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§ Nice Art: James Stokoe’s cover for Aliens: Dead Orbit #1. All Stokoe art is nice art. Reviewed here.

If you missed out on Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half Century War then, aside from the obligatory “shame on you” because you can pick this up in trade through IDW, Aliens: Dead Orbit is not something you’re going to want to pass up. All you need to do is put it in your hands and look at at the pages. Forget reading it for a moment and just let your eyes graze on the space ship designs, the character designs, the muted colors and interesting gradients. It can’t be said enough, so let’s pull it back in here just in case you missed it the first time: James Stokoe is a comic book god.

 

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§ Stokoe also nailed the “Artist vs writers” war that morphed out of the “Artists don’t move the needle-gate” comments from the infamous Marvel Retailers Summit report.

§ Crowdfunding watch: Ganzeer is Kickstarting a print edition of THE SOLAR GRID, a comic that we’ve much admired here.

§ Hark! San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has not given up on expanding the convention center! On Monday he unveiled a plan for a November ballot measure that would pay for the expansion by imposing a 3% hotel room tax.

“This ballot measure will create jobs, fix streets and help reduce homelessness in our city,” Faulconer told reporters. “Our convention center must be modernized and expanded to keep up with other cities that are taking away from our tourism business,” Faulconer said. “I’m not asking San Diego taxpayers, who are being taxed enough already, to shoulder this burden.”

The money raised would also pay for road improvements and homeless shelters. It’s similar in structure  to the failed ballot measure that would have raised money to pay for a new Chargers stadium…the failure of which led to the Chargers skedaddling up to Los Angeles. The proposal would add 400,000 square feet for additional cosplay and video game exhibit space – and comics too. If approved, construction could begin in 2019 and take…FOUR YEARS. So don’t plan that costume just yet.

If you read our own Nick Eskey’s report on David Glanzer’s remarks just prior to WonderCon, it seemed that Glanzer was setting up the notion that SDCC may have to move if they don’t get the space and moderately priced hotel rooms that con fans are demanding. He also didn’t seem too optimistic about a future convention center expansion. The current contract calls for Comic-Con to stay in San Diego through 2018, so you can see that this is all a set-up for yet more negotiation.

As this proposal is only two days old, the gordian knot of local interests is just beginning to percolate. (Apologies for the mixed metaphor.) Yet there’s already a lawsuit because it seems that San Diego doesn’t actually own the land where the expansion would take place. Whoops.

In fact, developers of a luxury bayfront hotel proposed for the site have sued the San Diego Convention Center, accusing the city-owned nonprofit agency of interfering in their permitting process. Fifth Avenue Landing, the company that controls the five acres along San Diego Bay where Faulconer wants to expand the city’s showcase meeting space, claims in the lawsuit that convention center officials are undermining plans for a 4-star, $300 million hotel. “Plaintiff believes that defendant has been taking actions designed to prevent plaintiff from satisfying its contractual obligations,” states the suit, filed last month in San Diego Superior Court.

Our take: Comic-Con will stay in San Diego but hotel room prices will go up in some degree no matter what. Will there ever be an expansion of the convention center? We’re no Magic Eight Ball but this ballot measure should be just as hotly contested as the Chargers plan was.

§ Speaking of conventions, Sen. Bernie Sanders wandered into Anime Boston and saw a cosplay battle and hearts every where were lighted by this unexpected scene.

§ Johanna Draper Carlson went to MoCCA:

Second, there’s a growing trend for young creators to bring prints and pins and stickers… but not sequential work. I know comics are hard, and making and selling a pretty piece of art is a lot easier, but that’s not what I’m interested in seeing. Based on the audience, I may not be in the majority.

 

§ Peter David has added a GoFundMe to his campaign to raise money to pay back taxes. So far that has raised more than $40,000 of the $88,000 needed. Many comics folk have been very generous, including a sizable donation by Robert Kirkman. In an update on his blog he writes:

I continue to be stunned by the generosity of both fans and friends. It never occurred to me that we would reach the $55,000 level in four days. It helps that I have some incredibly generous friends. George Takei, JMS and Wendy & Richard Pini each donated $1000 on GoFundMe while George Perez donated an astounding $5000.

 

§ As we told you last week, ComicsAlliance is no more, and they were not allowed to do a farewell post, so they wrote this instead: Why We Love Comics

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§ At Comicosity, Chicago native Matt Santori looks at Deathstroke and Nighthawk’s storylines inspired by Chicago’s stunningly high gun violence.

§ After all that controversy, the Ghost in the Shell movie was a bomb, coming in third for the week with a small $20 million gross. Vanity Fair wondered if this was the end for whitewashing, noting that the controversy took the wind out of the sails for the movie.

