகளின் காதலன்): A Tamil Comics Blog by the superiorly talented Shankar Visvalingam.  His posts are uniquely styled with a fair mix of poetry and classic writing, backed up by the rich experience on a range of comics genre.  He has 3 unique posts as a testament to his talent.

4. Share Hunter: Eventhough the primary aim of this Tamil Blog by Josh Alexander, was to write his analysis about the share market, he has offlate been more active in posting a number of comic related blogs, with reviews, and even an iconic adventure series featuring the who-is-who of bloggers.  The only thing lacking is that they are lost in the pile of his share-market related posts. But isn’t he more famous for that ? :)

5. Rani Comics (ராணி காமிக்ஸ்): A new entrant in the Tamil Comics Blog, originally started by me, with the intention of making it a team blogging activity talking through the history of Rani Comics.  So far I have been playing a lone hand in the process managing 3 posts in total, all in the month of Dec’08.

6. Mudhalai Pattalam (முதலை பட்டாளம்): Started by a serious Comics collector Kaleel.  A long way to go for him to stake his claim among the other bloggers.

7. Chitrakathai: Started by Siv, talking about the forgotten comics initiatives in Tamil.  He is yet to make a mark in the blogosphere, and his focus on the less-quality comics, with little info isn’t helping grow his stature.  He has 4 posts so far about these Tamil Comics.

#4: Best Comics Post

Best Comic Post 2008 PollThis is across the Comics Blogosphere, and I have chosen the best posts from the top Comicologists blog as a list of nominees for this prestigious award at Comicology.  This is the only poll in the Year 2008 round-up, which will give you a chance to pick multiple blog posts, you deem to be the best so far in 2008.

The Nominations are:


And the Winner is: There is another tie in this category too.  Comicologists have voted Blake & Mortimer post of Comicology, and Bond post of TCU both has the joint winners, garnering 30 votes each.  So, we have a joint winners once again, in the form of Comicology & TCU.

Total Number of Votes: 93.

#5: Best Comics-Commenter

Time and again, I have iterated in my posts, that more than the number of readers who visit your blog, it is ultimately the persons who decide to record their comment are the important factor, which decides a success of the blog.  It is a clear reward for the hard work put in by a blogger, which has to be aptly supported by all those who read through them to record their views as a comment.  Either it is a comment in nature of a critic, or appreciative, they are the building blocks for a healthy blogging environment.  The idea for this category, is to appreciate the best and the most active one out of this lot, to recognize the equal importance played by them on a blog’s lifeline.  Here are those select GEMS out of the crowd.

Best Commenter 2008 PollThe Nominations are:

  • Viswanathan
  • Rafiq Raja
  • Shankar Visvalingam
  • Mahesh Kumar
  • Arun Prasad
  • அய்யம்பாளையம் வெங்கடேஸ்வரன்
  • Dr. Sathish
  • அம்மா ஆசை இரவுகள்

And the Winner is: The winner seems to be unanimous, and I am thankful to all the Comikers who voted me out from the lot.  I always considered that Comments are the best way to support a blogger, and it is good to know that people have shown supports towards the same cause.  Thanks once again.

Total Number of Votes: 104.

That completes our Comicology’s First ever Comics Vote Categories.  With the phenomenal success, I am pretty sure that we will see this as a regular year end feature at Comicology.

And before I close, wish you all a Happy New Year 2009.  May all your wishes come true on this joyous occasion. To quote, Edith L Pierce:

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”

In keeping up with the New Year Spirit, We have also moved onto a new exclusive domain for Comicology, (I don’t know, how many noticed this change in the URL).  The old blogspot URL will now redirect to this new domain automatically.  It’s my long-time ambition to move to an exclusive domain and part of my Ver.2.0 plan.  I thought this blog deserved this worthy expense, as a New Year Gift.

Happy Holidays, and I will be back with a New Year Special Post shortly.


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