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An animated .gif of Wolverine snacking on a pizza, FOREVER.
August 9, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Motion comics, why bother?
posted by Artw (47 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm surprised they don't mention MtV's sublime Maxx adaptation (watch it! Watch it now!), which is the midpoint between the 1960s LA series and these.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I, for one, approve of the new influx of animated forum .gifs we will see as a result of this.
posted by edbles at 10:22 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa. I hadn't heard about this thing before. Watching the first episode now, and it's just stunningly dumb! Oh, Marvel!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:23 AM on August 9, 2010


That was my first thought, edbles. Who will be the first to use pizza-eating Wolverine as their forum avatar?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2010


These exist? Didn't Scott McCloud already cover why this is bad?
posted by DU at 10:27 AM on August 9, 2010


Also: Cassaday's art is best in stills. Not in the same way that Marvel's house style is (my gripes with which are a total derail) but in the way that his art is made by the representation of motion while it is utterly frozen. That's why when animated, even as roughly as it is here, it resembles one of Muybridge's horses. They could not have chosen a more inappropriate artist for this. Well, maybe Alex Ross. But I would love to see the abomination that motions comics drawn by Alex Ross would look like.
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Comic book radio plays would actually be kind of awesome.

[sound of dripping liquid.]

(a raspy voice): "October 12th, 1985. Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face."
[Monologue pauses, highlighting the sound of the dripping liquid.]
The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown."

[Sound of a hose, drowning out and wiping away the drip; an approaching man calls out a repetitive phrase which grows louder as he approaches.]

(Raspy voice continues): "The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'save us!'..."

[The approaching man gets louder]: "The end is nigh! Repent, repent!"

(raspy voice): "And I'll look down, and whisper, 'no.'"
posted by kaibutsu at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised they don't mention MtV's sublime Maxx adaptation (watch it! Watch it now!), which is the midpoint between the 1960s LA series and these.

I can't! I'm at work! BUT Holy Fucking shit do I want to see that.
posted by edbles at 10:30 AM on August 9, 2010


I rather liked Broken Saints, though that was designed and written as a motion comic, so I think gets away with it more than these recent adaptations. The Watchmen one took all the class right out of it (partly with the bad acting).

With Broken Saints they did add a voice over when they sold it on DVD, but it was nowhere near as good as the text/music version. One thing it did do was to cure me of my comic problem - that I get through them far quicker than I'd like. Even when I try to take time to pore over the artwork, I find myself just flicking past things cause I'm following at the speed I read. Being forced to take more time with it was quite refreshing.

As it is, all this does is remind me to go and finish reading that run of Astonishing X-Men,which certainly started all kinds of awesome, but leaves me with no inclination to watch an adaptation.
posted by opsin at 10:36 AM on August 9, 2010


Comic book radio plays would actually be kind of awesome.

My experience with The Shadow says otherwise. I mean Alan Moore is especially wordy, so your example works really well, League would probably work well too. I was thinking maybe Hellboy could be cool, but so much of it is that suspense explode dynamic, which would need a really strong articulate sound design to do properly. Maybe an Abe Sapien would work, because he's more of a thinker, dweller type.

With Broken Saints they did add a voice over when they sold it on DVD, but it was nowhere near as good as the text/music version. One thing it did do was to cure me of my comic problem - that I get through them far quicker than I'd like. Even when I try to take time to pore over the artwork, I find myself just flicking past things cause I'm following at the speed I read. Being forced to take more time with it was quite refreshing.

I find I have to read it fast the first time BECAUSE I MUST FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS. But the re-read tends to be slower paced and more reflective. This of course means it needs to be worth a re--read.
posted by edbles at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2010


Artw: Motion comics, why bother?

Yeah, I can't imagine why a company would want to find a use for the most popular new way of sharing media to come down the pike recently.

Oh wait.

Company: (noun) a legally recognized organization designed to provide goods and/or services to consumers for profit

Just kidding. Great post and I totally agree with what the articles say. These suck. But I actually find the way the professional fanboys often ignore the elephant in the room and act as if the bottom line isn't the entire reason for there being a Marvel Comics, Inc. quite charming sometimes.

I wish I could just ignore that part of my brain, even for a moment.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:40 AM on August 9, 2010




Comic book radio plays would actually be kind of awesome.

Alan Moore is pretty much the only person you could pull this off with. I'm always shocked to realize the bulk of Watchmen is conversation.

That being said, I can't imagine an actor getting through Gull's speech (YOU KNOW WHICH ONE) in From Hell without collapsing .
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 AM on August 9, 2010


I can't imagine an actor getting through Gull's speech (YOU KNOW WHICH ONE) in From Hell without collapsing

Meh, they would just have to make a little sound.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:43 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Comic book radio plays would actually be kind of awesome.

