Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spiegelman's "Maus" and Satrapi's "Persepolis"

At my school, every year we have a huge history project called a "LaGuardia". I just handed mine in (a biography of a writer called Howard Phillips Lovecraft) and am awaiting a grade. One thing, however, that I found trouble with was the research. I really was only able to find info about him on the internet, and not many specifics. So, for my next LaGuardia I have already started colllecting books. I've decided it's going to be about The Normandy Invasion of 1944.
I was looking in the library for books on World War II, and whilst looking through the WWII/Holocaust section I found one of my favorite graphic novels- "Maus". For those who have never heard of this work, it is perhaps the greatest underground graphic novel of all time. It tells the memoirs of Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew living in Poland. When the Germans invade, he starts hearing about a nightmare camp called Auschwitz. And, it turns out, he's going there. It's one of my favorites because it shows that graphic novels don't need to have complicated story lines or metaphors to be a classic. I started researching "Maus" online, read a few essays, and found another underground comic book classic called "Persepolis". I had heard of it before (forums are the greatest thing ever) but never really took the time to look into it. It turns out, the library has the first volume of "Persepolis". It tells the story of Marjane Satrapi and her experiences of the Iranian Revolutions in the 1980's. Although chock-full of metaphors and complicated art work, the book has become another classic.
I feel quite happy with my comics reading, as I am branching out from the usual superhero stuff and I am actually learning as well. I have learnt a lot about the Holocaust through "Maus". And now, I've become quite interested with this "Persepolis". And for those who don't really want to dedicate the time to reading the 300 page book of "Persepolis", the author and illustrator of the book co-directed an animated movie of the book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Watchmen" Premiere and More

My life desire has finally been fullfilled. The fanboy in me is tingling. Zack Snyder, director of "300" and "Watchmen" has finally done the impossible.
For those who don't know, "Watchmen" is a comics masterpiece. Set in the 1980's, it follows the adventures of the psychopathic nut-job Rorschach, who is investigating a superhero murder case. What he finds leads him to a large conspiracy that brings together many retired superheroes.
"Watchmen" is one of my favorite comics, and now that the first review has been released online, I felt the need to steam off. The movie premiered in Leicester Square in London.
Today I turned in an eleven page essay called "The Destroyer's Hands". It's about how the Americans supressed the ideas of the Native Americans. I really am proud of it, so to let you know, it follows  threads in four written masterpieces. They are:
  1. "Fools Crow" by James Welch
  2. Chief Seattle's Speech
  3. "Shadow of A Nation" by Gary Smith
  4. The Arapaho Tribes
I heavily suggest "Shadow of A Nation" as it is an amazing piece of writing. You can read the article here. It was first published in "Sports Illustrated".

Thanks for reading,

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Coraline" and "9"

The other day, I went to a cinema at 84th Street in Manhattan to see a 10:15 screening of the new animated feature "Coraline". I must say that I really enjoyed the film. It was strange that such a scary book had been translated into an animated movie. I am glad it happened, though, because the book is one of my favorites.
I really like where animation seems to be going. With movies like "Coraline" out at the moment, it really seems to me that the form is growing into a respectable art form. There is so much uncharted terittory in animation it is hard to believe. It'll be like reading "Watchmen" all over again and realizing what comics can be.
Anyway, whilst I was at the cinema, I watched the previews. I don't do this often; I sort of daydream instead so that I can just get to the movie. The only time I really watch the previews is when it is for a film I've been waiting ages for. "Coraline" really wasn't one of those movies, but what the heck, you know? So, I was watching the previews, and the screen suddenly went dark. Errie music started playing, with views of a post-apocalyptic world flashing by. A heavy russian accent suddenly whispers, explaining that humanity has ended, and that he has created a rag doll called 9. 9 will continue life. And then, explosions leap out of the screen as giant mechanical robots are chasing these tiny, vulnerable warriors. I was thinking "what is this?". It looked brilliant, whatever it is. It turns out, the movie was called "9".
When I got back home, I finished my homework (a presentation on Theodore Roosevelt and an essay about suppression of ideas) and, afterwards, had a look at this "9" movie. I found out that it's based on an 11 minute C.G.I. animation made in 2005 by a guy called Shane Acker. He's also directing the new movie, which will be good. The short got tons of awards and nominations, so I watched it on YouTube, and I was blown away. I suddenly realized that animation could be capable of so much, and now that films like "9" are coming out, I think revolution is coming.
You can view the original short movie at this address:


Hi all! Here you can access my weekly journal. All I'll be really doing is talking about stuff going on in my life and posting things I've written. I'll also be talking about movies, books, t.v.... just loads of stuff that everybody is most likely interested.
Have a good day,