Even if Marvel’s bottom line is controversy-proof so far, it’s unlikely that its parent company, the increasingly and intentionally diverse Walt Disney Studios, will want to weather further public relations storms like the ones that swirled around both Doctor Strange and Iron Fist. Paramount, too, seems to have kept its head down when it came to deploying Ghost in the Shell. After it was revealed that the visual effects company Lola VFX had done tests on Ghost in the Shell in order to digitally “shift” the “ethnicity” of a Caucasian actress and make her appear more Asian in the film (there’s disagreement over whether that actress was Johansson herself), the wind went out of the studio’s sails. Ghost in the Shell also screened very late for critics—a sure sign that a studio would prefer to mitigate any damage caused by negative word of mouth and early reviews.

Related: The Hollywood Reporter sat down with four Japanese actresses to discuss the film, including Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls), stage actor/writer Traci Kato-Kiriyama (PULLproject Ensemble), Atsuko Okatsuka (co-founder of the all-Asian, mostly female Dis/orient/ed Comedy tour) and Ai Yoshihara (The Sea of Trees). It’s a wide ranging and candid discussion:

Agena: As an actor, I probably fall into more of the sidekick/best friend/doctor/lawyer category. I’m not usually going out for a leading role, so I don’t have that personal resentment. But as a fan, as a human Asian American, I want to see that star being born. That was the part that hurt. This is such a star-making vehicle. And they can find people. They found that wonderful girl [Auli’i Cravalho] that played Moana. They found the guy that’s gonna star in Crazy Rich Asians [Henry Golding]. Yeah, it’s hard. But they can be found, and this could have made a young, kick-ass Asian actress out there a Hollywood name and star.

 

Also related: At Slate Marissa Martinelli nailed all the feeble responses to complaints with The Seven Strategies for Defending Your Problematic TV Show or Movie – —and Why They Don’t Work.

But what makes the saga of the Iron Fist controversy notable is the wide variety of excuses and explanations that Jones offered up in interviews to defend his casting, rather than just sticking to one. And while a publicist really should have intervened long before Jones got around to blaming the election for Iron Fist’s poor reception, the ordeal proved that stars are still strangely unprepared to have serious conversations about casting controversies, even when, in 2017, they should come to expect them as inevitable.

Our take: In the face of failed box office, movie studios are going to realize that avoiding these controversies is a better way to approach things. You want people on your side from jump. Of course it’s going to be hard, because movie studios think movie audiences of every race and gender only want to see stories about heroic white men, but money talks. So keep that Death Note complaining going!

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§ Vanity Fair also profiled the great artist Robert McGinnis, whose movie posters defined an era.

§ Not comics but germane to the battle forreative profits everywhere: Harry Shearer is leading a lawsuit over Spinal Tap profits, which according to “studio accounting’ has netted only $81 in merchandising income and $98 in music royalties over 22 years.

Perhaps not unusually for a popular film produced over three decades ago, there have been a dizzying parade of corporate characters trading rights to This Is Spinal Tap through the years. Yet our requests for timely statements of the film’s income have been met with a series of slammed doors. So far, Vivendi has confused our rather clueless fictional film characters with the entirely switched-on people behind this multi-million dollar action. No more “mis-underestimation.” Since learning of the deliberate and persistent obfuscation by Vivendi, we’re on a mission for fairness. And it’ll be loud — Tap loud.

 

§ Finally that My Favorite Thing Is Monsters movie already has Sam Mendes as a possible director. Talk about a fast track!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Underneath all the snark has been a very interesting discussion on diversity in entertainment and it’s been very interesting. Diversity and representation matter. People are more open to multi-cultural leads now than they were in the past. Also, shifting blame onto diversity characters isn’t going to work anymore – it’s too bad Marvel learned that the hard way.

    Speaking just for me, I have to admit I found myself lacking in enthusiasm for Ghost in the Shell. Americans usually make bad remakes of Asian stories because they miss all the cultural subtext.

  2. Links about the “whitewashing” of Asian characters followed by a large poster for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

    I see what you did there.

  3. “If approved by voters, the hotel room tax increase would take effect in 2018. Construction on the convention center expansion would begin in summer 2019 and take FORTY-FOUR MONTHS.”

    So, the proposed tax requires approval by 67 percent of the voters in SD, and the new and improved Con Center won’t be ready to go until 2023… If the Chargers didn’t get it, neither will the Con Center.

    Isn’t a better bet moving the comics-centric WonderCon to SD, and the main HollyCon to LA so it’s a home game for the Hollyweird types, Heidi? Or, are the people who run Con Con — a nonprofit in name only — that stubborn?

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