There are dramatic audio adaptations of current DC storylines. (Also a long-out-of-print Kingdom Come one on tape.)
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My only experience with motion comics was the Watchman adaptation. Which I thought was actually pretty cool. I don't know that I'd want to experience other motion comics, but I'm not a huge comic reader to begin with.
posted by hippybear at 10:46 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kind of liked these. But then, I liked fly leg eyelashes too. Anyway, I did like the Astonishing X-Men motion comics, because Joss Whedon's dialogue *needs* to be done aloud. :) It was a lot easier than trying to do the voices myself.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2010


I really liked the Watchmen motion comics, tbh.
posted by empath at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe that there is a line between adapting something into a new medium so as to put whatever fresh notions are possible into the story by way of translation, and just removing the parts of a medium which involve the imagination, and motion comics - at least done like this - are really kind of on the wrong side of that line, from where I sit.

That said, I enjoyed the Maxx show but I also thought of it as the best they could do in terms of keeping Sam Kieth's unique art style while making it something that was possible to watch on a TV.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:51 AM on August 9, 2010


Why bother? --Because the fool, and the money, and the inevitable parting of the two. Next!

The fool is Marvel. Y'all did get that, right?
posted by kipmanley at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2010


/a gust of wind blows some newspapers across the screen at this point.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2010


The pacing of the old Hulk cartoon on YT is *very* slow indeed.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 AM on August 9, 2010


I never heard of this either, and even after looking at the Wikipedia entry for "motion comics" I still wasn't sure what it was -- I was thinking, "So, it's a cartoon, like all the other cartoons based on comics, right?"

Having watched the Youtube video (the first half, anyway, that was as far I could stand to go), I agree with the "Why bother?" I also agree with the comparison to Sealab 2021. If you're going to make a cartoon, why not go all the way and make a really awesome cartoon, instead of this unholy cheap-looking union of cartoon and static comic?
posted by Gator at 11:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, so you know the show Archer? It does that flash-like Sealab 2021 stuff and I cannot. watch. it. It works much better as a radio drama.
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 AM on August 9, 2010


Comic book radio plays would actually be kind of awesome.

[Snipped adaptation of Rorschach's intro from Watchmen.]

Very good. That works quite well. Now how about the parts that aren't spoken monologues?
posted by Naberius at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2010


Like all audiodramas, at that point it becomes a lot of sound effects and a lot of "Oh my gosh! [x] is happening! [y] has done [z]!" - which generally kind of sucks.

Which is possibly why the best audiodramas tend to be spin-offs rather than adaptations.
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like Superman vs. The KKK.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2010


Which is to say, you can do Sf/comicsy stuff in Audiodrama form that'll play to the strengths of the medium and avoids it's weaknesses and ends up in something fairly decent - see the Big Finish stuff for example. Now, I am not big on audios, but something like Spare Parts can be kind of enjoyable.

I'm not sure motion comics really have any strengths as a medium.

...or if they are really a medium, really. You could look at them as just being cartoons. Though if we just say they are cartoons then immeidately it becomes apparent that they are really, really crappy cartoons.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2010


To be honest it's been down-hill ever since Captain Pugwash.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


just to be clear, by the way, The Maxx was not a motion comic. The Maxx was a cartoon that incorporated comic tropes really really well. It didn't try to spice up a comic. It tried to make a cartoon deliver Sam Keith's incredible use of the comic page to a tv audience. It's a narrow line to tread, but it did so really well.

also, Broken Saints was the worst thing anyone has ever created in any medium ever.
posted by shmegegge at 11:58 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was about 8 I did an audio version of Dan Dare from an old Best Of The Eagle annual into a tape recorder. I did all the difference voices and the sound effects myself. You cannot believe how much it fucking rocked.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


damn it, I misspelled Sam Kieth. I wish I hadn't because the way to remember his name is that he once had a comic all his own called "I before E" which was specifically in reference to the weird spelling of his name.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on August 9, 2010


I enjoyed the motion comic of Watchmen, but the motion version of Image's Invincible drove me crazy. Instead of just animating a few panels, imagine if they also inserted flashing lights, guitar riffs, and shaky cam for NO REASON.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:10 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That sort of thing reminds me of the late-90s when colorists discovered phototshop filters and suddenly there was all kinds of chrome and bling and crappy textures and stuff all over everybodies comics.

Actually with the crappier colorists it's kind of still like that.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even some of the better ones falter from time to time; thanks to the voices, the scene where Wolverine confronts Beast about his desire to use the mutant cure on himself comes off as a lot more flirty than I'd originally read it.

Wait, that's a bad thing?

