§ Today is the 62nd anniversary of the Dyatlov Pass Incident – a perplexing mystery where 9 experienced Russian mountaineers clawed their way out of their tents in their pajamas only to die in the snow horribly mutilated. It’s a popular topic for people who believe in aliens, radioactive explosions and yetis, but scientists have come up with a plausible explanation at last: a small slab avalanche. And to run the proper models, science turned to Disney:
To answer that question, the scientists relied on some unorthodox sources of inspiration and information. Gaume explained how, a few years back, he was struck by how well the movement of snow was depicted in the 2013 Disney movie Frozen—so impressed, in fact, that he decided to ask its animators how they pulled it off.
Following a trip to Hollywood to meet with the specialist who worked on Frozen’s snow effects, Gaume modified the film’s snow animation code for his avalanche simulation models, albeit with a decidedly less entertaining purpose: to simulate the impacts that avalanches would have on the human body.
There’s an animation in this Wired tweet that shows what might have happened.
Over the decades, what became known as the Dyatlov Pass incident has prompted many conspiracy theories that range from aliens to the Yeti.
— WIRED (@WIRED) January 30, 2021
It all makes sense, but of course, if you want to continue to believe in snow yetis, no one can stop you, as we’ve learned in many ways of late.
§ Speaking of Disney, An Oral History of Disney’s ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ has shed light on a film from one of the Mouse’s lesser eras.
Allers: They gave Mark Dindal a small crew, and me a small crew, to come up with two different versions of the story. Which is just kind of awful to compete against each other. Hahn: It was a bake-off, plain and simple. Katzenberg, rightly or wrongly, would say, “Okay, we’re doing Pocahontas. It’s Dances With Wolves meets Romeo and Juliet. We’re doing that.” The bake-off was more about indecision in the ranks. There was a lack of executive leadership that could just say, “We’re doing this and then we’re doing that.” [We had] bake-offs from ’99 all the way through 2005.
Which is a reminder that after the “Second Golden Age” that was kicked off by The Little Mermaid, and continued with Aladdin, The Lion King and so on, Disney went into another dark age in the aughts and how! Aside from Lilo and Stitch and Emperor, nobody really liked Fantasia 2000 (1999), Dinosaur (2000), Treasure Planet (2002), Brother Bear (2003), Home on the Range (2004), Chicken Little (2005), Meet the Robinsons (2007) and Bolt (2008). I honestly didn’t even remember the last four. Luckily Pixar picked up the slack and Disney turned back to princesses and now things are banging again.
As they say, some personal news: Today's my last day as a regular at THR's Heat Vision. I'm going to very much miss it — and the plan is that I'll still be contributing in the future, in some form, so I'm not gone ENTIRELY — and the opportunities it afforded me for so long.
— Graeme (@graemem) January 29, 2021
§ Here is some super duper sucky news. Graeme McMillan has been let go as the comics writer at The Hollywood Reporter, as he tweeted. Publishers looked to THR to break a lot of comics stories, and McMillan has done a ton of crucial reporting over the years. To say this coverage in a major publication will be missed is an understatement.
§ But the Beat is still here. Support our Patreon!
Roye Okupe dreamed of creating an African superhero universe. He discovered superheroes from “Transformers” and “X-Men” cartoons while growing up in Lagos, Nigeria. He arrived in the United States in 2002 at the age of 17, the same year Sam Raimi’s first “Spider-Man” movie broke records at the box office and made superheroes a mainstay in theaters. By the time he graduated from George Washington University with a degree in computer science (while also studying animation at the Art Institute of Washington), Okupe was shopping around an eight-minute animated trailer for an African superhero. Years before “Black Panther” would go on to make $1 billion at the box office, Okupe received little interest from the TV world. One producer told him his ideas might work if he changed the race of his heroes.
§ PW took a deep dive on Tapas, the digital comics portal. And they have some big numbers.
In the last year, the privately-held company announced it had reached 100 million episode-unlocks (paid content transactions) and saw total 2020 payments to Tapas creators rise to $14 million. Though the company does not make its financial data public, Tapas announced a 5x revenue increase in the 12 months between October, 2019 and October 2020. One particularly active period saw users spend $100,000 on content in a single day (the average is typically $50,000-$70,000). Numbers like those made Tapas the #3 top grossing comics app on Android and the #9 top grossing book app on IoS by revenue in 2020.
§ The annual Black Comics Fest at the Schaumburg Library was held via Zoom, but you can see all the panels at that link, and there are some excellent ones and many important voices. It’s a snow day, so watch some comic cons online.
§ The framing of the story 10 Comic Book Studios That Have Yet To Make Their Big Screen Debut tries to be upbeat:
In recent years companies like Valiant or IDW have worked alongside major studios to bring their comics to life on screen. While there are more opportunities for these comic book publishers on TV and streaming services, it’s still quite a rarity for a company to be able to see their characters on the big screen! There are so many more brilliant publishers that could offer up unique worlds which may contribute to new cinematic experiences.
You may be shocked to learn that there are comic book properties that have not been turned into streaming shows or movies yet…but we will all keep trying.
§ Karl Urban is off to film The Boys season 3. Stay safe, Karl! Some day we’ll be reunited.