In all seriousness, I really don't get the point of motion comics but the idea of comic-based audios is pretty neat. Any of the characters who have verbose and/or particularly distinctive inner monologues could translate well, I think - Spider-Man's an obvious one, the Punisher might work as well. Deadpool would be interesting just to figure out how to get the fourth wall bits across in an audial instead of visual medium.
posted by bettafish at 2:01 PM on August 9, 2010


Look at Jamie Hernandez' action panels from the Whoa, Nellie storyline and you'll see exactly why motion comics are unnecessary.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that's Jaime.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2010


I'm just way into seeing Wolverine eat pizza.



I didn't know that before, but I rather enjoyed that.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:28 PM on August 9, 2010


My kid was Exec. Producer for Tales of the Black Freighter, and Producer for the Watchmen motion comic... if ya'll have any questions, let me know, I'll send them on to him... I thought they were great, but, I might be biased...
posted by HuronBob at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of annoyed with this, because it's fucking with my whole "it's not the medium it's the intent" Grand Unified Theory of Art. Here is my take, you could do a motion comic well if it were about the inherent futility of life and just had two characters acting out Waiting for Godot in a series of tastefully tailored repetitive .gifs. Otherwise this medium is cynical piece of shit, (Watchmen gets a pass because people are raving about it and I have yet to see it).
posted by edbles at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2010


At best, it seems a little pointless to me, as a medium...and I hate to say it, because for all I know there are people who are very passionate about creating motion comics and will soon do things that will blow our minds, but to me they basically seem like half-assed animation for people who don't have the budget to create an actual animated film. That said, it is unusual for an animated film to capture the level of detail that you'll find in a good comic book panel, and there is something that (speaking as someone who saw a comic book artist lament the other night that her months of work could be consumed in fifteen minutes) appeals to me about kind of forcing the viewer to really pay attention to one in a way s/he might not on the page, in their hurry to get to the next little square.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2010


Yeah, half-assed animation for people who don't have the budget to create a film. Or even, plot a good flash-animation work. I sat through the Spider Woman motion comic that had five minutes with four frames of characters talking on a bus.

(speaking as someone who saw a comic book artist lament the other night that her months of work could be consumed in fifteen minutes)

Oh, the horrors of animation production!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:28 PM on August 9, 2010


I learned about motion comics a little while ago and checked out some of the free ones. The X-Men one didn't work at all (and ruined a great comic arc), but I thought the Spider-Woman one had something going for it. It's a dark and gritty noir piece, so the quality and style of the animation felt like a stylistic choice rather than something forced upon the animators.

I did think it was pretty amazing the way the were able to take static images of characters and warp them to make them look like they were turning their heads or nodding. The production values on these things seems surprisingly high. I expected more of an audio play set to static panels and not so much genuine animation.
posted by painquale at 12:00 AM on August 10, 2010


Man, I forgot how great the theme song to that old Hulk cartoon is. Rhyming 'gamma rays' with 'unglammarays'... my favorite rhyme ever.
posted by painquale at 12:21 AM on August 10, 2010


Just remembered the recent Walking Dead one was pretty good (or at least not too horrible)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:58 AM on August 10, 2010


I'm surprised nobody has mentioned MSPaintAdventures.com's Homestuck comic, which has been playing around with animation in some surprising ways. It's sort of a pastiche and parody of videogames in general and text-based graphical adventures in particular, with most updates appearing as a hypothetical game's response to your typed commands, such as "Examine room."

The art may not look like much up front, but that's because the author, Andrew Hussie, updates with absurd, multiple-posts-every-day frequency, and so that he can modulate the quality where appropriate for the storytelling. It's sort of a multimedia extravaganza: in addition to static and animated gifs, narrative text, dialogue presented as instant messaging chat transcripts (click the Show Pesterlog button to see the text), flash-based static animations with music and/or sound effects, interactive vignettes reminiscent of console RPG-style combat (etc., etc.this one particularly reminds me of the final encounter in a specific SNES Squaresoft/Enix collaboration), interactive sound mixers and animation compendia... man, I think I'm going to have to turn this into a main-page post. Excuse me.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 3:26 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The great thing about that GIF is that even Wolverine's pizza regenerates! WEAPON X-tra cheese and Italian sausage!
posted by nicepersonality at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2010


Thanks for the link to The Maxx, griphus, I only caught a couple of episodes at friend's houses on Mtv when it aired, but I bought the VHS in a Blockbuster bargain bin, watched it a million times and bought all the graphic novels, but until I looked at the wikipedia page, I never knew that one of the episodes was excised from the VHS for time constraints. I got to watch a new episode of the Maxx yesterday, which for me was super exciting!


Upon review... it wasn't a great episode, wasn't that pertinent to the main story arch, and it completely made sense that it wasn't on my tape, but still... a new episode!

I watched the full astonishing X-Men motion comic a few months ago on a lazy Sunday afternoon where a little Joss Whedon and a little Kitty Pryde was just what the doctor ordered. If anyone else liked it and wants to watch the whole thing, Hulu still has it streaming here.
posted by elr at 4:37 PM on August 11, 2010


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